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image of the american flag connected to a pole. blog post covers how to get a pole installation contractor license

What is a C-61/D-31 Pole Installation and Maintenance Contractor?

A flag pole with an american flag facing up

"A pole installation and maintenance contractor installs wood or precast poles to support the wiring or cable that is installed by others or installs and maintains flag poles" -CSLB.GOV

The C-61/D-31 License is the classification required in the state of California for anyone looking to contractor for projects involving  pole installation and maintenance where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

C-61 Limited Specialty Classification

The C-61 Limited Specialty License is an umbrella term for all licenses that may fall under a more obscure category of construction work.

They cover specific areas of construction and construction-related tasks. 

If your skill set or business is limited to one particular portion of trade work, you could obtain a C-61 limited specialty license to contract over $500 for your services legally.

Duties of Pole Installation Contractors

a wooden pole in the middle of a corn field

The C-61/D-31 license is a specialty classification for contractors that specialize in pole installation and maintenance.

They engage in a wide variety of services including:

  • Design, fabrication and installation of poles
  • Site evaluation and geological testing 
  • Wood and precast poles
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    Cost calculation and blueprint reading
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    Bidding and estimating
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    Maintaining personal and job-site safety

General Contractor License

In a construction setting, a General Contractor may hire a pole installation contractor specifically for their expertise in a particular area.

A contractor holding the C-61/D-31 license may also be hired for their equipment.

As a result, a general contractor ensures that this phase of the project is executed correctly.

Learn more about the General Contractor License!

CSLB

Logo of the Contractors State License Board. illustration features a paint brush, saw and cement truck with the letters CSLB above in white

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California. Their sole responsibility is to protect the consumer public. 

They ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state.

The C-61 / D-31  Pole Installation contractor license is issued to contractors by the CSLB. 

How to get a Pole Installation Contractor License

To get the C-61/D-31 license for pole installation, you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman level experience and pass a law exam.

To qualify for an exam date you must meet the the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #
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    Not Currently be on probation or parole

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience
  • A Qualifying Individual to sign off on your experience
  • A way to prove your experience if the state asks for documentation

What is journey level experience?

several flag poles infront of a blue back drop. pole installation contractors looking to get licensed and bonded in california must pass a contractor license law exam

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a pole installation company, or for a contractor that holds the D-31 License.

  • A journeyman can perform all of the duties associated with his or her trade.

The CSLB will want to see four full-time years over the last ten years. The years do not need to be consecutive, but they do need to be four years in total. 

Signature of a Qualifying Individual

The following people may act as a Qualifying Individual when applying for the pole installation contractors license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-61/D-31 License Holder
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
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    Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
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    Business Associate
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    Fellow Journeyman
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    Union Representative

How to fill out the Contractor License application

In addition, your Qualifying Individual will need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skillset.

The way this description is written is critical to whether or not your application gets accepted.

For example:

“Clay has a lot of experience in utility pole installation” will not be enough.

The CSLB will want to see:

"Tim has experience operating several types of machinery, utility pole installation, flag pole and traffic signal installation"

Most importantly, the description written by your qualifying individual has to include the core skills required for the pole installation license.

Work experience for the Contractor License

You must be prepared to submit documentation supporting the experience you claim to have. The Contractors State License Board gives you a few ways that you can prove your experience which include:

  • Tax Returns
  • Check Stubs
  • Contracts
  • Material Order Invoices or Receipts

The CSLB  receives thousands of applications per month so there is a good chance they won’t document your experience but if you are one of the applicants that get reviewed you will need to be ready to submit something. 

The CSLB does not accept pictures of projects.

Application Processing, Fees and Criminal History

The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year.

Typically you can expect:

  • 6-8 Week Application Processing Time
  • 3-4 Week wait for an Exam date

I have seen some situations where applicants got their test date sooner and some where they got their test date much later.

The most common reasons your application would get held up are:

  1. Time of year (processing time slows down during the holidays) 
  2. Criminal History 
  3. Proving Experience
  4. Mistakes on your application 

Costs Associated with the Contractor License

The Current CSLB fees are: 

Can you get a Contractors License with a Felony in California?

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-61 license. I have personally helped guys with all types of criminal records obtain multiple licenses.

The key is to be honest on the application, even if the felony or misdemeanor happened years ago and even if it was expunged.

a pair of black handcuffs laying on a white surface. when appying for the contractor license, you should be 100% honest about your criminal record

BE 100% HONEST ON THE APPLICATION, because they will see everything anyway when you do fingerprinting. The CSLB handles criminal records on a case by case basis.

Remember, their responsibility is to protect the public. Typically the CSLB is most concerned with Fraud, Embezzlement and Forgery.

The Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) C-61 / D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license except the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam. C-61 Classification licenses do not have trade portions.

You must only pass a LAW exam.

The exam is:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
  • 3 Hours to complete
  • Multiple choice, taken on a computer
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    Closed Book

The Law Examination is divided into eight major sections:

1. Business Organization (10%)

  •  Company organization
  •  Project organization

2. Business Finances (15%)

  • Cash management
  • Budget and planning
  • Taxes
  • Financial reporting

3. Employment Requirements (12%)

  • Employment regulations
  • Evaluation and record-keeping
  • Payroll

4. Bonds, Insurance, and Liens (10%)

  • Bonds
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Liens and other remedies
  • Other insurance

5. Contract Requirements and Execution (23%)

  • Bidding
  • Cost control
  • Contracts
  • Payments

6. Licensing Requirements (8%)

  • Business license
  • Contractor’s license
  • Activity regulation

7. Safety (15%)

  • Training and reporting requirements
  • General safety
  • Hazardous/unknown materials

8. Public Works (7%)

  • Prevailing wage requirements
  • Bonding requirements
  • Insurance requirements

For more information about what is on the California Contractor LAW Exam, be sure to check out our blog post covering everything you need to know.

Recommended Resources

CSLB Test Locations

The CSLB has test locations in the following cities:

  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • The CSLB will assign you a testing center based on your location
  •  The test is not available online 
  • The CSLB allows you to bring a pre-approved translator with you 
  • The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass the test 
  • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ( $60 per retake )

California Contractors License Exam Prep

A hand holding a pencil taking what appears to be a math exam
  • Getting the C-61/D-31 License for pole installation is a smooth process if you have the right information. 
  • It can be confusing to see un-familiar terms used to describe tools or job site practices.
  • The Contractor LAW exam covers a number of different topics.
  • Questions are presented to you as if you are running a large scale remodeling business with multiple employees.
  • Being prepared and knowing what to study is the most important thing you can do in ensuring your success on the contractor license exam.

Construction Apprenticeship

a wrench and hammer laying on a white surface. the Contractor license exam in california is taken at a CSLB test location

If you do not have the experience required to get the C-61/D-31 Pole Installation Contractor license, not to worry! 

Your journey begins here. Generally someone looking to become a contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship for find an experienced person to work with.

For a detailed explanation on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman!

Blueprint Reading Course

Four construction workers analyzing several construction blueprints

Pole Installation contractors should be able to read designs and symbols on construction blueprints.

If installation or repair is part of a larger project, being able to execute their duties within the larger scope of the job is essential. 

Reading blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but can be especially important for pole installation contractors.

Check out our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

OSHA Certification

Six poles embedded into the ground with a sunset in the background

Statistically, 21% of all work-related fatalities are in construction. That equals about 1 and 5 worker deaths on average.

In the construction industry, the leading cause of worker deaths is reported as falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in/between.

The construction industry is notoriously dangerous, especially if your workers are not properly trained.

For employment with a utility pole installation contractor it is typically required that you have completed some level of OSHA training.

Learn more about OSHA Training.

Conclusion

Getting the Pole installation contractor License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to start your own company or become an RMO for an existing firm!

The key is to take action and follow these steps from beginning to end. 

If you have found this article helpful feel free to drop a comment below and be sure to check back for updates!

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