blog post about how to get the roofing contractor license in california

Roofing Contractor License: How to get your C-39

Table of Contents

a large brick building with a pristine brown shingle roof

  • Roofing Contractors are often some of the highest paid tradesmen in the construction industry. 
  • A safe roof installation is an essential piece of all construction projects.
  • Roofing is also considered a prime trade by the CSLB.
  • Roofing companies that are professional, safe, and hold the C-39 roofing contractor license can become incredibly in demand within a billion-dollar industry.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about how to get the C-39 Roofing Contractor License!

What is a Roofing Contractor?

“A roofing contractor installs products and repairs surfaces that seal, waterproof and weatherproof structures. This work is performed to prevent water or its derivatives, compounds or solids from penetrating such protection and gaining access to material or space beyond. In the course of this work, the contractor examines and/or prepares surfaces and uses the following material: asphalt, pitch, tar, felt, glass fabric, urethane foam, metal roofing systems, flax, shakes, shingles, roof tile, slate or any other roofing, waterproofing, weatherproofing or membrane material(s) or a combination thereof” CSLB.GOV

The C-39 Roofing Contractor License is a requirement for anyone charging over $500 for Roofing Services.

Duties associated with the Roofing Contractor License

A construction worker on top of a roof. The roofing contractor license in california includes a variety of different duties

Roofing Contractors engage in a wide variety of duties including:

  • Installation of metal, shingles, ventilation, flat and steep roofs
  • Using roof saws, brooms, mops, spudding machines and asphalt dispensers
  • Weatherproofing and roof repair
  • Safe disposal of an existing roof
  • Reading blueprints and construction plans
  • Estimating and planning roof projects
  • Maintaining a safe job site
  • Bidding, preparing invoices and accounting

To get the C-39 license exam you will need to be familiar with all aspects of the roofing trade. 

Online Practice Exams and Study Guides

Roofing Subcontractor

a residential home in the middle of the roofing process

Contractors that hold the C-39 license can work in a variety of settings. Often they are hired directly by homeowners in need of roof repair.

They may also be subcontracted by a General Contractor who has placed a bid on a project that includes specialized roofing work.

Check out this article for an in-depth look at the General Contractor License!


logo for the contractors state license board. illustration of a paint brush, saw, and cement truck

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

The C-39 License is issued to roofing contractors by the CSLB.

The CSLB administers applications, exams, and maintains a database of all active and inactive contractor license numbers which are public domain. 

How to get the C-39 license

To get a roofing contractor license in California, you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #
  • 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 a Journeyman Roofer?

A construction worker painting a roof with a hot mop

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a plastering company, or for a contractor that holds the C-39 Roofing 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 be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience when applying for the C-39 roofing contractor license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-39 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  • Union Representative

Filling out the Roofing Contractor License Application

Your Qualifying Individual will also need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skillset.

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

For example:

“Rick is a great guy he has done roofing for a long time…” is not going to be descriptive enough for the CSLB

The CSLB will want to see something more like: “Rick has used mops, knives, roof saws, power brooms, repaired metal roofs, and applied roofing materials”

Proving your work experience

A construction worker installing wood panels for a roof. To get an exam date for the roofing contractor license you may be asked to prove your experience with documentation

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.

  • 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.

Roofing License 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 somewhere 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 

Application Costs for the Roofing License

The Current CSLB fees are: 

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

two law books and a wooden gavel. when applying for the C39 roofing license you will need to do fingerprinting so it is important that you are 100% honest about your criminal history

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-39 Roofing 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.

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. In my experience, they are primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with Fraud, Embezzlement, and Forgery.

California Contractor License Exam Prep

The exam will be:

  • 115 Questions of Contractor LAW
  • 115 Questions of Roofing
  • 3 hours to complete each portion
  • Multiple choice exam done on a computer
  • Closed Book

For more information on what will be on the Contractor LAW exam click here.

The C-39 Roofing Contractor License exam is broken up into five sections.

1. Planning and Estimation (21%)

  • Planning roof projects
  • Estimating roof projects

2. Job Site Preparation for Roof Projects (10%)

  • Protecting surroundings
  • Correcting problems
  • Tearing off existing roofing

3. Low-Slope Roof Projects (20%)

  • Installing flashings, ventilation, and underlayment
  • Installing various low-slope roof systems
  • Repairing low-slope roof systems

4. Steep-Slope Roof Projects (28%)

  • Installing flashings, ventilation, and underlayment
  • Installing various steep-slope roof systems
  • Repairing steep-slope roof systems

5. Safety (21%)

  • Personnel safety
  • Job site safety

Recommended Resources

CSLB Test Locations

Currently the CSLB has testing locations in the following cities:

  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego

  • You will be assigned a testing location based on the city you live in
  • The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass both examinations

                  Learn more about Contractor License LAW!

C-39 Roofing Contractor license study guides and practice tests

Men working during the day on a roof. One is climbing up the later with a bag of material on his back

Some things to remember:

  • The questions you will see on the exam may use outdated terms
  • Processes may be completely different from how things are done on the job site
  • You will see questions about things you may have never done before
  • Questions will be presented to you as if you are running a large scale construction business with several employees and jobs happening all at once. 
  • Know all aspects of your trade

I have helped all types of tradesmen from various backgrounds and experience levels get licenses. Most are startled by how different the subject matter on the state exam is from their years of first-hand experience. 

Be as prepared as you possibly can. Studying just 15 minute a day consistently can dramatically increase your chances of passing the test on your first try.

Focus on and study ONLY the information that you need to pass the C-39 Roofing License exam.

Roofing Apprenticeship

A group of construction workers installing a roof

Construction is a trillion-dollar industry and highly skilled roofing contractors are always in demand.

Whether you are completely new or have some experience already, there are resources available to you.  

Generally, someone looking to become a roofing contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship

or tradesman to work under.

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

Blueprint Reading Course

a group of construction workers analyzing a blueprint

Knowing how to read blueprints is an essential skill for virtually all tradesmen but especially for those looking to get the C-39 Roofing License.

Construction blueprints provide a visual representation of a project. They indicate what materials are necessary for construction and cost calculations.

Blueprint Reading Skills are also critical to pass the General Contractor exam.  

Check out this Blue Print Reading Course for a basic introduction to the concepts you will want to know about.

EPA Certification

logo of the united states environmental protection agency. Roofing contractors looking to get the C39 roofing license may encounter lead paint on the job site, and need to know the safety procedures to contain it

Understanding how to safely contain lead-based paint when altering structures built before 1978 is required by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The most profitable roofing contractors are ones that position themselves as the experts and are the most knowledgeable and helpful to their clients. 

Becoming EPA Certified can help you expand your business and can be completed in a one-day 8-hour course.

Staying EPA compliant is not only important to the survival of your business but also to the safety of your customers.  Learn how to get an EPA certification, in 8 hours!


Getting the C-39 Roofing License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to start your own company, advertising your services, or becoming an RMO!

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!