sandblasting contractors license in California

Sandblasting Contractor’s guide to the D-38 License!

Table of Contents

What is a C-61/D-38 Sand and Water Blasting Contractor?

A sand and water blasting contractor uses the force of compressed air in conjunction with abrasive materials or water to clean or prepare surfaces for any protective, decorative and/or functional treatment“- CSLB.GOV

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.

Often if your skillset 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.

Typical duties associated with Sandblasting

An image of a contractor wearing a protective suit sandblasting a surface

Sand and Water blasting is critical to the quality and life span of a paint job. 

  • To achieve the optimum service life of a paint job an interior or exterior paint job a surface must be completely free of dirt, dust, grease and will need to be prepared correctly before applying paint coatings.

Typically sandblasting contractors engage in duties including:

  • Blast cleaning
  • Paint removal and surface preparation
  • Safe and Environmentally friendly disposal of old paint
  • Using wet sandblasting techniques to remove old stucco and tex-coate
  • Removing paint from stone and various types of surfaces
  • Abrasive blasting
  • Safe use of sandblasting equipment
  • Maintaining personal and job-site safety
  • Bidding, estimating and cost calculation

Sandblasting Services (Subcontractor)

Due to the nature of the trade, sandblasting contractors typically work in a residential setting directly with homeowners or clients.

They perform maintenance and routine inspections most often.

However, they may also function as a subcontractor to a company that holds the C-33 License or to a General Contractor.

The Contractor would oversee that the sandblasting phase of the project has been executed correctly.

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


Logo of the Contractors State License Board. Illustration features a paint brush, hand 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 CSLB issues the sandblasting contractor license in the state of California

  • The CSLB has a state wide task force that conducts sting operations targeting unlicensed construction activity.

  • Getting caught contracting without a license in California is punishable with fines up to $15,000 and 6 months in the the county jail.

Online Practice Exams and Study Guides

EPA Certification

Logo of the united states environmental protection agency

Sandblasting contractors may encounter lead paint on the job.

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

Getting a certification can help you expand your sand/water blasting 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!

Blue Print Reading Course

sandblasting contractors should know how at least the basics of blueprint reading

Free Blueprint Reading Course found here!

Knowing how to read blueprints is a valuable skill for virtually all tradesmen including sandblasting contractors.

Construction blueprints provide a visual representation of a project, which can be valuable for tradesmen making aesthetic alterations to the interiors.

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.

How to get a Sandblasting Contractor License

To get the C-61/D-38 license 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 journey level experience?

a sandblasting contractor working wearing full protective gear

Journeyman-level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full-time for a sandblasting company, or for a contractor that holds the D-38 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 sandblasting contractor license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-61 / D-38 License Holder
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  • 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:

“Fred has a lot of experience with sand and water blasting” will not be enough.

 The CSLB will want to see:

“Fred has experience using sandblasting and water blasting equipment, he has prepared surfaces for multiple projects as well as performed deep cutting, shaping, and roughening. He has experience containing lead paint and architectural sandblasting” etc.

Proving your sand and water blasting experience

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 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 

Contractor License Application Costs

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 sandblasting contractor 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 hand filling out a criminal background check. when applying for the sandblasting contractor license. it is very important to be 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. In my experience, they are primarily concerned with certain criminal charges.

Fraud, Embezzlement and Forgery

  • The CSLB are primarily concerned with criminal charges dealing with fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and financial related crimes. 

  • If your conviction does not fall under these categories most likely, you will have no issues when applying for the C-61/D-38 license. 

  • Be prepared to submit any court documents or prove rehabilitation at the state’s request.

  • California requires you to divulge all criminal charges when applying for a state license even if they have been expunged.

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 ( LAW ONLY )

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

Learn more about Contractor License LAW!

Recommended Resources

CSLB Test Locations

Currently, there are CSLB testing 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 examination 
  • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ( $60 per retake )

California Contractors License Exam Prep

Two books laying on a desk inside of a library with a shelf of books in the background. Studying as little as 10 minutes a day will greatly increase your chances of passing the contractor license exam and getting your sandblasting license

  • Getting your sandblasting contractors license 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.

Sandblasting Apprenticeship

Two contractors looking down at something. understanding the path from apprentice to journeyman is helpful in your quest in the construction industry

Generally, someone looking to become a sand and water blasting contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship for finding an experienced person to work with.

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