how to get your D-39 scaffold contractor license in California which falls under the C-61 limited specialty of the CSLB

Scaffold License: C-61/D-39 Contractors

Table of Contents

What is a Scaffolding Contractor?

Scaffolds set up around a house fixing a roof

“A scaffolding contractor erects metal or wood scaffolding including temporary sidewalk sheltered construction work barricades” – CSLB.GOV

Scaffolding is a temporary structure that is used by construction crews to reach areas that may normally be difficult to access. 

Contractors holding the scaffold license provide a critical to the safety of crews working on high-rise buildings as well as residential and commercial structures. 

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 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.

Typical duties associated with Scaffolding Contractors

  • Safety is a key element for contractors looking to get the scaffold license. 

  • Scaffolding Contractors specialize in creating a safe environment for crews to complete projects.

  • They engage in duties including:
Scaffolds set up around a house where a solar panel installation is in process

  • Using base jacks, transoms, ledgers, brackets and couplers
  • Installing various types of scaffold components
  • Safe installation of bridges, pedestrian canopies, rolling towers, and platforms
  • Erecting and dismantling scaffolding
  • Adhering to OSHA regulations
  • Ensuring personal and job site safety
  • Conducting maintenance and inspection of all scaffolding equipment


Due to the nature of the trade, scaffolding contractors typically work directly with General Contractors on larger construction job sites.

For example, a Painting Contractor may subcontract someone holding the scaffold license to erect and dismantle scaffolding equipment.

As a result, a prime contractor ensures that the scaffolding subcontractor's duties are executed adhering to OSHA safety standards.

Learn more about the General Contractor License!

Recommended Courses


Logo of the contractors state license board

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. 

  • State wide task force that engages in sting operations to stop un-licensed 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.
  • The CSLB issues the garage doors contractor license to contractors in the state of California.

EPA Certification

logo of the united states environmental protection agency

When working in or around structures built before 1978, air balancing contractors may need to contain lead paint if it is present.

Knowing the correct procedures required by the Environmental Protection Agency is critical for tradesmen working in a commercial setting.

Lead paint can travel miles through air, rest on soil, and enter air ducts causing potentially fatal respiratory damage.

All tradesmen must be a source of information for their clients and community if they want referrals and repeat business. Learn how to get an EPA Certification in 8 hours!

Blue Print Reading Course

Two contractors analyzing a blueprint in front of a building in the process of being built

Contractors offering scaffolding services should be able to read basic designs and symbols on construction blueprints.

If the services offered are part of a larger project, being able to execute their duties within the larger scope of the job is essential. 

Construction blueprints communicate important information about how a structure has been built. They also communicate what materials were used for its construction. 

Reading blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesmen but can be especially important for someone looking to get a scaffold license. See our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

Scaffold License Requirements

To get the C-61/D-39 scaffold license 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 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 #
  • checkNot 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?

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a scaffolding company, or for a contractor that holds the D-39 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 scaffold license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-61 / D-39 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:

“Ed has a lot of experience in scaffolding” is not descriptive enough.

 The CSLB will want to see something like:

“Ed has knowledge of various types of scaffolds, construction hazards, scaffold erection and disassembly. He is aware of the roles and responsibilities of his team” etc.

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

Proving your work experience

A contractor holding a red hard hat and gold tool belt. the CSLB may require you to prove your work experience before you can get the scaffold 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. They 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 

State Fees

The current state fees are:

1. $330 State Application Fee (one-time fee per application sent to the state board )

2. $200 License Activation Fee ( paid every two years )

You will also need to pay for live scan fingerprinting. 

Construction Bonds 

everything you need to understand about Construction bonds and california contractor licenses

Upon passing the exam, the state board requires you to have a Contractor Bond number. 

A construction bond is a security deposit issued by a surety company. Bonds are designed to protect the consumer public against contractor default.

They act as protection mechanisms for clients from unethical or illegal actions performed by contractors.

Bonds also ensure that subcontractors get paid for their work.

Furthermore, they ensure or that a contractor performs his duties as stated in a contract.

Construction bonds protect employees, suppliers, sub-contractors or clients against a contractor's failure to abide by an agreement.

Learn more about look at Construction Bonds!

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

a picture of a wooden gavel. when applying for the scaffold contractor license, you should be 100% honest about your criminal history because you will be required to do a background check

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting the garage door 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, or 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
  • 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 law test.
  • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ( $60 per retake ).

California Contractors License Exam Prep

Two books laying on a table with a bookshelf in the background

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. 

I have helped all types of construction professionals from various backgrounds and experience levels get licenses, and 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 10 minutes 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 Contractor License LAW exam

Scaffolding Apprenticeship

A contractor wearing a white hard hat on a construction site

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to obtain a scaffold license, not to worry. Your journey begins here.  

OSHA offers the OTC 301 scaffolding Safety Standards Training Course which you can find here. 

Normally someone looking to pursue this specific trade would find a scaffolding company or professional to learn under. 

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to obtain the C-61/D-62 license for air and water balancing, not to worry. Your journey begins here.

Energy efficiency is a billion-dollar industry with unlimited income opportunities. 

An apprenticeship program may be a great career path for you! Learn more about getting into the industry here: Apprentice vs Journeyman!

What Is OSHA?

the complete guide to the occupational safety hazard agency

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

For employment with a scaffolding contractor, it's typically required that you have completed some level of OSHA training.

 Learn more about OSHA Training!


Getting the Scaffolding 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!