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"A tree service contractor prunes trees, removes trees, limbs or stumps (including grinding) and engages in tree or limb guying" - CSLB.GOV
The C-61/D-49 is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to contract for tree service projects where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500
Tree service contractors typically engage in:
If you offer a wider range of landscaping services, you may get the C-27 Landscaping Contractor license.
Due to the nature of the trade, tree service contractors typically work in a residential setting, with a commercial property owner or local government agencies.
However, they may also function as a subcontractor to a company that holds the C-27 Landscaping License or to a General Contractor.
The Contractor would oversee that the tree trimming phase of the project has been executed safely.
Check out this article for an in-depth look at the General Contractor License!
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 maintains a database of all active and inactive contractor license numbers in the state of California.
If you are looking to get the status of a tree service contractor you can check any number license number here.
To get a tree service license in California, you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman level experience and pass a two part state exam with the Contractor State License Board.
To qualify for an exam date you must meet the the following requirements:
You must also have:
Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a tree service company, or for a contractor that holds the D-49 Tree Service License.
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.
The following people may be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience when applying for the tree service license:
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:
“Jake is a nice guy and very experienced” is not descriptive enough.The CSLB will want to see something like: "Jack has operated wood chippers, chainsaws, stump grinders, has worked in residential and commercial settings. He has done tree trimming and removal" etc.
The description written by your qualifying individual will need to include the core skills required for the tree service 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:
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.
The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year. Typically you can expect:
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:
The Current CSLB fees are:
Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a Tree service 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.
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, 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 tree service 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.
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:
The Law Examination is divided into eight major sections:
1. Business Organization (10%)
2. Business Finances (15%)
3. Employment Requirements (12%)
4. Bonds, Insurance, and Liens (10%)
5. Contract Requirements and Execution (23%)
6. Licensing Requirements (8%)
7. Safety (15%)
8. Public Works (7%)
Learn more about Contractor License Law!
Generally someone looking to become a tree service 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!
Statistically, 21% of all work-related fatalities are in construction. That equals about 1 and 5 worker deaths on average. Professionals in the landscaping and tree removal industry must take pre-caution to prevent falls and injury.
Tree Removal can be dangerous, especially if your workers are not properly trained.
For employment with a tree removal contractor you may be required that you have completed some level of OSHA training.
Learn more about OSHA Training.
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