California C-39 Roofing Contractor License Guide

TLDR: A roofing contractor license is a requirement in the state of California if you intend to provide services that cost over $500. California has strict requirements because of the inherent risk involved in the business and how valuable the construction business is in California. In this article, we will take you through the process of applying for a license to get you started with your work ASAP!

What is a C-39 roofing contractor in California?

A roofing contractor works on roofs by installing products and repairing surfaces that seal, waterproof and weatherproof structures. This work prevents water or solids from penetrating such protection and accessing material or space beyond. In the course of this work, the contractor examines, prepares surfaces, and uses the following materials: 

  • Asphaltum
  • Pitch
  • Tar
  • Felt
  • Glass fabric
  • Urethane foam
  • Metal roofing systems
  • Flax
  • Shakes
  • Shingles
  • Roof tile
  • Slate
  • Any other roofing, waterproofing, weatherproofing, or membrane material

Obtaining the C-39 roofing license in California can be a complex journey, yet is a necessary requirement for professionals in the roofing industry. To qualify and apply for the mandatory exam, you need to have a minimum of four years of recent work experience within the last ten years. Upon successfully passing the exam, applicants are granted a C-39 roofing license. It is important to note that this license cannot be transferred to other states.


In California, all contractors must obtain a license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), including roofing contractors who receive the C-39 License. The primary goal of the CSLB is to protect Californians by carefully reviewing and registering construction businesses. This ensures the citizens get quality services and that the contractors act within their regulations and in good faith. The CSLB oversees the application and examination process and keeps a publicly accessible database containing the license numbers of both active and inactive contractors.

The CSLB provides resources and educational materials to help contractors and consumers understand their rights and responsibilities. They offer guidance on contract requirements, dispute resolution, and other relevant topics to promote fair and ethical business practices in the construction industry. The CSLB also investigates complaints against licensed contractors. In cases where contractors fail to comply with state regulations or engage in unethical practices, the CSLB takes appropriate enforcement actions, which may include disciplinary measures, fines, or license revocation.

What you need for a C-39 roofing contractor license in California

To obtain a roofing license in California, you must demonstrate a minimum of four years of experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervisor, or contractor in the roofing industry within the past ten years. You also need to pass the required exam for the license. If you charge more than $500 for roofing services, you must hold a C-39 Roofing Contractor License. Additionally, a $25,000 California contractor license bond is necessary to secure the license. Once you pass the exam, you will receive a C-39 roofing license, which is specific to California and cannot be transferred to other states.

Licensing helps maintain industry standards and promotes high-quality craftsmanship. License requirements often include passing exams, demonstrating experience, and meeting educational or training prerequisites. This ensures that licensed roofers possess the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their work competently. Roofing can also be a hazardous occupation, and untrained or inexperienced individuals can pose risks to themselves and others. The licensing requirement encompasses safety protocols and guidelines to minimize accidents and injuries on job sites. By having a license, you demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about safety measures, reducing liability risks for both workers and clients. With that out of the way, let's get into the steps on how to become a C-39 roofing contractor.

Step 1: Gain working experience

To qualify for the exam, applicants must have 4 years of experience as a journeyman. A "journeyman" is an experienced worker who is fully qualified (as opposed to a trainee) and is able to perform the trade without supervision or a person who has completed an apprenticeship program. Like other permits, the C–39 license requires apprenticeship training or qualification by a Joint Examination Board. 

This requirement was put in place to ensure the contractors are both skilled and competent. Roofing work requires specialized skills and knowledge to ensure proper installation, repairs, and maintenance. By having journeyman-level experience, applicants have demonstrated that they have acquired the necessary expertise and competence in the field. This will also help ensure safety and risk mitigation. Roofing projects involve potential safety hazards, both for workers and occupants of the building. By requiring applicants to have experience as a journeyman, it helps ensure they have practical knowledge of safety procedures, regulations, and precautions necessary to minimize risks on the job site. 

Once you have acquired the necessary training, fill out the Certification of Work Experience and include it in your application packet.

Step 2: Get credible witnesses to testify to your background

All experience claims must be verified by a qualified and responsible person, such as an employer, contractor, foreman/supervisor, fellow employee, other journeyman, union representative, building inspector, architect, engineer, or homeowner.

The person verifying your claim must have firsthand knowledge of your experience--that is, he or she must have observed the work that you have done--and must complete the experience certification portion of the application.

Here is a list of Acceptable Supporting Experience Documentation that you can use to determine what documents to submit in order to provide proof of your experience.

Step 3: Fill in the original contractor license application

The next step will be completing the Application for Original Contractor’s License. Make sure you read through the instructions carefully because an incomplete application will lead to delays or even your application getting rejected. Once submitted, the CSLB will send a letter of acknowledgement with an application fee number and four-digit PIN, both required to check the application status. ​​

Step 4: Submit your application and pay the required fees

Once you have confirmed you have completed your application and included all the requirements, you are now ready to submit it. Submit the application, the $450 application processing fee, and all required documents to:

CSLB Headquarters
Contractors State License Board
P.O. Box 26000
Sacramento, CA 95826-0026

Payments at CSLB's Sacramento office may be made by cash (exact change only), check, or money order.

Step 5: Submit your fingerprints

If your application is accepted, you will receive a fingerprinting live scan packet. This is to ensure the board may conduct a criminal background check on you. Fingerprints are compared to the records of the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine whether a criminal history exists.

All applicants for license and each officer, partner, owner, and responsible managing employee, as well as home improvement salesperson applicants, must be fingerprinted. Individuals currently licensed by CSLB who do not apply for any changes to their license and applicants for a joint venture license are not required to be fingerprinted. 

After an application has been accepted by CSLB as complete , each individual listed on the application is sent instructions on the process for obtaining and submitting fingerprints and a "Request for Live Scan Service" form (BCII 8016)

You must complete the third section (applicant information) in its entirety and take three copies of the completed form to a Live Scan station to have your fingerprints processed and submitted to the DOJ and FBI. Live Scan fingerprinting services are available at most local police and sheriff departments, and any public Live Scan site.

A listing of Live Scan locations is available here.

Step 6: Take the CSLB Examination

If your application is accepted, you will receive a Notice to Appear for Examination. You should receive your examination notice at least three weeks prior to the examination date. Studying for the CSLB exam is important! 

You should bring picture identification with you to the testing center. No personal calculators, cell phones, pagers or other electronic devices are permitted in the testing area. The exam itself lasts three and a half hours.

The exam will be:

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

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 the 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

Step 7: Get a California Contractor License Bond

Once you pass your exam, you will be given a bond and fee notification form at the testing site. This form will notify you of what you need to submit to meet your issuance requirements.

Among your requirements will be a California contractor bond valued at $25,000. This is a type of surety bond specifically designed for contractors. It is a form of financial protection for clients and the public that ensures contractors fulfill their contractual obligations, adhere to relevant laws and regulations, and conduct their business ethically and responsibly.

To get a contractor bond, generally you need to provide basic information such as business name, owner name, address as well as social security number for a soft credit check.

Once you are approved for your contractor license bond, you can make a payment on the bond and expect to receive the bond in your mail in 3-5 business days. You need the hard copy of the bond for your application.

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Step 8: Receive your C-39 license

Congratulations on passing your examination. Going through all these steps is no easy feat. What’s left is getting your application and starting work as a contractor. 

You will receive a wall certificate showing the following information:

  • Name of the person or company the license has been issued to
  • License number
  • Classification held 
  • Date of issue

You will also receive a plastic pocket card showing the following:

  • License number
  • Business name
  • Classification
  • License expiration date.

The law requires that you display your wall certificate in your main office or chief place of business. You also should make it a habit to carry your pocket card, especially in situations where you think you might be soliciting business or talking to potential customers. 


How often should I renew my contractor license?

California requires renewal every two years. If you happen to change any general business information, this must be reflected on the renewal application.

What are the fees involved in getting a contractor license?

  • Original Application (exam or waiver for one classification: $500
  • Initial License Fee (Sole Owner): $200
  • Initial License Fee (Non-Sole Owner): $350
  • Re-Examination: $100
  • Fingerprinting Fees, Dept. of Justice Processing Fee: $32
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Processing Fee: $17
  • Total: $1,199

There may be other fees for specific situations, such as renewal or qualification specific fees. The official CSLB site has a good summary of all fees.

Where can I take the CSLB test?

Currently, the CSLB has testing locations in the following cities:

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

You can find a comprehensive list of testing locations on the PSI website.

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

How long is my license valid?

A contractor license initially is issued for a two-year period. It will expire two years from the last day of the month in which it was issued. Licenses may be renewed for two years at a time if renewed on active status, or for four years if renewed on inactive status.

What do I do if my original contractor application is returned to me?

Your application will be returned to you if it is insufficient or incomplete. Don’t lose hop though! The CSLB gives you 90 days from the day your application was returned to provide any missing information, make corrections, and resubmit your application. If you do not resubmit your application to CSLB within 90 days though, it becomes void. 

You will not be able to reinstate it, and you must submit a new application and processing fee if you wish to pursue a license.

What if I don’t live in California and can’t access a live scan facility?

If you do not live in California and do not plan to come to California during the application process, or if you do not have access to a Live Scan site, you will be fingerprinted using hard copy fingerprint cards. For out-of-state residents, the hard copy cards automatically will be generated and sent after your application has been posted. 

What if I fail to appear for an examination?

If you fail to appear for an examination, you must pay a $100 rescheduling fee.

Where can I get a contractor bond?

You can buy a Contractor Bond at any major surety agency that is licensed in the state of California. SuretyNow is a reputable surety agency that is appointed with 10+ insurance carriers so it can find you the most affordable rate.