How to Get a C-29 Masonry Contractor License

TLDR: If you are interested in becoming a masonry contractor in California, obtaining a masonry contractor license can significantly boost your contracting career, opening doors to new opportunities and success. Like acquiring any contractor license, becoming a licensed masonry contractor requires commitment and effort. In California, it is essential to hold a C-29 license from the Contractors State License Board to bid on masonry projects valued at over $500. To obtain this license, specific prerequisites must be met, two exams must be passed, and the appropriate paperwork must be filed, accompanied by the necessary fees. Below, we will guide you through the process of obtaining a masonry license.

Who is a Masonry Contractor

A masonry contractor specializes in the installation of various materials such as:

  • Concrete units
  • Baked clay products
  • Concrete
  • Glass
  • Clay blocks
  • Natural and manufactured stone
  • Terra cotta
  • Fire bricks

Their work involves fabricating and installing masonry components for both load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls in structures and fences. This includes the use of mortar or other bonding agents.

Additionally, masonry contractors are responsible for installing ceramic veneer (excluding tile) and thin bricks that resemble full-sized bricks for decorative facing purposes. They are also skilled in laying paving materials and performing tasks such as clear waterproofing, cleaning, and caulking, which are incidental to masonry construction.

In summary, a masonry contractor's expertise lies in working with a wide range of materials to construct and install masonry structures, both functional and decorative, including walls, facades, paving, and other related tasks.

Obtaining the C-29 masonry license in California can be a demanding endeavor, yet it is a necessity for individuals pursuing a career in the masonry industry. To qualify for the mandatory examination, prospective candidates must have a minimum of four years of recent work experience within the past ten years. Successful completion of the examination grants applicants the C-29 masonry license. It is important to note that this license is specific to California and cannot be transferred to other states.


In California, all contractors, including masonry contractors with a C-29 License, must obtain a license from the  Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The main purpose of the CSLB is to protect the interests of Californians by carefully evaluating and registering construction businesses that charge more than $500 for their services. This ensures the citizens get quality services and that the contractors act within their regulations and in good faith. The CSLB is responsible for overseeing the application and examination processes and maintains a publicly accessible database containing the license numbers of active and inactive contractors.

To promote understanding of rights and responsibilities among contractors and consumers, the CSLB provides various resources and educational materials. They offer guidance on contractual requirements, dispute resolution, and other relevant topics to encourage fair and ethical practices within the construction industry. Additionally, the CSLB investigates complaints filed against licensed contractors. In cases where contractors fail to comply with state regulations or engage in unethical behavior, the CSLB takes appropriate enforcement actions, which may include disciplinary measures, fines, or license revocation.

Why you need a license in California

Obtaining a masonry license in California is necessary for several reasons:

  • Legal Requirement: The state of California requires contractors, including masonry contractors, to hold a valid license issued by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to legally perform construction work that exceeds $500 in value. Operating without a license can result in legal consequences and penalties.
  • Consumer Protection: The licensing process ensures that masonry contractors have met certain qualifications and standards set by the CSLB. This helps protect consumers from unqualified or unscrupulous contractors, as licensed contractors are required to demonstrate their competence and adhere to state regulations and codes.
  • Quality Assurance: By obtaining a masonry license, contractors showcase their expertise and proficiency in their trade. The licensing requirements typically include demonstrating a certain level of experience, passing examinations, and meeting specific educational or training criteria. This helps to maintain a higher level of quality and professionalism in the masonry industry.
  • Access to Opportunities: Many construction projects, particularly those of larger scale or government-funded, require contractors to be licensed. By obtaining a masonry license, contractors gain access to a wider range of projects and clients, including government contracts, which often require licensed contractors.

To obtain a masonry license in California, you must demonstrate a minimum of four years of experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervisor, or contractor in the masonry industry within the past ten years. You also need to pass the required exam for the license. If you charge more than $500 for masonry services, you must hold a C-29 Masonry Contractor License. Additionally, a $25,000 surety bond is necessary to secure the license. Once you pass the exam, you will receive a C-29 masonry license.

Below we cover the steps you should follow to obtain your license.

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–29 license requires apprenticeship training or qualification by a Joint Examination Board.

This requirement was put in place to ensure the contractors are competent. The experience the contractors get ensures they have gained sufficient practical knowledge and skills in the masonry trade. By working as a journeyman for a significant period, applicants have the opportunity to learn the trade under the guidance of experienced professionals, acquiring hands-on experience in various aspects of masonry work. This requirement also helps to building expertise. Four years of experience allows individuals to become well-rounded in their understanding of masonry techniques, materials, and safety protocols. It provides an opportunity to work on a range of projects, building expertise in different types of masonry work, such as bricklaying, stone masonry, and concrete work.

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

To substantiate the claims of your experience, it is necessary to obtain endorsements from reliable individuals who have direct knowledge of your work. These endorsements can come from various sources, including employers, contractors, foremen/supervisors, co-workers, other journeyman workers, union representatives, building inspectors, architects, engineers, or even homeowners. The person certifying your experience should have witnessed and observed the tasks you have performed. It is essential for them to complete the experience certification section of your application.

Below is a compilation of Acceptable Supporting Experience Documentation that you can refer to when determining which documents to submit as evidence 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

Upon acceptance of your application, you will be provided with a fingerprinting live scan packet. This step is necessary for the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to conduct a criminal background check. Your fingerprints will be compared to the records of the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine if any criminal history exists.

All applicants for a license, as well as officers, partners, owners, responsible managing employees, and home improvement salesperson applicants, must undergo fingerprinting. However, individuals who are currently licensed by CSLB and are not making any changes to their license, as well as joint venture license applicants, are exempt from this requirement.

Once CSLB deems your application complete, each individual listed on the application will receive instructions on the process for obtaining and submitting fingerprints, along with a "Request for Live Scan Service" form (BCII 8016)

You need to fill out all the required fields in the third section (applicant information) of the form and bring three copies of the completed form to a Live Scan station. The Live Scan station will process your fingerprints and submit them to the DOJ and the FBI. You can find Live Scan fingerprinting services at local police and sheriff departments, as well as other public Live Scan sites.

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 examination consists of two sections: the first section focuses on contractor law and consists of 115 multiple-choice questions, while the second section concentrates on masonry and also consists of 115 multiple-choice questions. Both parts of the exam are taken on a computer at the designated location. The test is administered in English, but if you arrange it beforehand, you are permitted to bring a translator.

The C-29 masonry license examination consists of seven major sections:

1.    Planning and Estimation (12%)

  • Scope of work
  • Identify and calculate material needs
  • Identify and calculate labor and equipment needs

2.    Job Site Preparation (24%)

  • Pre-construction activities
  • Water management
  • Reinforcement and bracing
  • Job site preparation

3.    Masonry Wall and Building Installation and Repair (16%)

  • Build CMU walls and buildings
  • Repair and reconstruct historical masonry structures
  • Build and repair retaining walls
  • Clean masonry walls and buildings

4.    Decorative Masonry Installation and Repair (10%)

  • Install flatwork and staircases
  • Install precast masonry
  • Install glass block
  • Repair and clean decorative masonry

5.    Masonry Veneer and Stone Installation and Repair (8%)

  • Install adhered veneers
  • Install anchored veneers
  • Install dimensional stone veneers
  • Repair and clean veneer installations

6. Fireplace, Chimney, and Barbecue Installation and Repair (11%)

  • Fireplace construction requirements
  • Barbecue and fire pit construction requirements

7. Safety (19%)

  • Cal/OSHA safety requirements
  • Elevated work
  • Handling and fabrication of stone slabs
  • Disposal of contaminated materials

You can use the California Contractor License Law & Reference Book as a study guide in preparation for your exam.

Step 7: Get a CA Contractor License Bond

After successfully passing the exam, you will receive a bond and fee notification form at the testing site. This form will outline the requirements you must fulfill to obtain your license.

One of the requirements is obtaining a California contractor license bond with a value of $25,000. This specific type of surety bond is intended for contractors and serves as a financial safeguard for clients and the public. It ensures that contractors fulfill their contractual obligations, comply with relevant laws and regulations, and conduct their business in an ethical and responsible manner.

To obtain a contractor bond, you typically need to provide basic information such as your business name, owner's name, address, and undergo a soft credit check by providing your social security number.

Once your dealer bond application is approved, you can proceed with making the payment for the bond. Subsequently, you can expect to receive the hard copy of the bond via mail within 3-5 business days. It is important to have the physical copy of the bond for your license application.

Need help with your surety bond?
Call 1 (888) 236-8589 to talk to one of our surety experts today.
Request a free quote online
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Step 8: Receive your C-29 masonry 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

According to the legal requirement, you must prominently display your wall certificate in your primary office or main place of business. Additionally, it is advisable to carry your pocket card with you regularly, especially in situations where you anticipate engaging in business solicitation or interacting with 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.

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 hope 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. If you have a preference of when you would like to be rescheduled, please email or call (916) 255-3498 with your requested date.

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.