a parking and highway improvement contractor painting a yellow traffic line. featured image for a blog post about how to get the C32 license in california

The C-32 License for Parking and Highway Improvement Contractors is a specialized classification that services:

  • Commercial Property Owners
  • Small Businesses
  • Government agencies, Cities, Counties etc.
  • Parking Facilities
  • Airports , Roads, and Airstrips

Owners and Operators of Commercial Real Estate and public property must remain in state compliance with their signage and parking lot striping.

There is a huge opportunity and steady revenue for contractors that can serve this highly specialized area.

In this article you learn everything you need to know about C-32 license requirements and how to become a Parking and Highway Improvement Contractor.

highway maintenance vehicle parked with orange cones blocking off construction zone

What is a Parking and Highway Improvement Contractor?

Duties of the C-32 License

Parking and Highway improvement contractors engage in a wide variety of services that typically include:

  • Soil Grouting, Weather and Project Site Evaluation
  • Project Coordination, Estimation of time, labor and materials
  • Surface preparation
  • Removing obsolete markings
  • Application of lines and markers including: Driveway Sealer, Asphalt Sealer, and Line Striping
  • Evaluation of Pavement Failure
  • Bidding and Accounting
  • Applying for Permits 
  • Construction of state compliant roads
  • Maintaining Job Site Safety
  • Often highway improvement companies perform road marking services and engage in traffic control during the completion of projects. 
  • To get the C-32 license, you will be tested on all aspects of construction parking and highway improvement so it will be essential to your success to become familiar with all the areas of expertise that fall under the trade.

Parking and Highway Improvement Subcontractor

Parking and Highway Improvement contractors typically work directly with government agencies or commercial real estate owners.

However they may also function as subcontractors to a General B or General A contractor.

A General Contractor may seek a company that holds the C-32 License to adhere to state requirements.

A General would oversee the job site and ensure that the parking and highway improvement subcontractor subcontractor has executed their job in compliance with state regulations.

Learn more about the General Engineering Contractor License.

The CSLB

Logo of the Contractors State License Board. Illustration of a paint brush, saw and cement truck

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California.

Their responsibility is to protect the consumer public and ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state of California.

The C-32 license is issued to contractors by the CSLB.

The CSLB administers applications, exams, and maintains a database of all active and inactive contractor license numbers which are public domain.

How to get your C-32 License

To get a C-32 license in California, 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 #
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    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?

man pouring a yellow paint strip on a road. journey level experience is required to get the C-32 license

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a parking and highway improvement contractor that holds the C-32 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 be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience when applying for the C-32 license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-32 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
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    Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • check
    Business Associate
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    Fellow Journeyman
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    Union Representative

Filling out the C-32 License Application

Your Qualifying Individual will also need to provide a brief but detailed description of your glazing knowledge and skillset.

The way this description is written will be critical to whether or not your application is accepted. For example:

“Steve has done parking lot striping” will not be enough for the CSLB

 The CSLB will want to see something more descriptive like: 


"Ed has prepared areas for seal coating, applied coal tar base seals, installed raised pavement markers, and installed game courts".

  • The description written by your qualifying individual will need to include the core skills required of someone looking to get the C-32 license.

Proving your work 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.

  • 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 some where 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 

Application Costs for the C-32 License

The Current CSLB fees are: 

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

court room desk with a wooden gavel

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-32 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 primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with:

  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement 
  • Forgery

In the state of California, you are required to divulge any criminal charges when applying for any state license even if they have been expunged.

You will need to be prepared to submit anything the CSLB asks for regarding your criminal history. 

Contractors License Exam

The C-32 license exam will be:

  • 115 Questions of Contractor LAW
  • 115 Questions on parking and highway improvement
  • 3 hours to complete each portion
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    Multiple choice exam done on a computer
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    Closed Book

The Parking and Highway Improvement (C-32 license) Examination is divided into five key sections:

1. Planning and Estimation (30%)

  • Evaluating project sites
  • Reading plans and specifications
  • Estimating materials and equipment
  • Estimating time and labor
  • Project coordination

2. Surface Coatings (16%)

  • Weather evaluation
  • Mix design
  • Surface preparation
  • Surface coating application

3. Striping and Pavement Markers (15%)

  • Weather evaluation
  • Layout
  • Removal of obsolete markings
  • Pavement and marker application

4. Special Applications (7%)

  • Game courts
  • Airports and heliports
  • Speed bumps, wheel stops, signage, and accessories

5. Incidental Pavement Repair (7%)

  • Pavement failure evaluation
  • Pavement removal and replacement

6. Safety (25%)

  •    Traffic control
  •   Personnel safety
  •   Environmental safety

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

Learn more about Contractor License LAW!

  • The Contractors State License Board will assign you a testing center based on your location 
  • The state exam is not available online 
  • You are allowed to bring a pre-approved translator with you 
  • The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass both examinations 
  • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ($60 per retake) 
  • A 70% score will be required to pass

C-32 License Study Guides and Practice Tests

Signs indicating that there is a road closure for maintenance

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. 
  • Know all aspects of your trade

Getting the parking and highway improvement contractor license can be a smooth process, but many are startled by how strict the laws are in California. 

Be as prepared as you possibly can. Studying just 10 mintues 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 C-32 parking and highway improvement license test.

Construction Apprenticeships

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to get a C-32 license, your journey begins here.

Highway improvement is a multi-billion dollar industry. Generally, someone looking to get into this trade would find union or apprenticeship program.

For a detailed explanation on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman.

Blueprint Reading Course

a yellow pencil and wooden ruler laying on top of a construction blueprint. parking and highway improvement contractors looking to get the c-32 license should be familiar with construction blueprints

Highway improvement contractors should be able to read construction blueprints or at least be able to recognize lines and symbols.

Construction blueprints communicate important information about how a the surroundings of a structure and indicate information needed for cost calculations.

Being comfortable with construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but can also be very important for those looking to get the C-32 license. See our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

EPA Certification

Logo of the United States Environmental Protection Agency

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

The most contractors are ones that position themselves as the experts and are the most knowledgable and helpful to their clients. 

Becoming EPA Certified can help you expand your 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 the safety of your customers.  For a complete guide on how to get the EPA Certification, check out this article.

OSHA Certification

featured image for a blog post about the occupational safety hazard association. image features two construction workers up high on a steel beam. parking and highway improvement contractors looking to get the C-32 license should complete some level of OSHA training

Occupational Safety Hazard Association

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.

Highway Improvement can dangerous, especially if your workers are not properly trained.

For employment with a C-32 Licensed contractor it is typically required that you have completed some level of OSHA training. Learn more about OSHA Training!

Conclusion

Getting the C-32 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!

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