June 15

C-50 Reinforcing Steel Contractors License

  • Reinforcing steel Contractors are highly skilled tradesman that specialize in the fabrication and placing of steel mesh or bars to reinforce steel structures. 
  • The C-50 license is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to bid on steel reinforcement projects where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

In this article you will learn everything you need to know about get the C-50 License for Reinforcing Steel Contractors

What is a C-50 Reinforcing Steel Contractor?

Construction workers installing rebar on a building

Duties of Reinforcing Steel Contractors

The C-50 License exists as a classification in the state of California primarily because it certifies a service that is a fundamental element found in many structures all over the country.

Sometimes referred to as steel contractors or rebar contractors, the reinforcing steel trade can include duties such as:

  • Fabricating and shaping steel bars
  • Setting bar supports
  • Placing and tying reinforcing steel
  • Reinforcing Steel for Bridges, Parking Structures, Patios, Pools, High Rises and Water Treatment Plants
  • Setting templates and placing marks
  • Using various types of rebar and welded mesh to achieve structural soundness
  • Stressing cables
  • Reading blueprints, plans and specifications
  • Estimating materials and costs
  • Maintaining personal and job-site safety
Construction worker holding rectangular pieces of rebar in his right hand

Steel Contractors engage in various forms of cost calculations as well as welding and fabrication methods to complete projects.

They also typically  have strict methods of job site safety and follow specific storage requirements for products and equipment. 

To get the C-50 license you will need to demonstrate a knowledge of all the duties associated with reinforcing steel.


Reinforcing steel contractors typically work with  General Engineering Contractors, architects or developers.

The C-50 license is typically held by steel contracting firms that engage in large scale engineering projects.

A General Engineering Contractor oversees that the reinforcing steel subcontractor has executed their duties in adherence to code. Learn more about the General Engineering Contractor License


logo of the cslb which is the governing body for contractors in the state of california

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 reinforcing steel contractor 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 the C-50 License

 To qualify for an exam date you must meet the 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 #
  • 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 a Journey level experience?

A construction worker wearing a welding mask welding a large piece of steel. Journey level experience is required of anyone looking to get the reinforcing steel contractors license

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a reinforcing steel contractor that holds the C-50 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 reinforcing steel contractors license:

  • Licensed General Engineering Contractor
  • C-50 License Holder
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  • ​​​​Union Representative

Filling out the Reinforcing Steel Contractor License Application

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: 

"Rob has worked with steel for a long time” is not descriptive enough.

The CSLB will want to see:

"Rob has installed welded wire mesh, pre-tension tendons, fabricated steel reinforcing bars, read blueprints, estimated for materials and done job site evaluations" etc.

The description written by your qualifying individual will need to include the core skills required for reinforcing steel contractors.

Work experience for the Contractor License

A construction worker using a saw to cut a piece of steel, generating many sparks

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-50 License

The Current CSLB fees are: 

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

A judges gavel sitting on a table with three small computer monitors facing up

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-50 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
  • Forgery
  • Embezzlement

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 they ask for regarding your criminal history. 

The Reinforcing Steel Contractors License Exam

The exam will be:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
  • 115 Questions on Reinforcing steel 
  • You will have 3 hours to complete each portion
  • The exam is multiple choice and is taken on a computer
  • Closed Book

The Reinforcing Steel Contractor's License (C-50 license) Examination is divided into six major sections:

1. Planning and Estimation (43%)

  • Plans and specifications
  • Types and grades of reinforcing steel
  • Determining quantities of materials
  • Estimating costs

2. Fabrication (9%)

  • Preparation
  • Fabrication​

3. Layout and Placement of Reinforcing Steel(20%)

  • Placing marks
  • Setting templates
  • Setting bar supports
  • Placing and tying reinforcing steel

4. Placement and Stressing of Post-TensionedCables (7%)

  • Layout and placement of cables
  • Stressing of cables
  • Equipment handling

5. Safety (21%)

  • Personnel safety
  • Equipment and site 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

Contractor License Exam Prep

a white piece of grid paper, a calculator and a pencil

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

I have helped reinforcing steel companies from all over the country get licensed in California. Many are startled by how strict the laws are here. 

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-50 License for Structural Steel.

Steel Apprenticeships

a fabric of steel rebar

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to get a C-50 license, your journey begins here.

Steel is a global multi-billion dollar sector. 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

Five construction workers analyzing a construction blueprint. There are various pencils, plans, scales and tools on the table.

It is critical for reinforcing steel contractors to be able to read construction blueprints or at least be able to recognize lines and symbols.

Construction blueprints communicate important information about how a structure has been built as well as what materials are necessary or have been used for its construction. 

Being comfortable with construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but is especially important for those looking to get the C-50 license. See our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

OSHA Certification

featured image for a blog post about osha certifications. reinforcing steel contractors looking to get the c-50 license should absolutely get osha certified

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.

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

For employment with a steel contractor it is typically required that you have completed some level of OSHA training.

Learn more about OSHA Training


Getting the C-50 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!


You may also like

Jobs You Can Do With a C-42 License!

Jobs You Can Do With a C-42 License!
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get in touch

0 of 350

Get The Free California Contractor Licensing Course!