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how to get your C-8 license in California. Concrete contractors guide to the CSLB

Concrete License: A Contractor’s Guide to the C-8

Table of Contents

Do you need a license to pour concrete?

The answer is yes!

This step-by-step guide will break down everything you need to know about the licensing processing in California!


How to get a Concrete License

To get a Concrete License in California, you must prove a minimum of 4 years of journeyman level experience.

You must also pass a two-part state exam with the Contractor State License Board. 

To get an exam date you must meet 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 #
  • Cannot Currently be on probation or parole

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience
  • Have a Qualifying Individual to sign off on your experience
  • A way to prove your experience if the CSLB asks


What is Journeyman Level Experience?

Concrete Contractor pouring dry concrete from a bag

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a concrete company, or contractor that holds the C-8 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 can sign off on your experience

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-8 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within last 10 years)
  • Current or former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  •  Union Representative

Proving Your Work Experience for the Concrete 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.

Orange and Black cement truck

  • 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.

However, 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.


Filling out the Concrete License Application

The person you choose to be your Qualifying Individual needs to write a description of your work experience.

For example:

“Hank has done concrete work…” will not work

The CSLB will want to see something: 

“Hank has mixed mortar, done forming, placed and poured concrete, constructed retaining walls, and foundations”

C-8 Online Practice Exams and Study Guides


What is a C-8 Concrete Contractor?

“A concrete contractor forms pours, places, finishes and installs specified mass, pavement, flat and other concrete work; and places and sets screeds for pavements or flatwork. This class shall not include contractors whose sole contracting business is the application of plaster coatings or the placing and erecting of steel or bars for the reinforcing of mass, pavement, flat and other concrete work” – CSLB.GOV

Anyone charging over $500 for concrete projects needs to have a C-8 Concrete Contractor License.  

The C-8 License is an essential license in the eyes of the state of California.

Concrete is a trade that is critical to the foundation and functionality of most structures in the developed world. 


Duties associated with the Concrete License

A concrete contractor legally is not allowed to bid on a project that falls outside of the spectrum of general concrete-related work.

Duties include:

  • Demolition
  • Excavation
  • Measurement 
  • Pouring and Mixing Mortar
  • Retaining Walls
  • Foundations
  • Slab Work

  • Installing Reusable Steel Concrete
  • Post Tensioning Work
  • Sawing and Breaking
  • Curing Concrete
  • Forming
  • Tamping Finishes
  • Pouring Concrete

Concrete Subcontractor

Concrete Companies that hold the C-8 License often function as an independent unit subcontracted by a General Contractor.

They perform specific duties associated with a construction project.

75% of the state exam for General Contractors includes questions specific to concrete. 

Meaning, it is a critical skill set for anyone overseeing a full construction or remodel project. 

Cement Mixer pouring wet concrete

  • Sidewalks 
  • Foundations
  • Driveways 
  • Parking Lots

The General Contractor reports directly to the client and is in charge of the overall project and its day-to-day operations, including subcontractors and job site safety.

To learn more about the General Contractor License, check out this article!


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 somewhere 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-8 Concrete License

The Current CSLB fees are: 


Can you get a Contractors License with a Felony in California?
a white hand with a black pen filling out a criminal background form

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-8 Concrete 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 finger printing. 

The CSLB handles criminal records on a case-by-case basis. Remember, their responsibility is to protect the public.

In my experience, they are 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 they ask for regarding your criminal history. 


Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:

1) A-General Engineering                            (LAW + TRADE EXAM )

2) B-General Building                                     (LAW + TRADE EXAM)

3) C-Specialty Classes                                    (LAW + TRADE EXAM )

4) C-61/D- Limited Specialty                     (LAW TEST ONLY EXAM)


Recommended Courses

The Concrete License (C-8 license)

The examination is divided into five sections:


1. Planning and Estimation (30%)

  • Planning concrete projects
  • Estimating concrete projects

2. Pre-placement Preparation (28%)

  • Demolition, grading and excavating
  • Layout and forming
  • Installing drains and moisture barriers
  • Installing reinforcement and embedded items

3. Placing and Finishing (19%)

  • Placing concrete
  • Applying finishes
  • Curing and testing

4. Post-placement Tasks (5%)

  • Applying stains and sealers
  • Stripping forms; repairing, grouting, and caulking concrete

5. Safety (18%)

  • Employee safety
  • Job site safety


Preparation for the Concrete License Test

A wrench and calculator on top of a piece of paper. studying for your contractor license exam will greatly increase your chances of passing the concrete services license exam

  • 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. 

Online Practice Tests

Thousands of construction professionals from various backgrounds, trades, and experience levels get licenses in California each year.

Most are startled by how different the subject matter on the state exam is from their years of first-hand experience. 

Be as prepared as you possibly can.

Studying just 10 minutes 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-8 License test. 


CSLB Test Locations

CSLB

The CSLB has test-taking locations in the following cities:

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

Concrete Apprenticeships

If you don’t have the four years required journeyman level experience to obtain the C-8 Concrete License, not to worry.

Your journey begins here!

Construction is a trillion-dollar industry and highly skilled concrete tradesmen are always in demand.

Whether you are completely new or have some experience already, there are resources available to you.  

Generally, someone looking to specialize in concrete construction would want to look into an apprenticeship or certification program. 

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


Blueprint Reading Course

Two construction workers analyzing construction blueprints

Differentiating written plans vs design plans and knowing when to override drawings is a critical part of the job that concrete contractors do.

Being able to quickly interpret construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesmen but especially for concrete contractors. 

Blueprint Reading Skills are also critical to pass the General Contractor exam. 

Check out this Blue Print Reading Course for a basic introduction to the concepts you will want to know about.


EPA Certification

Logo of the Environmental Protection Agency

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

The most profitable concrete specialists 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.


Conclusion

Getting the C-8 Concrete Contractor License can be a huge step up in your career.

Especially if you are looking to open your company, expand to larger clients, or become an RMO!

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!