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Licensed C12 Contractor excavating the earth using heavy machinery.

How to Get Your C12 Earthwork and Paving Contractor License in CA

California's construction industry presents numerous opportunities for professionals. If you're considering a career as an Earthwork and Paving contractor in California, there's a clear pathway to follow. This article aims to guide you through obtaining the C12 Earthwork and Paving Contractor license, clarifying its nuances and how it differs from a General Engineering Contractor license. Acquiring your C12 license isn't just about certification; it symbolizes a journey of skill development and opportunity, demonstrating your commitment to excellence, professionalism, and passion for transforming landscapes. With each project, you have the chance to make a lasting impact, shaping environments with your expertise.

Obtaining this license not only unlocks new avenues but also boosts confidence in your capabilities, setting a standard of excellence among your peers. Embrace the challenge, seize the opportunity, and let your passion for earthwork and paving drive your success in California's dynamic construction industry.

Is the C12 License Right for You?

If you're contemplating whether the C12 license suits you, it's crucial to grasp the scope of work it involves and whether it aligns with your skills, interests, and career objectives. As a licensed C12 contractor in California, you'll specialize in Earthwork and Paving, which encompasses tasks like excavation, grading, paving, and surfacing.

Earthwork and Grade Control:

  • Grade Control: As a C12 contractor, you'll ensure that surfaces meet specified grade requirements through precise measurement and adjustment.
  • Soils and Geology: Understanding soil properties and geological conditions is crucial for effective earthwork. C12 contractors assess soil stability and composition to determine appropriate excavation and grading techniques.
  • Excavation and Trenching: C12 contractors prepare sites for construction or utility installation by performing excavation and trenching, including digging trenches for pipelines or foundations.
  • Fill and Grading: Handling placement and compaction of fill materials to reshape terrain according to project specifications. Grading involves smoothing and leveling the ground to achieve desired contours.
Licensed C12 contractor compacting newly placed asphalt using a road roller.


  • Roadways, Driveways, and Parking Lots: Responsible for laying asphalt or concrete surfaces for various applications, including roads, driveways, and parking lots.
  • ADA Requirements: Adhering to ADA requirements when constructing or renovating paved surfaces, ensuring accessibility features are properly designed and installed.
  • Specialty Paving: Undertaking specialty paving jobs such as decorative paving or stamped concrete to meet specific aesthetic or functional requirements.
  • Demolition and Pavement Repair: Involved in demolition of existing pavement structures and repair of damaged surfaces, including removing old asphalt or concrete and applying new materials.
  • Related Paving Activities: Performing activities like sealcoating, striping, and marking to enhance the appearance and functionality of paved surfaces

Overall, the C12 license allows contractors to undertake a wide range of earthwork and paving projects, from site preparation and grading to construction and maintenance of paved surfaces, ensuring safe and functional infrastructure for California communities.

How to obtain a C12 Earthwork and Paving Contractor License in CA?

Securing a C12 Earthwork and Paving contractor license in California involves several steps and requirements. Here's an overview:

  1. Meet Eligibility Requirements:
    • Be at least 18 years old.
    • Have a minimum of four years of journey-level experience in earthwork and paving.
    • Possess a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  2. Complete the Application:
    • Obtain an application from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB), fill it out accurately, and submit it with the required fee. Consider hiring Contractors Intelligence School for assistance.
  3. Prepare for the License Examination:
    • Pass the Law and Business exam and the C12 Earthwork and Paving trade exam. Study materials are available from CSLB or Contractors Intelligence School.
  4. Application Acceptance and Test Scheduling:
    • After CSLB accepts your application, schedule exams with PSI.
  5. Pass the License Examinations:
    • Arrive early for exams, carry valid ID, and complete tests within the time limits. Results will indicate pass or fail.
  6. Complete the Final Steps within 90-days of Passing Your Exams:
    • Pay the initial license fee
    • Complete livescan fingerprinting.
    • Obtain a Contractor’s Bond and any additional bonding (if applicable).
    • Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance (if applicable).
    • Obtain General Liability Insurance (if applicable).
    • Complete the Asbestos Open Book Examination.
  7. Receive Your C12 Earthwork and Paving Contractor License:
    • After meeting all requirements, receive your license card and certificate.

What is the Difference Between an Earthwork and Paving Contractor and a General Engineering Contractor?

An "A" General Engineering Contractor holds a license that enables them to undertake a wide range of projects requiring specialized engineering expertise. These projects typically involve large-scale public infrastructure such as highways, bridges, water systems, sewage systems, pipelines, dams, and other essential community structures. A "C12" Earthwork and Paving Contractor specializes in specific aspects of construction, namely earthmoving, grading, and paving, they often serve as subcontractors for engineers in larger projects. Their primary focus revolves around tasks such as excavation, backfilling, compaction, and surfacing of roads, parking lots, and other paved areas. While there is some overlap in their work with general engineering contractors, C12 contractors have a narrower focus and may not engage in the full spectrum of engineering-related tasks that a general engineering contractor would typically handle. However, their expertise is invaluable in collaborating with engineers, particularly in preparing the ground for further engineering work and the installation of asphalt or concrete surfaces within larger construction projects.


Pursuing a C12 Earthwork and Paving Contractor license in California offers a promising career path for those passionate about earthwork and paving projects. While the journey may be challenging, opportunities for growth and success in the engineering and infrastructure industry abound. Take the first step by contacting Contractors Intelligence School at 800-425-7570. With dedication and determination, you can achieve your goal of becoming a licensed contractor.

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