California Electrician License: Everything You Need to Know

Are you ready for a new career? The electrical industry is expanding quickly in California. Homeowners and businesses need your electrical services to live comfortably. This profession gives you the option to work for a major company or start your own electrical contracting business. In this guide, learn the licensing requirements to earn your California electrical license.

Does California Require an Electrical License?

Yes, you need a California electrical license to perform this type of work.

What are the Different Types of Electrical Licenses in California?

There are several types of California electricians . You can become a general electrician, residential electrician, fire/life/safety technician, voice data video technician, and non-residential lighting technician.

General electricians can work on residential, commercial, and industrial projects. Residential electricians are limited to working on homes. Both electricians will wirie new builds, update the electrical system on older homes, or make repairs and small renovations. Both general and residential electricians in California make an average of $31 per hour.

Fire/life/safety technicians work on safety systems in offices, hospitals, and other types of facilities and usually earn around $20 an hour. The voice data video category is offered in California for anyone working on networks, video systems, security and access control systems, and other communication devices. This type of work is in high demand; wages range from $30 - $40 an hour. Non-residential lighting technicians work on indoor and outdoor lighting in stores, businesses, and other commercial locations. They typically earn $16 per hour.

The C-10 California electrical license is for contractors only. Contractors can oversee any work performed by a licensed electrician. Any contractor working on jobs valued at $500 or more must hold a contractor license.

How to Get an Electrician License in California

To become a certified general electrician, you can enroll as an electrical trainee in a state recognized school . You can sit for the exam after accumulating 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience and 720 hours of instruction. If you are a registered apprentice, you'll have to complete your program and pass the exam. If you've already completed 8,000 hours of work, you may sign up for the exam and bypass the instruction requirement.

Electrical trainees trying to become residential electricians have to complete 4,800 hours of on-the-job work and 480 hours of instruction. Fire/life/safety and voice data video technicians have to complete 4,000 hours and 480 hours of instruction. Non-residential lighting technicians have to complete 2,000 hours and 180-240 hours of instruction. Professionals who already have the necessary hours of on-the-job experience may sit for the exam.

Applying for certification costs $75, and examination fees are $100. You must score at least 70% to pass. When studying, pay attention to the code specific to your field. You may purchase books or find free resources online. The exams are open-book, and guidebooks are provided at exam locations.

If you wish to become a contractor, you'll have to work for at least four years as an electrician. This work experience only counts if you were an apprentice or certified electrician as opposed to being an electrical trainee. You'll be required to pass a law/business test and an electrical contractor test. After passing both tests, you'll submit proof of a surety bond for $15,000 and workers' compensation insurance that meets the state's regulations. Contractors are under the authority of the Department of Consumer Affairs - Contractors State License Board .

It costs $330 to apply for a contractor license. There also may be other associated fees. The contractor exam is closed-book. Questions will cover wiring, planning and estimation, finish wiring and trim, safety, and startup/troubleshooting/maintenance.

Should I Join an Electrician Union in California?

A union is as organized worker group that engages in collective bargaining to provide its members with everything from better pay to better working conditions. Joining an electrician union is beneficial. You get access to a pension and healthcare.

Keep in mind that you will be required to pay fees to join the union as well as annual fees of anywhere from $200-$500. You can learn more about unions by visiting the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers .

How to Use Your Electrician License to Get a Job

Online job boards are an effective way to search for jobs at large organizations. You’ll also want to network with people in the industry. 

During the interview, you will be asked about your relevant experience. Remember to ask your own questions about the job position, too.

Electrician Insurance in California

Anyone who works as an electrical contractor must obtain workers’ compensation insurance. It's also recommended that you get general liability insurance. If there are five or fewer people in your organization, you'll need coverage of at least $1 million. Every additional person increases the minimum coverage by $100,000. There's a cap of $5 million for this coverage requirement.

Electrician Industry Trends

With smart technology becoming more prevalent, there's a high demand for electricians. Attending trade shows is a great way to stay on top of new developments. 

There's also an increased focus on solar and other alternative energy sources as well as eco-friendly devices. Being knowledgeable about these fields can help your electrical career.

Is My License Only Valid in California?

Your California electrical license is only valid in the state.

Contact the State of California Department of Industrial Relations if your personal information changes. Replacing a certification card costs $30. Replacing a contractor license costs $12, and you can contact the Contractors State License Board .

How Often Do I Need to Renew My Electrician License in California?

Renewal fees for certification cost $100. Electricians must renew their certifications within three years. During that time, you'll have to complete 2,000 hours of work and take 32 continuing education units.

Contractor licenses are automatically renewed, and you'll receive your paperwork in the mail about two months before the expiration date of your license.


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