How to Become An Electrician in California

How to Become An Electrician in California


Snowboarder or Surfer California is Your State

Whether you prefer the beach or the snow California has it all. Many locations in California are within driving distance to both! With its laid back lifestyle phenomenal weather it is little wonder that some many people love California. Working as a licensed electrician in California is a highly lucrative job with a good outlook for the future with a projection of employment growth increasing 12% between 2008 and 2018. While taxes are fairly high this is one of the only drawbacks to California.  A government granted C-10 license is needed to be a professional electrician that will qualify to take on projects from $500 and above. This license is granted by California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement which sets the rules and regulations for becoming an electrician everywhere in California. There are five different electrician licenses that are granted depending on the applicant’s area of specialization. These are; Voice DataNon-residential lighting TechnicianFire and Life safety TechnicianResidential Technician, and General Electrician.


In order to become a licensed electrician in California you will have to meet the following requirements

  • At least 18 years old
  • Have at least a GED
  • Be handy and strong enough for the demands of the job
  • Good in mathematical calculations

After meeting the minimum requirements the next step is getting an apprenticeship. The apprenticeship includes an educational component and the classes are usually offered at community colleges. Classes can also be taken online which is great for those of us who are currently working have other obligations during regular hours. The apprenticeship is a combination of paid hands on training and classroom teachings which can last up to four years. Apprenticeship opportunities can be found through the California Department of Industrial Relations Apprenticeship programs website and the sponsors can be contacted via the phone or email to get started. Some of the sponsors could require entry examinations before an applicant can be accepted. Remember you will also need to supply your own tools for your apprenticeship.


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The next thing to do after successfully completing the hands on training in addition to the approved course of study is to apply for the electrician license. Getting this license equally requires an examination. The exam is administered by PSI and it is composed of 100 multiple choice questions to be taken within two and a half hours. The test contents are based on NEC standards and it is usually open book with 70% and above as a pass. Please note that the tests rely heavily on the information found in the NEC standards as opposed to “real life” situations so it is important to learn the material the way that is is presented in the NEC standards as this is what will be tested. There is a 60 day waiting period to retake the certification exam if an applicant does not pass it the first time however if you put the time in and study you will pass. The certificate to practice as a licensed electrician throughout the state is given when an applicant passes the exam. There are many different apprenticeship programs all over the state depending on the area of specialization and the county where applicants are located. The link above allows you to search by county and is a great resource if you are trying to get an apprenticeship in California. Some of the Guilds or associations of electricians in California are; Reno Electricians JAT for the Electrical Industry, Sacramento Area Electrical JATC, Santa Barbara County Electrical JAC to mention a few again links to these organization are at the website above. You do not have to belong to any of these organizations but if you are just entering the industry these associations will give you access to future potential employers and a great resource for guidance and advice as you progress through your career.


Becoming an Electrician in California



The Next Step After Becoming a Certified Electrician:


After becoming a certified electrician, there is ample opportunity to go a step further and become a journeyman electrician, this is a trade person who has completed 2-4 year apprenticeship and is able to work as a fully qualified licensed electrician – i.e. more responsibility and higher wages. The “apprenticeship” for becoming a journeyman electrician is done with local electrician guild, union, trade or technical school. Realize that you will have much more responsibility than a “regular” apprentice who is just trying to get their certification. The journeyman apprentice assists more experienced electricians and master electricians at work sites to learn valuable skills such as how to properly install things like circuit breakers, lighting fixtures, run wires through walls, and how to work safely and effectively at construction sites.  A greater emphasis is also given to learning and knowing how to apply the information in the NEC or Code book. There are additional theoretical instructions and practices in classrooms too. The trainee will also take an electrician license exam to become a licensed journeyman electrician.

Becoming a Master electrician is the top of ladder for an electrician career and as such the most lucrative however be aware that you will also have the most responsibility and realize that your decisions can have life changing consequences. Master electricians are required to sign off on the electrical plans for buildings and supervise the installation of the entire electrical system. As you can imagine they are highly educated and experienced. They are often in charge of training journeymen, and apprentice electricians as well as overseeing work teams and handling projects. The path to becoming a Master electrician is long and with the typical path consisting of progressing through the ranks from the lower level electrician and in addition be taking the right courses, join an electrician union, guild, and spend 9,000 working (2,080 working hours in one year) hours apprenticing under a journeyman and after gaining that certification apprenticing under a master electrician. The aspiring master electrician can also work for about eight years as a journeyman electrician or obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering to qualify. Additionally, a final master exam has to be passed also. All of these different certifications require practitioners to get continuous education to be knowledgeable about current regulations and laws governing the industry. Continuing education is also required to keep your license active.

California electrical licenses that are valid, active and have been in good standing for at least five years are honored in the following states:

due to the reciprocity agreements between these states.

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