California has a license for electrical contractors and certification for electricians. These are completely and are even regulated by completely different agencies. The Contractors State Licensing Board issues the electrical contractor licenses, and the Department of Industrial Relations is the certification agency for electricians.
An electrical worker must be certified when working as an employee of an electrical contractor. This applies for those who make connections greater than 100 volt amps. The contractor is someone who has at least 4 years of journeyman-type experience. But this can be 3 years of an apprenticeship or other formal training and a minimum of 1 year of actual hands-on experience. So if you don’t have this experience yet, one way to get it is to get certified as an electrician and then seek employment with a contractor. In fact, the Department of Industrial Relations recently did a count and says that there are about 29,000 general electricians who are certified in California.
There are some other electrician categories, and they include residential, fire/life safety, voice date video, and nonresidential lighting. Recent pass rates were said to be about 50 percent for the general exam on the first try. Approximately 50 percent of people who take the test 2 or more times end up passing at some point.
Use the most recent Candidate Information Bulletin to get ready for the test. Understand that even electricians already licensed in another state must take this exam and get certified before they can work in California.
Actually, certification is for experienced electricians. Until you get that experience, you need to be an electrician trainee. This can be done after you enroll in an approved electrician school. And trainees need “constant” supervision.
There is a $175 fee to test and register for California electrician certification.
Electrical contractors apply under the C-10 license classification. They take 2 exams, which are both different than the one taken by electricians. One is the electrical contractor exam, and the other is Law and Business. Study guides for both can be accessed online. Use the reference books mentioned in the guides to prepare for the tests.
If you are an individual applying for a license, you can use the form below. The fee at application time is $300. But it’s an extra $180 if and when you pass the exams. But the Contractors State Licensing Board will not grant you a license unless you also present a $15,000 surety bond or cash in lieu of a bond.