Electrical certification FAQs
Topics covered in this FAQ include:
Who is required to be certified?
What do I need to know about certification?
Can you tell me about the application process?
I am a trainee and have questions
I have questions about the test
What if I fail the test?
Renewal Certification Questions
Who should I contact to request a form W-9?
Is it true that licensed electrical contractors themselves are not required to obtain the certification?
If you are a licensed C-10 contractor licensed by the Contractors' State License Board, then you do not need to be certified. However, if you have employees that work under you then they need to get certified. Please visit our website for more information about certification. Note that if you are a licensed C-10 contractor but working under another C-10 contractor's license as an employee you must be certified.
Who is required to be certified?
Labor Code section 108.2 (b)
Certification is required only for those persons who perform work as electricians for contractors licensed as class C-10 electrical contractors under the Contractors' State License Board Rules and Regulations. Certification is not required for persons performing work for contractors licensed as class C-7 low voltage systems or class C-45 electric sign contractors as long as the work performed is within the scope of the class C-7 or class-45 license, including incidental and supplemental work as defined in Section 7059 of the Business and Professions Code, and regardless of whether the same contractor is also licensed as a class C-10 contractor.
Labor Code section 108 (c)
As used in this section, "electricians" includes all persons who engage in the connection of electrical devices for electrical contractors licensed pursuant to Section 7058 of the Business and Professions Code, specifically, contractors classified as electrical contractors in the Contractors' State License Board Rules and Regulations. This section does not apply to electrical connections under 100 volt-amperes. This section does not apply to persons performing work to which Section 7042.5 of the Business and Professions Code is applicable, or to electrical work ordinarily and customarily performed by stationary engineers. This section does not apply to electrical work in connection with the installation, operation, or maintenance of temporary or portable electrical equipment performed by technicians in the theatrical, motion picture production, television, hotel, exhibition, or trade show industries.
In a short answer, who is required to be certified?
All electricians who make connections of greater than 100 volt amps who work for C-10 Contractors.
I have a C-10 license; do I have to be certified?
No, sole owners who have a license in their own name need not be certified.
I am a foreman for a contractor and sometimes I work with the tools for that work. Do I have to be certified?
I work for a school district or a plant as an electrician, do I need to be certified?
No, only employees of C-10 Licensed Contractors.
I am an electrician moving to California from out of state, do I need to be certified? Is there a grace period for obtaining certification when moving to the state?
Yes, out of state electricians need to be certified before they can start working in California, there is no grace period.
What if I'm only coming into California to work for a short time as an electrician on one job?
All electricians working for C-10 licensed contractors should be certified regardless of the length of the project.
If I have a license from another state, do I have to be tested and certified?
Yes. Your electrician's license acquired from other states will make you eligible to sit for the test.
Do non-qualifying partners or officers of a C-10 Electrical corporation need to be certified?
Only the qualifying person, (meaning the person who took the contractor's license examination), may perform electrical work under that license without a state electrician certificate. Partners and officers of the company who did not sit for the licensing exam, must obtain State Electrician Certification to perform work for which certification is required.
Labor Code 108.2
(g) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the qualifying person for a class C-10 electrical contractor license issued by the Contractors' State License Board need not also be certified pursuant to § 108 to perform electrical work for that licensed contractor or to supervise an uncertified person employed by that licensed contractor pursuant to § 108.4.
What are the qualifications to apply for certification?
Please refer to CCR Title 8 Regulations § 291.1 Eligibility for Certification.
What is the deadline to be certified?
The California Apprenticeship Council took action at its May 5, 2006 meeting concerning the deadline for certification requirements in California.
How many classifications are there for certification and testing?
There are five classifications with corresponding exams: General Electrician; Residential Electrician; Fire/Life Safety Technician; Voice, Data, Video Technician; and Non-residential Lighting Technician.
What if I don't have enough hours of on the job experience?
If you do not have enough hours to qualify you to sit for the test, you have to register with the division as an electrician trainee. In order for your registration to be complete, you must show proof of enrollment in a state approved school.
How do I apply for the certification?
What is the cost for the application and test?
The fee is $175 ($100 exam fee and $75 administration fee - NOT REFUNDABLE). A check or money order MUST accompany the application, payable to:
DIR-Electrician Certification Fund
P. O. Box 420603,
San Francisco, CA 94142.
Do I need to attach a copy of my employment history with my application form?
Yes. Effective 1/1/2012 (AB 1346) passed. This bill would require individuals desiring to be certified to submit an application for examination and certification that includes an employment history report from the Social Security Administration as proof of employment http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-7050.pdf. (On the SSA form 7050 choose the #1 option for Certified/Non-certified Detailed Earnings Information that includes periods of employment or self-employment and the names and addresses of employers).
Social Security Administration may charge a fee for this report. You may obtain Form SSA-7050-F4 with an included fee schedule. Note: Please remember to also attach your $175.00 fee for your Application for Examination and Certification.
I sent in my application but haven't received a response, what do I do?
If you have not received a letter from the Electrician Certification Unit within 2-3 weeks, please call our main line at (510) 286-3900. Please press 0 for attendant or leave a message on voicemail with your full name, driver's license number, and phone number.
You may check your application status at electrician certification.
What if I have a change of address?
Please submit the address change form or you can send us a letter stating your new contact information.
Can I check the status of my certification or electrician trainee?
Note: To view current status with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, enter the Certification Number from your card in the Search field and click through to print the Verification statement to show the extended expiration date, which will also appear on the revised listing of California Certified Electricians on the DLSE-Electrician Certification Program website.
What if I lose my certification card?
A certified electrician who loses his card needs to fill out a request for a replacement card form and mail it to the address printed on the form. The cost is $30.00.
Can I register as a trainee and what are my rights as a trainee?
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements to sit for the certification test, you may register as an electrician trainee. You may continue to work only under constant supervision of a certified electrician.
How often do I have to renew my trainee card?
Trainee cards have to be renewed every year.
What do I need to do to renew my trainee card?
You need to complete the Application for Renewal of Registration Trainee found at the Electrician Trainee Forms page and attach with your application the following proof of continuance of school:
- Current Proof of enrollment.
- Unofficial transcript or verification from school of listed courses taken in the past year.
What happens when I withdraw from school?
Your status will become inactive. The school can send us a letter to cancel/ withdraw you for non-attendance.
What does "Inactive" status mean?
It means you are not active on the Electrician Trainee list and are not legal to work under a C10 Licensed Contractor.
What if I completed schooling as an Electrician Trainee, how do I renew my trainee card?
You need to make a copy of your Certificate of Completion and attach it with your Renewal Application each year to be legally working.
Can I take the Certification exam as an Electrician Trainee?
Only if you have completed your courses from the approved school and if you have acquired the on-the-job experience. See application form for Electrician Examination and Certification at the Certification Forms page.
If I completed and do not have the hours of experience, do I qualify to take the certification test?
Yes. You are qualified to take the certification test with a copy of your completion certificate, but we will hold your card until the required on-the-job experience is acquired. If you do not have the acquired experience yet, you can renew by filling out the Renewal Application form for Electrician Trainee by checking the "completed approved curriculum box", and attaching a copy of your Certificate of Completion from the approved Electrician Trainee School yearly until you have the hours of experience. Once you receive the hours of experience, you need to send us back the 2nd page of the letter that we sent you and mail it in to us so we can request to release your card. If you lose this letter, please request for another copy to be sent to you at (510) 286-3900 and press 0 for a representative.
How do I inform you about releasing my Electrician Trainee card?
A letter is sent to you when we accept you as a registered trainee. This letter is sent to you with your trainee card. Return this back with the information needed.
Can I be a trainee again after being withdrawn from the Electrician Trainee school?
Yes. You need to reapply again using the Application for New Registration of Electrician Trainee form and submit a $25.00 fee with your current proof of enrollment.
Is there a fee for renewing Electrician Trainee cards?
No. You only need to submit your Renewal Application form along with your current proof of enrollment and unofficial transcript. For those who completed their schooling, a copy of your certificate is needed with your Renewal Application.
Is there any out-of-state testing centers besides California for electrician certification exams?
Yes, once you are registered with the Electrician Certification Unit, you will get an eligibility letter and the candidate information bulletin Electrical Certification Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB) sent to you by PSI with the addresses for these locations in the following areas: 1) Medford, OR; 2) Las Vegas, NV; and 3) Reno, NV. This bulletin can also be found on our website at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/ECU/ElectricalTrade.html.
What happens if I miss the date I'm scheduled to take the test?
An applicant who misses the test date will forfeit all fees he/she has paid. He/she needs to fill out a retest form and pay both the application fee ($75.00) and examination fee (100.00)
Where are the testing sites located?
There are currently 22 test sites. Please refer to updated locations for PSI on pg 2-4 of the Electrical Certification Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB) for locations and directions.
Is the test a written exam?
No, the test is on a computer. Little to no experience is needed to operate the computer. A short practice lesson is given prior to the test. For more information on preparing for the test go to http://www.psiexams.com.
Is the test true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blank or essay?
All questions are multiple choice.
What is the content of the exam?
For examination content outline, please refer to PSI content outline of the Electrical Certification Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB).
Is this an open-book test?
Yes. Materials are provided at the test site.
What should I study in preparation for the exam?
The test will be based according to the NEC Code book and other references specified in the content outline found on the Test Info for each classification.
How many questions are on the test?
Fire/ life/ safety
Voice, data, video technician
Non-residential lighting technician
Number of questions given
Time given to take the test
Are there any sample questions available?
Yes, at test taking information.
Is the test available in languages other than English?
The test is also available in Spanish.
What identification is required for certification?
A valid state issued photo identification or driver's license is required.
If you present yourself at the test site with an expired identification, you will be turned away and forfeit all fees you have paid.
When will I receive my certification card?
Upon passing a score report indicating "congratulations" will be issued to you at the exam site. A plastic card will be mailed to you within 2 weeks after passing the test. If you are an apprentice, confirmation and verification of your graduation is needed before your card can be released.
What happens if I fail the test?
A score report showing your actual percent will be issued to you.
A minimum score of 70% is required to pass the test. If you don't pass the first time you can take it again 60 days from the date of the last exam.
If I don't pass the test how soon can I take it again?
There is a 60 day waiting period before you can retake the exam. You need to submit the Retest Application form with a $100.00 exam fee each time you retest.
If I don't pass the test, do I have to pay to take it again?
Yes. You have to pay the exam fee of $100 per exam.
What if I failed the exam many times and my year is up?
You will need to submit the Application for Examination and Certification Form with $175.00 fee attached.
We thank you for your interest in this matter. Please refer to this website periodically for updated information.
When do I have to renew?
To renew the certification, an electrician must do so before expiration to ensure your certification does not lapse. You can renew at least up to 1 year prior to expiration date as long as your 32 hours of continuing education is completed. Certification expires three years from the effective date. A reminder notice may not be issued, so please refer to your certification card for your expiration date.
What do I need to do to renew?
As a certified electrician you must have 2,000 hours of work in the industry and take 32 hours of continuing education relevant to your category of certification that is being requested in order to renew.
How do I apply for renewal?
To renew, fill out the application form found on the Electrician Certification Website or call (510) 286-3900. Please do not hang up and keep calling. Leave your name, phone number, and driver's license number to avoid massive incoming calls back. Submit application along with payment of $100 per Certificate being renewed. DLSE accepts payment only by check or money order payable to: DIR - Electrician Certification Fund. Payment must be included for certification to be renewed.
Who may offer continuing education?
These entities can provide continuing education.
Is there a form to complete to renew my certification?
Yes. The form for Renewal of Electrician Certification is available on our website at the Certifications Forms page.
What courses qualify for my continuing education requirement?
Courses that are relevant to the category of certification that are being requested to be renewed.
What kind of proof do I need to show that I met the requirement of working 2,000 hours in the industry?
No additional documentation is needed for proof. However, if you check this box you are stating that you have acquired 2,000 hours in the industry and signing under penalty of perjury that your statement is true and correct.
As a certified electrician am I required to obtain continuing education to maintain my certification?
Yes. You are required to obtain 32 hours of continuing education and present proof of certificate of completion to renew your certification.
What kind of proof do I need to show that I met the requirement of completing 32 hours of continuing education?
Proof is required to verify you completed your 32 hours of continuing education. You can provide a.) a copy of your Certificate of Completion(s), b.) verification from school indicating the name of courses, hours and dates. On the application form there will be a box to check stating you acquired 32 hours of continuing education, indicate school name and location and sign the application form.
If I take the certification exam, do I have to do the 32 hours of continuing education?
No. The 32 hours of continuing education is not required if you are retaking the exam.
Who enforces the law for electrician certification?
Effective July 1, 2009 the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) will enforce the electrician certification law. Not complying with the law could subject the licensee to administrative action by the CSLB. It could potentially open these contractors and workers up to civil suits should there be problems with work done by an uncertified worker. Enforcement page.
What is the penalty when an electrician is found working without a valid certification?
According to our CCR Title 8 Regulations § 294.0 - any person who displays a certificate, or otherwise claims to be certified, who is not certified shall be prohibited from taking the test for certification for a period of seven (7) years.
If there is fraud - The Labor Commissioner may for good cause suspend or revoke the person's certification if the person has committed gross negligence or fraud, or engaged in repeated acts of negligence during the performance of activities subject to the certification or if the person obtained certification through mistake, misrepresentation or fraud. - CCR Title 8 Regulations § 293.0(b).
Please email your request to DIRW9Inquiry@dir.ca.gov and specify which collection unit and/or type of fee you will be paying.
Revised March 12, 2015