What does it take to become an electrician in California? - knoweasy

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What does it take to become an electrician in California?

March 09, 2022

Today's focus will be on the requirements in California, although much of the information will also apply more broadly. Before it's too late, join us and we'll explain everything you need to start this exciting career path!


What does it take to become an electrician in California?

The first step to becoming an electrician is research. No matter where you plan to live, you will need to find out exactly what is required to become one.

The State of California has a fairly detailed page on its website with all the details you need. However, when you first look at the requirements, admittedly, the information can be a bit overwhelming. We'll try to explain it more succinctly here.

For obvious safety reasons, the state must meet specific requirements before you are allowed to become an electrician. If you intend to work as an "electrical contractor connecting electrical equipment," you must meet these requirements. 

There are certain borderline cases, such as licensed electrical contractors, but they are not a focus today. Most people who wish to work in electrical work will need proper training.

Our focus will be on becoming a general electrician, but the requirements for a more focused electrician tend to be similar. The most significant difference between most electrician specialties is that they usually require less time to become licensed (discussed in more detail later). You can become a licensed electrician in California in other ways. If you have never been trained in the electrical field, attending a vocational or trade school is a good option for you to enter the field in less than a year.


The Path to Licensure

The path to licensure can begin in college or trade school. There, you will be required to take more than 750 hours of courses in electrical theory and practical methods.

Be sure to choose a well-designed program that meets all state requirements. Most importantly, the program must be approved by the California Department of Industrial Relations. Some of the basics you will learn to include:

  • National Electrical Code requirements
  • Wiring basics
  • Math essential to the transaction
  • Safety, including OSHA and CPR
  • Conduit bending
  • and much more


This training is only one part of what is required to become an electrician. The other part of the training, which can often be done in conjunction with an electrician program, requires you to accumulate at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience. 

The exact number of hours required for a particular electrician career path will vary, but the basic principles remain the same. If you want to become an electrician, you'll need to spend at least a few thousand hours as an intern. As long as you work under a licensed electrician, you'll be able to earn money while you work.

Coincidentally, this is why many people are training to become electricians who take classes at night. It's much easier to work during the day and take classes at night than the other way around. Some students even take hybrid courses that allow them to study theory and simulation labs online and then do hands-on training on campus. 


Become an Electrician Trainee

The aforementioned 8,000 hours of required work experience may sound daunting. The reality is that it's usually not as difficult as it first appears. Most electrical training programs offered by universities and trade schools help simplify the training process. 

The trainee requirement is designed to ensure that electricians have the education and practical experience needed to be on the job. After all, training programs can only provide so much training for students. It always helps to have hands-on training with on-the-job experience. Having electrical intern status allows you to work under a licensed electrician and build up the time needed to obtain your license. 

It is a good idea to read about this internship process. While it is usually not exhausting, it is still valid. If paid, you will usually only be paid minimum wage or slightly more than minimum wage.

Your goal during this internship should be to learn. Pay close attention to the electricians you are working with. Always ask questions and internalize the answers you get.

A certified electrician can only have one intern under them at a time. Respect the people who ostensibly decide to be key teachers in your career path. You will want to build a positive relationship with them.

Remember, this intern process is just as necessary as the schooling process. You will gain hands-on experience in the daily tasks of your future career. Take it seriously!

This is also the time to internalize whether or not this job is what you think it is. While you won't be able to do everything as an intern, the work will be similar to that of an electrician. If you hate doing this, it may indicate a problem.


Examination Period

After completing the course, you can apply to take the exam to become a certified electrician. You can also wait until you have accumulated your time before taking the exam.  

In any case, the initial steps of this process are simple. You will need to apply to take the exam. Eventually, the state will send you information about the exam.

The exam itself will cover much of what you learned in school. Your test will include questions from the National Electrical Code. You will know how to navigate the National Electrical Code, which is important for taking the exam. It's not hard, but it requires you to get a 70% or better. If you don't pass on the first try, you can retake the test.

Remember; you will be given a copy of the National Electrical Code manual at the test site. You should be familiar with navigating it, but do not need to memorize it. 

Do yourself a favor and review the basics of electrical work before the test. Go online and attempt some practice questions similar to those on the test. In other words, prepare!

Once you've managed to pass the test, you're done! You will be licensed and able to work as an electrical contractor in the state.

All that remains to be done is to find a position as an electrician and you will be ready to begin work. Work safely and work hard and you will rarely need to work! Everyone needs an electrician at least some of the time.



After you get your license, remember that you need to renew it. 

It may be a good idea to set reminders for yourself when you need to renew your license. That way, you won't miss any deadlines. Working without a permit, even by accident, can have serious consequences that you need to avoid.


Professional Electrician Tools 

If you are ready to return to work after a workplace accident, excellent electrical tools are your best bet. Knoweasy tools are professional electrician tools that can meet the various needs of electricians when working and effectively improve the efficiency and safety of their work.

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