[UPDATED: Jan. 31, 2022] Consider how inconvenient (or worse) it can get when the power suddenly goes out in someone’s home or place of work. Desperate to get the lights back on and start using appliances again, people reach out from the darkness to call upon a professional electrician.
Whether you are interested in installing brand new electrical systems in homes or businesses or are attracted to the idea of improving things by upgrading wiring and other components in an older system, working as an electrician can be a rewarding career.
You may install an electric charging station for a customer’s electric vehicle one day and find yourself tracking down a problem with solar power panels not charging an off-grid business owner’s battery bank the next day.
Being an electrician gives you an opportunity to help people while making full use of your skills, knowledge, and experience. The rewards include a nice paycheck and a sense of accomplishment in solving problems on the job site.
Now is a great time to consider pursuing a career path to become a certified and licensed electrician. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), opportunities for employment as an electrician are projected to grow 9% through 2030.
That increased demand is attributed to anticipated growth in construction, such as through the White House’s efforts to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure (which will include thousands of charging stations for electric vehicles).
In addition, more people will be calling on electricians to address the rising need to use alternative energy sources to fossil fuels, such as wind and solar power. But you may be wondering how to get an electrician’s license in California.
Becoming an electrician can really pay off for you and your family. In fact, the BLS reported that, as of May 2020, the annual mean wage for electricians in the state of California was $75,900.
How to Become an Electrician Apprentice
Before working as a professional, you can work as an apprentice electrician under the supervision of a professional.
To become an electrician apprentice In California, you must be at least 18 years old and possess a high school diploma (or GED), and have earned a grade of “C” or higher in high school algebra (or equivalent) according to Ask the Electrical Guy.
Other prerequisites for entering an apprenticeship include passing an electrician aptitude test (this test can take about 2 ½ hours. You’ll also need to undergo an interview and be able to physically do the work involved in being an electrician (so there will be a physical test) and submit to drug testing.
All apprentice electricians in California must have a valid driver’s license before they begin.
You can locate an apprenticeship program in California through the California Department of Industrial Relations.
How to Become an Electrician
To work as an electrician in California, you must be certified and licensed. Specifically, you’ll need to get the C-10 Electrical Contractor license, issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board, before you can legally bid on any project worth $500 or more.
According to the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), if you want to become an electrician, you’ll need to do the following:
Begin by registering as an electrician trainee. To do this, you’ll need to submit an application, a check for $25, and proof that you are enrolled in an approved school, such as Summit College, which offers a DIR-approved Electrician Program. This leading-edge program can prepare you for real-world situations and teach you about electrical theory, national electrical code applications, AC and DC machines and motors, green electricity, commercial installation, electrical circuits, and more.
How Long Does it Take to Become an Electrician?
You will need to complete at least 720 hours of electrician instruction from an approved trade school/apprenticeship program that combines hands-on training with classroom instruction.
You will also need to gain 8,000 hours (approx. 4 years) of on-the-job experience (which also can be part of an apprenticeship). This experience must be as a journeyman, or as a foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder.
Please note there are no shortcuts here. Working as an unlicensed electrician is punishable by law and not worth the risk. The path to becoming an electrician requires hard work, but it will pay off.
Once you’ve completed these steps on how to get an electrician’s license in California, you’ll be eligible to take the state’s certification exams (which include a law and business exam and an electrical contractor exam). When you pass these tests, you will receive your electrician contractor’s license and be ready to embark on an exciting new career.
Embarking on a New Career as a Professional, Trained Electrician
There is always a need for talented individuals who have trained to become a professional electrician. It’s a lucrative line of work that enables you to help people while also giving you the satisfaction that comes from providing a much-needed service.
If you’re ready to start powering the world, you can begin your rewarding journey with a single step. Check out Summit College’s Electrician Program, apply online, or schedule a tour of one of our three campuses. Want to learn more? Connect with us today!