In California, to work as an electrical contractor on any project valued at $500 or more, you must obtain a C-10 electrical contractor license from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Contracting without a license is a misdemeanor violation with a potential sentence of six months in jail. To obtain a C-10 electrical contractor license, you must have at least four years of on-the-job experience at a journeyman level or higher. You must also pass two examinations--a law and business exam and an electrical contractor exam--before your license will be issued.
Complete an approved California electrical apprenticeship program. Electrical apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training and classroom instruction. It takes at least four years to complete an apprenticeship. Before being issued an electrical certification card, which allows you to work as a journeyman under a C-10 contractor, you must take and pass a certification exam. Be sure to obtain a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from your program administrator to include with your C-10 license application. Visit the California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship Standards for more information, including a list of approved apprenticeship programs in your area.
Obtain employment as an electrical journeyman for at least one year. A journeyman is an experienced worker who can perform the trade without supervision. Though the general requirement for a C-10 license is four years of journeyman-level experience, you are granted three years of credit for completing an apprenticeship program.
Download an Application for Original Contractor’s License packet from the CSLB website. Read through it to familiarize yourself with the licensing procedure.
Give a Certification of Work Experience form to any employers under whom you worked as an electrical journeyman. So long as you have completed an apprenticeship program, you only need to document one year of such work. Collect the completed forms for inclusion with your application.
Complete the application and submit it, along with supplementary documents and fees, to the indicated address. Upon approval of your application, you will be sent a Notice to Appear for Examination and a fingerprint request. The fingerprint request will instruct you how to arrange for your fingerprints to be sent electronically to CSLB from your local Live Scan facility. You will receive a Live Scan receipt, which must be submitted to CSLB no later than 90 days after receiving your fingerprint request.
Take and pass both licensing exams at the date and time that appears in your exam notice. If you fail to appear at your scheduled time, you may reschedule for a fee. You will receive your test scores before you leave the testing site. After successfully completing the exam, you will be instructed to submit a surety bond, proof of workers’ Compensation insurance and a licensing fee.
Obtain a surety bond in the amount of $12,500. You can buy such a bond from licensed surety companies across California. Submit the original bond to CSLB within 90 days of the bond’s effective date.
Obtain workers’ compensation insurance. You can buy such a policy from licensed insurance agencies across California. Submit a copy of the insurance policy to CSLB.
Submit your licensing fee to CSLB. Your license will be issued shortly thereafter. You will also receive a wall certificate and a permanent plastic pocket license. You must display the wall certificate in your main office.
You may be granted experience credit for various completed programs of education, including a range of four-year bachelor’s degrees and A.A. degrees in construction management. See the document titled, “Blueprint for Becoming a California Licensed Contractor” for a comprehensive list.
If your business is a Corporation, you must include your current, active registration number on your application. CSLB does not license Limited Liability Companies.
- California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship: Electrician Certification
- California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship: List of Approved Schools
- California Contractors State License Board: Frequently Asked Questions About Journeymen
- California Contractors State License Board: Application for Original Contractor's License Packet
- If your business is a Corporation, you must include your current, active registration number on your application. CSLB does not license Limited Liability Companies.
William Carpenter began writing professionally in 2004, working with nongovernmental organizations and business clients while living in China. He maintains clients in China while writing for a variety of U.S. publications. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Portland State University.