How to Become an Electrician in California

Did you know that California is the top state in the country for electrician employment? In some areas they make over $100K!

Education and Training

You can fast track your career with an online program that has open enrollment.

Local Trade School Programs

Search Electrician Programs

Get information on Electrician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

    Carrington College
    Carrington College's Electrical Technology program prepares students for careers in designing, installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems in residential and commercial properties. Students can earn a Certificate of Achievement in as few as 9 months, with the option to pursue an Associate in Trade Studies in an additional 6 months. The program, available at the Trades Education Center in Phoenix and Sacramento, offers flexible learning options and covers key skills such as blueprint reading, wiring, programmable logic controllers, and electric circuits.

    • Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, Stockton

    InterCoast Colleges
    40 week hybrid training program. Will help you get your GED if needed.

    • Anaheim, Fairfield, Rancho Cordova, Riverside, West Covina

    San Joaquin Valley College
    SJVC’s Electrical Technology program equips students with the skills to work in residential, commercial, and industrial electrical settings, earning a Certificate of Completion in as few as 10 months. The curriculum includes courses in electrical conduit bending and raceway systems, commercial wiring, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), technical math, electric circuits, and blueprint reading, with a focus on adhering to National Electrical Code standards. Students receive hands-on training with industry-standard equipment and software, preparing them for careers in the electrical field, with flexible learning options and affordable tuition available.

    • Atascadero, Bakersfield, Delano, Fresno, Hanford, Hesperia, Lancaster, Madera, Salida, Ontario, Porterville, Rancho Cordova, Temecula, Visalia

    Southern California Institute of Technology
    8 month accelerated program, online and on campus. Residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

    • Anaheim

    Summit College
    Summit College's Electrician program prepares students for careers in electrical systems for residential, commercial, and industrial settings. The program can be completed in as few as 9 months with flexible day or evening classes and a hybrid delivery format combining online lectures and in-person lab work. Students receive hands-on training in electrical safety, theory, National Electric Code (NEC) application, wiring, power distribution, and more. Summit College supports students with free tutoring, career services, and job placement assistance, helping graduates find opportunities in various sectors, including construction firms, power companies, and utility systems.

    • Colton, San Diego, Anaheim

What Will You Study?

Expect to learn the following concepts.

Foundational Electrical Knowledge:

  • Basic Principles of Electricity:
    • Fundamentals of electricity and power distribution
    • Principles of Electricity (DC/AC)
  • Mathematics and Theoretical Understanding:
    • Basic trade mathematics
    • Basic electrical theory

Safety Standards and Regulations:

  • Safety Practices:
    • Safety and OSHA Standards
    • Electrical safety and theory
  • Code Compliance:
    • National electrical code requirements

Skills and Techniques:

  • Wiring and Installation Techniques:
    • Electrical wiring practices, including residential, commercial, and industrial wiring
    • Specialty electrical installations
    • Service installation practices like grounding and bonding
  • Advanced Control Systems:
    • Electrical Motor Control
    • Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)

Practical Applications and System Management:

  • Comprehensive System Installations:
    • Installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of photovoltaic renewable energy systems
    • Branch and feeder circuits with various types of cable and conduit
    • Service of circuit breakers, lighting fixtures, receptacles, switches, paddle fans, and electric motors
  • Troubleshooting and Service Calls:
    • Identifying and fixing electrical problems on service calls

Tools, Equipment, and Materials:

  • Tools and Building Materials:
    • Hand tools and power tools
    • Building materials – Conductors and Cables, Enclosures and Cabinets, Terminal Devices

Project and Business Management:

  • Project Execution and Management:
    • Project planning and execution
    • Construction drawings and documentation
  • Customer Interaction and Service:
    • 10 lessons on customer service
    • Optional soft skills for the residential electrician

Assessment and Interactive Learning:

  • Evaluation and Certification Preparation:
    • Quizzes in each lesson
    • Instructor-graded assignments
    • On-the-job scenarios (critical thinking scenarios)
    • Course Challenge

Enhanced Learning Tools:

  • Visual and Interactive Resources:
    • 3D Models including main panel, circuit breaker, DMM, fuses, 3D model walk-throughs, and branch circuit learning check

How Much Does a Program Cost?

Expect to pay a minimum of $2,200 for most online courses. A 2 year degree could be as much as $20,000.

How Long Do They Take?

12 months is the typical timeframe for course completion.  Sometimes courses can be completed faster based on your pace of study.

Salary Range

Area Hourly Annual
Bakersfield $35.85 $74,560.00
Chico $35.44 $73,710.00
Eastern Sierra-Mother Lode $36.97 $76,890.00
El Centro $36.21 $75,320.00
Fresno $34.95 $72,690.00
Hanford-Corcoran $33.90 $70,510.00
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim $39.95 $83,090.00
Madera $39.37 $81,890.00
Merced $36.24 $75,390.00
Modesto $35.99 $74,860.00
Napa $40.40 $84,030.00
North Coast $38.00 $79,030.00
North Valley-Northern Mountains $35.82 $74,500.00
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura $36.56 $76,040.00
Redding $39.08 $81,290.00
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario $36.71 $76,350.00
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade $37.88 $78,780.00
Salinas $38.20 $79,460.00
San Diego-Carlsbad $37.22 $77,410.00
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward $49.15 $102,230.00
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara $49.32 $102,590.00
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande $42.33 $88,040.00
Santa Cruz-Watsonville $37.64 $78,290.00
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara $34.70 $72,170.00
Santa Rosa $39.87 $82,930.00
Stockton-Lodi $36.94 $76,840.00
Vallejo-Fairfield $42.27 $87,920.00
Visalia-Porterville $35.08 $72,970.00
Yuba City $34.81 $72,390.00

Occupation: Electricians (SOC Code472111)


California Requirements

Residential Electricians must complete 4,800 work hours and pass a three-hour open-book exam.  General Electricians require 8,000 hours in two fields, making it the highest electrician certification.

More information on Residential vs General electrician below.

The California Contractors State License Board also issues the C-10 Electrical Contractor license necessary for starting a contracting business.  The C-10 license has a $450 application fee, a $200 initial license fee, and additional costs for exams, re-examinations, fingerprint processing, and adding partners.

Apprentice Electrician Licensing

The path to becoming an apprentice electrician in California is well-defined.

It starts with completing 720 hours of instruction from a California trade school or apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Industry Relations (DIR).

Once the education and apprenticeship requirements are met, you can register as an electrical trainee (ET) with the state for a nominal fee. This registration allows you to work under a C-10 certified electrician on job sites, even while you’re still completing your education.

It’s important to renew your license annually until you’re eligible to take the exam and achieve full certification.

Residential Electrician Licensing

As a residential electrician in California, you are limited to residential electrical work only and cannot take on commercial jobs.

This license requires 4,800 hours of experience in at least two of the California Department of Industry Relations’ required fields, with a maximum of 300 hours in each field.

These fields include

  • fire and life safety
  • underground conduit installation
  • troubleshooting and maintenance
  • finish work and fixtures
  • stock room and material handling
  • residential wiring
  • voice, data and video installation

After fulfilling the work experience and training hours, you must apply to get approval for the California Residential Electrician Exam. This exam is a 210-minute, 80-question, open-book test offered by PSI Services, which provides regulatory licensure services in California.

General Electrician Licensing

Obtaining a general electrician license in California is the highest level of certification and allows you to work on most project types.

To achieve this, you must complete 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience in at least two fields specified by the California Department of Industry Relations.

These fields include:

  • troubleshooting and maintenance
  • finish work and fixtures
  • fire/life safety and nurse call systems
  • industrial wiring
  • voice data and video installation
  • underground conduit installation
  • stock room and material handling
  • residential wiring
  • commercial wiring

Once you’ve acquired the necessary experience and hours, you apply for the DIR.

Once approved, you can sit for the 270-minute, 100-question, open-book general electrician exam offered by PSI Services.

The General Electrician exam costs include a $75 application fee and a $100 exam fee, with a $100 renewal every three years.

Special Licensing Options

California offers various licensing options for electricians based on their specialization and experience.

  • Non-residential Lighting Technician, requiring 2,000 work hours and a 135-minute open-book exam
  • Voice Data Video Technician, with 4,000 hours of work and trade-specific training followed by a 135-minute open-book exam
  • Fire/Life/Safety Electrician, also needing 4,000 hours of specific work experience and a similar exam.