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8 Steps To Get Your California C-10 Electrician Contractor License

8 Steps To Get Your California C-10 Electrician Contractor License

California's has some of the best government websites, and yet organizing the steps to get your C-10 electrician contractors license can be confusing. This article is going to layout each step from choosing to become an licensed electrician to getting your C-10 electrical contractors license.

This article will walk through:

  • The 8 steps to get your C-10 license
  • The difference between the apprentice program and approved electrician trade schools
  • How to qualify and ace your exam
  • The two additional exams to get your C-10 license
  • The fees and financial requirements to get your licenses
  • Your continuing education and work hour requirements

8 Steps To Get Your California C-10 Electrician Contractors License

The 8 steps to get your California C-10 electrician contractor license starting from getting your trainee certification all the way through obtaining your C-10 license.

The high level steps are:

1. Get Your Electrician License

This will allow you to work under a C-10 electrician contractor as a certified electrician.

You can continue working as an electrician for another contractor or you can decide to become a licensed C-10 contractor yourself.

2. Get 4 Years of On-The-Job Experience

In order to qualify for your C-10 license, you must have 4 years of electrician experience within a 10 year timeframe.

3. Get Your C-10 Electrician License

If you decide you want to become a C-10 licensed electrical contractor, you need to get this license. This will allow you to hire certified electricians to work under you.

8 Steps To Get Your California C-10 Electrician License


Step 1: Get Your Electrician Trainee Certification

The two steps to get your electrician trainee certification are pay a small $25 fee and enroll in an approved electrician school.

This journey starts with getting your electrician trainee certification. It's not difficult to do.

There are two steps:

  1. Pay the small application fee of $25
  2. Enroll in an approved electrician school

As an electrician trainee, you can start to work in the field for licensed electricians. Not only will you get to use what you're learning in school, but you'll begin accruing the hours you'll need to get your license.

Step 2: Enroll In Apprenticeship Program Or In Electrician School

A small number of C-10 licensed electricians in California offer an apprenticeship program to get the knowledge and hours required for your electrician license. You can find the available electrician's offering apprenticeship, but there aren't many. In the whole state, there are only 10 companies.

And just because a company offers an apprentice program does not mean you can get into it. You will need to apply and it's up to the company to accept you. It's worth a shot though... you'll learn more and faster compared to attending school.

Enrolling in a school is sure fire way to satisfy the education requirement, plus there are a lot of approved electrician schools to choose from.

From our small investigation into different programs:

  • The electrician program lasts 12 months
  • Tuition for instate students is about $1,300 to $1,600 depending on the school
  • You will need to purchase books and study materials

Step 3: Get Your Hours Of Experience

The difference between a general electrician's hours compared to a residential electrician is 8,000 hours vs 4,800 hours.

This is the heart of getting your electrician license. You need to accrue hours of experience based on the discipline you're interested in pursuing.

This article focuses only on general and residential electricians, but you can find a full list of the hours required here.

General Electrician Requirements

A general electrician license will require you to obtain 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience. The 8,000 hours must be under a licensed C-10 electrical contractor. And the hours must consist of work in two more more of the following areas: (Each area has a max number of hours you can count towards your 8,000 total hour requirement.)

Work Experience Category Number of Hours
Stock room and material handling 300 hours max
Residential wiring 3,000 hours max
Commercial wiring 6,000 hours max
Industrial wiring 6,000 hours max
Voice data and video installation 1,500 hours max
Underground conduit installation 750 hours max
Troubleshooting and maintenance 1,500 hours max
Finish work and fixtures 600 hours max
Fire/life safety, nurse call 600 hours max

Residential Electrician Requirements

A residential electrician license will require you to obtain 4,800 hour of on-the-job experience under a license C-10 electrical contractor. For the residential license, these hours require one or more of the following:

Work Experience Category Number of Hours
Stock room and material handling 300 hours max
Residential wiring 4,800 hours max
Voice data and video installation 150 hours max
Underground conduit installation 300 hours max
Troubleshooting and maintenance 6000 hours max
Finish work and fixtures 600 hours max
Fire/life safety, nurse call 300 hours max

Because this license's focus is residential, you can get all your hours in residential wiring. However, it's a good idea to get experience in more than one area.

Step 4: Take Your Electrician License Exam

The five classifications requiring an exam are general electrician residential electrician fire life safety technician voice data video technician non-residential lighting technician.

There are five classifications requiring an exam:

  1. General electrician
  2. Residential electrician
  3. Fire/life safety technician
  4. Voice, data, video technician
  5. Non-residential lighting technician

In order to sit for the exam, you must have completed school.

You don't have to complete all of your hours to take the exam. If you sit for the exam and pass it without completing your hours, your certification will be held until you do complete all required on-the-job hours.

Prepping For The Exam

Your electrician school experience should prep you well for the exam. If you want more prep, there are many third-party courses and practice exams.

From reading about the experience of certified electricians, the best way to prepare is to take a lot of practice exams. This will help you get use to the style of questions asked on the exam.

California has a list of sample questions you can explore to get an idea of what is required of you. This same page breaks down the exams based on the license you're applying for including the topics and how much each topic is covered on the exam.

Take Your Exam

Once you've completed your schooling, you can sit for the exam. There is a $175 exam fee. If you fail the exam, you have a mandatory 60 day waiting period from the date you failed. Fill out the Retest application form to take the exam again.

What If It Takes You Longer Than One Year To Get Certified?

Given that most electrician schools have 12 months of curriculum and obtaining 4,800 hours would take 200 days, 24 hours each day... it's likely to take you more than 12 months to qualify for your license.

California requires you to renew your electrician trainee certification. There are no fees to renew your certification, just ensure you're still enrolled in school if you've not graduated yet.

Step 5 - Get Your License

Once you pass your exam and complete all your required hours, you'll be mailed your license within two weeks of submission. You're now able to work for a C-10 electrical contractor as licensed electrician.

Your license expires three years from the effective date. A license electrician is required to have:

  • 2,000 hours of work in the industry you're licensed for
  • Plus 32 hours of relevant continuing education each year to renew your license

No proof is required of the hours or the continuing eduction, but if you're proven to have lied the penalty is perjury.

Step 6 - Decide To Get Your C-10 Electrical Contractor License

Becoming a C-10 licensed electrician contractor allows you to hire certified electricians to work for you on a multitude of jobs.

The application for your C-10 license states in large text... "Spending a few extra minutes now may save you weeks or months later." Make sure you read the application carefully.

The process to obtain your license is as follows:

  1. Complete your Application for Original Contractor's License. (Do not submit any bonds or initial licensing fee with your application at this point.)
  2. Complete the Certification of Work Experience (13A-11). (No additional experience will be accepted once you submit this form.)
  3. Submit the application and the $450 application processing fee.
  4. Receive approval to take your exams. You have 18 months to complete the two exams.
  5. Complete fingerprinting.
  6. Pass exams.
  7. Submit final application with initial licensing fee of $200, your contractor license bond (see below), and required proof of insurance.

Here are the steps above laid out in great detail. It helps to go through them. Not every step is required for your individual case.

Experience Requirements: page 9 of application

Within the last 10 years, you must have 4 years of experience in the C-10 classification. The experience must be no less than a "journeyman" level. If you follow the steps above and obtain your electrician license, you satisfy this requirement.

Step 7 - Pass Necessary Examinations

(Page 9 of application)

To obtain your C-10 license you must pass a C-10 electrical exam and a written Law and Business exam. There are third party programs to help you study for these exams. Each is a closed book exam.

If you're licensed in another state, you may qualify to waive the exams. Reference page 7 of your application for more details.

Step 8 - Obtain Your Contractor's License Bond

(Page 10 of application)

California requires every licensed contractor and qualifying individual contractor to be bonded. Learn more about the details or what a bonded contractor is and the purpose of a surety bond because this is a requirement the state takes seriously.

Surety Bonds Direct is a surety bond service provider. To purchase a CSLB contractor's license bond, you must:

  1. Get a quote because your price will be based on your personal credit report.
  2. Receive and pay your price to purchase your bond for the year.
  3. Surety Bonds Direct will file your bond with the CSLB for you.

It's a process that can take 2 days to complete from initial quote to filling your bond.

If you're an LLC, you will need to purchase a LLC employee/worker bond. You can get a free online quote or call us at 1-800-608-9950 and talk to a bond expert to satisfy this requirement.


Other Requirements

  • Selecting your business name and address: page 3
  • Choosing your business structure: page 4
  • Qualifying individual name and address: page 5
  • License personnel legal names and address: page 6
  • Fingerprinting: page 7
  • Liability insurance requirements if necessary: page 11

This is a high level overview. Make sure you go through each page and step required for your individual needs. Missing information or incorrectly filling out this application can delay or even cause your application to be rejected.

When You Need Help With Your Contractors License Bond Call Us

While California has a great website, identifying each step is confusing. I hope this article helped clarify the process to get your electrician license and C-10 license in California.

When you're ready to secure your contractor bond, request a free quote or call Surety Bonds Direct (1-800-608-9950). We will consult with multiple surety companies to find you the best rate, securing the lowest cost.

Surety Bonds Direct   Justin Richmond  

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