How to Become an Electrician in California

A career as an electrician in California is a smart choice for people willing to learn and get right to work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the field is growing by 10 percent in the state and that there will be 10,230 annual job openings in the years to 2028. Incomes are great for electricians, too, but there is a multi-year process to follow in order to become licensed. [En Español]

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An electrician is a tradesperson specializing in the electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines, transmission lines and other related equipment. Electricians are frequently employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical systems infrastructure. Electricians can also become specialists in wiring airplanes, ships, and automobiles, as well as cabling lines for data.

Requirements for Becoming an Electrician in California

The requirements for working as an electrician vary by state, and here it is the Contractors State License Board that provides licensing for all construction trades. The Board, which is part of the Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses residential and general electricians as well as fire and life safety technicians, voice, data and video technicians, and non-residential lighting technicians. The Board maintains a list of licensed electricians in the state for consumers to consult.

To become an electrician you must start with an electrician education program, which can be through a vocational or technical school or a union or non-union apprenticeship program. The State’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement maintains a list of approved programs. The California Apprenticeship Council (CAC) is responsible for approving apprenticeship programs.

Approved union programs are offered by the Electrical Training Alliance via Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) offices across the state. The Alliance is partnership between the state chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Approved non-union apprenticeships are offered by the state chapters (Northern California and Southern California) of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

These electrical training and educational programs offer both classroom learning, where students become familiar with the National Electrical Code (NEC), electrical installation and wiring, how to read blueprints, and hands-on learning and work experience. Your time working alongside a qualified professional will teach you how use the tools of the trade, and how to plan a job professionally.

To do that hands-on work during the program you must be registered in the state as an electrician trainee. To qualify as a registered electrical trainee (ET), and receive your trainee card, you must be enrolled in an approved electrician school program or apprenticeship program, and submit an application and a $25 fee to the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The trainee license requires annual renewal.

After completing a program as a trainee and having met the requirements for practice hours, you can take the exams to become licensed. To become licensed as a residential electrician, your curriculum will include 150 hours of classroom work and 4,800 hours developing skills on-the-job. To become a general electrician you also need 150 hours of class time and 8,000 hours of supervised work experience.

Finally, to become an electrical contractor and run your own business and offer electrician services you must apply and take the assessment exam for the state’s C-10 license. The requirements to become a C-10 electrician include four years of full-time work as an electrician and at least $2,500 in operating capital for your business. Unlike some other states, California does not offer advantages persons holding an electrical engineering degree. To become an electrical contractor is the ultimate goal of most people entering the profession as it offers independence and access to higher earnings.

Electrician Schools in California

The California Department of Industrial Relations lists 89 approved electrician programs in this west coast state so you have ample choice. You must enroll in one of these programs to be able to register as an electrician trainee and begin on the path to becoming a licensed electrician. The courses available at these colleges include completing electrical projects in labs, study of the NEC, analysis of power systems and electrical wiring, some algebra and basic mathematics.

  • Long Beach City College. The main campus of this school in Long Beach offers an approved training program that includes 150 hours of coursework each year, day or evening classes, and the option of earning a certificate or an associate degree. There are several important steps to take in order to officially enroll, including an orientation session with the college’s instructors.
  • Los Angeles Trade Technical College. This community college, with its campus in Los Angeles, also offers day and evening programs. Students can choose between a certificate program and an associate of science degree. Students also work with licensed electricians to begin getting hours of work experience. More information on LATTC’s electrician program.
  • San Mateo County Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center. Located in the San Francisco Bay area, this program takes five years to complete and includes two nights of classroom work per week and a total of at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. This meets all requirements for applying for residential and general electrician licensing upon completion.
  • Redwood Empire Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center. Also located in northern California, this union program offers students a five-year comprehensive training plan to become eligible for licensing. Apprentices get 900 hours of classroom time with instructors and 8,000 hours on-the-job. There are also three-year programs for becoming a residential wireman or an installer technician.
  • Northwest Lineman College. Graduates of the Electrical Lineworker Program construct, operate and maintain the electric power grid, working with heavy equipment, power lines, and bucket trucks. Based in Oroville.
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Outlook and Salary Expectations

The growth in careers for electricians in the state of California is strong. According to the BLS, there were 78,100 electricians working in the state in 2018, and projections are that there will be 7,400 more working by 2028, a big increase that means there are plenty of opportunities for electrician trainees right now.

Salaries are competitive in the Golden State. In 2019, the average annual wage for an electrician was $64,600, but the average for the top 10 percent of earners was over $116,840. There are great opportunities in the state for qualified and licensed electricians to find jobs, to work as independent contractors and to earn a high income.

Salaries by Occupation

OccupationTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual WageAnnual Salary 10th PercentileAnnual Salary 25th PercentileAnnual Salary 75th PercentileAnnual Salary 90th Percentile
Electricians72,870$33.87$70,460$36,050$48,320$87,060$116,840
Helpers--Electricians4,740$19.13$39,800$26,260$31,930$47,110$58,540
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers, Transportation Equipment1,160$37.50$78,000$54,110$60,470$94,930$104,210
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment5,190$31.10$64,680$33,300$44,550$80,070$102,230
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay1,420$46.83$97,400$59,630$78,090$119,820$130,920
Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers6,730$46.78$97,300$53,490$74,620$122,360$132,910

Electrician Salaries by Region

AreaTotal EmploymentMean Hourly WageMean Annual SalaryHourly Wage 10th PercentileHourly Wage 25th PercentileHourly Wage 75th PercentileHourly Wage 90th Percentile
Bakersfield, CA1,490$34.47$71,700$18.80$24.21$39.64$57.89
Chico, CA410$30.26$62,930$17.44$21.56$35.63$49.66
El Centro, CA100$34.52$71,800$18.12$27.00$44.22$50.11
Fresno, CA1,870$29.51$61,380$16.57$20.23$36.63$45.32
Hanford-Corcoran, CA90$29.07$60,470$20.46$23.97$35.72$37.28
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA22,670$32.79$68,200$17.37$23.59$41.21$49.85
Madera, CA150$35.16$73,120$21.42$24.72$41.60$50.50
Merced, CA110******
Modesto, CA720$29.27$60,880$17.02$21.47$34.70$38.51
Napa, CA300$36.67$76,270$25.40$29.32$44.66$49.91
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA840$30.91$64,300$16.46$23.01$36.52$47.96
Redding, CA240$33.33$69,330$19.71$22.94$44.51$51.70
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA7,530$25.52$53,080$14.90$18.22$31.24$38.09
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA4,910$28.63$59,540$17.01$20.76$34.67$44.86
Salinas, CA500$35.58$74,000$26.26$28.49$41.86$49.75
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA7,640$29.25$60,850$15.25$20.57$36.09$46.01
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA11,550$48.27$100,400$25.65$32.75$61.81$74.50
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA3,870$37.46$77,910$21.15$27.09$46.13$61.42
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA570$30.61$63,670$20.61$24.06$34.46$47.41
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA420$29.93$62,250$17.34$21.90$35.44$47.44
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA700$27.78$57,790$14.06$18.60$36.12$42.02
Santa Rosa, CA1,160$32.45$67,490$14.64$21.82$43.69$48.31
Stockton-Lodi, CA1,090$29.08$60,480$17.23$22.32$35.03$39.56
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA1,150$31.57$65,670$24.03$27.20$35.86$41.49
Visalia-Porterville, CA530$29.41$61,170$17.88$21.73$35.25$46.78
Yuba City, CA90$37.66$78,330$20.81$25.87$46.18$55.16

Working as an Electrician in California

Sharing its borders with Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and the Pacific Ocean, the most populous state in the nation – 39.5 million – offers plenty of opportunity.

The number of jobs for electricians in the state is growing and is expected to continue that upward trend. For licensed electricians, working for contractors and construction companies is an option. Another option is to become licensed as a contractor and to work independently or to hire other electricians for a contracting business. Many electricians will specialize in residential or commercial buildings, or work in the installation and maintenance of refrigeration, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or solar energy (photovoltaics) systems. Whichever career path you choose, working as a qualified electrician in California is a smart way to get into a career with job security and a great income.

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College Programs

Bakersfield-Delano, CA Area

Bakersfield College

1801 Panorama Dr, Bakersfield, CA 93305-1299
(661) 395-4011
Electronics, Industrial Automation – Certificate Program

El Centro, CA Area

Imperial Valley College

380 E. Aten Road, Imperial, CA 92251-0158
(760) 352-8320
Electrical Technology – Certificate Program, Electrical Technology – Associate Program

Imperial Valley College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Imperial in Imperial County. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is roughly in the order of $1,142 and for students from other states around $5,774 for each academic year, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,746, although this varies from program to program.

Fresno, CA Area

Fresno City College

1101 E. University Ave, Fresno, CA 93741
(559) 442-4600
Electrical Systems Technology: Introduction to Industrial Controls – Certificate Program, Electrical Systems Technology: Cisco CCNA Preparation – Associate Program

Fresno City College offers various Certificate program options for future electricians, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Tuition fees for in-state students are about $1,304 and for students from other states approximately $6,944 annually, while study materials may cost around $1,000, depending on the program.

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division Area

Antelope Valley College

3041 West Ave K, Lancaster, CA 93536-5426
(661) 722-6300
Electrical Technology – Certificate Program

Antelope Valley College offers various Certificate program options for future professionals. Classes are taken at their campus in Lancaster in Los Angeles County. Fees for tuition for in-state students are around $1,124 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $6,500 yearly. Books and supplies can cost about $975, although this will depend on the program.

Baldwin Park Adult & Community Education

4640 N. Maine Ave, Baldwin Park, CA 91706-4221
(626) 856-4101
Electrician – Certificate Program

Baldwin Park Adult & Community Education’s Certificate-level Electrician program is taught at their campus in Baldwin Park in Los Angeles County, CA. The college is accredited by the Council on Occupational Education. Fees for tuition are about $1,650 for each academic year. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,165, although this will vary with the program. More information.

East Los Angeles College

1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA 91754-6099
(323) 265-8650
Electrical Engineering – Certificate Program

East Los Angeles College’s Certificate-level Electrical Engineering program is based at their campus in the city of Monterey Park, California. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $1,220 and for out-of-state students approximately $7,016 annually. Study materials can cost around $1,854, depending on the program chosen.

El Camino Community College District

16007 Crenshaw Blvd, Torrance, CA 90506
(310) 532-3670
Industrial Computer Control Technician – Certificate Program, Electronics Engineering Technician – Associate Program

El Camino Community College District offers various Certificate program options for future professionals, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Torrance in Los Angeles County, California. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually in the order of $1,142 and for students from outside the state in the order of $5,846 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,848, although this will vary with the program.

Glendale Community College

1500 N Verdugo Rd, Glendale, CA 91208-2894
(818) 240-1000
Electronics Technology Technician – Certificate Program

Glendale Community College’s Certificate program in Electronics Technology Technician is based at their campus in the city of Glendale. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $1,175 and for out-of-state students approximately $6,335 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,854, although this will depend on the program.

InterCoast Colleges-West Covina

2235 East Garvey Ave. North, W. Covina, CA 91791
(626) 337-6800
Electrical Training – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Electrical Training at InterCoast Colleges is offered at their West Covina campus in W. Covina in Los Angeles County. The college is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training. Tuition fees are generally around $19,200 yearly. More information.

Long Beach City College

4901 E. Carson St., Long Beach, CA 90808-1706
(562) 938-4111
Solar Photovoltaic Installation and Design – Certificate Program, Traffic Signal Systems – Associate Program

Long Beach City College offers various Certificate program options for future electricians, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Tuition fees for in-state students are around $1,188 and for out-of-state students approximately $7,500 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,854, although this will depend on the program.

Los Angeles City College

855 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
(323) 953-4000
Electronics – Certificate Program, Electronics – Associate Program

Los Angeles City College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is about $1,220 and for students from other states around $7,538 for each academic year, while study materials may cost roughly $1,854, depending on the program.

Los Angeles Harbor College

1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington, CA 90744-2397
(310) 233-4000
Electronic Engineering Technology – Certificate Program

Los Angeles Harbor College’s Certificate program in Electronic Engineering Technology is based at their campus in the city of Wilmington, California. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be in the order of $1,220 and for students from outside the state likely to be about $7,538 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,854, although this will vary with the program.

Los Angeles Pierce College

6201 Winnetka Ave, Woodland Hills, CA 91371-0002
(818) 719-6401
Electronics – Certificate Program, Electronics – Associate Program

Los Angeles Pierce College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Woodland Hills. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is roughly about $1,220 and for students from other states approximately $7,770 annually. Books and supplies can cost around $1,854, although this will depend on the program.

Los Angeles Southwest College

1600 W. Imperial Hwy., Los Angeles, CA 90047-4899
(323) 241-5225
Electronics – Certificate Program, Electronics – Associate Program

Los Angeles Southwest College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Fees for tuition for in-state students are likely to be around $1,220 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $7,538 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,854, although this varies from program to program.

Los Angeles Trade Technical College

400 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015-4181
(213) 763-7000
Basic Electrician Trainee – Certificate Program, Electrical Construction & Maintenance – Associate Program

Los Angeles Trade Technical College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Los Angeles, California. This public college has tuition fees for in-state students of about $1,220 and for students from other states likely to be about $7,538 yearly. Learning materials may cost about $1,854, although this will vary with the program.

Los Angeles Valley College

5800 Fulton Avenue, Valley Glen, CA 91401-4096
(818) 947-2600
Electronics Technician – Certificate Program, Electronics – Associate Program

Los Angeles Valley College offers various Certificate program options for future professionals, a Certificate program and an Associate program. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is in the order of $1,220 and for students from outside the state around $7,538 for each academic year. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,854, although this will vary with the program.

Mt San Antonio College

1100 N Grand Ave, Walnut, CA 91789-1399
(909) 594-5611
Electronics Technology – Certificate Program, Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology – Associate Program

Mt San Antonio College offers various Certificate program options for future electricians, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Walnut in Los Angeles County, CA. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually in the order of $1,349 and for students from outside the state in the order of $8,741 per year. Books and supplies can cost in the order of $1,854, although this will depend on the program.

Pasadena City College

1570 E Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91106-2003
(626) 585-7123
Electrical Technology – Certificate Program, Electrical Technology – Associate Program

Pasadena City College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Fees for tuition for in-state students are around $1,348 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $7,004 yearly. Books and supplies can cost about $1,854, although this will depend on the program.

Merced, CA Area

Merced College

3600 M St, Merced, CA 95348-2898
(209) 384-6000
Electronics Technician – Certificate Program

Merced College offers various Certificate program options for future electricians. All programs are offered at their campus in the city of Merced, CA. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually in the order of $1,150 and for students from outside the state in the order of $6,115 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,638, although this will vary with the program.

Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division Area

Chabot College

25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, CA 94545
(510) 723-6600
Industrial Electronic Technology – Certificate Program, Electronic Systems Technology – Associate Program

Chabot College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the city of Hayward, California. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually in the order of $1,138 and for students from outside the state in the order of $7,018 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,854, although this will vary with the program.

Contra Costa College

2600 Mission Bell Dr, San Pablo, CA 94806-3195
(510) 235-7800
Network Technology – Certificate Program

The Certificate program in Network Technology at Contra Costa College is offered at their campus in San Pablo in Contra Costa County, CA. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is in the order of $1,312 and for students from outside the state around $8,424 for each academic year. Learning materials may cost roughly $1,854, although this will vary with the program.

Diablo Valley College

321 Golf Club Rd, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 685-1230
Electrical and Electronics Technology – Certificate Program, Electrical and Electronics Technology – Associate Program

Diablo Valley College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Pleasant Hill in Contra Costa County, California. The cost of tuition for in-state students is usually about $1,312 and for students from other states in the order of $8,424 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,854, depending on the program chosen.

Laney College

900 Fallon Sreet, Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 834-5740
Electrical & Electronics Technology – Certificate Program, Electrical Technology – Associate Program

Laney College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. All programs are imparted at their campus in the city of Oakland, CA. The cost of tuition for in-state students is around $1,230 and for out-of-state students in the order of $7,110 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,854, although this will vary with the program.

Los Medanos College

2700 East Leland Road, Pittsburg, CA 94565
(925) 439-2181
Electrical & Instrumentation Technology – Certificate Program, Electrical & Instrumentation Technology – Associate Program

Los Medanos College offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Pittsburg in Contra Costa County. The cost of tuition for students living in the state is roughly in the order of $1,312 and for students from outside the state around $8,424 for each academic year, while books and supplies may cost roughly $1,854, although this varies from program to program.

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Neighbor States

See also the neighbor states of Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

FAQs

How much do electricians earn in the state of California?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians in the state of California made an average of $70,460 per year in 2019. Entry-level electricians earned around $36,050 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $116,840.