How to Become an Electrician in Washington, WA

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As in the majority of states, in order to be able to work in Washington state as an electrician, you will have to be properly licensed. Moreover, if you wish to hire electrical workers, you will also have to obtain the appropriate license as an electrical contractor.

The following types of licenses and certificates exist:

Please read below about the process that has to be followed in order to obtain any of the above certificates.

Washington Department of Labor and Industries (Electrical Board)

First, you should know that the licensing process for electricians in Washington is overlooked by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). The L&I is a diverse state agency dedicated to the safety, health and security of workers. Its electrical program has a primary mission to keep Washington’s citizens safe, by ensuring that:

  • All electrical professionals are properly trained and licensed to perform secure electrical work.
  • All electrical work done is inspected for quality and safety to keep citizens safe.

Thus, L&I is responsible for licensing electrical contractors and certifying electricians, trainees, master electricians and electrical administrators to ensure installation competency and professionalism, as well as inspecting all types of electrical installations and maintenance to ensure public safety standards are met.

The contact information for L&I is as follows:

Department of Labor and Industries
Electrical Section – Certification/licensing
P. O. Box 44000
Olympia, WA 98504-4000
(360) 902-5269
Office Locations (http://www.lni.wa.gov/Main/ContactInfo/OfficeLocations/default.asp)
Map of Office Locations (http://www.lni.wa.gov/Main/ContactInfo/OfficeLocations/LNI-rgns.pdf)
http://www.lni.wa.gov/TradesLicensing/Electrical/default.asp

Washington Electrical Trainees’ Certificate

To become an electrician in Washington, you begin as a trainee. As an electrical trainee, you will have to obtain a trainee certificate and work under the supervision of a certified electrician. You will also have to renew your certificate every 2 years until you pass the exam to become a journeyman or master or specialty electrician.

The process in order to apply for an electrical trainees’ certificate is the following:

- Meet the minimum age requirements for working on a construction site, i.e. be 16 years or older.

- Register with the Apprenticeship program if you are enrolled in a formal apprenticeship program. You may find more information and contact them here.

- If you have ever had a trainee certificate before, make sure to contact the Electrical program before submitting a new application (see contact information above).

- Pay the relevant application fee, $36.40 if applying online or $42.30 if applying in person or by mail.

- Finally, submit your application and fee.

There are three ways to submit the application and fee:

1. Pay and apply online via L&I’s licensing/certification system (QuickCards). You will need the following handy: Your Social Security number, Email address and phone number and your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).

2. Mail the $42.30 fee and your application form to L&I’s Electrical Program at the address indicated on the application form. Check and money order are both accepted.

3. Visit one of L&I’s service locations where you shall pay the $42.30 fee and submit your application form. You can pay by cash, check, money order, or credit card.

The application for an Electrical Training Certificate can be found here.

Keep working as an Electrical Trainee under the supervision of a general journey level or master or specialty electrician. With this way, you will gain the required hours of experience to become certified as a general journey level or specialty electrician.

While you’re working, you must take 16 hours of approved basic classroom instruction per year to renew (for a total of at least 32 hours completed by the time your certificate expires).

For more information about the license renewal please see here and for the required education here.

Finally, don’t forget to check Electrician Jobs in Washington.

Washington Journeyman / Specialty Electrician License

To become a certified general journey level or specialty electrician, you must have the required amount of experience and education and pass the appropriate exam.

While being a trainee, in order to obtain a certified general journey level or specialty electrician license, the following requirements have to be met:

- Gather the requirement amount of experience. You may find more information about the necessary experience time here.

Note that for specialty license, there are various specialties (with different requirements):

  • Residential (02)
  • Pump and irrigation (03)
  • Domestic well (3A)
  • Signs (04)
  • Limited energy system (06)
  • HVAC/refrigeration system (6A)
  • HVAC/refrigeration – restricted (6B)
  • Nonresidential maintenance (07)
  • Nonresidential lighting maintenance and lighting retrofit (7A)
  • Residential maintenance (7B)
  • Restricted nonresidential maintenance (7C)
  • Appliance repair (7D)
  • Equipment repair (7E)
  • Door, gate, and similar systems (10)

- You will have to fill Affidavits of Experience documenting the hours you have spent in the job.

- Additionally, you will have to receive the required amount of basic classroom instruction, as described here.

- Finally, you will have to site for and pass the appropriate exam. You may find the application for electrician examination here.

Note: As of July 1, 2013, in order to qualify to take the examination, you must have completed 24 hours of basic classroom instruction for each 2,000 hours of experience required.

  • 96 hours of basic classroom instruction for general journey level (01).
  • 48 hours of basic classroom instruction for specialties requiring 4,000 hours of experience.
  • 24 hours of basic classroom instruction for specialties requiring 2,000 hours of experience.

You may find more information about the exams here and download the Candidate Bulletin of Information here.

There is an application fee of $86.30 that you will have provide along with your application.

After the aforementioned requirements have been met, you may apply for the electrician license using one of the following three ways:

1. Pay and apply online via L&I’s licensing/certification system (QuickCards). You will need the following handy: Your name and address, your Social Security number, Email address and phone number and your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).

2. Mail the completed application form and your Affidavits of Experience to L&I’s Electrical Program at the address indicated on the application form. Check and money order are both accepted.

3. Visit one of L&I’s service locations where you shall pay the fee and submit your application form and Affidavits of Experience. You can pay by cash, check, money order, or credit card.

You must take 24 hours of approved Continuing Education course work in the 3 years between your certificate renewals. More information on continuing education can be found here.

Additionally, you should apply to renew your certificate before your card expires, even if you don’t have all your continuing education credits finished. You may renew your license online here.

Finally, don’t forget to check Electrician Jobs in Washington.

Washington Electrical Administrator License

An Electrical Administrator is designated by an electrical contractor for his company. His job is to ensure that the electrical contractor’s work complies with all the appropriate laws and rules.

To become an electrical administrator, you must pass the appropriate exam.

The process in order to apply for an electrical administrators’ certificate is the following:

- Take and pass the administrator exam (no prerequisites for taking the exam). All sections have to be passed successfully. You may find more information about the exams here and download the Candidate Bulletin of Information here.

- After passing the exam you must apply for your certificate within 90 days. Mail a copy of each passing score report to L&I’s Electrical Program. You may choose to be assigned to an electrical contractor. In that case, complete the Assignment/Unassignment of Administrator/ Master Certificate form and pay the $39.90 fee.

- Pay the fee for the Electrical Administrator certificate. The fee is $120.40, including the original certificate and application processing fee.

After the aforementioned requirements have been met, you may apply for the electrician license using one of the following four ways:

1. Pay and apply online via L&I’s licensing/certification system (QuickCards). You will need the following handy: Your name and address, your Social Security number, Email address and phone number and your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).

2. Mail your passing exam score results and a copy of the online receipt from QuickCards to L&I’s Electrical Program at the address indicated on the score result report provided by PSI (serves as an application).

3. Mail your passing exam score results and your certification fee to L&I’s Electrical Program at the address indicated on the on the score result report provided by PSI (serves as an application). Check and money order are both accepted. Be sure to include your completed Assignment/Unassignment of Administrator/ Master Certificate form and the applicable fee if you want to be assigned to an electrical contractor.

4. Visit one of L&I’s service locations where you shall pay the fee and submit your application form and Affidavits of Experience. You can pay by cash, check, money order, or credit card. Be sure to include your completed Assignment/Unassignment of Administrator/ Master Certificate form and the applicable fee if you want to be assigned to an electrical contractor.

You must take 24 hours of approved Continuing Education course work in the 3 years between your certificate renewals (8 hours per year). The following apply:

  • 8 hours of your CEUs must be on currently adopted National Electrical Code changes.
  • 4 hours must be on currently adopted Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 19.28 and related Washington Administrative Codes (WAC).
  • You may choose from a list of approved courses for the remaining 12 hours of continuing education credit.

More information on continuing education can be found here.

Additionally, you should apply to renew your certificate before your card expires, even if you don’t have all your continuing education credits finished. You may renew your license online here.

Washington Telecommunications Administrator License

A Telecommunications Administrator is designated by a telecommunications contractor for his company. His job is to ensure that the telecommunications contractor’s work complies with all the appropriate laws and rules.

To become a telecommunications administrator, you must pass the appropriate exam.

The process in order to apply for a telecommunications administrators’ certificate is the following:

- Take and pass the administrator exam (no prerequisites for taking the exam). All sections have to be passed successfully. You may find more information about the exams here and download the Candidate Bulletin of Information here.

- After passing the exam you must apply for your certificate within 90 days. Mail a copy of each passing score report to L&I’s Electrical Program. You may choose to be assigned to a telecommunications contractor. In that case, complete the Change Assignment of Administrator/Master Certificate form and pay the $39.90 fee.

- Pay the fee for the Telecommunications Administrator certificate. The fee is $80.10, including the original certificate and application processing fee.

After the aforementioned requirements have been met, you may apply for the electrician license using one of the following four ways:

1. Pay and apply online via L&I’s licensing/certification system (QuickCards). You will need the following handy: Your name and address, your Social Security number, Email address and phone number and your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express).

2. Mail your passing exam score results and a copy of the online receipt from QuickCards to L&I’s Electrical Program at the address indicated on the score result report provided by PSI (serves as an application).

3. Mail your passing exam score results and your certification fee to L&I’s Electrical Program at the address indicated on the on the score result report provided by PSI (serves as an application). Check and money order are both accepted. Be sure to include your completed Change Assignment of Administrator/ Master Certificate form and the applicable fee if you want to be assigned to a telecommunications contractor.

4. Visit one of L&I’s service locations where you shall pay the fee and submit your application form and Affidavits of Experience. You can pay by cash, check, money order, or credit card. Be sure to include your completed Change Assignment of Administrator/ Master Certificate form and the applicable fee if you want to be assigned to a telecommunications contractor.

A Telecommunications Administrator’s certificate must be renewed every 2 years, on the holder’s birthday. You may renew your license online here.

Continuing education courses (CEUs) are not required for a Telecommunications Administrator.

Washington Electrical Contractor License

Before engaging in the business of performing electrical work, you will have to get an electrical contractor license. Additionally, a bond or assignment of savings has to be submitted. Finally, you will also have to designate a master electrician or electrical administrator to ensure that your work complies with the appropriate laws and rules.

The process in order to apply for an electrical contractor’s license is the following:

- Apply online and pay your fee of $306.10 ($266.20 + $39.90) by credit card (VISA or MasterCard only). You should have with you the following:

  • Your UBI number.
  • Your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express.)
  • Email address and phone number.
  • Names, addresses and SSN (required by federal law) of all principals for the company.

Be prepared to mail or drop off at your local L&I office the required documents described above.

- Submit the following items together in a packet to L&I.

1. A completed Application for Electrical Contractor’s License, including:

  • Uniform Business Identifier (UBI) number (issued by the Department of Revenue).
  • Complete address and phone number for company.
  • The company owners/principal information including mailing address: SSN for each owner (required), the role of each owner (for example corporations have president, registered agent, etc.)

2. An original, current surety bond or assignment of savings account. Note: The forms must be completed by your bonding company or financial institution.

- The administrator/master certificate number and the Assignment of Administrator’s/Master Certificate form must be completed and notarized and mailed to the address below within 7 days. The fee is paid through the online application.

- If you wish to hire employees, an Industrial Insurance Account will also be needed.

- You must not have any outstanding, unpaid citations with L&I.

An Electrical Contractor’s license must be renewed every 2 years. You may find more information about license renewal and renew your license online here.

Washington Telecommunications Contractor License

Before engaging in the business of performing telecommunications work, you will have to get a telecommunications contractor license. Additionally, a bond or assignment of savings has to be submitted. Finally, you will also have to designate a telecommunications electrical administrator to ensure that your work complies with the appropriate laws and rules.

The process in order to apply for a telecommunications contractor’s license is the following:

- Apply online and pay your fee of $306.10 ($266.20 + $39.90) by credit card (VISA or MasterCard only). You should have with you the following:

  • Your UBI number.
  • Your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express.)
  • Email address and phone number.
  • Names, addresses and SSN (required by federal law) of all principals for the company.

Be prepared to mail or drop off at your local L&I office the required documents described above.

- Submit the following items together in a packet to L&I.

1. A completed Application for Telecommunications Contractor’s License, including:

  • Uniform Business Identifier (UBI) number (issued by the Department of Revenue).
  • Complete address and phone number for company.
  • The company owners/principal information including mailing address: SSN for each owner (required), the role of each owner (for example corporations have president, registered agent, etc.)

2. An original, current surety bond or assignment of savings account in the amount of $4000. Note: The forms must be completed by your bonding company or financial institution.

3. You must have a certificate of liability insurance with a minimum amount of $170,000.

- The administrator/master certificate number and the Assignment of Administrator’s/Master Certificate form must be completed and notarized and mailed to the address below within 7 days. The fee is paid through the online application.

- If you wish to hire employees, an Industrial Insurance Account will also be needed.

- You must not have any outstanding, unpaid citations with L&I.

A Telecommunications Contractor’s license must be renewed every 2 years. You may find more information about license renewal and renew your license online here.

Washington Master Electrician License

A master electrician is licensed to work with the tools of the trade as an installer.On top of that, he might be assigned to act as an administrator to ensure that an electrical contractor’s work is in compliance with the electrical laws and rules.

To become a master electrician, you must pass the appropriate exam.

Additionally, a minimum experience is required as an electrician.

  • Master general journey level electrician: You must have been certified as a general journey level electrician by L&I for at least 4 years.
  • Master specialty categories: You must have been certified by L&I in that specialty, for at least 2 years.

The process in order to apply for an electrical administrators’ certificate is the following:

- First you have to apply for the certificate. There are three ways to do this:

1. Apply Online: If you meet the eligibility requirements you can submit your application and pay your fee online. You’ll need the following:

  1. Your name and address.
  2. Your Social Security number (required by federal law).
  3. $154.00 application fee. (Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express).
  4. Email address and phone number.

2. Apply in person: Bring your completed master electrician’s application to your local L&I office location. You will also have to handle the $154 application fee. Pay by Cash, Check, Money order, or Credit Card

3. Apply by mail: Complete the master electrician’s application form. Send your completed application form and $154 application fee, payable by check or money order to the L&I address printed on the application.

After your application gets approved, you will have to schedule an exam with PSI. Information on how to schedule the exam is included in the approval letter.

More information about the necessary examination can be found here, while the Candidate Bulletin of Information can be found here.

Master Electrician certificates must be renewed every 3 years. In order to be able to renew your license, 24 hours of continuing education are required. Eight (8) of those hours must be code update and 4 hours must be RCW/WAC review.

You may renew your license online here.

Finally, don’t forget to check Electrician Jobs in Washington.

Washington Electrician License Reciprocal Agreements

Regarding reciprocity, Washington currently holds agreements with the following state:

  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

You may find more information about reciprocity here.

The above apply for the following largest cities (among others):
SeattleSpokaneTacomaVancouverBellevue
EverettKentYakimaRentonSpokane Valley
Federal WayBellinghamKennewickAuburnMarysville
PascoLakewoodRedmondShorelineSouth Hill
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