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California electrician license and insurance requirements

California electrician license and insurance requirements

By Ashley Henshaw
Apr 5, 2022
7 min read

Second only to Texas in terms of energy consumption, California has a huge stake in the nation’s electrical services.1 In fact, over 71,000 electricians are employed in California — more than any other state in the country.

If you’re interested in working as an electrician in California, there’s even more good news. In addition to employing an abundance of electricians, California also boasts above-average pay for this profession. In this state, electricians make an average annual wage of $75,900, which is over $14,000 more per year than the national average for this job.2

Before you can become a California electrician, you’ll need to complete the work experience and licensing required by the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board.3 This process involves a number of steps, including passing an exam and submitting a bond. Follow this guide to learn more about how to get an electrician license in California, including:

Do you need a license to be an electrician?

California electricians must obtain a C-10 specialty contractor license in order to bid on projects valued at $500 or more. The state applies the following definition to determine what types of electrical work require a license: 

“An electrical contractor places, installs, erects or connects any electrical wires, fixtures, appliances, apparatus, raceways, conduits, solar photovoltaic cells or any part thereof, which generate, transmit, transform or utilize electrical energy in any form or for any purpose.”3

How to get an electrician license in California

California electricians must apply for a license through the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). In addition to filling out and submitting the application, you must complete the following steps.

Verify your work experience

Report and confirm your past work experience as an electrician by filling out the Certification of Work Experience form and including it with your application. Learn more about the experience requirements below.

Pay the application fee

You must submit a non-refundable payment of $450 with your California electrician license application.

Get fingerprinted

You must submit a full set of fingerprints so that the CSLB may conduct a criminal background check.

Pass two exams

You must pass two exams: a law and business exam and a trade exam covering electrical work. These multiple-choice, closed-book exams must be taken at an official testing site.

Submit your license fee

You must submit an initial license fee ($200 for sole owner or $350 for non-sole owner) after you pass the examination.

California electrician license requirements

To earn an electrician license, California residents must first have at least four full years of experience as an electrician either at the journey level or as a foreman, supervisor or contractor. 

You must include details about your work experience as well as verification from an employer, foreman or supervisor in your Certification of Work Experience form.

How long does it take to get your electrician license in California?

A number of factors influence the processing times for electrical contractor applications. Applicants may look up their status on the CSLB website using their application fee number and PIN to find out what application dates the Board is currently reviewing. 

Making sure that your application is completely filled out with all the proper information, forms and signatures can help you avoid longer processing times.

California electrician license renewal requirements

California electrical contractor licenses expire every two years. A renewal fee of $450 for sole owners and $700 for non-sole owners must be submitted with your renewal application.

The CSLB will send a renewal application approximately 60 days before the expiration. To find your expiration date, look at your current pocket card or use the California electrician license lookup tool.

Reciprocity for California electrician license

California maintains reciprocity agreements with Arizona. The following Arizona contractor classifications correspond with California’s C-10 license classification:

  • C-11
  • K-11
  • L-11

To qualify for reciprocity, you must have held an active Arizona license in good standing in one of these classifications for the previous five years. Include a Request for Verification of License form with your application. 

If approved, the CSLB may waive the trade exam, but you must still take the law and business exam.

California electrician license bond requirements

All applicants must file a $15,000 bond with the CSLB after passing the examination. You may secure a bond through your own insurance agent or from a private holding company listed by the California Department of Insurance. 

What kind of insurance does an electrician need in California?

You will need electrician insurance to cover your work once you receive your license. Make sure you consider these types of recommended insurance for electricians.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

All California electricians must have workers’ compensation insurance in order to secure and maintain their contractor license. This insurance provides wage protection and coverage for medical expenses if you get hurt on the job.

General Liability insurance

Most electrician businesses should also have general liability insurance in order to get coverage for work-related accidents, like damage to someone’s property or a client injury.

Tools and Equipment insurance

Tools and equipment insurance gives you coverage for repairs and replacements if something happens to your work gear, like theft or damage.

Commercial Auto insurance

Most electricians need commercial auto insurance to cover costs related to accidents when driving for work. Covered expenses may include towing, repairs, and rental reimbursement. 

Commercial Property insurance

Commercial property insurance provides coverage for damage or vandalism to a property that you own or rent.

What is the certificate of insurance requirement in California for electricians?

You must submit a certificate of insurance as proof of your workers’ comp coverage. This certificate must be written by an insurance company licensed through the California Department of Insurance with CSLB listed as the Certificate Holder.

How NEXT Insurance supports California electrical contractors

If you’re looking for electrician insurance, NEXT Insurance offers the coverage you need to protect your business. We can direct you to the right policies for self-employed electrician insurance or electrician business insurance to make sure you satisfy California licensing requirements.

Using our online services, applying for coverage is simple and easy. You can get a Certificate of Insurance in just minutes from any computer or mobile device. 

Small business insurance is our specialty. In fact, we’ve helped thousands of contractors get affordable insurance packages customized to meet their unique needs.

Get an instant quote online today.

Are you interested in becoming an electrician in another U.S. state? Learn what states require electrician licenses in our summary of electrician license requirements.


1 U.S. Energy Information Administration

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3 Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board

California electrician license and insurance requirements


About the author
Ashley Henshaw is a contributing writer at NEXT Insurance and a writer and editor at BrainBoost Media. She specializes in small business topics, covering everything from insurance and branding to web hosting and cryptocurrency. Her work is focused on helping independent business owners and entrepreneurs access the tools they need to succeed.
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