You’re a card-carrying certified electrician in the state of California. And you probably carry that card with some level of pride. As well you should. Getting certified means you sat through at least two hours and 50 questions of testing and passed. And as we’ll discuss in just a minute, that’s a statistically impressive feat. So, obviously, you want to maintain your electrical certification’s active status.
Unfortunately, California doesn’t just renew your certification automatically. You need to take specific steps at specific times to keep your cert active, including completing a set number of electrician continuing education hours. We’ve created this guide to teach you everything you need to know to keep your electrical certification active.
But before we get into the steps you need to take, let’s first talk about why they’re important.
You can renew your certification if it expires, but you’ll have to take the certification exam again. And the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement’s Electrician Certification Unit (ECU) recently released a report showcasing some telling statistics about that exam.
Between January 1 and August 7, 2019, the ECU had over 10,000 people apply for certification as an electrician. Even so, only about half of them were authorized to take the certification exam that you need to become a card-carrying electrician. That’s because there are requirements you need to meet to be approved to take that exam, including a minimum number of hours of experience in the industry.
So, already, only about half of people are getting through the first phase of getting their electrical certification or renewing an expired certification without a hiccup. And the 5,000+ people who were approved to take their exam still have to schedule it and pass it. And with only 3,650 of 5,323 authorized exams in the first 7+ months of the year, scheduling seems to be a challenge.
But that’s not the hardest part. The statistics show that passing the exam doesn’t come easy. Of the 3,650 exams taken, only 1,509 people have passed. There’s an average pass rate across all exams of just 41%. And some specific types of certification exams seem to be even more challenge. The residential certification exam pass rate is only 28%.
Clearly, renewing your electrician certification once it’s expired isn’t an easy process. If you have yours and it’s active, keeping it that way saves you the stress and hassle of having to retake the certification exam.
And on top of all that, the fee to retake the exam and renew your expired certification is $200. That’s double the $100 renewal fee if you keep your card active.
Clearly, it’s worth renewing your card before it expires. But how do you do that? Keep reading.
Now that you’re sold on the importance of not letting your electrician certification expire, let’s talk about how to make sure that never happens. Here’s your guide to California electrical certification renewal.
First, keep an eye on the calendar. Your certification stays active for three years. Your renewal application needs to be postmarked on or before your card’s expiration date to keep it active. And there’s no reason to wait until the last minute.
To renew, you’ll need 2,000 hours of work in the industry within the last three years. Start tallying up your hours well before your renewal date to make sure you’re not short.
Also, it can be helpful to know that the state accepts renewal applications up to a year before your expiration date. Making a note on your calendar to start your process well in advance helps you ensure you have sufficient hours and ample time to finish the other steps involved.
Part of the reason it helps to start the work for your renewal early is that it’s impossible to do everything you need to do to renew in just one day. The state requires that you take 32 hours of California electrical certification online classes each renewal cycle. This electrical continuing education keeps you up to date on changes to the National Electrical Code, OSHA regulations, and more.
Make sure you take your electrician education from a state-approved organization or the hours won’t count towards your renewal. Once you’re done with your hours, your education provider issues you a certificate you can include with your renewal application to prove you’ve completed this step.
After you’ve finished your California electrical certification continuing education and met the work hour requirement, you’re ready to mail in your Renewal Application for Electrician Certification. It’s a pretty simple one-page form. Send it, along with the $100 renewal fee and the certificate showing you’ve finished your 32-hours of continuing education for electrician renewal, to:
DIR-Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement
Attn: Electrician Certification Unit
PO Box 511286
Los Angeles, CA 90051-7841
Take these steps well before your electrical certification expires and you won’t have to retake the dreaded certification exam. Plus, you’ll save $100 on renewal since the exam fee is $200.
Renewal keeps an active electrician certification card in your pocket — at least theoretically. But life happens. What if that card disappears?
Don’t worry. You can get a new card fairly easily. Just complete the form requesting a new card and mail it in along with the $30 replacement fee.
The difference between renewing an expired California electrician certification or simply maintaining a current one is pretty significant. Not only does your out-of-pocket cost double when you let your certification expire, but you also have to go through the hassle of retaking the certification exam.
Save yourself the headache — and the money — by completing your renewal application before your card expires. As a quick recap, all you need to do is:
Follow these three easy steps and you’ll have no trouble maintaining your California electrician certification.