How to Become a Licensed Electrician in Washington

Washington state offers some of the highest electrician salaries in the nation. With the average electrician making over $76,000 annually, you may be considering becoming licensed in WA. Luckily, the licensing procedure for electricians in Washington is very straightforward, with 7 licenses to choose from. This article will break down each type of license and its requirements.

Do You Need an Electrician’s License in Washington?

Washington requires an electrician’s license to do electrical work in the state. Even electricians who are training in the field are required to hold the appropriate license. The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) issues all trade licenses.

Types of Licenses for Electricians in Washington

This article will discuss the following electrician’s licenses offered in Washington:

  • Trainee
  • General Journeyman/Specialty Electrician
  • Electrical Administrator
  • Telecommunications Administrator
  • Electrical Contractor
  • Telecommunications Contractor
  • Master Electrician

All electricians must start as trainees. After meeting the experience requirements, you will need to pay for and apply to take an examination. Once you pass the examination, you can receive your license.

Trainee Electrician License

Trainees and apprentices in Washington should apply for the Trainee Electrician License. While this is technically a certificate, it must be held as you work and train under a licensed electrician. If you plan to work on a commercial job site, you must be registered in an approved apprenticeship program.

Trainee electricians must:

  • Be 16 years or older
  • Work under a licensed electrician: 1 trainee to 1 journeyman or 2 trainees to 1 specialty electrician 
  • Be a legal U.S. citizen with a Social Security number

Trainees are not required to complete an exam and can simply apply online.

Trainee certificates are good for 2 years. If you are still gaining the work experience necessary for a Journeyman License after those two years, you can renew your certificate online or in person. Renewals require 48 hours of basic trainee classes. 

When your certificate expires you must turn in affidavits of your work experience for the previous 2 years. This is the only way your non-apprenticeship work experience will be legally recorded if you plan to apply for another electrician’s license down the line.

Journeyman Electrician Licenses in Washington

Washington offers two types of journeyman licenses: a General Journeyman Electrician License and a Specialty Journeyman Electrician License.

General Journeyman Electricians

General journeyman electricians can work in commercial/industrial settings and all specialty electrician categories. 

To qualify for the EL01 examination for this license, you will need:

  • 8,000+ hours of trainee experience
    • 4,000 hours must be from working in commercial/industrial settings
    • 75% of your hours must be directly supervised
  • 96 hours of basic classroom instruction

Washington offers a reciprocal agreement with Oregon for journeyman licenses. Otherwise, you will be required to apply for, take, and pass the EL01 exam.

Specialty Journeyman Electricians

Specialty journeyman electricians can specialize in any of 14 categories. 

  • Group 1: Residential (EL02), pump and irrigation (EL03), signs (EL04), limited energy system (EL06), HVAC/refrigeration systems (EL06A), nonresidential maintenance (EL07)
  • Group 2: Domestic well (3A), HVAC/refrigeration – restricted (6B), nonresidential lighting maintenance and lighting retrofit (7A), residential maintenance (7B), restricted nonresidential maintenance (7C), appliance repair (7D), equipment repair (7E), and door, gate and similar systems (10)

For more information on what each category entails, see here.

Specialty electricians in group 1 must have 4,000 hours of work experience in that specialty that have been supervised 75% of the time. They must also complete 48 hours of basic classroom instruction.

Specialty electricians in group 2 must have 2,000 hours of work experience in that specialty that have been supervised 100% of the time. They must also complete 24 hours of basic classroom instruction.

Applying to Be a WA Journeyman Electrician

You must complete the application, attach supporting documents, and pay the fee when applying for your exam. Group 2 applicants must mail the entire application in a single envelope. Group 1 applicants can apply online once they’ve verified all of their basic classroom instruction hours.

For out-of-state applicants, see here.

Once your application is reviewed, you will receive an approval or denial notice. If approved, you’ll receive more information about scheduling your exam. 

To make a change to your license to learn about the renewal process, see here.

Electrical Administrator Electrician License

Electrical administrators make sure that electrical contractors follow the law. They must work for an electrical contractor unless a master electrician takes on this role. These individuals are not certified to perform electrical installations themselves unless they hold another license. 

For more information on the application process for WA electrical administrators, see here.

Telecommunications Administrator Electrician License

Telecommunications administrators hold the same role as electrical administrators, except that they work with telecommunications contractors. For more information on this license type, see here.

Electrical Contractor License

Electrical contractors work in the electrical construction business. They employ an electrician administrator or a master electrician, among others, to perform electrical work. 

You can be licensed as either a general contractor (EC01) or as a specialty contractor for one of 14 different specialties. 

General electrical contractors must have:

  • An employed administrator or master electrician
  • A $4,000 bond or assignment savings account
  • A valid UBI number assigned by the Department of Revenue or the Secretary of State
  • Worker’s Compensation, if they have employees
  • All license numbers and personal information of their employees
  • General Liability insurance is OPTIONAL

Telecommunications Contractor License

Telecommunications contractors work specifically with the electronic transmission of audio and visual signals. There are no work experience requirements, but these contractors must have:

  • An employed telecommunications administrator 
  • A $4,000 bond or assignment savings account
  • A valid UBI number assigned by the Department of Revenue or the Secretary of State
  • Worker’s Compensation, if they have employees
  • Liability insurance of at least $170,000
  • All license numbers and personal information of their employees

Applying to be a WA Electrical Contractor

If applying to be an electrical contractor, you will need to complete the following forms and mail them in:

Telecommunication contractors must complete additional forms found here.

Mail all documents together to:

Department of Labor & Industries

Electrical Program

P.O. Box 44460

Olympia, WA 98504-4460

Electrical contractor licenses are good for two years, after which you can renew online.

Master Electrician License

Master electricians can also work as electrical administrators. They must fulfill the requirements for examination for their specialty. First, they will have to be a licensed journeyman for a set time (2-4 years).

Application requirements can be found here. The application cost $169.80, plus an examination fee. Once your application is approved, you can take your exam. Upon passing the exam, you’ll receive your license.

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