To learn to be an electrician in Washington, you need to start as a trainee. Electrical trainees and apprentices must have a trainee certificate and work under the supervision of a certified electrician. They must renew their certificate every 2 years until they pass an exam to become a journey level or specialty electrician.
Apprenticeship requirements after July 1, 2023:
- If you are on track to have 8000 hours of experience required to qualify for a general journey level electrician examination before July 1, 2023, it is possible to do so without completing a recognized apprenticeship program. After that date, completion of a recognized apprenticeship program is required.
Examples of recognized apprenticeships: Recognized RCW 49.04 Apprenticeships in the Electrical Construction Trade.
- For specialty electrician exam candidates, there are no apprenticeship completion requirements today or after July 1, 2023.
Typically, employers, employer associations, and labor unions sponsor apprenticeship programs. Become an apprentice today!
To get started as an electrical trainee:
- Make sure you meet the basic age and other requirements. Trainees must be 16 years or older. Employers hiring youth under 18 must have a minor work permit and appropriate parental/school or summer authorization forms. See our publication, Hiring Teens? (F700-142-909), for more information.
- To work in the electrical trade, you must have a trainee certificate and work under the supervision of an electrician to gain enough hours of experience to qualify for an electrician examination. You and the electrician supervising you must be on the same jobsite.
In general, supervision ratios are:
- 1 trainee to 1 general journey level electrician when doing journey level type work, or
- 2 trainees to 1 specialty electrician when doing specialty type work.
- To apply for a training certificate, you must have a valid Social Security number (SSN) according to state and federal law – RCW 26.23.150 and 42 USC §666(a)(13).
- Learn what trainees need to know about education requirements and documenting work experience. (Review all information in Tabs above.)
- Apply to become an electrical trainee (See Apply Tab).
If you ever had a trainee certificate, your only option is to renew it. Contact us if you are not able to renew after completing education requirements.
To apply for a Trainee Certificate:
Be at least 16 years old. See our publication, Hiring Teens? (F700-142-909), for more information.
Applicants for certificates or licenses must have a valid Social Security number (SSN) according to state and federal law – RCW 26.23.150 and 42 USC §666(a)(13).
Be prepared to pay a fee.
How to apply if you have never had a training certificate before:
Apply online: Apple and iPhone users - use a web browser other than Safari, (Chrome works well).
Renew your certificate before it expires. Renewal requires 48 hours of Basic Classroom Instruction.
Do not lose credit for your work experience hours - Report your hours on time! Learn more about Reporting Your Hours of Experience.
Carry a government issues photo ID and visibly display your certificate while you are on the job.
How to apply for a nonrenewable certificate that allows you to work unsupervised:
There are two types:
- If you are about ready to take the 01 journey level electrician exam, see if you qualify: Application for a 6 Month Electrical Training Certificate (F626-011-000)
- If you have been working under 100 percent supervision in a 2000 hour specialty and are ready to take the exam, submit an Application for a 0% Supervision Modified Electrical Training Certificate & Specialty Examination (F500-097-000)
What L&I will do
We mail out new training certificates within 10 business days. In the meantime, your receipt acts as your certificate for 30 days. Processing time for other types may be up to 4 weeks.
If you are working as a trainee, you must renew your training certificate before it expires.
It is not lawful to work in the trade while having an expired certificate. Renewal fees are non-refundable.
Before you can renew, you must complete 48 hours of approved electrical basic trainee classes.
Before attempting to renew, confirm your education providers have reported 48 hours of completion credit by using our Verify tool: Select TRADESPEOPLE. Search by your name or certificate#.
Contact your provider if you are missing credit for a class you completed. Certificates of completion are not acceptable proof of completion.
How to renew:
- Renew online: (Apple and iPhone users - use a web browser other than Safari, Chrome works well.)
- Or in person at an office location near you.
Do not lose credit for you work experience hours - Report your hours of experience on time!
Information provided here does not apply to:
- Anyone registered in an out-of-state apprenticeship program. Trainees who fit this description must report hours of experience to their respective out-of-state apprenticeship programs.
- Out-of-state exam applicants.
Affidavits of experience
Washington trainees – Do not lose credit for your work experience – Report your hours of experience on time!
Affidavit deadline: From the expiration date your training certificate; you have 180 days to turn in affidavits for the previous 2 years. Affidavits received by L&I after the deadline are not approvable. For receipt of delivery, use certified mail. Affidavits are date stamped upon receipt at L&I.
Exception: Affidavits for experience gained as apprentices in recognized Washington electrical apprenticeship programs may be submitted at any time.
Trainees – Claim credit for hours of experience by submitting one or more Affidavit of Experience for Washington Electrical Trainees (F500-149-000).
Information about fees and where to mail it are on the form.
Common reasons why affidavits are denied:
- Update fee not paid when required - See affidavit form for explanation.
- Affidavit includes omissions, errors, or alterations.
- Affidavit not received within 180 days of expiration when required.
- Employer’s history of permits and inspections does not support amount or type of experience claimed.
- Hours claimed cannot be supported by payroll or employment security department records.
- Date range on affidavit includes hours where a lapse is present. Examples:
- Trainee does not have a training certificate, or it is expired or inactive.
- Electrical contractor employing trainee has an expired or suspended license.
- Certificate of trainee’s supervising electrician is expired or inactive.
- Trainee is not properly supervised by a certified electrician.
To avoid a reduction of hours or denial because of a lapse within date range claimed, submit separate affidavits that include no lapses within date ranges.
Tracking your hours of experience
To ensure the accuracy of hours reported on affidavits, trainees should keep a personal training log to track their hours. For an example, refer to our sample training log. A trainee’s log is strictly for their record keeping. It is not an acceptable form of documentation for contractors or employers.
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