To learn to be an electrician in Washington, you need to start as a trainee. Electrical trainees must have a trainee certificate and work under the supervision of a certified electrician. As they work, trainees gain valuable experience that will qualify them to take the electrician examination. Trainees must renew their certificate every 2 years until they pass the exam to become a journey level or specialty electrician.

If you are a specialty electrician, and you want to work outside of your specialty, you will need to maintain or renew your trainee certification and work under the supervision of a certified electrician.

Electrical apprenticeship

Beginning July 1, 2023, all individuals who are applying to take the general journey level electrical examination, or any trainee working on a commercial jobsite must have completed an electrical apprenticeship program. Both the Washington State Apprenticeship Training Council and L&I’s Electrical Program must approve an electrical apprenticeship program for hours of experience to count toward electrical examination. Electrical trainees who are working toward a specialty electrical certification do not need to complete an apprenticeship program at this time.

Electrical trainees are often informally referred to as “electrical apprentices.” However, unless a trainee is enrolled in a formal registered apprenticeship program, they are not an apprentice.

Getting Started

To get started as an electrical trainee:

  1. 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.
  2. Sign up with a registered apprenticeship program if you will be working toward a general journey level electrician certification. Effective July 1, 2023, to qualify for the general journey level electrician exam you must have completed an approved electrical apprenticeship program.
  3. Apply to become an electrical trainee (See Apply Tab).
  4. You will have to work as an electrical trainee, under the supervision of a general journey level, master, or specialty electrician. Supervision must be at a 1 to 1 trainee to electrician ratio for commercial or industrial job sites, or a 2 to 1 trainee to electrician ratio for specialty trades.
  5. While you're working, you must take 48 hours of approved basic classroom instruction every 2 years to renew your trainee certificate.
  6. You must submit an Affidavit of Experience for 75% Supervision Specialties (F500-043-000) from your employers to document the hours you have worked every 2 years, when your certificate expires. Hours reported more than 180 days after your certificate expires cannot be credited.
  7. Apply for examination after you have completed the required hours to become a certified electrician. Once you are approved for examination, we will notify you how to schedule your exam with PSI.
Apply

To apply for an Electrical Trainee Certificate, you must:

  1. Make sure you meet the basic age and other requirements. Trainees must be at least 16 years old. 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.
  2. If you have held a trainee certificate before, contact us before submitting a new application.
  3. Pay the application fee:
    a. $37.90 if applying online.
    b. $44.10 if applying in person at your local L&I office or by mail.
  4. Complete the Electrical Trainee Certificate Application (F626-048-000), if applying in person or by mail.

You will need the following information to apply:

  • Your legal name
  • Your Social Security number
  • Mailing address
  • Electronic payment, if applying online. We accept credit/debit cards and electronic checks.
  • Check or money order, if applying by mail. Cash, credit, or debit cards are also accepted if paying in person.

What L&I will do

  • Mail your electrical trainee certificate within 10 business days
  • If we need additional information, we will contact you.
Renew

Electrical trainee certificates must be renewed every 2 years. You must complete 48 hours of L&I approved basic trainee classroom instruction before renewing. You will also need to report any hours of experience from the prior 2 years.

You should renew your certificate before it expires. If you are on the job with a card that is expired, suspended, inactive, or revoked, you can be subject to citation and fines. If you don’t renew before your certificate expires, a late renewal fee will be charged.

Renewal requirements

Before you renew your trainee certificate online, make sure you’re eligible to apply:

Use our Verify tool which will tell you if you have:

  • Met the education requirements.
  • Any outstanding, unpaid citations.
  • An expired or suspended certificate.

If you have any issues with your certificate, or it has been expired for more than 2 years, call us at 360-902-5269. If an education course is not appearing on your record, contact your course provider.

Online

To renew online, you will need the following:

  • Your 12-digit training certificate number
  • Social Security number
  • Your renewal fee of $46.60, or $62.50 if renewing late (payable by credit/debit card or electronic check)

NOTE: Within 30 days, you must mail all Affidavit of Experience for 75% Supervision Specialties (F500-043-000) forms, along with a copy of your receipt to the address listed below to avoid additional fees. We accept affidavits of experience up to 180 days after your expiration date. However, affidavits turned in after 30 days will be charged a processing fee of $53.40 per affidavit.

By mail or in person

To renew by mail, you will need to send your:

L&I Electrical Program
P.O. Box 44460
Olympia, WA 98504-4460

To renew in person, visit your local L&I office with the following:

Upcoming changes to renewal requirements

Before July 1, 2020, you can pay your renewal fee without meeting the basic classroom education requirements. However, you will not receive a certificate and cannot work as an electrical trainee until you complete your education requirements.

After July 1, 2020, if you don’t meet the basic classroom education requirements, you will not be able to renew.

What L&I will do

  • Review your affidavits of experience submitted
  • Mail your electrical trainee certificate within 10 business days
  • If we need additional information, we will contact you
Reporting your hours of experience

Affidavits of experience

Electrical trainees working on the job must report their supervised work hours at the time of renewal by filing affidavits of experience with L&I.

There are two affidavits of experience: Affidavit of Experience for 75% Supervision Specialties (F500-043-000) and Affidavit of Experience for 100% Supervision Specialties (F500-137-000). You may need to submit 1 or both of these forms, depending on the specialty or specialties you are working in.

Affidavits report the qualifying, supervised hours a trainee has worked. Trainees must submit separate, notarized affidavits to report hours worked for each electrical contractor, employer, and/or supervising electrician during the previous 2 years.

If a trainee is not employed by an electrical contractor, a supervision questionnaire will be sent to the supervising electrician.

Affidavits of experience

If a trainee is enrolled in:

Trainees may not receive credit for any hours of experience:

  • If they are not properly supervised.
  • From altered or incomplete affidavits of experience.
  • While the trainee’s certificate is expired or inactive when the hours were worked.
  • If the electrical contractor they are working for has an expired or suspended license when the hours were worked.
  • While working for out-of-state employers.
  • From out-of-state trainee or apprenticeship programs.

We verify all affidavits and log creditable hours as trainees work toward certification.

Submitting affidavits

Affidavits must be received no later than 30 days after your renewal date to avoid additional fees. L&I accepts affidavits of experience up to 180 days after your expiration date. However, affidavits turned in after 30 days will be charged a processing fee of $53.40 per affidavit.

Affidavits of experience must include the following:

  • Name of employer, license number, and UBI number.
  • Trainee’s name, certificate number, or SSN.
  • Timeframe that the work was performed in (not exceeding 2 years).
  • Amount of hours worked in specific category or categories.
  • Notarized signatures of the employer’s representative and trainee.

See Chapter 19.28 RCW and Chapter 296-46B WAC for detailed information on affidavits of experience.

Tracking your hours of experience

It is the trainee’s responsibility to submit each of their affidavits to L&I within 180 days of the expiration date. 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.

Related resources

Sign up for the Electrical Bulletin to receive emails with the Electrical Currents Newsletter and other important information.

Related resources

Renew your license, update your address or pay reinstatement fee online

Request a duplicate or replacement license or certificate online

Request a Duplicate or Replacement License or Certificate by mail (F500-032-000)

Request for Change of Address (F500-044-000)

Contact us

Electrical Licensing and Certification 360-902-5269
Electrical Citation and Amusement Ride Support Desk 360-902-5570
Electrical Plan Review 360-902-5246
Electrical Program - Tumwater Building 360-902-5249

Email: ElectricalProgram@Lni.wa.gov

Mailing address

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
Electrical Program
P.O. Box 44460
Olympia WA 98504-4460

Related topics

Renew your license, update your address or pay reinstatement fee online

Request a duplicate or replacement license or certificate online

Request for Duplicate or Replacement License or Certificate (F500-032-000)