General electricians and fire/life safety technicians working in the State of California who are not certified are doing so illegally, according to the California Apprenticeship Council (CAC), unless they submitted an application and fees ($175) to take the certification exam on or before December 30, 2005. Eligible individuals that did submit the application and fees before this cutoff date must take and pass the required exam before January 1, 2007.

As of May 2006, the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) estimates that 70,000 electricians are working in California, 49,000 applicants have been authorized to take the certification exam, but fewer than 31,000 have done so — and less than 24,000 have passed the exam and can legally work for a C-10 contractor under the Contractors' State License Board Rules and Regulations.

The law to establish California standards for electrician certification passed in 1999 and became effective in 2002. DAS officials say that the law allows no further deadline extensions. This law does not apply to those currently in training at one of 33 approved schools throughout the state or those enrolled in an approved apprenticeship program. Successful completion of a state-approved training program or a specified amount of on-the-job experience is required before an individual is eligible to take the certification exam.

To learn more about electrician certification or electrician trainee registration in California, visit www.dir.ca.gov.