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How to Become an Electrician in Washington: The Essential Guide

category-iconElectrical, WA

Table of Contents
  1. License Requirements for Electricians in Washington

  2. Steps to Get an Electrician License in Washington

  3. Types of Electrical Licensure in Washington

  4. Benefits of Becoming a Licensed Electrician in Washington

  5. How Much Does It Cost for Electrician Licensing in Washington?

  6. How Long Does It Take to Get an Electrician License in Washington?

  7. Washington Electrician Training Programs and Schools

  8. Who Issues Electrician Licenses in Washington?

  9. Washington Electrician Licensing Exam Details

  10. Does My Washington Electrical License Work in Any Other State?

Being an electrician isn’t just a job, it’s a solid career path. Electrical contractors enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities and earn a respectable income. There’s also job security—customers will always need skilled trade professionals to install and service electrical systems in their homes and businesses. 

The process of becoming an electrician takes time, but you get paid while you learn and gain experience!

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License Requirements for Electricians in Washington

Is a state license required to be an electrician in Washington? Yes. 

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (WDLI) is responsible for issuing electrician licenses in the state of Washington.

Steps to Get an Electrician License in Washington

  1. Gain necessary work experience and required classroom training to become a journeyman electrician.

  2. Take the journeyman electrical licensing exam.

  3. Earn a master electrician or electrical administrator license.

  4. Become a licensed independent electrical contractor

GAIN NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: To start the process of becoming a certified electrician, you first need to apply to become an electrical trainee with the WDLI. Note: Beginning July 2023, all trainees must complete an electrical apprentice program approved by the state of Washington. After paying the $46 electrical trainee application fee, you can begin earning the required 8,000 hours of on-the-job work experience and 96 hours of classroom training to become a journeyman electrician.

Electrical trainees in Washington typically gain work experience in the following ways:

  • Union or Non-Union Apprenticeship Program

  • Trade School

  • On-the-Job Training

Union apprenticeships are available through Electrician Training Alliance Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees (JATC), which is a partnership between Washington state chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Training locations include:

  • Inland Empire Electrical Training Trust in Spokane

  • Kennewick JATC

  • Northwest Washington Electrical Industry JATC in Mount Vernon

  • Puget Sound Electrical JATC in Renton

  • SW Washington Electrical JATC in Tacoma

Washington is home to two trade schools that offer the necessary training to become a journeyman electrician, including:

These programs provide 96 hours of classroom training and place trainees with a local business to earn on-the-job experience.

TAKE JOURNEYMAN ELECTRICIAN EXAM: After meeting the licensing requirements established by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (WDLI), you become eligible to take the journeyman electrician exam, administered by PSI Exams

The journeyman electrician exam contains 77 questions and requires a passing score of 70%. Consult the candidate information bulletin for more information on the licensing exam.

The journeyman electrician license requires renewal every three years, as well as 24 hours of continuing education on topics including:

  • Eight hours on current National Electrical Code (NEC) changes

  • Four hours on the currently adopted Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC)

  • The remaining 12 hours of continuing education can cover any approved course

EARN A MASTER ELECTRICIAN OR ELECTRICAL ADMINISTRATOR LICENSE: 

The Washington licensing board requires you to work with a journeyman license for a minimum of four years before you become eligible to apply for a master electrician or electrical administrator license through a PSI Exams testing center. The master electrician exam contains 100 questions, and the electrical administrator exam has 92 questions. Both require a passing score of at least 70%. 

To renew licensure, master electricians in Washington must pay $137.90 every three years and complete 24 hours of continuing education on topics including: 

  • Eight hours on current National Electrical Code (NEC) changes

  • Four hours on the currently adopted Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC)

  • The remaining 12 hours of continuing education can cover any approved course

BECOME A LICENSED INDEPENDENT ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: Being an independent electrical contractor in Washington means you can offer your services to the public, hire electricians, and run your own business. There is no exam to obtain an electrical contractor’s license, you only need to hold a valid master electrician or electrical administrator license.

Electrical contractors in Washington must pay $306 to receive their licenses, and $240 for renewal every two years. Additionally, electrical contractors must provide proof of $4,000 in an electrical contractor’s surety bond and maintain workers’ compensation insurance.

Types of Electrical Licensure in Washington

  • Electrical Trainee/ Electrical Apprentice

  • ​Journeyman Electrician

  • ​Master Electrician

  • ​Electrical Administrator

  • ​Electrical Contractor

  • Specialty Electrician Contractor

Benefits of Becoming a Licensed Electrician in Washington

The Employment Security Department of Washington State projects a 21.8% increase in the number of electrician jobs through 2024. The average electrician in Washington earns about $52,730 per year.

There are many benefits you’ll see from pursuing a Washington electrician license:

  • Most importantly, Washington law requires a state license to legally perform electrical work. Properly trained electricians throughout the United States are well-versed in fire prevention measures, as well as electrical distribution systems.

  • A trade license provides proof of your experience and skill.

  • Only licensed electrical contractors can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits, pass inspections, and bid on public and government projects.

  • Securing a license protects your company and customers.

  • Licensure gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.

  • It also increases your earning potential.

How Much Does It Cost for Electrician Licensing in Washington?

Most Washington electrical schools offer two-year programs. Tuition for in-state students averages $3,461 per year, plus books and related study materials. You also should expect to pay exam and licensure fees to obtain a journeyman, master electrician, or electrical contractor license. 

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How Long Does It Take to Get an Electrician License in Washington?

Obtaining a journeyman electrician license in the state of Washington takes about four years of electrical work experience, as well as 96 hours of classroom training. You must hold a valid journeyman electrician for four years before you become eligible to earn a master electrician license.

Washington Electrician Training Programs and Schools

Washington is home to several community colleges, trade schools, and technical and vocational schools that provide the training you need to become an electrical professional in Washington. They are located all over the state, including in the cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellingham.

Training at most technical schools covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to the National Electrical Code (NEC)

  • CPR and First Aid Training

  • DC/AC Theory

  • Blueprint Reading

  • Motor Theory

  • Grounding and Resistance: Theory and Testing

  • Lightning Protection

Some Washington electrical schools include:

  • Spokane Community College

  • Bellingham Technical College 

  • Big Bend Community College

Program Prerequisites: Program prerequisites vary by license type. Most programs, however, require you to be 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license, and pass an aptitude test.

On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you'll gain an understanding of electrical standards, as well as math and scientific principles. Electricians need keen eyesight and good hand-eye coordination, as well as proper time management skills. They also need good customer service skills, independence, good physical endurance, and logical problem-solving techniques. Electricians also learn how to read blueprints, circuit diagrams, and other technical documents.

Who Issues Electrician Licenses in Washington?

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (WDLI) is responsible for issuing electrician licenses in the state of Washington.

Washington Electrician Licensing Exam Details

The Washington electrical journeyman exam features 77 open-book questions that must be answered within four hours. Approved references include the National Electrical Code (NEC) and Washington Administrative Code (WAC). In Washington, you must receive at least a 70% score to pass. Practice exams are available from the WDLI.

Exam topics include:   

  • Wiring & protection

  • Services

  • Overcurrent protection

  • Grounding & bonding

  • Wiring methods

  • Electrical equipment

  • Motors, HVAC, generators & transformers

  • Equipment

  • Hazardous locations

  • Special occupancies

  • Special equipment

  • Emergency & standby

  • Special conditions

  • Communication systems

  • Washington laws & rules

  • Major load calculations

  • General trade knowledge & electrical theory

The master electrician exam covers the same material as the journeyman electrical exam and features 100 multiple-choice questions you must answer within seven hours. Tests are open book and allow you to reference the National Electrical Code (NEC) and Washington Administrative Code (WAC). You must score at least 70% to pass the exam. Practice exams are available from the WDLI.

Does My Washington Electrical License Work in Any Other State?

Yes! Washington has reciprocity agreements with the state of Oregon.

National Electrician Certifications

While optional, national certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency in certain aspects of the electrical trade to potential employers and clients, which often translates into more job opportunities and higher pay.

These include the Independent Electrical Contractors Certified Professional Electrician (CPE) distinction, certification through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), among dozens of additional electrician certifications available.

Electrician Resources

You can stay up to date on all electrician industry news in several ways: