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What Is an Electrical Trainee Card and How Do I Obtain One?


If you’re interested in becoming an electrician in California, be aware of one thing. This career doesn’t happen overnight!

Your first step is to become an electrical trainee, eligible to work on job sites as you work towards your professional license. Read further to find out more about how to qualify for an electrical trainee card. Then you can begin your on-the-job training today.

What is an Electrical Trainee?

An electrical trainee (ET) is someone enrolled in a California-approved electrician trade school. These students are actively working towards their state electrician certification.

Electrical Trainees must enroll in a state-approved electrician program. The California Department of Industrial Relations approves electrician schools in the state. These schools are approved to offer electrical trainees ET programs.

Along with their regular electrician classes, some electrician training includes on-the-job experience. The California Labor Code section 108.2 allows electrical trainees to work on a job site for a C-10 electrical contractor.

The only way an electrical trainee can work on a job site is if they register with the state. To start this on-site experience, they must apply for their electrical training (or ET) card. And, in order to obtain this card, they must attend a school approved by the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Electrical trainees are not the same as apprentices. The difference between an apprentice and a trainee is that an apprenticeship program may last between three to four years. An electrical trainee can enroll in a Department of Industrial Relations school, register for an ET card, and then can work full or part-time on the job supervised under a licensed electrician.

Training for an Electrical Trainee

California has created an electrician’s Registered Electrical Trainee process. The registration process ensures proper documentation and registration for students.

Students must enroll in a classroom-based technical training program, such as through a vocational college or technical school. Many vocational and technical schools provide either residential or general electrical curriculum. The curriculum must align with the state’s licensing requirements.

These educational programs include classroom study requirements. These technical programs include both classroom lectures and lab time, and the programs usually take one to two years to complete.

Vocational and technical schools usually provide placement assistance upon completion of their training programs.  Until the graduate takes and passes the journeyman examination and accumulates the necessary hours, they will be required to work under a state-licensed electrical contractor. That’s where they start the on-the-job experience required for licensure.

How Do You Get an Electrical Trainee Card?

Steps To Get an Electrical Trainee Card

  1. Enroll in a state-approved electrical school.

    The first step to getting your electrical training (ET) card is to enroll in a state-approved electrical school. Be sure to look for those institutions that provide “whole general electrician” courses. Be sure the school offers this curriculum in order to meet the prerequisites for state-approved electrical trainees.

    After you submit your ET Training Program Enrollment Form and meet all entrance requirements, you’ll receive notification from your school. This notification is your confirmation that you’ve been accepted in their ET program.

    Hang on to this confirmation as your proof that you have enrolled. You’ll need to submit a copy of this confirmation or a copy of your enrollment agreement when you apply for an ET card.\

  2. Sign up for an ET card.

    After you have enrolled in an approved institution, you can then sign up for an ET card. Start by filling out the “Application for New Registration of Electrical Trainee” form.

  3. Send a $25 check payable to the California Department of Industrial Relations.

    You also need to send a $25 check payable to the California Department of Industrial Relations. Students should also include a copy of their enrollment confirmation from the electrical school.

  4. Mail the items

    Once all three of these items are in hand, mail them to the following address:

    Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)
    DLSE-Electrician Certification Unit
    P.O. Box 511286
    Los Angeles, CA 90051-7841

How to Become a Registered Electrical Trainee

Once the state receives your application and school enrollment confirmation, they will notify you that you are a registered electrical trainee. This notification will also provide you with a “T” identification number. This number proves that you are a registered trainee and enrolled in an approved electrical trainee program.

You can find out more about the electrical trainee registration process from this handy electrical trainee guide. This guide was developed by the California Department of Industrial Relations.

When you’ve received an ET card, you are now qualified to work at construction sites as an electrical trainee. Certified electricians supervise electrical trainees. Electrical trainees can work with certified electricians on C-10 electrical jobs costing over $500.

Electrical trainees must renew their ET card every year. Students who don’t renew their annual registration or drop a class, get removed from the state-approved list of trainees.

Students should continue this renewal process until they’ve completed their required classes. They should also renew their status if they have outstanding hours of experience to complete. Once students finish these steps, they can work on passing their final state exam.

Next Steps

If this sounds like an exciting career field for you, then make your move today to become an electrician.

To find an approved “electrician school near me”, head over to the Department of Industrial Relations website. They have a list of approved schools. Make sure you find a school that offers a whole general electrician curriculum.

Once you’re enrolled, you can apply for your electrical trainee card. Pull your materials together, along with your enrollment confirmation. Mail these items to the address listed above.

Don’t forget to check our website to learn more about what you should know about this career field. Check out our trade and vocational school programs online. We’re here to help you kick-off your next best career!

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