Legal vs. Illegal Electricians

Is the electrician wiring your project doing so illegally? You might be ‘shocked’ to learn that could easily be the case if some important deadlines for certification were missed. Another contractor hopes to shed ‘light’ on some other electrical work, but first we begin at the beginning. A question about how to structure a new business should always begin with the contractor’s license…

Q: My husband and I are just starting a contracting business in California. We would like to use someone as our RMO. If this is a Partnership does he have to be a partner, or should we be doing this as Sole Proprietorship? Can he still run his own business with his contractor’s license and be our RMO?

A: When starting a new business you have the option of getting the license as a partnership, corporation or sole owner. If applying as a partnership, the qualifier can be a partner or RME (Responsible Managing Employee). If going for a corporate license, this individual could be a RME or RMO (Responsible Managing Officer). If he is a RMO or qualifying partner owning 20% or more of your business entity he can “still run his own business” and keep his license active. A RME would be required to inactivate his license, as would someone who owns less than 20% of your company.

If you want to apply as a sole owner, the license would either need to be in your name or your husbands’ name. If the owner has the requisite experience they may qualify the license, or you could hire a RME.

Q: Does a licensed “C-10” contractor also have to be a Certified General Electrician to perform work on a job for which he has contracted?

A: I believe you’re referring to the Certification that is required for all electricians that work for “C-10” contractors. As the “C-10” license holder, you are NOT required to go through the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) certification.

For your information, these DAS regulations were put in place in 2002. The deadline for residential electricians getting this certification was January 1, 2007. The deadline for general electricians and fire/life/safety electricians was a year ago — January 1, 2006. According to the CSLB, “electricians who are not certified by this time are working illegally”.

The CSLB is urging all electricians who work for “C-10” electrical contractors to immediately sign up to take a certification exam. According to the Board, “not complying with the law could subject the licensee to administrative action”. Further, the CSLB stated, “It could potentially open these contractors and workers up to civil suits should there be problems with work done by an uncertified worker”.

The DAS, which is part of the Department of Industrial Relations, is responsible for the processing of applications for electrician certifications. According to Dave Rowan, chief of DAS, “There are now 138 approved schools throughout the state and testing dates are plentiful”. There is a link to the DAS at

Q: I have a “C-10” contractors license and want to expand into the solar field. Can I use this license for both my existing business and the new one I am about to form?

A: NO! In order to conduct business under two different names, you must have 2 different license numbers.