Washington State Electrical License Test (Including the WAC & RCW Portion) – 2024 Information Update

According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), the state electrical exam will be based on the 2020 National Electrical Code (and hence the 2020 WAC 296-46B & 2018 Chapter 19.28 RCW) until early 2025. The exact date in 2025 when testing switches to the 2023 NEC is to be determined.

However, please note that the January 2024 Electrical Currents Newsletter states, “the new rules and adoption of the 2023 NEC are expected to take effect” on April 1, 2024. That means your electrical work will need to follow the 2023 NEC beginning on April 1, 2024. Please refer to the L&I’s newsletters for more information or contact the Washington State L&I Electrical Department directly.

Even the WACs Get Revised to Make It Easier To Understand

Changes were recently made to WAC 296-46B-995, which went into effect April 1, 2022. Part of the reason changes were made was to “clarify, simplify, and make the procedure for appeals to the board easier to understand and navigate. The goal is to reduce confusion for appellants.”

So there you go. If you find yourself reading and rereading and rereading and still not getting it, we see from the quoted text above, that the State acknowledges that the wording in the WACs isn’t always the clearest.

If you use Fast WAC & RCW Finder to find keywords in your test questions, at least it will give you more time to decipher what the WACs and RCWs are saying.

Study Tips – How to Prepare for the Washington State Electrician and Electrical Administrator RCW/WAC Exam

Today I will give you Tip #1.

Tip #1: Read every word, and read slowly. Do not rush your reading, because you might miss or skip important words.

We will use the following True/False question as an example of a test question.

A city, town, or electrical supply agency must enforce the same permitting and inspection standards that are enforced by the Department.


If you are using my book Fast WAC & RCW Finder (FWRF), look for key words in the test question and then check FWRF to see if those key words are listed. If those key words are listed, FWRF will direct you to where you can find those keywords.

In this example question, keywords could be “city, town, or electrical supply agency”. Looking up those words in FWRF, it directs you to RCW 141(2), which says (words in boldface type for emphasis):

“A city, town, or electrical supply agency is permitted, but not required, to enforce the same permitting and inspection standards applicable to basic electrical work as are enforced by the department of labor and industries.”

Going back to the question, it says “must enforce,” while RCW 141(2) says, “is permitted, but not required.”

“Must enforce” is different from “not required”; therefore, the answer is False.

So when you read slowly and read every word, you will not be tripped up by things that sound similar but in actuality are different. Compare the question to the actual RCW and you will arrive at the right answer.

The question says:RCW 141(2) says:
A city, town, or electrical supply agency must enforce the same permitting and inspection standards that are enforced by the Department.  A city, town, or electrical supply agency is permitted, but not required, to enforce the same permitting and inspection standards applicable to basic electrical work as are enforced by the department of labor and industries

RCW 19.28.261(1): Under What Conditions Can a Property Owner Do His/Her Own Electrical Work?

Exemptions from RCW 19.28.161 through 19.28.271

If a person owns an existing home, farm, place of business, or some other property (we will call that person the “owner”), the owner can do his or her own electrical work without being a certified/licensed electrician. However, there are stipulations, as listed in the “Property Owner Electrical Work Permit,” and the owner must  complete this work permit application and pay the required fees before starting the work.

Please note that if the city in which the owner is doing the work has its own electrical department, he/she must contact that city’s electrical department.

If an Owner Will Be Renting, Selling, or Leasing a New Building

If the property is a new building that the owner is going to rent out, sell, or lease, the owner must either be a certified electrician or must hire a certified electrician to do the electrical work.

If an Owner Lives in the New Residential Building That Has Up to Four Units

For a new residential building that has up to four dwelling units, the following conditions must be met in order for an owner who is not a licensed electrician to do the electrical work. See Section 2 of the Electrical Work Permit Application.

  • He/she must give the department a signed affidavit stating that he/she will be doing the electrical work.
  • After the electrical work has been completed, he/she must live in one of the units as his/her primary place of residence for 24 months or more.

This is the only way that the owner can be exempt from RCW 19.28.161 through 19.28.271.

Exemption Granted Only Once Every 24 Months

Furthermore, this owner can only receive an exemption once every 24 months. So, if an owner has another new building project he/she wants to undertake and 24 months have not passed since receiving the first exemption, he/she will have to hire a licensed electrician to work on the next building, or will have to become a licensed electrician before he/she can do the next building’s electrical work.

Refer to the Electrical Work Permit Application for more details on exemptions from RCW 19.28.161 through 19.28.271.

WAC 296-46B-920(2)(a)-(n): Electrical Specialties

An EL 01 can perform all types of electrical and telecommunications installations, as well as minor plumbing under RCW 18.106.150. And then there are the following electrical specialty licenses.

Residential (02)

WAC 296-46B-920(2)(a) details the scope of an EL 02.

Pump and Irrigation (03)

Domestic Pump (03A)

Signs (04)

Limited Energy System (06)

HVAC/Refrigeration (06A)

HVAC/Refrigeration Restricted (06B)

Nonresidential Maintenance (07)

Nonresidential Lighting Maintenance and Lighting Retrofit (07A)

Residential Maintenance (07B)

Restricted Nonresidential Maintenance (07C)

Appliance Repair (07D)

Equipment Repair (07E)

Telecommunications (09)

Door, Gate, and Similar Systems (10)

WAC 296-46B-970(2)(e): Classes Required for Renewing Washington State Electrician, Master Electrician, or Administrator Certificate

To be able to renew your certificate (also known as your license), you must have at least 8 hours of approved continuing education classes for each year of the prior certification period. The classes can be taken in separate years or all in one year. What does this mean?

For example, Joe got his EL01 certificate in November 2020. His certificate expires in June 2023. From 2020 to 2023, it counts as 3 years, so he has to complete 24 hours (8 hours per year x 3 years) of continuing education units (CEUs) before he can renew his certificate.

Now, there are some restrictions on what types of classes are absolutely required in those 24 hours of CEUs:

  • 8 hours must be on the currently adopted National Electrical Code (NEC)
  • 4 hours must be on the currently adopted Chapter 19.28 RCW and/or its related WAC 296-46B

That leaves 12 hours of any other approved classes that Joe can take. Joe can complete all 24 hours of CEUs in 2022, or he can complete some of the hours in 2021, some in 2022, and some before June 2023.

How to Study and Understand WAC 296-46b and Chapter 19.28 RCW

This isn’t the type of material people read for fun.

There aren’t any funny jokes, no inspirational or motivational messages, no pictures of fluffy puppy dogs. So why are you here? How did you find this article?

You typed words in your search engine, desperately trying to find ways to untangle the rules and laws in Washington State’s WAC and RCWs for the electrical industry. Probably because you are preparing to take a test: the journey level electrician, master electrician, or electrical administrator test.

And so we meet.

Hi. My name is Lucy, and I’m your tour guide in the land of WACs and RCWs.

Actually, I’m the creator of the Fast WAC & RCW Finder, a keyword index that could help you over the finish line when you take your electrical exam.

In my blog, I will also be sharing insights into understanding these Washington State rules and laws.

Glad to meet you. There is hope.

My book, Fast WAC & RCW Finder, is based on the 2020 WAC 296-46b and 2020 Chapter 19.28 RCW. As of now, the book is available for purchase only through my eBay listing.

Fast WAC & RCW Finder

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