People want to trust whoever is replacing their electrical outlets or wiring their homes. Licenses and certifications are signs that they can trust you when they hire you.
In an electrician training program, you get to learn all of the foundations of the electrician’s job:
- Electrical wiring
- Electrical safety
- The National Electrical Code
The program isn’t enough to land those electrician jobs, though. In most states, you must pass a test to work as a licensed electrician. Employers and customers want someone who can prove they have real-world experience and have completed hands-on work.
Requirements, however, can vary from state to state. Let’s take a closer look at the electrical contractor licensing requirements of the five states with the highest employment for electricians:
- Code: 2007 California Building Code, 2007 California Fire Code
- Licensing: Contractors, electricians and journeymen must be licensed by the Electrical Contractors’ State Licensing Board.
- Electrical Contractors: Licenses can be issued to firms or individuals. Applicants must qualify to take a written exam.
- Electricians: Electricians must be certified every three years. To qualify, they need to complete an approved apprenticeship.
- General Electrician: 8,000 hours of relevant work.
- Residential Electrical: 4,800 hours of relevant work.
- Code: 2008 National Electrical Code
- Licensing: The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations distributes licenses.
- Electrical Contractor: Must be a licensed master electrician or employ one.
- Master Electrician: Needs 12,000 hours of on-the job training under supervision of a master electrician. Must have a journeyman electrician license for at least two years and must have passed master electrician exam within last two years.
- Journeyman Electrician: 8000 hours of on-the-job training under direct supervision of a master electrician and successful passing of exam.
- Residential Wireman: 12,000 hours of on-the-job training under supervision of master electrician. Must have journeyman electrician license for at least two years and must have passed master electrician exam within last two years.
- Maintenance Electrician: 8000 hours of on-the-job training under direct supervision of a master electrician successful passing of exam.
- Code: No statewide electrical code
- Licensing: No state licensing of contractors or journeymen. Local government bodies provide licenses to electrical contractors. New York City issues licenses to master electricians.
- Master Electrician: Must have an undergraduate degree in engineering and 3.5 years’ work experience under a licensed electrician OR vocational school and 5.5 years’ under a licensed electrician.
- Code: National Electrical Code
- Licensing: Electrical contractors must be either registered or certified. To become certified, applicants must pass a local competency exam and then may only work in that specific locale. To receive certification, applicants have to pass the state licensing exam and can then practice throughout Florida.
- Electrical Contractor: Contractors must demonstrate financial responsibility, acceptable credit, business reputation, proven education, sufficient experience and insurance coverage.
- Journeyman Electrician: Local municipalities administer licensing; there are no statewide regulations.
- Code: National Electrical Code (exceptions for one-, two- or three-family homes)
- Licensing: Contractors (companies) need to have a state electrical license.
- Contractor: Must have 5 years’ trade experience or have 3 years’ business experience in construction, or they must be an engineer. Applicants also must be at least 18, a US citizen or legal resident, and never have been convicted of a felony.
- Journeyman electrician: No statewide licensing.
California, Texas, New York, Florida and Ohio are the states with the highest employment for electricians. Except for New York, all these states have reciprocity agreements with other states (typically, their neighboring states). Local authorities can sometimes have stricter requirements than the state.
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Make sure to check the exact requirements wherever you intend to work as an electrician. And be prepared to study for them.
Read about the skills you need to become an electrician to get ahead of the curve and decide if it’s a career you truly want.