The Smart Service Dispatch

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January 27, 2021


How to Get an Electrician License

Looking to get your electrician license and increase your career earning potential? Follow these steps.

If you enjoy math and science but want a hands-on, practical career with plenty of opportunity for salary growth, then you may wish to consider becoming an electrician. Of course, to reach the upper echelons of the profession, you’ll need a to get an official electrician license. Here’s how to get one.

Where do you live?

Because there is no federal mandate governing electrician licenses, the steps for obtaining one vary based on where you live. In most states, electrician licenses are regulated and issued at the state level, but in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania, licenses are issued at the county level or only by certain municipalities.

Look up state and local guidelines in your area to make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s throughout the process of becoming a licensed electrician. Planning to move in the next few years or in the future? Some states have reciprocity agreements with other states, meaning you can qualify to take the second state’s exam just by having a valid electrician’s license from the first state.

Although the requirements for sitting your state or local electrician license exam do vary, there are some common trends. Let’s take a look.

School is usually optional but recommended.

Technical colleges offer electrical courses, certificates, and even associate’s degrees. And while this education can prove extraordinarily helpful in training you to become an electrician, it’s generally not required in order to take the state or local examination for an electrician license.

Some exceptions do exist, however. For example, Virginia requires at least 240 hours of a formal vocational training or education before individuals qualify to sit the state exam. If you live in Washington, this state allows you to substitute two years of formal vocational training for two years of hands-on experience in the field. Finally, although New York does not license journeymen at the state level, you can apply to receive a Master Electrician’s License in New York City as long as you have a BA in engineering or complete full vocational training plus required hands-on experience.

Apprenticeships are a must.

There’s one thing all the state and local regulations agree on: apprenticeships. You have to have one, typically for a minimum of 4 years. Of course, gaining acceptance into an apprenticeship means competing against other applicants eager to break into this industry. Does your resume set you apart from the crowd?

If it doesn’t, you need to show your dedication to the field by investing in your education. The licensed electricians who host apprentices don’t want to start training someone who will bail out after realizing that the job requires quite a bit of math, problem solving, and physical work. Electricians look for candidates who show their dedication in their training, as well as in their work and volunteer history. You’ll be working a full-time job (and getting paid) plus taking classes, so an apprenticeship is right for hardworking and dedicated individuals.

Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all require apprentices to register with their state. Regardless of whether your state issues an apprentice license or not, you’re required to perform all of your electrical work under the supervision of a licensed electrician. That means you cannot “freelance” and take on your own clients on the side. In fact, most states require you to have a separate Electrical Contractor’s License and either be or employ a Master Electrician in order to perform contract work.

Other Requirements for an Electrician License

You know you need about 4 years of apprenticeship work before you can earn the title of journeyman. But what else do you need to qualify for the license exam?

In many cases, the same requirements apply for getting an apprenticeship. A valid driver’s license is a must, since this is a field service, and you may need a clean driving record as well. Some states require that you pass a drug test and background check. Finally, you’ll need to pay an administrative fee in order to take the license examination.

Taking the Exam

When you’ve completed your apprenticeship, it’s time to apply to take the electrician license exam in your state or municipality. Your mentor can help you find updated instructions for applying to take the exam; information should be available on your state’s website.

The exams usually take place in different areas around the state and only a few times per year, so space can be limited. Apply early and be prepared to travel some distance to the exam site.