How To Get Your Electrician License in 6 Steps

How to Get Your Electrician License
8
min read
March 19, 2021

From wiring a whole building to replacing wires and circuit breakers, the work of an electrician is crucial for construction projects—and an electrician license is required to get started. Read on to learn all about becoming an electrician in this step-by-step guide. 

The Job of the Electrician 

Electricians perform different tasks for both residential and commercial buildings, such as:

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You’ll need to use specialized equipment and comply with building codes, and you’ll most likely be working with small components that have to be handled carefully. You’ll also need to operate in different and sometimes challenging settings, such as high or very narrow places. As maintenance may be necessary at any time of the day, you may work odd hours to address emergencies.  

How Much Do Electricians Earn?

According to Payscale, the median hourly rate of an electrician is $22.40. Pay rates vary between $14.80 and $35.85 per hour, depending on the person’s experience, licensing, and location. 


The total yearly pay for electricians can range from $31,000 to $82,000, including bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing.  

#1. Make Sure You Have the Right Education

The basic education necessary to become an electrician is a high school diploma or GED.


Then you can apply to an electrical trade school or vocational school to learn the basics about the trade.


The typical curriculum includes:

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You can choose a college or university program, or seek a training program at a vocational school. In either case, you will get the necessary foundation for advancing your career.


Some educational programs require both classroom instruction and an apprenticeship to get the certificate or degree. 

#2. Find an Apprenticeship Program

An apprenticeship is essential for your professional development. You may need to pass an aptitude test and an interview to get accepted as someone’s apprentice.


An apprenticeship allows you to learn necessary skills in a hands-on environment. You’ll work with a master electrician or a licensed electrician who can teach you the practical side of the job. You’ll typically need two to four years of an apprenticeship to qualify for a license.


Some states require apprentices to get a license or register. The apprentice license is required in Maine and West Virginia. In Idaho, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and North Dakota, you’ll need to register as an electrical apprentice. The registration process is easier than licensing because you only need to declare with the relevant authorities that you’re working as an apprentice. 


You can seek an apprenticeship through trade organizations. They can help you find a program or may run apprenticeships themselves. Some of the organizations you can check include:

 

#3. Find Out the Licensing Requirements in Your State

The licensing rules for electricians vary across the U.S. In most states, you’ll need an electrical license on the state level. 


In some states, cities or municipalities require licensing. They include Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. 


After you complete the necessary apprenticeship and work experience, you can get a journeyman license. Once you have worked a certain number of years as a journeyman, you can become a licensed master. License classifications are also different in each state.


Some states have additional types of licenses, such as residential electrical installer, commercial installation electrician, specialty electrician, residential electrician, residential journeyman, residential master electrician, and limited classifications. 


The typical state license requirements include:

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State Electrician Licensing Authorities
StateLicensing AuthorityLicense Types
AlabamaAlabama Electrical Contractors BoardJourneyman, Electrical Contractor
AlaskaAlaska Department of Labor and Workplace DevelopmentJourneyman, Residential, Electrical administrator
ArizonaArizona Registrar of ContractorsSpecialty Residential Contractor R11 and C11, Specialty Dual License Contractor CR11
ArkansasArkansas Department of Labor and LicensingJourneyman, Master, Residential Journeyman, Residential master
CaliforniaContractors State License Board at the California Department of Consumer AffairsC10 Electrical Contractor
ColoradoElectrical Board at the Colorado Department of Regulatory AgenciesResidential Wireman, Journeyman, Master
ConnecticutConnecticut Department of Consumer ProtectionJourneyperson, Contractor
DelawareDelaware Division of Professional RegulationJourneyperson, Limited, Limited Special, Master Special, Master
FloridaFlorida Department of Business and Professional RegulationElectrical Contractor
GeorgiaDivision of Electrical Contractors at the Georgia Construction Industry Licensing BoardElectrical Contractor
HawaiiBoard of Electricians and Plumbers at the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer AffairsJourney Worker, Supervising, Journey Worker Industrial, Supervising Industrial, Journey Worker Specialty, Supervising Specialty, Maintenance
IdahoIdaho Division of Building SafetyApprentice, Journeyman, Master, Electrical Contractor, Electrical Specialty Trainee, Specialty Journeyman, Specialty Electrical Contractor
IllinoisNo state requirements
IndianaNo state requirements
IowaIowa Department of Public SafetyResidential, Residential Master, Master, Residential Electrical Contractor, Electrical Contractor
KansasNo state requirements
KentuckyKentucky Department of Housing, Buildings, and ConstructionElectrician, Master, Electrical Contractor
LouisianaLouisiana State Licensing Board for ContractorsCommercial Contractor License for projects above $10,000
MaineMaine Electricians' Examining BoardApprentice, Electrical Helper, Journeyman, Limited, Master
MarylandMaryland Board of Master ElectriciansMaster Electrician
MassachusettsMassachusetts Board of State Examiners of ElectriciansJourneyman, Master
MichiganBureau of Construction Codes at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA)Journeyman, Master
MinnesotaBoard of Electricity at the Minnesota Department of Labor and IndustryJourneyman, Master, Maintenance
MississippiMississippi State Board of ContractorsState Contractor License for residential projects above $10,000 or commercial projects above $50,000. Local License Types: Electrician, Journeyman
MissouriNo state requirements
MontanaState Electrical Board at the Montana Department of Labor and IndustryResidential, Journeyman, Master
NebraskaNebraska Electrical DivisionApprentice, Journeyman, Electrical Contractor
NevadaNevada State Contractors BoardC2 Electrical Contractor
New HampshireElectrician's Board at the New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and CertificationJourneyman, Master
New JerseyBoard of Examiners of Electrical Contractors at the New Jersey Department of Law and Public SafetyElectrical Contractor License
New MexicoElectrical Bureau at the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing DepartmentJourneyman Residential and Commercial Electrical, Journeyman Electrical Distribution Systems, 5 Specialty Journeyman options
New YorkNo state requirements
North CarolinaNorth Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical ContractorsLimited, Intermediary, Unlimited, Single-Family Detached Residential Dwelling
North DakotaNorth Dakota State Electrical BoardJourneyman, Class B, Master
OhioOhio Construction Industry Licensing BoardCommercial Contractor in the electrical classification
OklahomaOklahoma Construction Industries BoardApprentice, Unlimited Journeyman, Residential Journeyman, Limited Electrical Contractor, Unlimited Electrical Contractor
OregonBuilding Codes Division at the Department of Consumer and Business ServicesGeneral Journeyman, General Supervising, Limited Building Maintenance, Limited Maintenance, Limited Residential, Limited Supervising
PennsylvaniaNo state requirements
Rhode IslandRhode Island Department of Labor and TrainingJourneyperson, Electrical Contractor
South CarolinaResidential Builders Commission at the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and RegulationElectrical Contractor
South DakotaElectrical Commission at the South Dakota Department of Labor and RegulationJourneyman, Electrical Contractor
TennesseeBoard for Licensing Contractors at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and InsuranceElectrical Contractor, Limited Electrical Contractor
TexasTexas Department of Licensing and RegulationJourneyman, Master
UtahUtah Department of CommerceJourneyman, Residential Journeyman, Master, Residential Master
VermontElectrical Licensing Board at the Vermont Department of Public SafetyJourneyman, Master
VirginiaVirginia Department of Professional and Occupational RegulationJourneyman, Master
WashingtonWashington State Department of Labor and IndustriesGeneral Journey Level, Specialty Residential
West VirginiaWest Virginia Fire CommissionApprentice, Journeyman, Master, Specialty
WisconsinWisconsin Department of Safety and Professional ServicesJourneyman, Master
WyomingWyoming Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical SafetyJourneyman, Master


#4. Complete the State Exam

Most states require you to pass a trade exam to get a journeyman electrician license. You’ll have to prove you have apprenticeship experience to qualify for the exam. 


There is no unified system for electrician licensing exams across the U.S. The exams are different in each state. Their content typically includes the National Electrical Code, and local electrical and building codes.

#5. Get Your Electrician License as a Journeyman 

Once you pass the state exam, you can apply for your journeyman license, which will allow you to work on projects without the supervision of a master electrician. 


You’ll have to meet all the requirements set by the licensing authority, which typically is a special state board of electricians. You’ll have to pay a license and/or application fee as well. Submit the completed application form together with all paperwork via mail or online to the electrical board. 


Your license will be active for one or two years. If you wish to continue your operations, you’ll have to renew your license before the expiration date. You may need to get some hours of continuing education to keep your knowledge up to date. 

#6. Become a Master Electrician 

After some years of experience in the trade, your natural next step is to become a master electrician. Your role then is to handle complex projects, take part in the planning and design of systems, and teach and supervise apprentices. 


In most states, you’ll have to get a new type of license—a master electrician license. You’ll need to pass an exam and meet the state criteria for master electricians. 


Many states require a master electrician license if you want to open your own business.

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