How to Qualify to be A Licensed Electrical Contractor

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  • Author F. Cheshire
  • Published October 22, 2009
  • Word count 705

What is involved in becoming a licensed electrician?

So you are thinking about becoming a licensed electrician. It is a very wise career choice. Electicity is a necessity for most people today, just think about how much people rely on it!

Electricians provide an invaluable service by troubleshooting electrical wires, circuits, panel boards, and other equipment that provide the power, lighting, and cooling of the places we live and work. Electricians take pride knowing they possess skills in a trade that contributes to the on going operation of homes, businesses and the country.

Do You Have A Clear Head?

Electrical contractors experience a mentally and physically challenging work environment. Since live voltage can be a safety hazard it is essential the electrician is able to think clearly and make good decisions.

Are You In Good Shape?

Hard work requires that an electrician be in good physical shape and is able to work in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. You also need to be aware that you will be required to handle heights using ladders and scaffolds, risk of electrical shock, lifting and moving heavy objects.

Electrical contracting businesses need people that are determined to continue their personal and professional development. Some electricians learn the electrical trade by registering in an apprenticeship program, such as those offered by the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) or International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Others choose to begin their career by joining a small local contractor offering construction and maintenance service work. Many are willing to sweep as a helper for the opportunity to learn a skill that will last for a lifetime.

The Process of Becoming a Licensed Electrician

If you're considering a career in the electrical contracting industry you should have knowledge or learn basic mathematics, electronics, mechanical drawing, and not be color blind in order to clearly identify colors of wire.

Becoming an electrician requires four to five years of on the job training and some time spent in a classroom through community and technical schools. Did you know that certain areas offer six week accelerated programs to get your class room training?

Once the individual has necesary on the job experience and classroom training, it's time to prepare for the electricians exam. These exams are basically the same as they share a common theme of testing applicants in electrical theory, practical knowledge and the National Electrical Code. The National Electrical Code, or NEC is considered the a touchstone for electrical safety, and it is updated every three years. Keep in mind that each state has its own local laws, which would also be included in any tests and would vary depending on the applicant's location. There are several very good resources on-line that can help to prepare you for the test.

You Passed the Test, Now What?

You have taken the test and you've passed, congratulations. Records indicate that on average only 15% applicants pass the exam on the first attempt. So don't think its hopeless if you do not pass the grade at first.

In order for you to begin your electrical contracting business you have a few more steps to follow. First, you need to obtain a general liability insurance policy. If someone were to get injured as a result of electrical work you completed, a general liability policy will help protect you from law suits. How much will this cost? For a small company with no employees this will cost you under a hundred dollars a month. Next, depending on the type of work you provide workmen's compensation may be needed. If you have 3 or less employees you are not required to have this insurance. Despite this, some businesses may require demand that you to have this insurance to do their work.

You're up and running, Now what?

Since this is a state issued license, most states require continuing education to stay current in changes with the electrical and general construction industries. Two 4 hour classes are required per year to stay current with state requirements. This is required on a yearly bases. These classes usually run between $85 and $125 each. Some may even be done online.

For more information on becoming a licensed electrical contractor check with your Secretary of State.

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