All working electricians are licensed in their respective states, but getting specialty certifications is optional. Certifications allow electricians to work with specialized electrical processes or machinery for a more focused career path. In this article, we explore the opportunities that licensed electricians have as well as the benefits of obtaining certifications.
When it comes to electrical work, there are two main types of professionals you can hire: certified electricians and licensed electricians. But what’s the difference? And which one should you choose for your project? In this blog post, we will discuss the key differences between certified electricians and licensed electricians. We will also help you decide which one is the best fit for your needs!
Difference Between License And Certificate
Licensed electricians complete state-approved licensing programs and exams to work in their respective states .
Types Of Electrical Certifications
Licensed electricians can fulfill specialty roles like:
- Industrial electricians work with industrial equipment. They also create, maintain, and repair electrical components on industrial machines, lay wires, and work with a production manager to make the production process more energy efficient and safe;
- Commercial electricians work in commercial settings for small businesses, retail stores, and other commercial locations. They lay wires, repair electrical components and panels and advise commercial customers on safe electrical upkeep practices;
- Residential electricians work with homes laying wires, repairing electrical systems, and updating electrical panels. They may make home visits as part of regular maintenance or electrical emergencies;
- Electrical panel builders work almost exclusively with electrical panels, producing efficient and safe panels for commercial, residential, and industrial applications ;
Green And Renewable Energy
A certified electrician is a state-licensed electrician who seeks additional certifications to work in specific industries or businesses. Electricians can obtain certifications in areas like:
- Electrical safety compliance;
- Standardized task evaluation;
- Cable splicing;
- Green energy;
- Solar PV;
Anyone interested in becoming a master electrician should start by joining an apprentice program. Most states do not require licenses for apprentices. As an apprentice, you’ll work alongside a master electrician and receive on-the-job training. When you complete the minimum hours required by your state or local licensing board, you’ll qualify to take the journeyman license exam.
Once you pass the journeyman license exam and meet all other licensing requirements, you’ll need to wait a period of time before you can take the master electrician licensing exam (if your state offers it). The waiting period varies significantly from state to state. In Virginia, for example, you only need to wait one year after earning your journeyman license to take the master electrician license exam. In Oregon, you need to wait at least four years.
In some areas, formal schooling allows you to fast-track toward a master electrician’s license. For example, applicants in New York City with a Bachelor of Arts in engineering only need three and a half years of experience to qualify for the master electrician license exam, whereas those who complete electrician school must have five and a half years of experience. Applicants with no formal education must demonstrate at least seven and a half years of experience to qualify for this exam .
They are typically responsible for installing, troubleshooting, maintaining, and upgrading electrical systems – this includes equipment in residential settings like homes, apartments, and condominiums.
As a residential electrician, you’ll install and repair security systems, air conditioning units, and other household appliances.
Job training combines apprenticeship with formal classroom instruction, under the supervision of a Journeyman or Master electrician. You’ll also need to pass state-level testing, following the completion of your apprenticeship program.
Like commercial electricians, many types of electrical jobs include working for a building contractor or managing a small business independently.
It is important to make sure that your electrician is licensed, not only to ensure that there is quality work being done to your wires, but also for a host of other reasons. Being licensed means that an exam has been passed and the necessary qualifications to do the work are guaranteed. Also, most electrical work needs to be done with a permit. This means that liability insurance and homeowner’s insurance are more likely to pay out in the event that something bad happens on the job or after a job has been done.
Cities just don’t hand out permits to unlicensed electricians. Finally, being licensed means that the electrician will work according to the safety guidelines stipulated by the National Electrical Code. While this does not mean that an unlicensed electrician isn’t safe, it just means they have nothing to lose if they’re not. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Renewing Electrician Licenses And Certifications
Electrician licenses and certifications can be important tools for growing your small business. Whether you are just starting out or learning a new skill, licenses and certifications could help set you apart from the competition, offer new services, or give you better control of your work schedule.
What Is A Licensed Electrician?
Electricians can complete their education through state-sponsored or certified post-secondary programs. These programs typically take between 18-24 months to complete and help prepare potential electricians for the state exam and apprenticeship. A post-secondary electrician program teaches students the basics of electrical grids, wiring, and management. Students will learn to install and troubleshoot basic electrical components and the hazards associated with live electrical lines .
What Is A Certified Electrician?
Certifications do not replace the need for a state or local license, but they are still valuable assets for electricians serious about their careers.
Most certificates are associated with specific education courses. At the end of the course, students earn a certificate after passing a final exam. The Independent Electrical Contractors Certified Professional Electrician (IEC CPE) designation is awarded this way.
Other certifications may allow interested parties to take the exams without enrolling in a formal course. To avoid wasting the organization’s resources, anyone interested in taking a certification exam usually has to apply and prove that they meet the minimum requirements (which may include a certain level of experience, education, or licensure) .
Benefits Of Being A Certified Electrician
This included a mean hourly wage of $28.50. The best-paid 25% made $472,780 while the lowest-paid 255 made $41,260. The best states based on types of electricians and their salaries are New York, Alaska, Illinois, and Hawaii .
The best-paying metropolitan areas in the US are San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and San Jose. Industries with the highest wages for electricians are natural gas and real estate.
The employment outlook for electricians in the US is positive, with many opportunities for different electrician jobs across top industries. Pursuing a career as an electrician is a recommendable choice for many with specialization options, room for advancement, and great pay.
Types Of Electricians By Certification Levels
A licensed electrician can complete an apprenticeship under a master electrician to gain on-the-job training and learn the details of the job. This can take anywhere from two to five years to complete, and apprenticeships usually carry a fee. The master electrician instructs and mentors the apprentice in the details of the job, safety requirements, and any other information that furthers the apprentice’s career as a licensed electrician.
An apprentice progresses from apprentice to journeyman electrician once they’ve accumulated a specific number of hours of training, as per state guidelines. Apprentice electricians obtain anywhere from 4,000 to 8,000 hours of experience. From there, they can seek the title of a master electrician by obtaining additional hours of experience, typically between 8,000-12,000 hours in total.
If you want to establish yourself in the renewable energy niche, consider earning “green” certifications. For example, Clemson University offers a Renewable Energy Certificate.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) also offers a number of certifications geared toward photovoltaic cell and solar heating system installation. If you’re interested in becoming an inspector, NABCEP also has certificates geared toward that profession.
Certain industries require specialized knowledge in cable splicing, running wires, and other skills. Becoming a certified electrician starts with deciding the industry or sector in which you want to work, as this can guide your choice of certifications. For example, you could work on building solar or electrical panels or become a panel repairman. These options require different certifications even though the careers are in the same industry. Consider carefully where you want to apply your skills by researching job duties and salary data associated with that niche or specialization.
What Different Types Of Electricians Are There Based On Specialization
Your typical average Joe can take the electrical licensing examination, but this is easier said than done! Passing this examination requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of the National Electrical Code. The National Electrical Code is a set of standardized guidelines adopted for the United States for the installation of electrical wiring and the operation of equipment and tools that may be needed on the job.
In order to be licensed, an electrician also needs to gain electrical work experience for a certain number of years as an electrician apprentice working for a company or with a licensed electrician. This can range anywhere from 3 to 6 years’ worth of working experience depending on the type of work done.
After receiving a certification, you can work in the field with your new skills. If you’re already working as a licensed electrician, you can see if your current employer offers positions or assignments that use your newly acquired skills. Gaining experience can also make it easier to apply for a new position, as you’ll have a work history that verifies your ability to apply your certification knowledge.
Although licenses and certifications are different in many ways, they do have one thing in common: they both expire. Once you earn a license or certification, expect to retake the exam in several years and/or complete continuing education requirements. These renewals ensure you remain up to date on changes in electrical codes and industry best practices. You typically have to pay a renewal fee as well.
Maintenance electricians are a vital part of the industrial, commercial, and residential sectors. As a maintenance electrician, you are tasked with maintaining, repairing, and upgrading existing electrical equipment.
Other maintenance responsibilities include testing, troubleshooting, and diagnosing problems with equipment.
To work as a maintenance electrician, you would also need a formal apprenticeship, with on-the-job technical training, followed by an electrician license.
An auto electrician specializes in cars and other automotive vehicles, and is responsible for the electrical systems within these vehicles that are vital for their safe operation.
To be an auto electrician, you would need an in-depth understanding of vehicle diagnostics, allowing the proper inspection of drivetrain systems using performance electronics. Technicians also use these devices for official motor vehicle certification.
How To Become A Licensed Electrician
Complete A Licensed Post-Secondary Program
A license is distributed by the government to indicate the electrician has permission to legally perform work in a certain jurisdiction. Many master electrician licenses are distributed on a statewide basis. Electricians who work on both sides of a state border would need to obtain a master electrician’s license from both states. The exception to this rule is if the states have a reciprocity agreement in which they recognize the validity of the other states’ master electrician licenses.
A certificate is distributed by an organization to indicate the electrician has completed certain educational requirements or demonstrated a certain level of knowledge. Certificates are useful marketing tools for electricians. For example, when electricians seek employment at an electrical company, certificates can make their resume stand out. When master electricians decide to start their own business, an impressive list of certificates can attract potential customers.
Although the distinction between a license and a certificate is usually quite clear, some governments use the terms interchangeably. In addition, some may require electricians to have a particular certificate before issuing a license.
Pass The State Licensing Exam
For those seeking to become inspectors or specialize in niches like green energy, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers certifications in these areas. In addition to exploring the variety of certifications through professional associations, you can also gain certifications from traditional universities that offer stand-alone certificate programs, which don’t require you to be otherwise enrolled as a student.
Apprentice Under A Master
“Master electrician” refers to a more experienced journeyman who holds the highest level of licensure offered by the state or local government. However, some states or municipalities do not use the term “master electrician” at all, and instead, refer to their most elite licensed electricians as “journeymen”.
Others have both titles, with master electricians being one level above journeymen. Some states go one step further and offer an electrical contractor license, which is only distributed to licensed master electricians who wish to run their own businesses .
How To Become A Certified Electrician
Identify The Sector In Which You Want To Work
There are different sectors and specialties within the field of electricity, such as industrial, commercial, and residential. Choose the sector in which you want to work and pursue related training and education.
Complete An Apprenticeship Program
Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction under the supervision of a licensed electrician. These programs typically last four to five years.
Pass The Required Exams
Once your apprenticeship program is complete, you will need to pass exams in order to become a certified electrician. These may include a licensing exam as well as specialty exams for certain sectors or types of electrical work.
Safety And Working Conditions
The main difference between a certified and licensed electrician is the level of training and education required for each. A certified electrician has completed a specialized training program, often through a technical or trade school, but may not be licensed by their state to work independently on electrical systems.
On the other hand, a licensed electrician has completed both formal education and on-the-job training and has passed all state licensing requirements to work as an independent contractor. Licensed electricians also must adhere to strict safety codes and regulations in order to maintain their licenses.
How Much Do Electricians Make?
In terms of pay, certified electricians typically make slightly less than licensed electricians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for electricians in 2017 was $54,110, but licensed electricians may earn closer to $60,000 or more per year.
However, both certified and licensed electricians can advance their careers with additional education and experience, leading to higher salaries in the field. Additionally, some areas may pay higher wages for electricians due to the demand for skilled workers.
Why It Is Important To Hire A Licensed Electrician?
Hiring a licensed electrician is important for a few reasons:
- First, they have proven that they have the necessary skills and education to work safely and effectively on electrical systems;
- Second, using a licensed electrician ensures that all work performed meets state safety codes and regulations, protecting both the property and those living or working in it;
- Finally, having a licensed electrician may also be required for certain types of insurance coverage on a property. In short, hiring a licensed electrician can provide peace of mind and protect against potential hazards or legal issues;
What is the highest type of electrician?
Do you need a license to do electrical work in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, a license is required to do electrical work on any building over three stories or with more than six units.
What is the difference between being certified and licensed as an electrician?
Being certified means that the electrician has received additional training in a specific area or type of work, such as home automation or low-voltage systems. However, this does not replace the necessity for a license, which shows that the electrician has met all necessary requirements and can legally practice as an electrician.
How do I become a licensed electrician in South Carolina?
To become a licensed electrician in South Carolina, you must first complete an apprenticeship program and then pass the state licensing exam. You may also need to have a certain amount of on-the-job experience before applying for a license. For more information, contact the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
How do I become a licensed electrician in NJ?
To become a licensed electrician in New Jersey, you must complete an apprenticeship program and pass the state licensing exam. You may also need to have a certain amount of on-the-job experience before applying for a license. For more information, contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Overall, while certification can be valuable and show additional skills and expertise, it is important to remember that only a licensed electrician should be hired for any electrical work in order to ensure safety and compliance with local regulations.
Can I do electrical work in NJ without a license?
In New Jersey, it is illegal to do electrical work without a license. Doing so can result in fines and potential legal consequences. It is important to only hire a licensed electrician for any electrical work in your home or business.
How much does an electrician make an hour in NJ?
According to salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for electricians in New Jersey is $29.51. However, this can vary based on experience and specialty areas. Additionally, some electricians may receive benefits such as health insurance or retirement contributions that should also be taken into consideration when evaluating overall compensation .
How do I find my local electrical code?
Your local electrical code can typically be found through your state or local government website. It is important for electricians to stay up to date on the latest codes and regulations in order to ensure safe and compliant work. Additionally, some cities or counties may have their own specific codes that should also be followed. It is always best to check with a local authority if you have any questions about the applicable codes for a certain project.
How much is an electrician per hour?
However, this can vary based on location and experience level. Additionally, some electricians may receive benefits such as health insurance or retirement contributions that should also be taken into consideration when evaluating overall compensation. It is important to consider all factors when hiring an electrician and negotiating rates. As always, it is best to hire a licensed professional for any electrical work in your home or business.
What’s the highest-paying electrical job?
According to salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying electrical jobs are typically in the industries of utilities, transportation equipment manufacturing, and petroleum and coal products manufacturing.
Electricians in these industries can make an average hourly wage of over $40. It is important to note that experience level and specialty areas can also play a role in overall compensation for electricians.
Additionally, some electricians may receive benefits such as health insurance or retirement contributions that should also be taken into consideration when evaluating overall compensation. Ultimately, it is important to consider all factors when pursuing a career as an electrician and seeking employment opportunities.
How much does a licensed electrician make in North Carolina?
However, this can vary based on experience and specialty areas. Additionally, some electricians may receive benefits such as health insurance or retirement contributions that should also be taken into consideration when evaluating overall compensation. It is important to consider all factors when hiring an electrician and negotiating rates in any state. As always, it is best to hire a licensed professional for any electrical work in your home or business.
How do I become an electrician apprentice in SC?
To become an electrician apprentice in South Carolina, you must first complete a state-approved apprenticeship program. This can typically be found through local trade unions or contractor associations. It is important to thoroughly research and prepare for the apprenticeship program and licensing exam in order to have a successful career as an electrician in South Carolina.
How do I get a contractor’s license in SC?
In order to obtain a contractor’s license in South Carolina, you must first complete the appropriate education and experience requirements set by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. This may include completing a state-approved apprenticeship program and passing an exam.
Additionally, you will need to provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance and pass a criminal background check. It is important to thoroughly research and meet all necessary requirements in order to become a licensed contractor in South Carolina.
What do I need to be a fully qualified electrician?
In order to become a fully qualified electrician, you will typically need to complete a state-approved apprenticeship program and pass the necessary licensing examinations. It is also important to gain experience on the job and continually update your skills and knowledge in the field.
Additionally, some employers may require special certifications or training in specific areas. It is important to thoroughly research the requirements for your desired industry and position in order to have a successful career as an electrician.
What types of electrical certifications are there?
There are a variety of electrical certifications available, depending on your specialty or desired industry. Some examples include the National Electrical Code (NEC) certification, low-voltage certification, and industrial maintenance and motor control certification. It is important to research and understand the specific requirements and benefits of each certification in order to determine which may be helpful for your career as an electrician .
How long does it take to become a master electrician?
The length of time it takes to become a master electrician can vary depending on individual experience and education. Typically, it may take around 8 years of on-the-job training and education to meet the requirements for a master electrician license. However, it is important to research and understand the specific requirements in your state or desired industry in order to have a successful career as a master electrician.
Can I train to be an electrician online?
While some technical training or education may be available online, it is important to also gain hands-on experience in the field. It is recommended to research and enroll in a state-approved apprenticeship program in order to have the necessary skills and qualifications for a successful career as an electrician. Some online courses may supplement this on-the-job training, but should not be considered a replacement for it.
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