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How to Become an Electrical Contractor: A Step-by-Step Guide

Contractor Tips , Posted by Nicole Zemaitis on

How to Become an Electrical Contractor: A Step-by-Step Guide

One thing most people desire in life is a promising career that allows them to live a happy and comfortable lifestyle. While several industries offer such jobs, the construction industry is perhaps the largest provider of attractive employment opportunities in the United States. 

What's more, those who work in construction learn the skills they need to start their own business. Those who own a construction business typically fall under the “contractor” category.

In this post, we'll teach you everything you need to know about becoming an electrical contractor. 

1.) Know What It Means To Be an Electrician

If you're considering getting into any line of work, you must understand the job at hand. A career as an electrical contractor is no exception. Before you think about spending time and money getting your license, you should study the job description of an electrician to see if it's the right career for you.

In essence, you should be comfortable with the following if you want to be a licensed contractor:

  • Driving to several locations every day to meet clients
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Working individually and as part of a team
  • Working with heights and climbing ladders
  • Using mechanical tools
  • Working in various climates, like rain, snow, and heat
  • Speaking with clients and being of service to the community
  • Dealing with insurance companies

A few types of electricians and contractor licenses are journeyman electrician, residential electrician, and master electrician license.

Being an electrician can be potentially dangerous. As a result, you'll have to follow strict safety guidelines to protect both yourself and your clients. 

Your day-to-day tasks could be general electrical work, wiring objects, reading blueprints, and collaborating with other electrical contractors on a larger project. Therefore, an electrical contractor has to wear many hats daily to do the job correctly.

2.) Understand the General Requirements

Once you fully understand what it takes to be a licensed contractor,  you have to see if you meet the general requirements. Fortunately, the licensing requirements aren't too rigorous. 

Here's what you'll need to qualify:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Be over 18 years old
  • Have a form of transportation to get to clients
  • Have good math skills
  • Retain a working level of physical fitness

The general insurance and licensing requirements for an electrical contractor may vary depending on your state. Be sure to check your local requirements to see if you qualify. 

3.) Register for Electrician Training/Apprenticeship

Your job training will be the essence of starting your career as a licensed electrician. Once you've decided that you want to become an electrical contractor, you'll need to find a trade school to learn all the essential skills an electrician needs.

As an apprentice, you'll work directly under an individual or group of licensed electricians. They will be the ones to supervise you, show you the ropes, and get you ready to become a licensed electrical contractor. You can expect lots of hands-on work, insurance, studying, and learning various electrician business practices you can use in the future once you get your master electrician license. 

One of the best parts is that you get paid during your job training.

How Long is Electrician Training?

Depending on where you live, it can take up to 5 years to become a fully licensed contractor. While this may seem like a long time, you'll be set up for a lifetime of work once you're a fully qualified electrical contractor. The entire licensing process requires roughly 8,000 hours of training and about 288 hours in the classroom. 

A master electrician license requires you to have an additional 4,000 hours of work experience. 

It can be tough to find an electrical contractor trade school and apprenticeship program in your local area. You may need to apply and search for a few weeks before you find a suitable one. That said, an electrical contractor apprenticeship is typically the fastest and easiest way to get your journeyman and master electrician license. 

Make sure that the electrician program you choose offers both on-the-job training along with classroom study. You can also try and meet the licensed team to see if they match your personality and goals. 

4.) Study for Your Exam

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the national standard for all safety regulations related to working with electrical wiring equipment. There are local adaptations and edits made to the NEC all the time, so be sure you can study an updated version.  

When you take your test to become a licensed journeyman electrician, it will contain a lot of material from the code, along with a few general electrical theory questions. The standard and master electrician license exam varies between states, so you can expect questions that are related to your local community. 

Studying for your electrical contractor license exam is crucial as it's perhaps the most important step in becoming a licensed contractor. There's truly no way around it, so you'll have to take this part of the licensing process seriously. If you aren't a strong test taker, it's best that you find a form of learning that matches your style. 

Fortunately, there are several resources available to help you pass your electrical contractor exam. 

5.) Take Your Exam

Here is the final step towards becoming an electrician - passing your electrician exam. While this step may be easier said than done, you should be able to pass with flying colors and get your license as long as you study. 

It's natural to feel nervous on test day, so here are a few things you can do to keep your head clear:

  • Make sure to get some food in your stomach. Taking an exam on an empty stomach is never a good idea. You can have a light meal full of nutritious foods to help empower your brain.
  • Bring a bottle of water with you so you can stay hydrated. Dehydration can lead to headaches and clouded thinking, which will make passing your test much harder.
  • Make sure you have all your documents ready before leaving your house.
  • Have all your supplies organized, such as your pens, pencils, calculator, etc.

Additional Information About the Test

Understanding how the NEC test works will tremendously increase your chances of passing. Remember, it's a timed test. One mistake a lot of test-takers make is spending too much time on one question. So, you want to set a good pace to ensure you have enough time to answer all the questions. 

That said, try not to blow through the test too quickly. Be sure that you read each question carefully to completely understand what kind of answer to provide. 

You can try and time yourself to not spend more than half a minute on each question. If you're truly stuck, skip the question and move on to the next one. Just remember to come back to it once you have time. Following these simple steps can be the difference between passing your exam or having to retake it. 

If you don't pass your test and get your journeyman or master electrician license the first time around, try not to feel discouraged. Several electricians need to take the test at least twice, if not more, before passing. It's an integral part of the electrical contractor licensing process. You can go back and study the parts of the test you felt troubled with and master those questions the next time around. 

The Bottom Line

No doubt, the licensing process for becoming an electrician is a long one. That said, the community relies on high-quality electrical contractors to keep our homes and businesses functioning safely. While it may seem intimidating at first, you too can become an electrician as long as you stay focused. 

If you're looking for valuable resources to help you through the licensing process, reach out to our team here at Contractor Training Center. We provide study programs that will help prepare you for all the obstacles along the way toward becoming a licensed contractor.