How to Become an Electrician in Iowa

The electrical trade offers plenty of opportunities to specialize and advance while at the same time being recognized as one of the most stable and highly respected skilled trades in the US. With the Iowa Labor Market Information Division expecting a 20.2% increase in the number of electrician jobs through 2024, now is the perfect time for you to get the experience and training you need to get your career started as a licensed electrician

You will earn your license through the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (IDPS) Electrical Examining Board.

Follow these steps to learn how to become a licensed electrician in Iowa:

Gain the Job Experience and Classroom Training Hours Required to Become Licensed
Take the Examination Required to Become Licensed 
Earn a Master Electrician License
Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

 


 

Step 1. Gain the Job Experience and Classroom Training Hours Required to Become Licensed

To qualify for an electrical journeyman license though the Iowa Electrical Examining Board, you must:

  • Complete an apprenticeship program that is formally recognized by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training of the United States Department of Labor. This will require 8,000 hours (4 years) of job experience as an apprentice with a licensed electrical contractor and 576 hours of classroom education related to safety and electrical systems theory.

OR

  • Complete a technical school program approved by the Iowa Electrical Examining Board and deemed equivalent to the Department of Labor (DOL) apprenticeship requirements that provides a path for graduates to obtain a journeyman electrical license.

You can also earn a limited Special Electrician endorsement (irrigation system wiring, connecting/reconnecting AC and refrigeration systems, sign installation) by meeting lesser requirements as described here.

Technical Colleges

Technical colleges offer traditional education programs while preparing you for a career as a skilled tradesman. There are a number of local community colleges that offer approved programs that lead to an Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology or similar degrees:

  • Iowa Lakes Community College
  • Indian Hills Community College
  • Northeast Iowa Community College
  • Northwest Iowa Community College
  • Southwestern Community College
  • Riverland Community College
  • Penn Foster, Inc
  • Iowa Central Community College
  • Hawkeye Community College

As a part of your program, you’ll be covering a wide variety of topics, including:

  • Electrical math
  • National Electric Code standards
  • Alarm systems
  • Lighting systems
  • Breakers, programmable boards, and other boards
  • Surge protection

These programs include an internship that will provide you with real-world exposure through job emersion.

With your associate’s degree as a top notch credential, you would be prepared to transition to the workforce where you would work as an electrical technician while you gain the 8,000 hours of experience required to get a Journeyman license. You may find job placement assistance through your college program.

Apprenticeship Programs 

Union apprenticeships are available through local Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees. JATCs have been established through the combined efforts of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) who have come together to form the National Training Alliance.

There are six JATCs that provide apprenticeship programs for electricians throughout Iowa:

Non-union apprenticeships are similar to union programs, with the key difference of working with a different pool of contractors that aren’t unionized. This can open the doors to new opportunities with different contractors in your area. A non-union organization can offer a full apprenticeship, including education and employment opportunities. In Iowa, you may be interested in the Associated Builders and Contractors chapter in Iowa. They have an apprenticeship and training trust that can be utilized for a full education.

Review the full list of approved apprenticeships in the state of Iowa.

Apprentice Licensing

As a part of the apprenticeship system in Iowa, you need an apprenticeship license once you find employment. The application for this license can be filled out with this online form or through this paper application. Applying for this license also requires a fee, which is prorated based on what month it is. See the top of this document for the initial cost of licensing, which is $20 at most.

You will need the following records of enrollment, employment, and experience to properly apply for the apprentice electrician license:

  • Personal information (including SSN)
  • Document of indenture (form ETA 671) or approval from an apprenticeship program
  • Documented proof of enrollment in apprentice program
  • Any currently active electrical licenses (if applicable)
  • The number of months employed as an apprentice (if newly employed, put down 1 month)
  • Contact information of people that can vouch for your work experience (if newly employed/inexperienced, put down employer’s contact information)
  • Contact information of current employer as verifiable electrical work experience


 

Step 2. Take the Examination Required to Become Licensed

A journeyman license is a general license that authorizes you to supervise apprentices and perform electrical work of all kinds. In Iowa, there is a “Class A Journeyman” license intended for new licensees and “Class B” licenses intended for those who have been working in the trade since before 1998, each of which has different requirements:

Class A Journeyman license is standard for electricians starting out after 2008. Earning a Class A Journeyman license requires passing a Board-approved state examination and completing a standard apprenticeship experience and classroom training requirements. Holders of this license are not subject to the same subdivision restrictions that Class B license holders are.

Class B License (Most readers of this guide will NOT be earning a Class B license since it was created to help experienced electricians earn a license under laws adopted in January 2008 that required all electricians in Iowa to earn appropriate licenses.) The Class B license does not require you to pass an exam and restricts the holder from working in subdivisions that do not allow Class B journeyman electricians to operate. You can earn a Class B license if you can prove you worked 16,000 hours as a journeyman electrician, with a portion of that experience gained on or before January 1, 1998.

You are required to pass the Prometric exam to earn a Class A journeyman license. This process begins with submitting the PSI Testing Sponsorship Form. The form requires personal information (including SSN) and knowledge of dates working as an electrician in Iowa and the years of licensure, no matter the level of license.

The Prometric Journeyman electrician exam is an 80 question, three hour, open book exam covering general and specific electrical knowledge. A $60 fee is required to take the journeyman exam. You must score a 75% on the exam to pass it. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 10%
  • Wiring and Protection – 25%
  • Wiring Methods and Materials – 20%
  • Equipment for General Use – 20%
  • Special Occupancies – 10%
  • Special Equipment – 5%
  • Special Conditions – 5%

Details about the exam process can be found in this document.

Once you have been notified that you passed the exam, you would complete the license application. The application must be sent with proof of having passed the Prometric exam. The initial fee for getting a Class A journeyman license is no more than $75. The fee schedule changes based on what month it is as described in this document.

After you earn a Class A journeyman license, you will need to renew the license every 3 years by meeting continuing education requirements. The continuing education requirements stipulate six hours of education each year, up to 18 hours every three years. Six hours of your continuing education needs to cover updates in the National Electrical Code standards. If you need more than six hours to renew your license, they are to be spent on other electrical learning. There is a list of classes being taught that are open to all electricians and must be attended to meet the continuing education requirements.

 


 

Step 3. Earn a Master Electrician License

Master electricians have more experience than journeyman electricians and are authorized to get permits from the county to perform work on residential properties.

Much like a journeyman, there is a Class A and Class B master electrician license. The Class B master electrician license has the same requirements as the Class B journeyman electrician license, but is NOT applicable to electricians entering the trade after the Class A license went to effect in 2008.

The Class A master electrician license requires you to:

  • Submit an application
  • Be a licensed journeyman for a year or more
  • Pass the master electrician Prometric exam with a 75% or higher.

Before you can take the Prometric master electrician exam, you must submit the PSI Testing Sponsorship Form. The form requires personal information (including SSN) and knowledge of dates working as an electrician in Iowa and the years of licensure, no matter the level of license. After approval, the exam can be taken.

The Prometric master electrician exam is longer than the journeyman exam. It is 100 questions, takes 4 hours, and is an open book exam. It covers general and specific electrical knowledge. The exam costs $60. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 10%
  • Wiring and Protection – 25%
  • Wiring Methods and Materials – 20%
  • Equipment for General Use – 20%
  • Special Occupancies – 10%
  • Special Equipment – 5%
  • Special Conditions – 5%
  • Communication Systems – 5%

Details about the exam process can be found in this document.

Once you pass the master electrician exam, you can submit a new application to the Electrical Examining Board with proof of the test score and the $375 license fee. After receiving the master electrician license, you need to renew it every three years. You also need to keep up with continuing education requirements.

The continuing education requirements ask for six hours of education each year, up to 18 hours every three years. Six hours of your continuing education credits need to cover updates in the National Electrical Code standards. If you need more than six hours to renew your license, they are to be spent on other electrical learning. There is a list of classes being taught that are open to all electricians and must be attended to meet the continuing education requirements.

 


 

Step 4. Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

In order to offer your services as an electrician in Iowa, you will need to earn an electrical contractor license. With this license, you can hire master electricians and run a business as a local contractor.

Before an application can be submitted to earn such a license, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must hold or employ a person who holds an active master (Class A or B) license
  • Must register as a contractor with the labor services division of Iowa workforce development
  • Must maintain general and complete operations liability insurance for at least $1 million for all work performed which requires licensing

Then, you must submit an application with the license fee of $375. You have to renew this every three years along with the master electrician license. The electrical contractor does not replace the master electrician license or renewal fee. You do not have any continuing education requirements as an electrical contractor, but maintaining the master electrician license and its requirements is recommended. Earning an electrical contractor license also does not require an exam.

From then on, you only need to renew your licenses every 3 years and keep up with the necessary continuing education requirements.

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