How to Become an Electrician in New York

There’s never been a better time to become an electrician and enter one of the most stable, respected and well paying skilled trades in the US. In fact, a 2015 report published by the New York State Department of Labor showed the number of jobs for electricians in New York is projected to rise by 23% during the ten-year period leading up to 2024.

Because New York does not have statewide regulations regarding electrician licensing, each city is responsible for licensing qualified electricians working within their jurisdiction.

Follow the steps below to learn more about becoming an electrician in New York:

Gain the Experience and Technical Training Required to Become Licensed
Take the Required Licensing Exams and Apply for Licensure
Apply for a Master Electrician (Independent Contractor) License

 


 

Step 1. Gain the Experience and Technical Training Required to Become Licensed

In New York State, electrician licensing is handled at the municipal level, with each city maintaining an independent licensing process and requirements for the electricians working within their jurisdiction:

  • Some jurisdictions/cities have a licensing structure that follows the traditional multi-stage licensing process from journeyman to master electrician.
  • Some jurisdictions/cities have a licensing structure that would involve moving from the initial period of training and experience to Master or Special Electrician licensing with no interim journeyman license

This guide covers electrician licensing requirements for New York City. Requirements in other jurisdictions vary. Licensing requirements for the other major jurisdictions can be found here:

New York City is among the jurisdictions that do not have a multi-stage licensing process that involves moving from journeyman to master electrician, Instead, in New York City, after completing the initial period of training and experience, often as an apprentice, you would test for either a Master Electrician or Special Electrician License.

The New York City Department of Buildings requires ONE of the following before allowing candidates to take the Master or Special Electrician licensing exams:

Graduate from a vocational, industrial, trade school, or apprenticeship program in electrical technology registered with the New York State Department of Labor AND gain no less than 5.5 years of experience performing electrical work

OR

Complete college level courses in an electrical or mechanical engineering degree program, or earn a Bachelor of Science in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering and apply half the number of years spent in school toward the standard 7.5 year experience requirement (example, a 4-year bachelor’s degree would reduce the requirement to 5.5 years); experience requirement cannot be reduced by more than 2.5 years by substituting education

OR

Take courses at a vocational, industrial, or trade school registered with the New York State Department of Labor related to electrical technology and apply half the number of years spent in school toward the standard 7.5 year experience requirement (example, 2-years worth of courses would reduce the requirement to 6.5 years); experience requirement cannot be reduced by more than 2 years by substituting education

OR

Gain 7.5 years of experience in the 10 years prior to applying for a license consisting of no less than 10,500 hours spent performing electrical work as union or non-union journeyman under the supervision of a licensed electrician

OR

Qualify by holding a Master of Science (no major specified) AND gaining 3,500 hours of experience performing electrical work under the supervision of a licensed electrician

OR

Qualify by holding a Bachelor of Science (no major specified) AND gaining 4,900 hours of experience performing electrical work under the supervision of a licensed electrician

Technical School Programs 

You have the option of enrolling in an electrical program through one of New York’s many trade schools to earn a certificate, diploma or Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering or Electrical Technology. The benefit to enrolling in a technical program is clear, in that it can significantly reduce the experience requirements for licensure.

Your trade school program will involve classroom and lab-based training, and in some cases may include an internship that will put out in the field gaining real-world experience working for an electrical contracting company under the supervision of a licensed electrician.

Through your educational program you can expect to study the following topics:

  • Safety and Health Awareness
  • Blueprint Reading and Sketching
  • Basic Mathematics and Trade Math
  • Trade Electrical Theory
  • Tools and Equipment
  • National Electrical Code
  • New York Electrical Code
  • Motor Control and Distributed Control
  • Intelligent Wiring Systems
  • Low Voltage Systems
  • Lighting Controls and Energy Efficiency
  • Project Layout and Planning
  • Thinwall Conduit Raceway Systems
  • Rigid Conduit Raceway Systems
  • Installing Services, Switchboards and Panels
  • Floor Duct Installation
  • Motor Control Center Installation
  • Installing, Splicing and Terminating Wires and Cables
  • Cable Tray Installation
  • Lighting System Installation
  • Testing and Troubleshooting Feeders, Motors, and Branch Circuits
  • Fire Alarm and Security System Installation
  • Motor Installation
  • Installing Sound and Communication Systems
  • Installing Fiber Optic and Tele/Data Cable
  • Welding/Exothermic Welding and Brazing, Mechanical Fastening

Upon completing your program, you would transition to full time employment as an apprentice or entry-level technician and begin working toward meeting licensing requirements.

Apprenticeship Programs 

Apprenticeship opportunities can be found through New York State Department of Labor’s database of programs.

Apprenticeships are available through the union-sanctioned New York Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) under the Electrical Training Alliance, as well as through non-union trade organizations or directly through electrical contractors and other non-registered programs.


 

Step 2. Take the Required Licensing Exams and Apply for Licensure

There are two types of electrician licenses available through the New York City Department of Buildings:

  • Special Electricians are licensed to perform electrical work on specific buildings or lots. This is the standard license for electricians employed to work in-facility as employees of hospital systems, hotels, school districts, or municipal agency buildings as city employees.
  • Master Electricians are licensed as independent contractors who can bid jobs and perform electrical work on any building in NYC without restrictions.

You may take the exam and apply for either of these licenses after completing the requirements of your initial training and experience phase described in Step 1. If you are interested in becoming an independent contractor (Master Electrician), move on to Step 3.

In order to apply for a Special Electrician license, you must:

  • Be at least twenty-one years old
  • Submit the Background Investigation Questionnaire and, as applicable, the Supplemental Investigation Questionnaire
  • Have at least seven and a half years (10,500 hours) of experience (or its equivalent when combined with education as described in Step 1) in the installation, alteration, and repair of wiring and appliances for electric light, heat and power in or on buildings, obtained under the direct supervision of a master electrician or special electrician
  • Submit the Experience Verification Form to provide proof of your qualification through experience

In addition, you’ll need to pass a written and practical exam:

The written exam is made up of multiple-choice questions and will cover:

  • The NYC Electrical Code
  • The National Electrical Code
  • Applicable Rules and Regulations

You must pass the written exam with at least a 70% to take the practical exam. After passing the written exam, you may apply to take the practical exam.

Exam Applications can be found here:

You would be required to renew your NYC Special Electrician License once yearly. During each renewal period, you will be required to complete a Department-approved continuing education course of no less than 8 hours in duration. Find approved courses here.


 

Step 3. Apply for a Master Electrician (Independent Contractor) License

You would be qualified to take the exam required to become licensed as a Master Electrician in NYC as soon as you complete your initial training and experience phase as described in Step 1. If you choose to become licensed as a Special Electrician first, you may move on to become a Master Electrician at a later stage in your career if you are ever interested in bidding jobs and employing other electricians as an independent contractor.

As an independent contractor, you would be required to meet the NYC Department of Buildings Insurance Guidelines:

Answers to common questions about insurance requirements can be found here.

In order to apply for your Master Electrician License through the New York City Department of Buildings, you must:

  • Be at least twenty-one years old
  • Submit the Background Investigation Questionnaire and, as applicable, the Supplemental Investigation Questionnaire
  • Have at least seven and a half years (10,500 hours) of experience (or its equivalent when combined with education as described in Step 1) in the installation, alteration, and repair of wiring and appliances for electric light, heat and power in or on buildings, obtained under the direct supervision of a master electrician or special electrician
  • Submit the Experience Verification Form to provide proof of your qualification through experience

In addition, you’ll need to pass a written and practical exam:

The written exam is made up of multiple-choice questions and will cover:

  • The NYC Electrical Code
  • The National Electrical Code
  • Applicable Rules and Regulations

Written Exam Application

You must pass the written exam with at least a 70% to take the practical exam. After passing the written exam, you may apply to take the practical exam.

Practical Exam Application 

You would be required to renew your NYC Master Electrician License, you will be required to complete a Department-approved continuing education course of no less than 8 hours in duration. Find approved courses here.

Back to Top