How to Become an Electrician in Rhode Island

Rhode Island has a long history in America as an integral part of the New England economy. Over the years, Rhode Islanders have manufactured a wide variety of luxury items, machinery, and electrical equipment. In recent years, the economy in Rhode Island has shown more variety, offering financial services and a strong retail sector.

Skilled trades also have their place in the Rhode Island economy. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training expects the number of jobs electricians in the state to increase by 22.8% during the 10-year period leading up to 2024.

If you’re interested in becoming a professional electrician, you need to become familiar with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety, Professional Regulations Unit, which issues journeyman electrician and electrical contractor licenses to qualified candidates.

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

Complete the 4 Years of Job Experience and 576 Hours of Classroom Training Required to Earn Your Journeyperson License
Take the Examination Required to Become a Journeyman
Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

 


 

Step 1. Complete the 4 Years of Job Experience and 576 Hours of Classroom Training Required to Earn Your Journeyperson License

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety, Professional Regulations Unit requirements for licensure as a Class B journeyperson electrician are as follows:

  • 8,000 hours (four years) of job experience
  • 576 hours of classroom education (equivalent to 144 hours each year for 4 years)

The Department of Labor and Training Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety also offers a Limited Journeyperson license that limits license holders to repairing and maintaining existing wiring, but restricts them from performing installations or new construction wiring. These licenses are intended for maintenance workers employed in a facility like a hospital or school. A separate license must be issued for each location (address) they may work in. The limited license requires 4,000 hours (two years of job experience).

You can begin accumulating the requisite experience and classroom-based training hours by attending an electrical training program at a technical college or by participating in an apprenticeship.

Technical Programs

Technical colleges offer a familiar education format and some advantages when applying for licensure. You can earn an undergraduate certificate or an associate’s degree in electrical technology at a technical or vocational college. This would easily satisfy the classroom hour requirements for licensure, and often provides a path to employment as an apprentice, allowing you to accumulate the remaining hours required to become a journeyperson.

Subjects you can expect to encounter during your education include:

  • Building Automation
  • Conduit Bending and Fabrication
  • Low Voltage Systems
  • Motors
  • Photovoltaics Systems (solar power)
  • Test Instruments
  • Transformer Principles
  • National Electric Code
  • First Aid/OSHA
  • Blueprint Reading

If the program you participate in includes a field experience component or internship with a locally licensed contracting company, you may find an opportunity to become an apprentice with that contractor. You may then transition to long term employment and a successful career as a journeyman electrician once you’ve accumulated the 8,000 hours of job experience required to earn your license.

Alternately, if the company you are interning with isn’t hiring, you can use the resources available to you through your school’s career assistance program. You can also search job listings for entry-level electrical techs or check in with local trade associations or union halls, which often have job boards that local contractors post to. In any case, your degree will make you a strong candidate for an entry-level position.

Apprenticeship Programs

The Department of Labor and Training Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety’s Rhode Island Apprenticeship Program offers resources for aspiring electrical apprentices. Aspiring electrical apprentices are responsible for securing employment as an apprentice on their own, as the program does not facilitate placement with an employer.

Apprenticeships consist of two parts: on the job training and technical education in the classroom. This means getting an education from a local college, union, or trade association while securing an entry-level position with an electrical contractor.

During your apprenticeship, you’ll be learning about electrical systems and the National Electric Code regulations that govern modern electrical systems in American buildings. You’ll be taking that knowledge and applying it on the job until you are experienced and have fulfilled the requirements for journeyperson licensure.

Completing an apprenticeship through a union program is a more traditional method in the trade. Local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union chapters partner with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to offer apprenticeships jointly through local Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee (JATC) offices. They offer the whole process in house, with classes taught by union members and employment with union contractors. They usually have limits on how many people can be enrolled at once, which makes joining one a bit harder than getting a degree or joining a trade association.

There is one JATC in Rhode Island, the Cranston JATC. To enroll in their program, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • A valid driver’s license
  • A high school diploma/GED
  • A C grade or higher in Algebra 1
  • A copy of your birth certificate and high school transcript
  • A general aptitude test covering math and reading skills

Non-union programs are offered through trade associations like Associated Builders and Contractors Inc (ABC) and Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC). These non-union or ‘open shop’ programs place apprentices with local non-unionized employers. There is one ABC affiliated program available in Pawtucket.

 


 

Step 2. Take the Examination Required to Become a Journeyman

After completing your apprenticeship, you can register as a journeyman electrician. Journeyman electricians do not need the supervision you needed as an apprentice, and they receive the full scale of pay.

The requirements to get a journeyman electrician license are:

  • 4 years of experience
  • 576 hours of classroom education

To start, fill out this application as a journeyman electrician. Once you send it in and receive approval, the Department of Labor and Training will send you information on scheduling and studying for the exam.

After you pass the exam, you’ll be issued a license. Licenses need to be renewed every two years. You also need to complete 15 hours of continuing education to properly renew your license. You can find a list of education providers on the DLT website, and renew your license on the State of Rhode Island webpage for renewing licenses.

 


 

Step 3. Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

After working as a journeyman electrician for a few years, you have the option of getting a license to operate as an electrical contractor. This will allow you to take on apprentices, pull permits for contracted projects, and hire journeyman electricians.

The requirements to get an electrical contractor license are:

  • 6 years of experience
  • 2 years as a licensed journeyman electrician

To start, fill out this application as an electrical contractor. Once you send it in and receive approval, the Department of Labor and Training will send you information on scheduling and studying for the exam.

After you pass the exam, you’ll be issued a license. Licenses need to be renewed every two years. You also need to complete 15 hours of continuing education to properly renew your license. You can find a list of education providers on the DLT website, and renew your license on the State of Rhode Island webpage for renewing licenses.

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