The US Department of Labor has projected a staggering 49.1% increase in the number of jobs for electricians in Arizona during the ten-year period leading up to 2024. Electricians make great pay, enjoy flexible work hours, and have great opportunities for career advancement as they progress through the ranks.
Arizona’s economy has become very stable and the housing market is trending upward while unemployment has been steadily falling since the 2008 recession. A steady economy and more home building means a lot more wiring, making now a great time to start a career as a professional electrician.
Follow these steps to learn how to earn your electrician’s license through the Arizona State Registrar of Contractors:
|Gain Hands-on and Classroom-Based Technical Training|
|Gain Post-Apprenticeship Experience|
|Become Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor|
Step 1. Gain Hands-on and Classroom-Based Technical Training
Electricians start their careers gaining job experience through a multi-year training program made up of classroom education and on the job training.
In Arizona, you will need 5 years (minimum of 8,000 hours) of on-the-job training and 900 hours of related classroom instruction in order to qualify to work independently and to hold a contractor’s license.
You can begin to accumulate your hours through vocational-technical school or a union or non-union apprenticeship:
Earning an electrician certificate or career diploma through a local vocational-technical school (vo-tech), or an associate’s degree in electrical technology through a community college or four-year school will provide you with the most thorough classroom and lab-based technical training available.
Many programs offer job placement services that will connect you with local employers interested in taking on a trainee or apprentice so you can gain the job experience required to become a valuable member of the team.
Topics you can expect to cover in electrician school include:
- Electrical Theory
- Algebra/Electrical Calculations
- Safety Code
- Blueprint Reading
- Motors and Transformers
- OSHA/Safety Awareness
- Overcurrent protection
- Programmable controllers
There are two Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees in Arizona that offer programs through the Electrical Training Alliance, a partnership between local chapters (Phoenix and Tucson) of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union and the Arizona Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Alliance):
You can also enroll in a non-union apprenticeship program through these organizations:
- Independent Electrical Contractors of Southern Arizona or the Independent Electrical Contractors Association of Arizona
- Arizona Builders Alliance
To get into these programs, you need to meet the following requirements:
- 18 years old
- High school diploma or GED
- Valid driver’s license and reliable transportation
- Be able to pass a general aptitude test covering math and reading skills
- Submit a copy of a high school transcript showing you passed a high school algebra class or complete 1 credit in algebra post high school (you can take Tech Math on-line through the Electrical Training Alliance if you don’t have this credit)
Once you are enrolled in an apprenticeship program, you will be employed with a local electrical contractor, working a full time job and getting on the job training while taking night classes to fulfill the classroom hour requirement.
Step 2. Gain Post-Apprenticeship Experience
In Arizona, there are no statewide regulations on electricians after they complete their apprenticeship. Most cities and counties don’t offer journeyman licenses either.
However, if you are interested in working as an independent electrical contractor in the future, you need to have post-apprenticeship experience.
Many local apprenticeship programs offer journeyman certification through their national programs, through this shouldn’t be confused with licensing through a state or municipal government agency. By earning certification through one of these programs, you can quantify your experience to employers and gain opportunities for additional specialized experience in areas like:
- Commercial and industrial installation
- Photovoltaics and solar power
- HVAC electric
Step 3. Become Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor
After gaining more experience as a professional electrician, you can choose to become an independent electrical contractor. The State Registrar of Contractors issues contractor licenses, and for electricians, there are three options.
You can choose between a specialty commercial license, a specialty residential license, and a dual license that allows you to work in both residential and commercial spaces. This guide will cover getting the dual specialty license since it is the most broad of the three available.
To qualify for the dual specialty license, you need meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years old
- Have 4 years of verifiable experience
- Pass a two part exam covering your specific trade and business management
Start by taking the exams. You need to register for the two exams with this form, which also holds the specific study information for the Business Management exam.
The Business Management exam is 80 questions long, must be completed in 3 hours, and is open book. Here is the break down of the questions on the exam:
- Arizona Registrar of Contractors Statutes – 25 questions
- Arizona Registrar of Contractors Rules – 10 questions
- Arizona Registrar of Contractors Workmanship Standards – 4 questions
- Business Management – 3 questions
- Business Mathematics – 3 questions
- Contracts and Agreements – 5 questions
- Insurance and Bonding – 5 questions
- Safety, Record Keeping and Reporting – 3 questions
- Labor Laws and Employment Regulations – 4 questions
- Financial Management – 4 questions
- Tax Laws – 5 questions
- Liens – 4 questions
- Environmental Laws and Regulations – 5 questions
You also need to pass the Commercial Electrical Contractor Exam, which you can find information on by contacting PSI Exams.
After passing the exam, you need to check that your business name is unique. You can do this by checking with the Registrar of Contractors, the Corporations Commission, and the Office of the Secretary of State.
Once you check the name, you can submit your application. Fill out this application fully, and send it in with evidence of having passed your exams and the necessary bond. The amount you need to send in as a bond changes depending on how much work you are expecting to do each year. You need to consult this chart to calculate the right amount for a bond.
After you send all that in, you’ll have to wait for approval, which you’ll be notified of via mail. Now you can begin working as an electrical contractor!
Be sure to renew your license every two years, which you can do online.