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How to Become an Electrician in Washington DC

Working as an electrician in our nation’s capital offers rewarding opportunities in a high-demand profession. The DC Department of Employment Services has projected a 11.4% increase in the number of jobs for electricians in the District through 2024, making now a great time to get the experience and training you need to start your career as a licensed electrician.

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In Washington DC, electrician licenses are issued through the Board of Industrial Trades. You will start your electrician career working toward an electrician license before you earn your master electrician license, and finally an independent electrical contractor license.

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

Gain the Work Experience Required to Earn an Electrician License
Take the Examination Required to Become Licensed
Earn a Master Electrician License
Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

 


 

Step 1. Gain the Work Experience Required to Earn an Electrician License

To earn an electrician license through the District of Columbia Board of Industrial Trades, you would need to meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Four years (minimum of 4,000 hours) experience as an apprentice under the supervision of an electrician, master electrician, master electrician specialist, or licensed contractor

OR

  • Attend a college course in electrical engineering for four years and gain one year of experience under the supervision of an electrician, master electrician, master electrician specialist, or licensed contractor

 

There are three primary ways of completing your training: enroll in a technical school, join a union apprenticeship program, or work with a non-union organization for placement in an apprenticeship program.

The District does not specify requirements for classroom instruction, however, during an apprenticeship or technical school program, you’ll be getting an education on the theory and science that goes into setting up and maintaining electrical systems.

Technical Schools

Getting an electrical technician diploma or associate’s degree in applied electrical systems technology through a technical school is a great way to get the formal training you need to qualify for an entry-level trainee position so you can begin working toward accumulating the hours required for your journeyman license.

In DC, the regulations state that if you have a four-year degree in electrical engineering from a college or university, you can cut down the practical experience requirements to 1 year rather than four.

The externship you take as part of your technical training often leads to full time employment as an electrical technician while you work toward earning your journeyman license. If they have entry-level positions available, you could find yourself working with some of the largest and best respected contractors in the greater DC area, including:

  • Wilcox Electric
  • Mister Rogers Electric
  • LiveWire Electric Solutions

Apprenticeships

The most traditional method of completing your training is enrolling in an apprenticeship program with a JATC, or Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. JATCs are partnerships between local IBEW and NECA union chapters, under the National Training Alliance, to provide expert education and apprenticeship opportunities to new students in each state. In DC, there is just one JATC, the Washington DC JATC, which is right outside the city limits in Lanham, Maryland.

The admission to this program requires that you:

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Provide a photo ID
  • Be able to physically perform the requirements of the trade
  • Pass a general aptitude test
  • Provide official copy a high school diploma/GED
  • Have a passing grade in Algebra 1 or GED equivalent

Additionally, being able to physically transport yourself to your job site is necessary.

If you choose to join a non-union program, you’ll find that trade organizations offer similar, high quality education with resources to point you towards a non-union electrical contractor in the area interested in taking on an apprentice. Though there are no formal non-union apprenticeship options in the Washington DC metro area, you can apply for an apprenticeship with the Independent Electrical Contractors, Chesapeake Area Chapter in Dulles, Virginia or Laurel, Maryland.

You can find a complete list of non-union apprenticeship sponsors on the Department of Employment Services website.

Apprentice Licensing

After you complete a degree or enroll in an apprenticeship program, you need to get an apprentice license through the DC Board of Industrial Trades. To do that, you need to fill out New License Application as an apprentice.


 

Step 2. Take the Examination Required to Become Licensed

After you complete the job experience/education requirements, you would be prepared to test to become an electrician in Washington DC at the journeyman level.

Start by:

The journeyman electrician exam is four hours long and has 80 multiple choice questions. The exam is open book, and you are allowed to use the 2011 National Electric Code and any edition of Ugly’s Electrical Reference. You will need to apply for an exam using this application.

Once you receive your license, you will need to renew it every odd-numbered year. You’ll receive notice in the mail of the deadline 3 months before the deadline. Washington DC does not have any continuing education requirements.

 


 

Step 3. Earn a Master Electrician License

Master electricians have more experience than journeyman electricians and are typically authorized to get permits from the county to perform work on residential properties. To qualify for a master electrician license you would need:

  • At least four years of experience working as a licensed electrician

OR

  • Four years of college education in electrical engineering AND two years of practical experience performing electrical work

To apply for this license, begin by:

  • Completing the application
  • Completing a class on the National Electric Code in the last two years
  • Working as an electrician for eight years; four as an apprentice and four as a journeyman
  • Submitting a W-2 to prove work history
  • Submitting a completed Certificate of Moral Character
  • Passing the Master Electrician Exam

The master electrician exam is five hours long and has 100 multiple choice questions. The exam is open book, and you are allowed to use the 2011 National Electric Code and any edition of Ugly’s Electrical Reference. You will need to apply for an exam using this application.

Once you receive your license, you will need to renew it every odd-numbered year. You’ll receive notice in the mail of the deadline 3 months before the deadline. Washington DC does not have any continuing education requirements.

 


 

Step 4. Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

In order to offer your services as an electrician in Washington DC, you will need to register as a commercial or residential contractor with the District. With this license, you can hire master electricians and run a business as a local contractor.

The requirements for this license are:

  • Completing the application
  • Completing a class on the National Electric Code in the last two years
  • Working as an electrician for eight years; four as an apprentice and four as a journeyman
  • Selecting a designated Master Electrician (can be yourself)
  • Filling out a Local Representative Affidavit form
  • Submitting an original Certificate of Good Standing from the Corporations Division
  • Submitting an electrical surety bond of $4,000

To properly notify the Board of who your designated master electrician is, you need to fill out this designated master form. The designated master must also put up a surety bond of $2,000.

Once you receive your license, you will need to renew it every odd-numbered year. You’ll receive notice in the mail 3 months before the deadline.

Washington DC does not have any continuing education requirements.

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