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How to Become an Electrician in Hawaii

Working as an electrician in the island state of Hawaii is a popular career choice as the Islands continue to see major commercial and residential development as more retirees relocate here. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected an 13.8% job growth rate for electricians in Hawaii during the ten-year period leading up to 2024.

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In Hawaii, electricians are licensed through the Board of Electricians and Plumbers, a statewide licensing authority that is part of the Professional & Vocational Licensing Division of Hawaii.

To start your career, you will need to complete training and experience requirements. Then, the Board can issue you a journey workers license or other limited license before you go on to qualify for a supervising electrician licenses. After that, you can earn a contractor’s license and operate your own business.

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

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

 


 

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

In Hawaii, you need to have five years (at least 10,000 hours) of full-time experience performing electrical work and 240 hours of classroom instruction before you can qualify for a Journey Worker Electrician license, the least restrictive electrical trade license available in the state.

You also have the option to pursue one of a number of more restricted licenses, each with different experience requirements:

  • Journey Worker Specialty Electrician – Requires three years (at least 6,000 hours) of experience performing electrical work and 120 hours of classroom instruction
  • Maintenance Electrician – Requires one year of electrical maintenance experience and at least 80 hours of classroom instruction OR two-years of schooling in the electrical trade and 1,000 hours of hands-on lab-based technical training
  • Journey Worker Industrial Electrician – Requires four years (at least 8,000 hours) of experience performing electrical work in an industrial setting and 200 hours of classroom instruction.

There are two ways to begin accumulating these hours:

  • Earning a certificate of completion at a technical college and finding job placement in a trainee position
  • Joining the union or a non-union trade organization and taking advantage of apprenticeship placement opportunities

In general, apprenticeship programs and trainee positions are comprised of two elements: paid on the job training under an electrical contractor plus classroom hours designed to teach you everything you need to know about working as an electrician.

Technical College

Technical colleges in Hawaii typically offer a certificate of completion in Electrical Installation and Maintenance Technology (EIMT).

By getting an education through a technical college, you are completing the state’s education requirements for journey worker or other limited licensure. University of Hawaii’s seven community colleges with locations throughout the Islands are named as the state-approved providers.

Through classroom based instruction and lab based technical training, these programs will prepare you for entry-level positions in electrical appliance shops, electrical construction and maintenance companies and utility companies where you’ll complete practical experience as you work toward earning your journey worker license or other limited license.

Apprenticeship Programs 

In Hawaii, there is one union apprenticeship program available through the Hawaii Electricians Training Fund (HETF), a non-profit benefit fund to recruit and develop new electricians while maintaining the education of current professional electricians. You can read more about their program on their apprenticeship page. This program would also include the 240 hours of classroom based instruction required for journey worker licensure.

The admission to the HETF apprenticeship requires you to:

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Be able to physically perform the requirements of the trade
  • Pass a general aptitude test
  • Complete an oral interview
  • Have a high school diploma/GED
  • Have passed an algebra class in high school or completion of the online equivalent
  • Must be a US Citizen if working on military bases

The HETF will update their site regularly when apprenticeship slots are open, as well as place ads in local newspapers. If you aren’t accepted on your first application, they will keep your application on file for two years.


 

Step 2. Take the Examination Required to Become Licensed

The four electrician licensing options available to you in Hawaii after completing your initial training and experience are:

  • Journey Worker Electrician – Performs basic electrical work under general supervision
  • Journey Worker Specialty Electrician – Performs electrical work limited to installation, repair, alteration, and maintenance, but is not authorized to attach lighting and power circuits to multiple systems.
  • Journey Worker Industrial Electrician – Performs electrical work and maintenance as it relates to substation, switchgear, automatic controls, and all other industrial electrical work that would be performed in existing industrial buildings and work places.
  • Maintenance Electrician – Limited to performing electrical maintenance work to existing electrical installations

You can read the specific requirements in “section 448E-1 Defintions” of this document.

To apply for any of these licenses, fill out this application. Once you are approved, you’ll need to schedule the exam with the testing agency.

The journey worker electrician exam is three hours long, has 70 multiple choice questions, and is open book. You can use the 2008 National Electric Code on the exam. You need to pass with a score of 70%. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 16 percent
  • Raceways and Enclosures – 13 percent
  • Services, Feeders and Branch Circuits – 11 percent
  • Conductors and Cables – 13 percent
  • Grounding and Bonding – 11 percent
  • Equipment for General Use – 11 percent
  • Special Occupancies, Equipment and Conditions – 10 percent
  • Motors and Controls – 9 percent
  • Low Voltage and Communications Circuits – 3 percent
  • Safety – 3 percent

The journey worker specialty electrician exam is two hours long, has 50 multiple choice questions, and is open book. You can use the 2008 National Electric Code on the exam. You need to pass with a score of 70%. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 20 percent
  • Raceways and Enclosures – 6 percent
  • Conductors and Cables – 12 percent
  • Grounding and Bonding – 8 percent
  • Special Occupancies and Equipment – 6 percent
  • Fire Detection and Alarm Systems – 18 percent
  • Intrusion Detection and Alarm Systems – 18 percent
  • Low Voltage and Communications Circuits – 12 percent

The journey worker industrial electrician exam is three hours long, has 70 multiple choice questions, and is open book. You can use the 2008 National Electric Code on the exam. You need to pass with a score of 70%. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 16 percent
  • Raceways and Enclosures – 13 percent
  • Services, Feeders and Branch Circuits – 11 percent
  • Conductors and Cables – 9 percent
  • Grounding and Bonding – 13 percent
  • Motors and Controls – 17 percent
  • Equipment for General Use – 13 percent
  • Special Occupancies and Equipment – 7 percent
  • Low Voltage Circuits – 1 percent

Once you pass your exam, you will receive your license. To keep your license current, you need to renew it every three years and complete the required continuing education. To renew your license, you need to take a class every three years covering the updates to the National Electric Code, which is also updated every three years. To find locations where you can take the required classes, check page 7 of the initial application form for a list of community colleges offering approved classes.

 


 

Step 3. Earn a Supervising Electrician License

After working as a journey worker electrician for four years, you can earn the next license from the Board of Electricians and Plumbers, a Supervising Electrician License. As with journey workers, there are three types of supervising electrician licenses.

  • Supervising electrician (ES) – Authorized to direct, supervise and perform electrical work
  • Supervising specialty electrician (ESS) – Authorized to direct and supervise electrical work as it relates to installation, repair, alteration, and maintenance, but not to include attaching lighting and power circuits to multiple systems. You can read the specific requirements in “section 448E-1 Defintions” in this requirements document.
  • Supervising industrial electrician (EIS) – Authorized to direct and supervise electrical work as it relates to substation, switchgear, automatic controls, and all other industrial electrical work that would be performed in existing industrial buildings and work places.

The requirements for the supervising electrician license are:

  • Work as a journey worker electrician for four years
  • Passing the matching exam

The requirements for the supervising specialty electrician license are:

  • Work as a journey worker specialty electrician for two years
  • Passing the matching exam

The requirements for the supervising industrial electrician license are:

  • Work as a journey worker industrial electrician for three years
  • Passing the matching exam

To apply for any of these licenses, fill out this application. Once you are approved to take the exam, you’ll need to schedule the exam with the testing site.

The supervising electrician exam is three hours long, has 70 multiple choice questions, and is open book. You can use the 2008 National Electric Code on the exam. You need to pass with a score of 70%. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 10 percent
  • Raceways and Enclosures – 10 percent
  • Services, Feeders and Branch Circuits – 20 percent
  • Conductors and Cables – 10 percent
  • Grounding and Bonding – 12 percent
  • Equipment for General Use – 10 percent
  • Special Occupancies, Equipment and Conditions – 10 percent
  • Motors and Controls – 10 percent
  • Low Voltage and Communication Circuits – 4 percent
  • Safety – 4 percent

The supervising specialty electrician exam is two hours long, has 50 multiple choice questions, and is open book. You can use the 2008 National Electric Code on the exam. You need to pass with a score of 70%. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 20 percent
  • Raceways and Enclosures – 6 percent
  • Conductors and Cables – 12 percent
  • Grounding and Bonding – 8 percent
  • Special Occupancies and Equipment – 6 percent
  • Fire Detection and Alarm Systems – 18 percent
  • Intrusion Detection and Alarm Systems – 18 percent
  • Low Voltage and Communications Circuits – 12 percent

The supervising industrial electrician exam is three hours long, has 70 multiple choice questions, and is open book. You can use the 2008 National Electric Code on the exam. You need to pass with a score of 70%. The breakdown of the topics on the exam is:

  • General Electrical Knowledge – 17 percent
  • Raceways and Enclosures – 11 percent
  • Services, Feeders and Branch Circuits – 13 percent
  • Conductors and Cables – 10 percent
  • Grounding and Bonding – 13 percent
  • Motors and Controls – 17 percent
  • Equipment for General Use – 7 percent
  • Special Occupancies and Equipment – 7 percent
  • Low Voltage Circuits – 1 percent
  • High Voltage Circuits – 3 percent

Once you pass your exam, you will receive your license. To keep your license current, you need to renew it every three years and complete the required continuing education. To renew your license, you need to take a class every three years covering the updates to the National Electric Code. To find locations where you can take the required classes, check page 7 of the initial application form for a list of community colleges offering approved classes.

 


 

Step 4. Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

In order to offer your electrical services to the public in Hawaii, you will need to register as a specialty contractor with the State. Contractor licenses are issued and regulated by the Contractors Licensing Board.

To file for a specialty contractor license, you first need to determine if you are contracting as the sole proprietor of your company, or if you are filing as a corporate entity. Be sure to fill out the correct application.

The general requirements for filing as a corporate entity specialty contractor are:

  • Registration with the Business Registration Division
  • Honest, fair reputation
  • Liability and worker’s compensation insurance
  • A designated Responsible Managing Employee (who must pass the trade exam)

If you are filing as a sole proprietor, these are the requirements:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Honest, fair reputation
  • Liability and worker’s compensation insurance
  • Pass an exam in the electrician classification
  • Have 4 years of supervising experience

To apply, fill out the sole proprietor or corporate entity application. Then, fill out a contractor’s financial statement. When your application is approved, you have to take two exams: the C-13 Electrical Contractor Exam and the Hawaiian Contractor Exam.

Once you’ve passed the exams, you need to meet the insurance requirements. You’ll need to submit proof of worker’s compensation insurance from an insurance company approved to do business in Hawaii. Your general liability insurance must meet the following requirements:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence
  • Property Damage Liability – $50,000 per occurrence

Your contractor license will need to be renewed every two years. You’ll receive notification of renewal 45 days before your renewal application is due.

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