According to the Massachusetts Office of Labor and Workforce Development, job opportunities for electricians are expected to grow by almost two percent per year during the ten-year projection period leading up to 2022.
The Board of State Examiners of Electricians, under the governance of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation, is responsible for licensing qualified applicants in the state. After completing education and experience requirements, you can move on to earn your journeyman license in preparation for becoming a master electrician.
Follow these steps to learn how to become a licensed electrician in Massachusetts:
Step 1. Complete the Required Number of Classroom Training and Field Experience Hours to Become a Journeyman
Qualifying for a journeyman license through the Massachusetts Board of State Examiners of Electricians requires you to complete:
- At least 8000 hours of electrical work experience over a minimum of four years
- At least 600 clock hours of approved education
This can be accomplished by attending a technical school program and transitioning into the workforce as an apprentice or entry-level assistant or technician, or by entering a formal apprenticeship program directly.
Technical School Programs
Electrical trade programs through local technical colleges in Massachusetts are designed specifically to ensure you meet the 600-hour education requirement necessary to take the journeyman licensing exam through the Board of State Examiners of Electricians.
These programs are designed for those with no existing electrical work experience or training in electrical theory or code. Most programs result in a certificate, diploma or Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology.
Though most programs follow a normal, continuous academic schedule, some offer courses in 150-hour increments each year for four years to be taken concurrently during your four-year apprenticeship or field experience period.
Much of the training is hands-on, preparing you with the technical skills necessary to be successful on the job, as well as on the journeyman licensing exam.
Many technical school programs provide job placement assistance, making it easier to find an apprenticeship or entry-level job with an electrical contracting company in your area. You might also pursue an independent apprenticeship with a licensed electrician or a structured apprenticeship program through a trade organization.
Courses you can expect to encounter include:
- Electrical Theory
- Residential Electrical Wiring
- Commercial and Industrial Electrical Wiring
- Basic Math
- Basic Safety
- Introduction to Hand and Power Tools
- Basic Rigging
- Introduction to Electrical Blueprints
- National Electrical Code
- Fasteners and Anchors
- Hand Bending
- Electrical Test Equipment
- Boxes and Fittings
The Massachusetts Division of Apprentice Standards/Division of Apprentice Training monitors all apprentice training programs statewide to make sure that apprentices are working in safe conditions, receiving fair pay, and getting on-the-job training as well as the proper classroom education. They do not place prospective apprentices or direct training, however.
They recommend that you visit your local career center, which may be found on the Massachusetts Department of Career Services website, to find an apprenticeship.
Another good resource is this listing of apprenticeships offered by labor unions in Massachusetts. Keep in mind that often, if you choose an apprenticeship through a labor union, you must live within that labor union’s jurisdiction.
Apprentice electricians in Massachusetts must receive at least 40 percent of a journeyperson electrician’s wages during the first year of the apprenticeship, 50 percent the second year, 55 percent the third year, 65 percent the fourth year, and 70 percent by the fifth year of the apprenticeship.
In order to become an apprentice in Massachusetts, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Have at least one year high school algebra (with passing grades)
- Obtain a qualifying score on an aptitude test
- Pass a drug test
- Have a valid Massachusetts driver’s license
The first 1000 hours or six months of your employment as an apprentice is considered to be a probationary period. During this time, you or your sponsor may cancel your apprenticeship with proper notice.
If you have military experience and training in the electrical field, you should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to see how you can receive credit for your training and experience.
Filing Your Apprentice Agreement
You and your apprentice sponsor must sign this Apprentice Agreement and file it with the Massachusetts Division of Apprentice Standards, along with a $35 fee and a passport-size photo of yourself. This ensures that your apprenticeship is registered with the state and entitles you to receive a photo ID identifying yourself as an apprentice. As an apprentice electrician in Massachusetts, you must always have this ID card on your person and must also be accompanied by a journeyman electrician at all times on the job site.
Step 2. Pass the Exam Required to Earn Your Journeyman Electrician License
Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you may apply to take the examination to receive your Journeyman Electrician (Class B) License in Massachusetts. This license allows you to install, repair or maintain wires, conduits, apparatus, fixtures, devices or other appliances used for heat, power, light, security system or fire warning purposes. You are eligible to apply for this license once you have:
- Completed at least 8000 hours of electrical work experience over a minimum of four years, AND
- Completed at least 600 clock hours of electrical classroom instruction
You should review this Candidate Information Bulletin, which also contains the Application for Examination. Exams are administered at PSI Exam Centers in Auburn, Boston, Fall River, Lawrence, and Springfield. The examination is in two parts, and you may schedule both parts on the same day. The fee for Part I is $80, and for Part II is $55. You must also pay a $60 PSI application processing fee and $31 Massachusetts license application processing fee. Along with your completed application form and fees, you must send your Certificate of Completion from your apprenticeship program, send a completed employment certification form (included in application packet), and have the application notarized before mailing it in.
PSI and the Board of State Examiners of Electricians will approve your examination application and send you an authorization to take the exam, which you must bring with you on the day of the exam.
Part I of the Journeyman Electrician License Exam is a computerized exam consisting of 80 questions. You must answer at least 49 correctly (70 percent) to pass. You are given 180 minutes to complete the exam. Questions on the exam are weighted as listed below:
- General Knowledge: 8 questions
- Services- 11 questions
- Grounding and Bonding- 7 questions
- Wiring Methods and Devices – 18 questions
- Motors- 4 questions
- Transformers- 1 question
- Low-Voltage Distribution- 2 questions
- Special Occupancies and Equipment – 5 questions
- Overcurrent Protection – 6 questions
- Lighting- 2 questions
- Alarm Systems – 6 questions
You are allowed a copy of National Electrical Code and NFPA 72- National Fire Code to use as references during the exam.
Part II of the Journeyman Electrician License Exam is the applied portion and consists of 30 questions. You must answer at least 21 (70 percent) correctly to pass. You are given one hour to complete this portion of the exam, which covers:
- Circuit Calculations (Ohm’s Law) – 5 items
- Electrical Schematics and Plans – 5 items
- Materials and Components – 6 items
- Troubleshooting and Testing – 6 items
- Massachusetts Amendments- 6 items
- Licensing Laws and Regulations – 2 items
You are allowed to use the following references during the exam:
- Massachusetts Electrical Code, 527 CMR 12.00 State Amendments to NEC Board of Fire Prevention Regulations State of Massachusetts General Laws
- 237 CMR 12.00-23.00- Rules and Regulations of the Board of State Examiners of Electricians
- MGL Chapter 141, Supervision of Electricians
- National Electrical Code, National Fire Protection Association
Upon passing the examination, you may receive your Journeyman Electrician License at the test center if you are prepared to pay the $104 license fee.
Your Journeyman Electrician License must be renewed every three years for a fee of $78. You will be issued license renewal materials by the Division of Professional Licensure close to your renewal date, if you have completed the mandatory continuing education requirements of 15 clock hours on the Massachusetts Electrical Code and 21 clock hours total. A list of continuing education providers may be found here, and a schedule of upcoming continuing education classes here.
Massachusetts has reciprocal agreements with the states of New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Vermont and Washington at the Journeyman Electrician level. Complete this Journeyman Electrician License by Reciprocity Application if you already have a license in one of these states.
You must hold and work under your Journeyman Electrician License in Massachusetts for at least one year, as well as complete 150 clock hours of classroom instruction on the current electrical code, before you may qualify for a Master Electrician License.
Step 3. Pass the Exam Required to Earn Your Master Electrician’s License in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, a Master Electrician Class A license will be given to a qualified person, firm or corporation who does both electrical and systems contracting. This means that earning your master electrician license in Massachusetts allows you to go into business for yourself.
In order to qualify to take the Master Electrician Exam, you must have competed 150 clock hours of classroom study on the current electrical code, plus work for at least one year under a Journeyman Electrician license.
If you have met these requirements, complete the Examination Application Form and submit it along with the required fees (totaling $276) and documentation. Once approved, you may schedule the Master Electrician Exam through PSI. Again, this is a two-part examination, both of which may be taken on the same day. The exams are as follows:
Part I- 80 questions (answer 56 correctly) or 70 percent, to pass) over 240 minutes, on:
- State specific electrical requirements- 4 items
- General knowledge- 6 items
- Services- 11 items
- Grounding and bonding – 10 items
- Wiring methods and devices – 15 items
- Motors- 7 items
- Transformers – 1 item
- Low-voltage distribution- 2 items
- Special occupancies and equipment – 10 items
- Overcurrent protection- 6 items
- Lighting- 2 items
- Alarm systems- 6 items
You may use copies of the National Electrical Code, the NFPA 72- National Fire Alarm Code and the Massachusetts Electrical Code for this portion of the exam.
Part II of the Master Electrician Exam consists of 50 questions on business and law. You must answer 35 questions correctly (70 percent) to pass, and have 120 minutes to complete the exam. Questions are on:
- Massachusetts licensing – 16 items
- Estimating and bidding – 4 items
- Lien law- 1 item
- Financial management- 3 items
- Tax laws- 3 items
- Labor laws- 3 items
- Project management- 3 items
- Contracts- 6 items
- Business organization – 2 items
- Risk management – 4 items
- Environmental and safety- 5 items
You may use copies of the Contractor’s Guide to Business, Law and Project Management- 9th ed.- National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies; 237 CMR 12-23 Rules and Regulation of the Board of State Examiners of Electricians, General Laws of Massachusetts- MGL Chapter 141; Massachusetts Inspection of Buildings; Massachusetts Lien Law- Liens on Buildings and Land; Massachusetts Overtime or Minimum Wage Law; Massachusetts Workers Compensation Law; Massachusetts State Unemployment Law; and Code of Federal Regulations, Title 29, Part 1926 (OSHA) as references during this part of the exam.
Upon passing both parts of the examination, you may receive your Master Electrician License at the test center if you are prepared to pay the $155 license fee.
Your Master Electrician License three years at a fee of $117. You must complete 21 clock hours of continuing education, including 15 hours on the current electrical code, every three years to receive your renewal materials from the Board.
Step 4. Consider Starting An Electrical Contracting Business in Massachusetts
As a Master Electrician in Massachusetts, you may work as a contractor as an individual, firm or corporation, employing journeymen and apprentices.
Relevant forms can be found on the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation website that will allow you to apply for your business license as a partnership, LLC or corporation.
The Office of Housing and Economic Development also maintains a website detailing a step-by-step guide to starting a business in Massachusetts. It includes information on obtaining a federal employer tax ID number, obtaining the right business licenses and permits, and registering your business with the state.