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How to Become an Electrician in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to Lockheed Martin, the aerospace engineering firm, as well as offices for a large number of Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook. As the technology sector explodes in North Carolina, local electricians are needed to keep up with the growing housing market and commercial building. The North Carolina Department of Commerce has projected a 15.8% job growth rate for electricians during the ten-year period leading up to 2024.

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In North Carolina, you will start by working toward your journeyman electrician license through your local city or county licensing authority. After that, you can choose to work as an independent electrical contractor, licensed through the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors.

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

Gain the Experience and/or Technical Training Required to Become a Journeyman Electrician
Take the Examination Required to Become a Journeyman in Your Area
Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

 


 

Step 1. Gain the Experience and/or Technical Training Required to Become a Journeyman Electrician

In North Carolina, licensing for electricians is handled at the city/county level, with each local licensing authority setting the minimum journeyman licensing requirements for the electrical trainees and apprentices working in their jurisdiction:

Raleigh Requires a minimum of 2 years (4,000 hours) of documented and verifiable on-the-job experience under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or master electrician OR a minimum of 36-semester hours in an electrical technical program from a school accredited by the City of Raleigh’s Electrical Examination Board

Charlotte/Mecklenburg County – Requires a minimum of 4 years (8,000 hours) of documented and verifiable on-the-job experience under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or master electrician

Greensboro – Requires a minimum of 4 years (8,000 hours) of documented and verifiable on-the-job experience under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or master electrician

Technical School

Formal training through a technical program is beneficial, even for electricians residing in jurisdictions that grant licensure by experience only.

Enrolling in a technical school electrical program can be a great way to kick-start your career. Through one of these programs you could earn an Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Systems Technology (or similar degree) after two years, or a diploma or certificate in far less time.

Here are some of the topics you can expect to cover:

  • Electrical Theory
  • AC/DC Circuits
  • Blueprints
  • Electrical Construction Calculations
  • Commercial and Residential Wiring
  • Electrical Motor Controls and Transformers
  • Industrial Safety/First Aid/OSHA
  • National Electric Code

Vocational programs are designed to prepare you to get out and land a job, and advance in that job as you gain the experience required to earn your journeyman license. Graduates of technical programs are well prepared for entry-level trainee or apprentice positions assisting in the layout, installation, and maintenance of electrical systems as it relates to:

  • Data communication systems
  • Alarm and fire systems
  • Electrical installation and maintenance (residential, commercial, and industrial)
  • Electrical machines and equipment

Your degree or diploma from an electrical trade program will make you a very strong job candidate. To find an entry-level job or apprenticeship opportunity to begin your career and complete the experience requirements for your journeyman license set by your local government, you could:

  • Take advantage of job placement services that may be available through your school
  • Contact local non-union trade groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (offices in Apex and Charlotte) to check for apprenticeship opportunities
  • Contact local electrical contracting companies directly and jump right into an entry-level job

In any of these scenarios, you may find yourself working for one of the state’s top electrical contracting companies like Starr Electric Company in Charlotte or Pullen Construction Company in Raleigh.

Apprenticeship Programs

Union apprenticeship programs are more traditional. Local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) work with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to deliver apprenticeship programs under the Electrical Training Alliance through local JATCs, or Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees. These comprehensive programs train new electricians and also keep current electricians on pace with changes to the electric code. They offer education in-house and help you secure employment with unionized electrical contractors, keeping the whole process within the union.

Union apprenticeship programs in North Carolina are available through these JATCs:

Non-union programs share my similarities with union programs, but align aspiring apprentices and technical program graduates with non-unionized electrical contracting companies to provide apprenticeships. They are often formed through trade associations rather than trade unions, which opens the door to a pool of non-unionized contractors looking for apprentices.

This is a great option for continuing education if you have a degree from a technical college. If not, you can find comprehensive training with a non-union program, including education and apprentice employment opportunities. Non-union apprenticeship opportunities may be available through Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc offices in:

 


 

Step 2. Take the Examination Required to Become a Journeyman in Your Area

After completing your apprenticeship, you can pursue an electrical journeyman license. The State of North Carolina does not have a statewide license for journeyman electricians, so each city and county has their own requirements for working as a non-contracting electrician. This guide will cover the process for getting a journeyman electrician license in the three largest cities in North Carolina. The steps here are standard in many states and counties throughout America, so they should provide a good framework for the experience you need. Be sure to check with your local city or county government to find information on working as an electrical journeyman.

Charlotte/Mecklenburg County

In Mecklenburg County, you can get your journeyman electrician license from the County Code Enforcement department.

To get this license, you need:

  • Employment from a licensed electrical contractor
  • 4 years of experience with an electrical contractor
  • To pass a journeyman electrician exam

The North Carolina Association of Electrical Contractors administers the journeyman electrician exams in Mecklenburg County. You need to fill out this test application and wait for approval to take the exam. Once you are approved, you can schedule the exam. See this document for more details on the exam and application process.

Once you pass the exam, you need to renew your license every year. If you don’t renew your license for two years, you will need to retake the exam if you want to renew it, so be sure to keep your license up to date.

Contact the Mecklenburg County offices with any questions.

Raleigh

The City of Raleigh Electrical Examining Board issues certificates for electricians in Raleigh.

The requirements for this certificate are:

  • Be of satisfactory character
  • Two years of experience as an electrician OR 36 credits in an electrical program at a college or university
  • Verification of experience or education
  • Pass the journeyman electrician exam with a score of 75%

Contact the City of Raleigh Electrical Examining Board for an application and any questions.

Greensboro

The City of Greensboro issues journeyman electrician licenses to electricians doing work in Greensboro. To get this license, you need to show four years of experience as an electrician and pass a journeyman electrician exam.

Start by filling out this application. After submitting the application and receiving your approval, you can schedule the exam. See this bulletin for information about the exam.

Contact the City of Greensboro or see their contractors need to know page for more information.

 


 

Step 3. Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor

After working with an electrical contractor as a journeyman electrician, you can choose to become an electrical contractor yourself. Electrical contractors are licensed through the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors, or BEEC.

There are three types of contractor licenses: limited, intermediate, and unlimited. The definitions and basic requirements are:

  • Limited contractors can work on projects valued at $50,000 or less, and they must not work with electrical systems of more then 600 volts. You must have four years of experience.
  • Intermediate contractors can work on projects valued at $130,000 or less, and they do not have any voltage limitations. You must have six years of experience.
  • Unlimited contractors do not have project value or voltage limitations. You must have five years of experience and submit two written statements from two people vouching for your experience as an electrician, including the ability to supervise electricians doing electrical wiring.

To start the process of earning one of these licenses, you first need to fill out an application, found on page 63 of this exam handout. You have to submit this application for approval before you can schedule your exam. Once you are approved, you’ll need to take the exam matching the license you are applying for. Each of the three exams are 100 questions long and you have 6 hours to complete the exam.

Once you pass the exam, you can apply for the license itself. Use this form to apply for your choice of license.

If you have applied for either the intermediate or unlimited electrical contractors license, you need to submit a bond to the BEEC before you can begin contracting. Intermediate contractors need to submit a bond indicating they can take on projects valued at more then $50,000, and unlimited contractors need to submit a bond indicating they can take on projects valued at more than $130,000.

After you have applied for and received your license, you need to be sure to renew your license each year. Renewing your license requires a renewal fee and proof of continuing education to ensure you are up to date on code changes. Visit this page for information in finding and verifying your continuing education.

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