Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton are ranked among the ten best housing markets in the nation and the demand for tradesmen is on the rise. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services projects that the number of electrician jobs in the state will increase by 11.5% during the 10-year period leading up to 2024. It’s easy to see why – electricians have job security, advancement opportunities, and earn good pay.
In Ohio, electricians are licensed at the city and county level, so the requirements vary slightly across the state. Most electricians will work as an electrical apprentice for at least three years before becoming licensed as a journeyman electrician. Some journeyman electricians will chose to go on to become licensed as electrical contractors. The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board issues those electrical contractor licenses.
Follow these steps to learn how to become a licensed electrician in Ohio:
Step 1. Gain the Experience and Training Required to Become a Journeyman Electrician, Electrician Employee or Contractor
In Ohio, the state does not hold authority over electrician licensing, instead cities and counties regulate the trade independently.
Middletown and Hamilton are currently the only cities that require journeyman licensing. The standard for training to become a journeyman electrician is no less than 3 years of job experience and hands on training in the form of employment or an apprenticeship (equaling 8,000 hours) combined with technical, safety and theory training in the classroom. Though the stated requirement is no less than three years, most formal apprenticeship programs take 4 years.
The same general requirements are in place in the rest of the state, however, you would work under your employer’s contractor’s license as an electrician employee without the need to hold a license of your own. After gaining a total of five years of experience, you would be eligible to apply for your own contractor’s license (4 years in an apprenticeship, plus one year).
You can begin gaining the training required to earn licensure through technical school or through a formal apprenticeship program:
Technical colleges offer a familiar path into the trade. By enrolling in a trade school program for electricians, you can earn a certificate of completion or competency in electrical technology or a two-year degree in applied electrical technology, among other options. This would satisfy the classroom-based technical training requirement for journeyman and contractor licensure.
During your program, your education will cover fundamental topics including:
- Basic Math Computations
- Blueprint Reading
- Algebra with Trigonometry
- Electrical Theory
- OSHA Regulations and First Aid
- Electrical Code
- Telecom Cabling
- Basic Telecommunications
- Motor Controls
- Basic Alarm Technology
- Logic Circuits and Programmable Controllers
- Motor and Generator Theory
- Fire Access & CCTV Systems
- Power Distribution and Load Calculations
Gaining the experience required for licensure in Hamilton and Middletown would require being hired on as a trainee or starting a formal apprenticeship. You can look for jobs on your own, but you can also use the resources available through your school or even through local union and non-union organizations that facilitate formal apprenticeships. If you enrolled in a technical program that’s designed for transitioning into an apprenticeship, you can leverage the resources of your department and professors to help find a job. You can also look through job postings on the web and in local non-union organizations. Contractors often post listings in non-union and union chapters to grab the attention of aspiring apprentices. You may end up working for one of the top electrical contractors in the state:
- Studebaker Electric Company in Dayton
- ESI Electrical in Moraine
- Kee Electrical Contractors in Brookville
The more traditional option to a career as an electrician is through a union apprenticeship program. Many local IBEW and NECA union chapters come together to offer JATC (Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees) apprenticeships. These are a part of the National Training Alliance which ensures that electrician education around the country is up to current standards. There are 17 different JATCs offering union apprenticeship programs in Ohio:
- Akron Area Electrical JATC in Akron
- Butler Co Electrical JATC in Hamilton
- Canton Electrical JATC in Massillon
- Cincinnati Electrical Training Center
- Cleveland Electrical JATC in Valley View
- Dayton Ohio Area Electrical JATC in Dayton
- Lake, Ashtabula, and Geauga Electrical JATC in Mentor
- Lima Area Electrical JATC in Lima
- Lorain County Electrical JATC in Lorain
- Marietta Electrical JATC in Reno
- Newark Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee in Nashport
- Portsmouth Electric JATC in Lucasville
- Steubenville JATC
- The Electrical Trades Center in Columbus
- Toledo Electrical JATC in Russford
- Warren JATC
- Youngstown Elec. JATC in Boardman
Non-union programs are an alternative to unionized apprenticeships. Non-union programs are developed by trade associations, and they’re often called “open shops,” which helps indicate the nature of how non-union organizations work. They are a great option for people that have some training, but want to continue, such as those with an associate’s degree. They offer the full training packing, including education from skilled electricians and employment resources through non-union contractors. Here is the list of non-union locations in Ohio:
- Central Ohio AEC-IEC (Columbus)
- IEC Dayton (Dayton)
- IEC of Greater Cincinnati (Cincinnati)
- Northern Ohio ECA (Lakewood)
- IEC Western Reserve Chapter (Youngstown)
- ABC-Central Ohio Chapter (Columbus)
- ABC-Northern Ohio Chapter (Broadview Heights)
- ABC-Ohio Valley Chapter (Springboro)
Step 2. Apply for a Journeyman Electrician License as Required or Gain Addititional Experience to Qualify for a Contractor’s License
Typically, after completing your apprenticeship, you would get a journeyman electrician license and work with an electrical contractor. In the majority of Ohio, this isn’t the case.
Journeyman electrician licenses are only required in the cities of Middletown and Hamilton, but not in any other cities in Ohio. In all other cities, you would work as an electrician employee under your employer’s contractor license.
You would also have the option to apply to take the exam required to earn a contractor’s license of your own through the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board under the Department of Commerce after gaining a total of 5 years of experience (the standard 4 year apprenticeship plus one additional year).
After completing the requirements of your apprenticeship, you would complete the APPLICATION FOR JOURNEYMAN ELECTRICIAN LICENSE EXAMINATION through the City of Middletown Division of Building Inspection.
The exam will take place at:
City of Middletown Division of Building Inspection
One Donham Plaza
Middletown, OH 45042
After passing the 50-question exam with a 70% or better, you license will be issued once the Chief Building Official has reviewed and approved your application.
In Hamilton, contact the City of Hamilton directly at (513) 785-7353 for information on journeyman licensing.
The Butler County Electrical JATC IBEW Local Union 648 will help facilitate this process if you participated in a union apprenticeship.
Step 3. Become Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor
Even though you are unable to get a journeyman electrician license in a majority of cities in Ohio, you can become licensed as an independent electrical contractor and operate your own business.
The requirements for getting licensed are:
- 18 years old
- 5 years of experience
- Pass the electrical contractor exam
- Pass the business and law exam
- Carry at least $500,000 in general liability insurance
To start the process, apply for the exam by filling out this application packet and wait for approval to take the exams. Once you are approved, you can schedule your exams.
The electrical contractor exam needs to be completed in 4 hours, has 100 questions, and is open book. You can use the 2014 National Electric Code, Ugly’s Electrical Reference, and the Electrical Field Reference Handbook. The questions on the exam break down into the following topics:
- General Electrical Knowledge – 10 questions
- Transformers & Equipment – 12 questions
- Service Feeders and Branch Circuits – 16 questions
- Raceways, Boxes and Panelboards – 10 questions
- Conductors & Cables – 12 questions
- Control Devices – 8 questions
- Motors and Generators – 12 questions
- Utilization Equipment – 8 questions
- Special Occupancy & Equipment – 12 questions
The business and law exam needs to be completed in 2 hours, has 50 questions, and is open book. You can use the Ohio Business and Law Study Guide for Contractors as a reference during the exam. The questions on the exam break down into the following topics:
- Business Organization – 2 questions
- Licensing – 3 questions
- Estimating & Bidding – 8 questions
- Contract Management – 5 questions
- Project Management – 4 questions
- Insurance and Bonding – 5 questions
- OSHA Recordkeeping and Safety – 5 questions
- Personnel Regulations – 5 questions
- Financial Management – 6 questions
- Tax Laws – 5 questions
- Lien laws – 2 questions
Once you pass the exams, you will receive your license. You need to be sure to renew your license every year. This can be done online. You need to complete the continuing education requirements before you can renew your license each year. You can find classes to attend in the online portal.