Much of South Carolina depends on retail developments now to support the growing tourism industry, which means that skilled contractors, plumbers, and electricians need to be readily accessible to serve business owners and residents alike.
As the construction industry booms in South Carolina, more people than ever are choosing to start a career in the electrical trade. In fact, the US Department of Labor has projected a 19% increase in the number of jobs for electricians in South Carolina during the ten-year period leading up to 2022.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional electrician in South Carolina, you should become familiar with the general steps and electrical licensing boards in the state.
The Municipal Association of South Carolina offers certification when it comes time to become a journeyman and master electrician. Then, you have the option of working as an independent electrical contractor, a process that involves becoming licensed through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.
Follow these steps to learn how to become a licensed electrician in South Carolina:
Step 1. Gain the Training and Experience Required to Become a Journeyman Electrician
Qualifying to take the exam required to earn Electrical Journeyman Certification through the Municipal Association of South Carolina Municipal Trades Certification program requires:
Two years (4,000 hours) of documented experience under the supervision of a journeyman or master level electrician
A two-year degree through a technical college (such as an Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology) and one year (2,000 hours) of experience under the supervision of a journeyman or master level electrician
Technical schools routinely offer two-year associate’s programs in electrical technology that will satisfy the degree requirement if you choose to go that route. Classroom and hands-on technical training is a proven method for gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to become licensed as a professional electrician.
These are among the essential topics you will study:
- Electrical Theory
- National Electrical Code
- First Aid/Safety/OSHA
- Blueprint Reading
- AC/DC Currents
- Motors and Transformers
- Electrical Basics and Tools
- Electrical Panels
- Conduit Work
- Grounding and Wiring
- Wiring Protection Devices
- Electrical Boxes, Receptacles and Switches
- Wiring a Residence
- Installing Lighting, Ceiling Fans, and Appliances
- Commercial Wiring & Installation
- Project Layout and Planning
- Thinwall Conduit Raceway Systems
- Rigid Conduit Raceway Systems
- Motor Control Center Installation
- Installing, Splicing and Terminating Wires and Cables
- Testing and Troubleshooting Feeders, Motors, and Branch Circuits
- Installing Instrumentation and Process Control Systems
- Safety Awareness
Earning a two-year degree will mean you only need to gain a year’s worth of supervised experience in order to earn journeyman certification. As you approach the end of your program, you would start your search for an entry-level position by consulting with career advisors through your school’s electrical trades department. Some of the top electrical contracting companies in South Carolina that routinely offer entry-level positions to new graduates include:
- Atlantic Electric LLC in Charleston
- West Electrical Contractors in Newberry
- Delta Electrical Contractors in Duncan
- Spratlin Electric Co in Cayce
- Quality Electrical Contractors in Greenville
- Metro Electric in Charleston
Union apprenticeship programs also offer a clear path into the electrical trade. Local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) work in collaboration with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to offer Electrical Training Alliance apprenticeships through local JATCs, or Joint Apprenticeship &Training Committees.
Non-union programs are different in that the pool for potential employers is made up of non-union electrical contracting companies. Watson Electric, which offers a full package electrical apprenticeship including 642.5 hours of classroom training and employment, is a major electrical contracting company and the largest provider of non-union apprenticeship programs in the area.
Step 2. Take the Examination Required to Become a Journeyman
In South Carolina, the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) offers certification to qualified journeyman electricians with proof of two full years of documented work experience. The MASC’s voluntary certification is the only statewide recognized credential for qualified journeyman level electricians.
The journeyman electrician certification indicates you are qualified to work on electrical systems under the employment of a master electrician or electrical contractor. You have to pass an exam to receive this certification.
The exam is proctored through third party examination service provider, PROV, Inc. To apply for the journeyman electrician certification exam, you need to fill out this application and include attestation and documented proof of your work experience under the supervision of a licensed contractor.
Once you are approved to take the exam, you will receive an email or letter with instructions on scheduling your exam. The exam bulletin can be seen here.
The journeyman electrician exam is 3 hours long, has 70 multiple-choice questions, and is open book. During the exam, you can reference the 2014 National Electric Code and the American Electrician’s Handbook.
The questions on the exam breakdown into the following topics:
- Communication Systems – 4 questions
- Equipment for General Use – 6 questions
- General Electrical Theory & Principles – 9 questions
- Motors & Controls – 3 questions
- Plan Reading – 4 questions
- Special Conditions – 3 questions
- Special Equipment – 3 questions
- Special Occupancies – 2 questions
- Wiring & Protection – 14 questions
- Wiring Methods & Materials – 22 questions
After you pass your exam, you will earn your journeyman electrician certificate. You need to renew your certification every year. You’ll receive a letter in the mail 60 days before the deadline.
Step 3. Earn a Master Electrician Certificate in South Carolina
The Municipal Association of South Carolina also offers a master electrician certification. As with the journeyman certification, South Carolina law does not require a master electrician certification, but having your experience documented through certification is essential if you plan on getting a license as an electrical contractor.
The master electrician certification shows you are qualified to work on electrical systems and make sure they are compliant with the electrical code and regulations.
To apply for the master electrician certification, you need to have four full years of experience and be a journeyman electrician. Fill out this application and attach your experience to the application before sending it in. Once you are approved to take the exam, you will receive an email or letter with instructions on scheduling your exam. The exam bulletin can be seen here.
The master electrician exam is 4 hours long, has 100 multiple-choice questions, and is open book. During the exam, you can use the following books:
- 2014 National Electric Code
- 2012 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
- American Electrician’s Handbook
The questions on the exam breakdown into the following topics:
- Equipment for General Use – 10 questions
- General Electrical Knowledge – 15 questions
- Motors & Controls – 5 questions
- Plan Reading – 5 questions
- Special Conditions – 5 questions
- Special Equipment – 5 questions
- Special Occupancies – 7 questions
- Wiring & Protection – 18 questions
- Wiring Methods & Materials – 25 questions
- Low Voltage Communication Systems – 5 questions
After you pass your exam, you will earn your master electrician certificate. You need to renew your license every two years. You’ll receive a letter in the mail 60 days before the deadline.
Step 4. Consider Becoming Licensed as an Independent Electrical Contractor
At the state level, you can get licensed as an electrical contractor through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR).
There are two types of contracting licenses for electricians: mechanical and residential. A mechanical contracting license allows you to work on commercial buildings, and a residential contracting license allows you to work on residential properties.
To qualify for a mechanical contracting license, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Pass a technical exam
- Pass a business and law exam
- Document two years of experience in your field in the last five years
Start by registering for your exams. The registration form is at the bottom of this exam bulletin. The exam bulletin also includes the detailed information on the electrician exam and business and law exam. Be sure to study the recommended materials before the exam.
Next, fill out this application and determine if you need to submit a financial statement balance sheet. If you are going to bid on jobs valued at $30,000 or less, you need to submit this form. If you are bidding on jobs worth more than $30,000, you need an accountant to prepare your finances. Information about that process can be found in the application. Submit your application with proof of passing your exams, your finances, and proof of your experience. After approval, you will have received your mechanical contractor license.
You need to be sure to renew your license every other year. Also be sure to check with the county or city where you will be working in for any additional requirements they have for electrical contractors.
If you are not interested in the mechanical contractor license, you can get the residential contractor license which allows you to work on one or two family homes, apartment buildings three stories tall with no more than 16 units.
To get this license, you need to have one year of work experience before you fill out the application, which can be found here. You also need to pass the two exams, a technical exam and a business and law exam. Once your license is approved, you can take the exams. This exam bulletin includes the detailed information on the electrician exam and business and law exam. Be sure to study the recommended materials before the exam.
After you pass the exams, you will have received your residential contractor license. You need to be sure to renew your license every other year. Also be sure to check with the county or city where you will be working in for any additional requirements they have for electrical contractors.