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How to Become an Electrician in Virginia

The job market for electricians in Virginia is predicted to grow by 11.3% during the ten-year period leading up to 2024, making the electrical trade one of the most stable professions in the state (Virginia Workforce Connection, 2015).

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You’ll begin your journey as a registered apprentice through the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and move on to become licensed as a journeyman then a master electrician through the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).

Follow the steps in the guide below to learn how to become an electrician in Virginia:

Enroll in an Electrical Trade School or Apprenticeship Program and Gain the Experience Required to Become a Journeyman
Apply for Your Journeyman License in Virginia
Apply for Licensing as a Master Electrician in Virginia

 


 

Step 1. Enroll in an Electrical Trade School or Apprenticeship Program and Gain the Experience Required to Become a Journeyman

At minimum, you will need four years (8,000 hours) of on-the-job training and 240 hours of classroom instruction in order to earn your journeyman electrician license in Virginia.

To gain the required hours, you may enroll in a vocational or trade school program through Virginia Community Colleges or technical schools associated with Virginia local school divisions.

To apply, you’ll need the following qualifications:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Have taken basic mathematics and science courses, such as algebra and physical science

These programs will involve studying the following topics:

  • 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
  • Circuits & Systems

After earning a certificate, Associate of Applied Science in Electrical Technology, or similar degree, you’ll begin acquiring the experience necessary to qualify for a journeyman license. In many cases, your trade school program will include an internship that will allow you to make the transition to full time employment as a technician or trainee. Alternately, you may pursue a formal apprenticeship through union or nonunion organizations or directly through public utility departments throughout the state.

There are 58 educational providers sanctioned by the Virginia Department of Labor, Board of Contractors to provide the classroom based education required to meet journeyman licensing requirements. The short courses offered through these providers would be taken incrementally during your apprenticeship rather than as a full course of study through a technical trade school program.

Apprentice Registration

After signing up for an apprenticeship program, you’ll need to register as an apprentice through the Virginia Department of Labor. You can call the DOL at (540) 248-9280 to register.

As a registered apprentice in Virginia, you’ll gain experience working under a sponsor approved by the Virginia Department of Labor. Approved sponsors include a variety of electrical companies, electrical contractors, and construction companies located throughout the state.

Union apprenticeships through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Electrical Training Alliance are available at the following Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committee locations in Virginia:

Apprenticing with the union would involve becoming a dues-paying, card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

In addition to apprenticeships available through the union or directly through local electrical contracting companies, formal non-union apprenticeship programs are available through trade groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc (ABC) and Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC):

 


 

Step 2. Apply for Your Journeyman License in Virginia

In order to earn your journeyman license, you will need one of the following:

  • Four years of on-the-job training and 240 hours of classroom instruction
  • Five years of on-the-job training and 160 hours of classroom instruction
  • Six years of on-the-job training and 80 hours of classroom instruction
  • Seven or more years of on-the-job training and 40 hours of classroom instruction

In addition, if you did not complete an apprenticeship, but have an associate’s degree in electrical technology and two years of on-the-job experience, you are eligible to apply for a journeyman license.

You’ll need to fill out the application and mail it to the DPOR at:

Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
9960 Mayland Dr. Suite #400
Richmond, VA 23233

Next, you’ll need to pass the journeyman electrical exam. The exam is proctored by PSI, and you can register online for a $100 fee.

The exam is made up of 70 items to be completed in 210 minutes, and you will need a score of at least a 49 to pass.

  • Standards of Practice (3 Items)
  • Standards of Conduct (2 Items)
  • Renewal and Reinstatement (2 Items)
  • Definitions (1 Item)
  • Qualification for Licensure (1 Item)
  • Revocation of Licensure (1 Item)
  • General Electrical Knowledge (3 Items)
  • Requirements for Electrical Installations (3 Items)
  • Fire detection and alarm systems (2 items)

Each renewal period, you’ll be required to complete three hours of state-approved continuing education courses.

Your license will expire every two years, and you can renew it online. You’ll need to submit proof of completion of three continuing education hours and a $90 renewal fee.

To become licensed as a master electrician, you’ll need at least one year of documented experience as a journeyman electrician.

 


 

Step 3. Apply for Licensing as a Master Electrician in Virginia

Once you’ve completed a year of employment as a journeyman electrician, you’ll be eligible to apply and test for your master electrician license. If you don’t hold a journeyman license, you’ll still be eligible to apply if you can prove you’ve had 10 years of practical experience in electrical work.

You’ll need to apply through the DPOR by mailing a completed application form. Once your application is accepted, you may apply for the master electrician exam through PSI exams.

The master electrician exam is made up of 90 items to be completed in 270 minutes, and you will need a score of at least 63 to pass. The test consists of the following topics:

  • Standards of Practice (3 Items)
  • Standards of Conduct (2 Items)
  • Renewal and Reinstatement (2 Items)
  • Definitions (1 Item)
  • Qualification for Licensure (1 Item)
  • Revocation of Licensure (1 Item
  • General Electrical Knowledge (4 Items)
  • Requirements for Electrical Installations (4 Items)
  • Electrical-Electronic Fundamentals (5 Items)
  • Services, Feeders, and Branch Circuits (9 Items)
  • Service and Feeder Requirements (6 Items)
  • Grounding and Bonding (9 Items)
  • Conductors and Cables (7 Items)
  • Raceways and Boxes (8 Items)
  • Special Occupancies (4 Items)
  • Special Equipment (2 Items)
  • Electrical Signs and Outline Lighting (2 Items)
  • Motors and Controls (8 Items)
  • Utilization Equipment (6 Items)
  • Lighting (2 Items)
  • General Low Voltage Requirements (1 Item)
  • Communication Systems (1 Item)

Your master electrician’s license will expire every two years, and you can renew it online through the DPOR. You’ll need to complete three board-approved continuing education hours each two-year renewal cycle.

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