How Long Does It Take to Become a Licensed Electrician?

Roughly 700,000 people are employed as electricians in the U.S. and the majority of them have gone through a training program to get there. After high school, the standard training period to become a basic electrician lasts between 4-5 years. 

After this, electricians can go on to receive a Journeyman License, Electrical Administrator License, Master Electrician Certification, Electrical Contractor License, or Specialty Electrical Contractor License. Each license type has distinct requirements which we will discuss here.

With an average pay of $56,900, electricians make more than the average American and also have a large opportunity for overtime pay.

Do You Need a License to Be an Electrician?

Every U.S. state has different requirements when it comes to working as an electrician; however, all states recommend completing an apprenticeship program that teaches the basic skills and techniques used in daily electrical work.

After learning basic electrical skills, check to see if further licensure or certification is required by your state or municipality. Some states require electricians to pass official examinations and register with the state, while others do not require further licensure if working under a contractor.

You can verify your state’s most up-to-date electrical regulations by searching, “Electrician license requirements in your state/municipality .gov” online.

Electrician Apprenticeship Requirements

All electricians should complete an electrician apprenticeship to learn and understand the facets of basic electrical work. Electrician apprenticeships include hands-on, paid training alongside classroom instruction. The work includes maintaining, operating, and repairing electrical systems.

Most apprenticeship programs for electricians include four days of work and one day of classroom instruction per week for 4-5 years. The average salary for an apprentice electrician is $18.53 per hour, plus $6,000 of additional overtime annually.

If you plan to become an electrical contractor or hold another license, be sure to research its requirements to ensure your apprenticeship is providing all of the hours you need for your next step.

Types of Electrical Licenses in the U.S.

After completing an apprenticeship, your state may offer the following licenses or certifications:

  • Journeyman License
  • Electrical Administrator License
  • Master Electrician License
  • Electrical Contractor License
  • Specialty Electrical Contractor License


Journeymen usually work under licensed contractors and can also supervise apprentices. To become a journeyman, most regulations require the individual to pass a Journeyman Exam after completing their apprenticeship.

The average journeyman electrician in the U.S. makes $52,403 per year.

Electrical Administrator

Electrical administrators make sure electrical contractors follow state laws. You do not need to know or be certified in the electrical trade for this position. It is the only one on this list that does not require or recommend completing an apprenticeship.

To become an electrical administrator, you must pass the state exam. You’ll then work under a licensed contractor.

The average electrical administrator in the U.S. makes $66,262 per year, with top earners making over $87,000.

Master Electrician

Master electricians and electrical contractors may be interchangeable in some states. This person is licensed to prove their expertise in planning, supervising, and installing electrical wiring. A master electrician may or may not have other electricians working under them.

To become a master electrician, most states require 1-3 years of experience as a journeyman or the equivalent before applying to take the Master Electrician Exam.

The average master electrician in the U.S. makes $48,896 per year, with top earners making over $100,000.

Electrical Contractor

Electrical contractors may be master electricians or employ a master electrician, among other types of electricians. They design, install, and maintain electrical systems in residences, companies, industrial buildings, and more.

All electrical contractors must have a high school diploma or GED, complete an apprenticeship program, hold liability insurance, and pass a state examination. Most states also require additional work experience after the apprenticeship before being able to apply.

The average electrical contractor in the U.S. makes $80,241, with top earners making over $150,000.

Specialty Electrical Contractor

Specialty electrical contractors can specialize in fire alarm systems, solar panel installations, the oil and gas industry, water treatment plants, process automation or other areas.

To sit for a state specialty contractor examination, you must meet all of the requirements for the basic electrical contractor license in the state, plus have 4-6 years of experience post-apprenticeship in the field you want to specialize in.

Specialty electrical contractor salaries vary greatly depending on the type of specialization. Some of the highest-paid specializations are automation electricians and substation electricians.

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