Montana Electrical License: How to Become an Electrician in Montana
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Being an electrician isn’t just a job, it’s a solid career path. Electrical contractors enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities and earn a respectable income. There’s also job security—customers will always need skilled trade professionals to install and service electrical systems in their homes and businesses.
The process of becoming an electrician takes time, but you get paid while you learn and gain experience!
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License Requirements for Electricians in Montana
Is a state license required to be an electrician in Montana? Yes.
All electrical work in the state of Montana requires a license. Electrician licenses are issued by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry through the Montana State Electrical Board. Electrical apprentices must also register with the state.
Steps to Get an Electrician License in Montana
Gain necessary work experience and classroom-based training.
Become a residential electrician or journeyman electrician.
Obtain a master electrician license.
Consider becoming an electrical contractor.
GAIN NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: To be licensed as a residential electrician requires 4,000 hours of full-time practical experience in the electrical trade. Becoming a licensed journeyman electrician requires 8,000 hours of full-time practical experience.
Both licenses also require some level of classroom-based training as an electrical engineer, or the equivalent. You can fulfill these requirements in ONE of the following ways:
Complete an apprenticeship program with 4,000 hours of practical experience (residential) or 8,000 hours of practical experience (journeyman), as well as more than 500 hours of classroom training covering topics such as the National Electrical Code (NEC) and electrical theory.
Earning an associate degree in electrical engineering, as well as either 4,000 hours (residential) or 8,000 hours (journeyman) of practical work experience.
Complete an approved apprenticeship or training program with 20,000 hours of electrical maintenance field experience, including 4,000 hours (residential) or 8,000 hours (journeyman) of practical experience.
Most electricians gain this experience through a union or non-union apprenticeship program. Montana’s union apprenticeship program is organized through the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC), in collaboration with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEC) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Montana’s JATC is based in Helena. Non-union apprenticeship programs are offered through the Montana Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) trade association in cities such as Billings, Kalispell, Great Falls, and Bozeman.
Most apprenticeship programs require you to be at least 18 years old, possess a valid driver’s license, earn a high school diploma or GED, maintain Montana residency, and pass an aptitude test. Some programs also require copies of your birth certificate, Social Security card, and school transcripts.
BECOME A RESIDENTIAL OR JOURNEYMAN ELECTRICIAN: After you complete the experience requirements, you can apply to become a residential electrician or journeyman-level electrician. Both licensures require candidates to pay a $240 application fee to the state board and provide a copy of their apprenticeship completion certificate. Both journeyman and residential licenses require renewal every two years. Renewal costs $200 and licensees must also complete 16 hours of continuing education requirements, eight hours of which should be focused on code updates.
OBTAIN A MASTER ELECTRICIAN LICENSE: To become a licensed master electrician, you must meet one of the following criteria:
Earn an electrical engineering degree and complete 2,000 hours of full-time practical experience in the electrical trade.
Complete 8,000 hours of full-time practical experience as a licensed journeyman, with 20% to 50% of those hours performed in the residential sector.
Master electrician candidates must pay a $240 application fee to the state board. A licensed master electrician must renew their license every two years. Renewal costs $200 and requires 16 hours of continuing education requirements, eight hours of which should be focused on code updates.
CONSIDER BECOMING AN ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: Owning your own electrical contracting business requires a license. Montana offers two types of electrical contractor licenses: Limited and Unlimited.
Limited electrical contractors can perform work on single residential construction with fewer than five units. Additionally, limited electrical contractors must employ a full-time journeyman electrician as the responsible party.
Unlimited electrical contractors can work on both residential and commercial properties. Unlimited electrical contractors must employ a full-time master electrician as the responsible party.
Applicants for either type of electrical contractor license must pay a $300 fee to the state board and provide proof of workers' compensation insurance and unemployment insurance. Both license types require renewal every two years at a cost of $300.
Types of Electrical Licensure in Montana
Montana issues five different electrician licenses:
Limited Electrical Contractor
Unlimited Electrical Contractor
Benefits of Becoming a Licensed Electrician in Montana
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians in some parts of Montana earn the second-highest salaries, compared to other rural parts of the country. In fact, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry predicts the number of available electrician jobs in the state will increase more than 21% through 2024. The average electrician in the state of Montana earns $31.44 per hour, or $65,395.20 per year.
There are many benefits you’ll see from pursuing a Montana electrician license:
Most importantly, it is required by law in Montana to be licensed through the state to legally perform electrical work. Properly trained electricians throughout the United States are well-versed in fire prevention measures, as well as electrical distribution systems.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed electricians can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits, pass inspections, and bid on public and government projects.
Securing a license protects your company and customers.
An electrician license gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It also increases your earning potential.
How Much Does It Cost for Electrician Licensing in Montana?
Tuition at some Montana community colleges costs about $6,000 per year for in-state students, plus an additional $1,000 for books and study materials. Besides the cost of schooling, be prepared to pay state licensing fees and exam application fees. The cost of these fees varies by licensing level, but in most cases, they exceed $200.
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How Long Does It Take to Get an Electrician License in Montana?
In the state of Montana, you can earn a residential electrician license in about 4,000 hours, or two years. Earning a journeyman electrician license takes about 8,000 hours, or four years. Besides full-time practical work experience, some licensures also require a minimum of 500 hours of classroom-based training.
Montana Electrician Training Programs and Schools
Many community colleges, trade schools, technical and vocational schools offer the training you need to become an electrical professional in Montana. They're located all over the state, including in bigger cities and smaller communities.
Courses typically offered at an electrical trade school include:
Structured Wiring Systems
National Electrical Code (NEC)
Industrial Motor Controls
Programmable Logic Controllers
Some Montana electrical schools include:
Flathead Community College in Kalispell offers an associate degree program in electrical technology.
Montana State University- Northern in Havre features a unique associate degree program in electrical technology, combined with the State of Montana’s apprenticeship program.
Program Prerequisites: Program prerequisites vary. Most programs, however, require you to be 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or GED, carry a valid driver’s license, and show proof of a passing Algebra grade.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you'll gain an understanding of electrical standards, as well as math and scientific principles. Electricians need keen eyesight and good hand-eye coordination, as well as proper time management skills. They also need to have good customer service skills, be able to work independently, have good physical endurance, and use logical problem-solving techniques. Electricians also learn how to read blueprints, circuit diagrams, and other technical documents.
Montana Electrician Licensing Exam Details
In addition, journeyman electrician candidates can pay the state licensing board an additional $50 fee to legally start working as a temporary journeyman while they wait to take the test.
Both residential and journeyman electrician candidates must pay a $70 exam fee and pass the appropriate test with a score of at least 75%.
The journeyman electrician exam is open book and contains 60 questions you must answer within three hours. Exam topics include:
National Electrical Code (NEC)
Layout and Practical Installation of Electrical Circuits
The residential exam covers the same topics as the journeyman exam. It's also open book, but you must answer 50 questions within 2.5 hours.
To take the master electrician exam, you must pay an $80 exam fee. The master electrician exam is open book and contains 80 questions you must answer within four hours. A passing score is at least 75%.
Exam topics include:
National Electrical Code (NEC)
Procurement and Material Handling
Layout of Electrical Circuits
Who Issues Electrician Licenses in Montana?
The Montana Department of Labor & Industry through the Montana State Electrical Board.
Does My Montana Electrical License Work in Any Other State?
Yes! Montana offers reciprocity for residential and journeyman licenses with the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Montana does not maintain any reciprocity agreements with other states for master electrician licenses.
National Electrician Certifications
While optional, national certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency in certain aspects of the electrical trade to potential employers and clients, which often translates into more job opportunities and higher pay.
These include the Independent Electrical Contractors Certified Professional Electrician (CPE) distinction, certification through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), among dozens of additional electrician certifications available.
You can stay up to date on all electrician industry news in several ways: