New York Electrical License: How to Become an Electrician in New York
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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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Electrical Licensing Requirements for New York
Is a state license required to be an electrician in New York? It depends.
In the state of New York, electrical licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, as there are no statewide regulations for electricians. Some municipalities issue licenses through local licensing boards.
In New York City, for example, electrical licenses are issued by the Department of Buildings, which is located at 280 Broadway, 6th floor, New York, N.Y., 10007. In some parts of the state, like rural upstate New York, no license is required to perform electrical work.
Steps to Get an Electrician License in New York
Gain the necessary work experience and classroom-based training.
Apply for licensure within your local jurisdiction, if applicable.
Obtain a master electrician license or independent electrical contractor license.
GAIN THE NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: Some New York municipalities follow licensing procedures generally established to become a journeyman electrician, master electrician, or electrical contractor. Other municipalities, however, also set their own regulations. Check with your local licensing board for specific requirements.
In Rochester, for example, a single-phase electrician must work a minimum of 3,000 hours in the electrical trade, or two years in electrical wiring, while a master electrician must work 6,000 hours, or four years of experience in electrical wiring.
In Syracuse, master electricians need 10 years of experience, while limited electricians are required to have five years of experience.
In New York City, potential electricians must meet certain criteria, including being at least 21 years old, before they become eligible to take either the master electrician or special electrician licensing exams. You can find the criteria outlined on the Department of Buildings website, but some (not all) examples include:
Complete an electrical technology or mechanical engineering apprenticeship program OR graduate from a qualified electrical engineering trade school or vocational school registered with the New York State Department of Labor. Either path gives you 5.5 years of electrical work experience.
Obtain 7.5 years of electrical work experience, with a minimum of 10,500 hours of experience as a union or non-union journeyman, under the supervision of a licensed electrician.
Obtain a master of science degree, along with 3,500 hours of electrical work experience under the supervision of a licensed electrician.
Earn a bachelor of science degree, as well as 4,900 hours of electrical work experience under the supervision of a licensed electrician.
APPLY FOR LICENSURE WITHIN YOUR JURISDICTION: Once you fulfill the necessary requirements within your jurisdiction, you can submit an electrical license application. In New York City, you must also complete a background investigation check to qualify as a licensed professional. The background investigation costs $500 and requires several forms of documentation including, but not limited to:
Supplemental Investigation Questionnaire
Notarized Background Investigation Questionnaire
Physical Exam Form
Work Experience Verification Forms
Social Security History of Earnings
Current Photo ID
Original Social Security Card
Proof of Residence
Latest Pay Stub or W2
In most cities, electrician licenses are issued for one year. Some municipalities, including New York City, require eight hours of continuing education before you can renew your license each year.
OBTAIN A MASTER ELECTRICIAN OR ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR LICENSE: Many master electricians and electrical contractors own and operate their own businesses. Independent electrical contractors in New York City must adhere to specific insurance guidelines. For example, contractors must maintain workers’ compensation insurance and disability insurance, as well as project insurance, and $1 million in general liability insurance.
Types of Electrical Licensure in New York
Some cities in the state of New York issue traditional licenses, such as journeyman electrician and master electrician. Other municipalities, like the city of Syracuse, issue limited electrician licenses. The city of Albany issues Class A electrician licenses. Some cities also regulate residential electricians.
New York City mandates some of the strictest electrician licensing requirements in the U.S. The New York City Department of Buildings website offers a special online tool licensees can use to learn specific requirements for their business. Generally speaking, however, NYC issues two types of electrical licenses:
Master Electrician License: A master electrician is allowed to obtain construction permits to perform electrical work within New York City on any type of building.
Special Electrician License: A special electrician is allowed to obtain construction permits to perform electrical work within New York City, or to perform electrical work under the employment of a building owner. Special electricians often work in hospitals, hotels, schools, government agencies, etc.
Benefits of Becoming a Licensed Electrician in New York
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians in the state of New York earned the second-highest salary, when compared to electricians across the country. The average electrician in New York earns about $70,990 per year, or $34.13 per hour.
There are many benefits you’ll see from pursuing a New York electrician license:
Most importantly, it is required by law in most municipalities in the state of New York to be licensed 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 as an electrician.
How Much Does It Cost for Electrician Licensing in New York?
Tuition at many community colleges in the state of New York costs about $5,000 per year, plus books and supplies. Technical colleges can be more expensive and range in price from $8,000 to $18,000 per year, depending on the school, location, and desired course of study.
License holders must also be prepared to pay the fees associated with licensure exams and applications. These costs vary by municipality.
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How Long Does It Take to Get an Electrician License in New York?
How long it takes to obtain an electrician license in the state of New York varies, depending on the municipality. In some cities, potential electricians can earn the equivalent of a journeyman license in about four years. Other cities, such as New York City, have more strict guidelines and require a minimum of 7.5 years of experience before you can apply for licensure.
New York Electrician Training Programs and Schools
There are many community colleges, trade schools, technical and vocational schools to get the training you need to become an electrical professional in New York. They are located all over the state, including in bigger cities and smaller communities.
Some electrical schools in the state of New York:
Apex Technical College in Long Island City offers an electrical certificate program. Tuition averages $18,295 per year.
Hudson Valley Community College in Troy offers associate degree programs in electrical technology and semiconductor manufacturing technology. Tuition for in-state students averages $5,632 per year.
SUNY College of Technology in Canton offers an electrical technology certificate program. Tuition for in-state students averages $8,130 per year.
Program Prerequisites: Program prerequisites vary. Most programs, however, require you to be 18 years old, possess a high-school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license, and 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.
New York Electrician Licensing Exam Details
In the state of New York, testing details vary by municipality. Many exams are based on material from the National Electrical Code (NEC) and general electrical safety protocols.
In NYC, for instance, applicants must pass a written exam and a practical exam before obtaining an electrical license. The application fee for the written exam is $525. The application fee for the practical exam is $350.
The written exam includes multiple-choice questions based on the New York City Electrical Code, as well as the National Electrical Code (NEC). No reference materials are allowed during testing. A passing score on the written exam is at least 70%. Once you pass the written exam, you may schedule the practical exam. Results from the practical exam will be mailed to you within 3-4 weeks of taking the test.
Who Issues Electrician Licenses in New York?
In the state of New York, electrical licensing requirements vary. Some municipalities issue their own licenses through local electrical boards. In New York City, for example, electrical licenses are issued by the Department of Buildings. In some parts of the state, however, a license isn’t required to perform electrical work.
Does My New York Electrical License Work in Any Other State?
No. New York does not have reciprocity agreements with other states. However, you may check within your local jurisdiction to see if any waiver exams might be available.
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: