Tennessee Electrical License: How to Become an Electrician in Tennessee
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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 Tennessee
Is a state license required to be an electrician in Tennessee? Yes.
In the state of Tennessee, electrical licenses are issued at both a local level and state level.
Local licenses, like those of journeyman and master electricians, are issued by individual cities or counties.
For cities and counties with no local license regulations, a state-issued Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) license is accepted by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. LLE licenses are issued based on the following factors:
The total cost of the job. If the monetary limit is less than $25,000, which includes materials and labor, an LLE is usually acceptable. If the job exceeds $25,000, a state-issued contractor’s license with a commercial electrician (CE) classification is required.
The location of the project. Check with your local code enforcement office to see if an LLE is accepted to pull permits and inspection reports.
In some municipalities, electrical codes adopted by the Division Of Fire Prevention cover electrical installations performed by an LLE.
Steps to Get an Electrician License in Tennessee
Gain the necessary experience and classroom-based training.
Obtain local-level licensure.
Consider earning a statewide electrical contractor license.
GAIN NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: In the state of Tennessee, experience requirements vary by individual cities and counties. For specific details, contact your local licensing board.
In many cases, you need a minimum of 8,000 hours (or four years) of work experience to be eligible to apply for your Tennessee journeyman electrician license. Most municipalities also require anywhere from 576 to 900 hours of classroom-based instruction.
Aspiring electricians can gain hands-on work experience and classroom training through an approved apprenticeship program. Tennessee offers both union and non-union apprenticeship programs, including:
Non-union based apprenticeship programs are offered by the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) or the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) trade associations.
Most apprenticeship programs require you to be at least 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or GED, pass an algebra course and aptitude test, and have reliable transportation.
OBTAIN LOCAL ELECTRICIAN LICENSURE: The types of electrical licensures available in Tennessee vary by individual cities and counties. Check with your local codes office for specific licensing requirements.
Shelby County, Tennessee, for instance, issues both journeyman and master electrician licenses through the Shelby County Electrical Code Board.
Shelby County requires journeyman electricians to be at least 20 years old and have three years of experience. Master electricians must be at least 24 years old and have four years of prior experience as a journeyman electrician. Shelby County requires both journeyman and master electricians to renew their licenses each year.
BECOME A LICENSED INDEPENDENT ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: To obtain an electrical contractor license, you must pass a business and law exam and a trade exam, submit the appropriate application and supporting documentation, which includes financial statements, and proof of workers’ compensation and general liability insurance.
The fee to obtain an electrical contractor license is $250, and licenses must be renewed every two years. Applicants who wish to establish a corporation must register with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office.
Types of Electrical Licensure in Tennessee
Tennessee offers several license classifications:
Some counties issue traditional journeyman and/or master electrician licenses.
The city of Knoxville issues four class-based licenses, depending on years of experience and the type of work to be performed.
The Memphis/Shelby County area offers a supervising sign electrician license, in addition to journeyman and master electrician licenses.
A state-issued Limited Licensed Electrician license is accepted by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance for areas of the state with no licensing regulations.
Benefits of Becoming a Licensed Electrician in Tennessee
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development predicts a 13% increase in the number of electrician jobs available in the state of Tennessee through 2024. The average electrician in Tennessee earns $21.12 per hour, or $43,929.60 per year.
There are many benefits you’ll see from pursuing a Tennessee electrician license:
Most importantly, Tennessee law requires a state or local license 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 provides 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.
Licensure gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It also increases your earning potential.
How Much Does It Cost for Electrician Licensing in Tennessee?
Tuition at most Tennessee technical schools and community colleges costs between $4,000 and $5,000 per year for in-state students. The cost to obtain a local-level electrician license, and associated exam fees, varies by municipality. Applying for a statewide electrical contractor license costs $250.
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How Long Does It Take to Get an Electrician License in Tennessee?
The time it takes to obtain electrical licensure in the state of Tennessee varies, as licenses are issued at both a local and state level. The length of time involved depends upon the type of license you seek, and in what jurisdiction.
Generally speaking, it takes about 8,000 hours, or four years, of full-time work experience to earn a journeyman electrician license or its equivalent. In some municipalities, journeyman electricians are eligible to receive their master electrician licenses after they work as a licensed journeyman for four years.
After working as a licensed electrician for several years, you can begin the process of obtaining a statewide electrical contractor license.
Tennessee Electrician Training Programs and Schools
Tennessee offers many community colleges, trade schools, technical and vocational schools to get the training you need to become an electrical professional. You can find training opportunities all over the state, including in the cities of Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Memphis.
Courses taught at Tennessee technical schools cover the following topics:
Hand Tools and Power Tools
National Electrical Code (NEC)
Raceways & Fittings
Conductors & Cables
Residential Electrical Services
Electrical Test Equipment
Pull and Junction Boxes
Conductor Terminations and Splices
Grounding and Bonding
Circuit Breakers and Fuses
Load Calculations-Branch and Feeder Circuits
Conductor Selection and Calculations
Commercial Electrical Services
Motor Calculations and Motor Controls
Some Tennessee electrical schools include:
Nashville State Community College in Nashville offers an electrical engineering technology certificate program.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Knoxville offers an industrial electricity certificate program.
Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis offers a certificate program in electrical/electronic fundamentals and an associate degree program in electronic technology.
Program Prerequisites: Program prerequisites vary. Most programs, however, require you to be 18 years old, have 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 good customer service skills, independence, good physical endurance, and logical problem-solving techniques. Electricians also learn how to read blueprints, circuit diagrams, and other technical documents.
Tennessee Electrician Licensing Exam Details
Local-level licensing exams vary by city and county. In the Memphis/Shelby County area, for instance, check the candidate information bulletin to prepare for both the journeyman and master electrician exams, which are administered by Pearson VUE. The fee to take either exam is $80.
The journeyman exam contains 80 multiple-choice questions you must answer within four hours. The master electrician exam contains 100 multiple-choice questions you must answer within five hours. Both exams are open book and cover the following topics:
Services and Service Equipment
Branch Circuits and Conductors
Wiring Methods and Materials
Equipment and Devices
Motors and Generators
Special Occupancies Equipment, and Conditions
Plan Reading and Analysis
The statewide electrical contractor exam is administered by PSI Exams. It contains two parts—the business and law exam and the trade exam. Check the candidate information bulletin to prepare for the tests.
The business and law exam, which is open-book, contains 50 questions you must answer within 140 minutes. A passing score is at least 73%. Exam topics include:
Estimating and Bidding
Project Management and Lien Law
Environmental and Safety
The electrical contractor trade exam contains 100 questions you must answer within 260 minutes. A passing score is at least 73%. Exam topics include:
General Knowledge and Electrical Installation Requirements
Building Code Requirements
Services, Feeders, and Branch Circuits
Grounding and Bonding
Conductors and Cables
Raceways and Boxes
Hazardous Locations, Special Occupancies, and Special Equipment
Low Voltage, Alarms, Signaling Systems, and Communications
Lighting, Signs and General Use Equipment
OSHA and NFPA 70E Safety
Motors, Transformers, and Generators
Who Issues Electrician Licenses in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, electrical licensing is issued at both a local and state level. Local government licenses, such as journeyman and master electricians, are issued by individual cities or counties. Electrical contractor licenses are issued on a statewide level by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance through the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors.
Does My Tennessee Electrical License Work in Any Other State?
Yes! Tennessee maintains trade exam waiver reciprocity with the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.
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: