Steps to Become an Electrical Contractor

Oct 20, 2021

Learn about the requirements to become an electrical contractor. Find out about the job duties and see the step-by-step process to start a career in electrical contracting.

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Electrical Contractors

Electrical contractors design, develop, test and install electrical hardware, equipment, and systems. An electrical contracting firm may employ several electricians and dispatch them to work on client projects. In addition, an experienced electrician may start her or his own contracting business and work as an independent electrical contractor. According to, electrical contractors earn a median pay of $36.09 an hour as of February 2020.

Degree Level Varies; post-secondary education can be beneficial
Degree Field Related field, such as construction management or engineering
Training On-the-job and apprenticeship
Licensure Licensure is required in most states; requirements vary by region
Key Skills Knowledge of related software, such as those used for computer-aided design (CAD), operating systems and development environment; ability to use related tools, including tube furnaces, spectrometers, signal generators and evaporators; familiarity with public safety procedures, design techniques and engineering principles
Salary (2020)* $36.09/hour (for all electrical contractors)

Sources: *, National Electrical Contractors Association, Job listings (February 2013), O*Net OnLine

Step 1: Receive Applicable Training

The first step to becoming an electrical contractor involves receiving the necessary training. Many colleges and trade schools offer instructional programs for those interested in becoming an electrical contractor. Additionally, bachelor's degree majors in electrical engineering offer in-depth training in electrical systems and design. Academic programs often include practical experience through internships and hands-on coursework.

Apprenticeships also offer novice electricians supervised training under the direction of an experienced master electrician. Unions, state agencies and national organizations introduce entry-level workers to companies and contractors with available apprenticeship programs. Typically requiring only a high school diploma, apprenticeships generally offer paid positions and last for five years.

Success Tip:

  • Complete an OSHA safety training course. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers electrical safety training for those who work in the construction industry. Although this training is optional, obtaining it can increase a job applicant's marketability.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

The second step to becoming an electrical contractor consists of gaining the necessary work experience. Electrical contractors perform a variety of services for residential or commercial properties. Besides installing and maintaining electrical systems, many electrical contractors also hire and train new electricians, plan and schedule projects with clients, and do administrative work, such as prepare estimations and invoices.

Acquiring experience and mentored training in a variety of electrical and supervisory positions provides foundational and industry-related skills and the knowledge necessary for electrical contractors. Working under the supervision of a master electrician can provide the skills and experience needed for a novice or journeyman electrician to obtain a license and perform independent contract work.

Step 3: Get Licensed

The third step to becoming an electrical contractor requires getting the necessary licensure. Not all states require electrical contractors to obtain a master electrician or electrical contractor license, but those that do offer licensing through state boards. Some states require local jurisdictions to provide licensing according to local laws. Requirements vary by state, but most licenses include meeting work experience requirements under the supervision of a master electrician, paying a fee, and passing a written examination. Most states require license renewal every few years along with payment of a fee. It is best to contact the state's licensing agency for specific requirements for electrical contractors.

Success Tip:

  • Start a contracting business. Electricians and electrical contractors with enough experience may consider opening their own contracting businesses. Owning such a business can lead to higher pay and increased scheduling flexibility.

Remember, the steps to become an electrical contractor include receiving the necessary training, gaining work experience, and getting the required licensure.

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