If you’ve ever thought about getting an electrician license in the state of Virginia, you’ve come to the right place. There’s a lot to consider when applying for your electrician license with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). You need to know which license type is right for you. You need to be ready to fill out the application and pass the required exam. You might need insurance or want to join a union, too.
All told, getting set up to work as a professional electrician in Virginia requires a bit of legwork. But don’t worry. This guide will teach you everything you need to know to get — and maintain — an active Virginia electrician license.
The DPOR issues two types of electrical licenses:
If you’ve ever looked at the DPOR application for tradesmen, you’ve probably noticed that even journeymen electricians need a sizeable amount of work experience before they can apply for licensure.
Specifically, you’ll need one of the following:
Ultimately, you can’t just jump straight in and get your electrical license in Virginia. To get the experience you need without your license, you’ll need to participate in an apprenticeship program. As a couple of examples, check out the apprenticeship program with the Central Virginia Electrical Contractors Association (CVECA) or the Virginia chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).
As a journeyman electrician, you can work as a licensed electrician in Virginia. But you’ll still need to work under a master electrician in many cases. Which leads us to the second Virginia electrical license type.
Once you’ve had your journeyman license for one year, you’re eligible to apply for a maser electrician license. This allows you to work on your own without requiring supervision from any other parties. With this license type, you can open your own electrical business or work as an independent contractor.
Let’s quickly look at the steps required to get your electrician license from the DPOR:
Once you pass the exam, the DPOR will mail your license to you.
Each year, you’ll need to complete three hours of electrician continuing education (you can do it online) and submit your license renewal to the DPOR. You can use the DPOR’s Online Licensing Services to renew online. Mark your calendar to stay on top of your renewal so your license stays active.
Good news. The Virginia DPOR Board of Contractors has reciprocity agreements with several other states, meaning your license is valid there, too. With a Virginia electrician license, you can legally do electrical work in:
With a license that allows you to take jobs throughout Virginia and neighboring states, you might decide the process of getting your journeyman or master license is well worth it.
Some electrical licensees get insurance through their employer or their union. But if you’re a master electrician working on your own, make sure you have the required general liability insurance to protect yourself and your earnings.
Once you have your journeyman or master electrician license, you can legally get your own electrical jobs throughout Virginia. People can vet you by looking up your license info with the DPOR to confirm you’re properly licensed and, as a result, well-trained to do the work they need.
It can be helpful to list your license number on your website and business cards. This helps people know you’re properly credentialed, which can give you the edge as you bid on jobs.
Many electricians join a union to guarantee they get a pension plan, certain types of insurance, sick pay, a competitive salary, and other benefits. But you’ll pay union dues if you do decide to join a union, so keep that in mind. It can help to look at your local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to get an idea of what joining a union would mean for you.
If you’re going to go through all the work of getting a Virginia electrician license, you want to make sure you’re joining a thriving industry. The U.S. electrical industry is valued at over $163 billion. And even though COVID-19 hit the construction industry hard, the industry is only seeing a marginal decline. In fact, “over the five years to 2020, the industry has posted relatively strong revenue growth supported by new construction activity and an uptick in renovations,” IBIS World reports.
What’s more, continuing innovations should strengthen the industry. Here are four trends worth watching.