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How to become an electrician in New Jersey in 7 steps

The future is bright for New Jersey electricians—literally and figuratively.

That’s to be expected in the aftermath of the pandemic. Our collective dependence on all things electronic increased a lot as more people started working from home. Now, we see an uptick in electric cars and green technology due to rising gas prices—all systems that need special electrical technology. The current influx of construction projects put on hold during the pandemic is just the cherry on top for electricians.

The numbers back these observations up. The demand for electricians is forecasted to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030—1.3% above general job growth. Impressively, New Jersey is the 5th highest-paying state for electricians as of May 2021, with a median salary of $79,940. The state expects to add over 2,500 new electrician jobs each year.

Curious about how to start in the electrical trade? You can become an independent electrical contractor within 5 to 6 years by receiving specialized training, then spending time as a hands-on worker, and finally passing a test and applying for the required permits and insurance.

We’d love to break the process down further for you. Keep reading to find out how to become an electrician in the state of New Jersey.

Types of electrician certifications in New Jersey

New Jersey offers 2 different kinds of electrical certifications / licenses for electricians:

  1. Qualified Journeyman License. This license allows you to work on wiring for heat, lighting, power sources, and other electrical systems without being shadowed by a licensed electrician. Plus, you’ll be allowed to train apprentices at your workplace. This license, however, does not allow you to apply for a business permit.
  2. Electrical Contractor License. With this license, you can take on larger electrical contracts and apply for a business permit to become a small business owner. You’ll need to apply for the test before you’re even allowed to take it; then, you can receive your license after passing the test.

How much money can electricians make in New Jersey?

According to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workplace Development, an electrician in New Jersey generally makes $52,000 (in the 25th percentile) to nearly $100,000 (in the 75th percentile).

Obviously, that depends on experience level. When first starting out as an apprentice, you could be looking at a salary around $35,000. After getting your journeyman or electrical contracting license, you could be paid closer to $70,000 (although it’s possible to eventually make as high as $120,000 as an experienced, licensed electrician). Compensation will vary depending on location, as well.

Training to become an electrician in New Jersey: Take these 7 steps

Following your dream of becoming a licensed contractor electrician doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1) Secure your high school diploma or GED.

This is a no-brainer since high school education is a must for most apprenticeships and electrician licenses.

2) Sign up for an electrician apprenticeship (or other electrical training programs).

You don’t need any special license at the beginning of your electrician training—only acceptance into an approved vocational school or apprenticeship program. You’ll gain vital experience in commercial and residential wiring and building inspection, among other topics.

New Jersey offers a variety of four-year apprenticeship programs. The most important thing is that the program you go with is accredited by the U.S. Department of Labor. If you’d like to join a union, you can choose programs through the New Jersey Joint Apprentice Training Committee or peruse the New Jersey Independent Electrical Contractors for non-union options. Check with community colleges for their vocational program options, as well.

Tuition can cost anywhere from $5,000 a year to above $20,000, but keep in mind that you will be paid to learn. Also—specific apprenticeships may cover the cost of your classroom experience through sponsorships.

3) Gain full-time electrical experience.

After completing an electrician school program, you may begin working directly under the supervision of licensed electricians to get in-field experience as an employee. Some people prefer to apply for the electrical journeyman license after completing the necessary job training and lab hours.

You don’t have to pass a test to get Qualified Journeyman Electrician License, but you do need:

  • 576 hours of classroom instruction
  • 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience (4,000 of which must be completed within 5 years before sending in your application)
  • A high school diploma or GED
  • To be at least 18 years of age

Once you’ve got the experience you need through an apprenticeship or trade school, complete the Application for a Certificate of Registration to Practice as a Qualified Journeyman Electrician. Then, send it to the New Jersey Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors (BEEC). The application fee is $100.

Remember—if you want to become an electrical contractor eventually, you’ll need to have at least one year of experience in the electrical field (2 if you are coming in with a relevant bachelor’s degree).

4) Pass the Electrical Contractor Exam

If you want to run your own electrical business, you’ll need to pass the Electrical Contractor Exam.

First, you’ll apply to take the exam by filling out this form (which costs $100 to process) and sending it to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.

To take the exam, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old, a high school graduate (or equivalent), and have a certain amount of in-person and classroom training. It takes roughly 5 to 6 years to get your electrical contractor license.

Sufficient experience can be:

  • 5 years of working hands-on with electrical wiring for heating, lighting, and power elements
  • A 4-year electrical engineering degree with 2 years of on-site electrical work experience
  • A journeyman license with one year of electrical work under your belt
  • Completion of a 4-year apprenticeship with one year of employment helping with electric projects

In all cases, you’ll need proof of your completed programs and a certificate from your employer as evidence of your experience. And, no matter how you stack your training, it needs to be completed in the 5 years immediately before your licensure.

Upside: You may reference the National Electrical Code as much as you need to earn at least a 70% score.

Remember: If you don’t pass, you cannot retake the test for 6 months. So, take advantage of the open-book policy.

5) Get your business permit

After passing your Electrical Contractor Exam with flying colors, you must now apply for a business permit before using your electrical contractor license.

There are a couple of layers to applying for a business permit in New Jersey. You need to:

  • Fill out this Business Permit form, and turn it in to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.
  • Enclose payment for your “pressure seal,” which is $25. A pressure seal is simply a tool that you must use to personalize legal documents for your business.
  • Offer proof of a surety bond, which will cost around $1000 for electricians. Basically, if you, the electrician, don’t hold up your end of a job deal, this surety bond can be claimed by your client to help cover damages. For more information on surety bonds and how to get one, go here. (Note: Different locales, like Jersey City, Trenton, or Newark, may have different bond prices.)

Last but certainly not least for your business permit application…

6) Get insured

New Jersey is serious about getting their business permit-holders insured. In fact, you must provide proof on your business permit application for general liability insurance or a bank letter of credit equaling $300,000. (Something tells us getting the general liability policy might be easier!)

But, general liability insurance is more than a box to tick off on a form. It offers essential protection for any profession with a chance of bodily harm or property damage—which, let’s face it, describes electricians. Electric shocks can cause all sorts of destruction, like injured hands or burnt sockets. So, it’s better to be prepared for the worst than to be sorry later.

Lastly, you’re legally required to get workers’ comp if you ever choose to add employees to your team. A workers’ compensation policy helps payout for doctor’s bills and lost wages if a team member is ever injured on the job.

7) Renew your licenses and complete continuing education

With both certifications, you’ll need to stay on top of current best practices and hone your skills with courses approved by the Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors.

For qualified journeyman electricians: you’ll need to complete 10 hours of continuing education and renew your license every 3 years by filling out this form and sending it to the electrician board. Processing costs $160.

For electrical contractors: Be sure you get 34 hours of continuing education under your belt every 3 years and fill out a license renewal application (paying the accompanying $225 fee) and mail it to the board.

Did you know that teaching and developing a course on electrical contracting or even authoring an article on the subject can count toward your education quota? It might be worth a shot.

Conclusion: Thinking of starting your own electrical business?

No matter how you get there—whether through apprenticeships, trade schools, or college—it’s possible to make the dream of starting your own electrical business a reality. So long as you garner the experience you need and pass the exam, and fill out all the required forms with care. It’ll take a bit of hard work and patience—but we believe in you.

Huckleberry is here to help. We offer small business owners affordable, comprehensive, easy-to-understand insurance policies in a matter of minutes, without making them fill out a bunch of forms. We promise.

Get your small business insurance quote in the amount of time it takes to make a quick cup of coffee by heading to Huckleberry.

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