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Rhode Island Electrician License: Everything You Need to Know

When you receive your Rhode Island electrical license, you’re taking a big step toward a rewarding career. Licensed electricians keep things running smoothly.  You can work for a major company or receive your license to run your own business. This guide will explain the process of obtaining and maintaining your license.

Does Rhode Island Require an Electrical License?

Rhode Island requires a licensed electrician to do all professional wiring projects. 

What are the Different Types of Electrical Licenses in Rhode Island?

The Division for Regulation and Safety of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training offers two different types of general electrical licenses: journeyperson electrician and electrical contractor. They also grant licenses in specialty electrical areas: fire alarm installation, electric sign work, lightning protection, and oil burner installation. These specialties all have two levels based on training and experience. For example, you can receive either a license as a fire alarm system installer or a fire alarm system contractor.

A journeyperson electrician must complete a four-year apprenticeship and pass the journeyperson exam. This person can do any wiring work. If you are not interested in a management position or running a business, you can work at the journeyperson level throughout your career. The journeyperson makes an average of $28 per hour in Rhode Island.

An electrical contractor must work for two years as a journeyperson and pass the electrical contractor exam. This level of license allows you to do any electrical work independently including designing electrical systems. You must be at this level to become an administrator in an electrical department of a major organization or run your own business. The average pay for an electrical contractor is $31 per hour. You can charge higher rates as an independent contractor.

The fire alarm, electrical sign, oil burner, and lightning protection licenses limit the licensee to specific systems. The requirements are similar to general electrical work but tailored to the specific task. These specialists earn $20 to $25 per hour.

How to Get an Electrician License in Rhode Island

Getting your Rhode Island electrical license begins with an apprenticeship. In most cases, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. 

Vocational high school programs are the exception to this rule. In this case, students can begin their studies at the age of 16. There is a $20 registration fee to be an apprentice. Your apprenticeship program must be approved by the state labor board.

During your apprenticeship, you are required to take 576 hours of classwork, or 144 hours per year over four years. You also will be required to do 8000 hours of electrical work under the supervision of a journeyperson electrician. There are several ways to enter an apprenticeship program. Most community colleges in the state offer classes, like the Community College of Rhode Island and the New England Institute of Technology. These programs are eligible for state and federal financial aid.

Programs are offered through local chapters of the IBEW Union. You must join the union and pay annual dues. Once accepted into the program, the union with partner you with an approved journeyperson or electrical contractor for your practical work.

An apprenticeship is a paid position working under a licensed electrician, normally at half to two-thirds of a journeyperson electrician’s salary. You will work a full day doing basic electrical installations and maintenance. Some programs supply you with basic tools. Others will give you a list of tools to purchase.

Once you complete the requirements, you can take the exam to become a journeyperson electrician. All electrical work exams are administered by the state and have a $75 application fee. Once you pass the exam and a criminal background check, the state will give you your license for a $72 license fee.

After two years as a journeyperson, you are eligible to apply for an electrical contractor’s license. To receive this license, you need six years of electrical work experience and must successfully pass the exam. There is a $240 fee for this license.

Since the specialty licenses focus on a narrow field, the requirements to receive a license are less demanding. All of these licenses involve at least 2000 hours of practical work experience. You also must be 18 years old to receive your first license. The installer level license fee is $72. For the contractor level, the fee is $240.

Should I Join an Electrician Union in Rhode Island?

Joining an electrician’s union in your area can be a helpful way to get started as an electrician. The IBEW Local 99 chapter has a well-developed apprenticeship program with on-site training facilities. The union can also help you move forward in your career by sharing local job openings and hosting continuing education classes. Many self-employed electricians depend on unions for benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans.

How to Use Your Electrician License to Get a Job

After receiving your Rhode Island electrical license, you can start looking for a new job. Many companies place job openings on online search sites. Be sure to search for a position at your level of license. There are opportunities to make connections through your apprenticeship. Organizations with large physical plants, such as hospitals or universities, often need full-time electricians. Your local union may also be aware of job openings in your area.

For your interview, dress professionally. Interviewers inquire about your practical skills. Provide honest and accurate answers to their questions. 

Electrician Insurance in Rhode Island

Electricians of all levels need basic health insurance. If you work for a large company or organization, health insurance will be one of your benefits. If you run your own business, you can get it through a union or purchase your own plan.

If you own your own business, you may want to purchase insurance. Insurance should cover basic business concerns, like stolen tools or damaged property. Electrician insurance helps keep your business protected.

Electrician Industry Trends

The technology around electrical work is constantly changing. Each specialty in the field deals with updated codes as well as new types of systems. You can stay current on trends by attending trade shows, following blogs, and reading electrical trade journals.

Is My License Only Valid in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island does not have reciprocity with any other state. You can submit an out-of-state license as proof of eligibility to take the state exams and receive a Rhode Island electrical license.

If your name or address changes or you need a duplicate license, you can visit the website of The Department of Labor and Training.

How Often Do I Need to Renew My Electrician License in Rhode Island?

You will renew your Rhode Island electrical license every two years. The current fees are the same as the application fees, $72 for the journeyperson/installer level license and $240 for the contractor level license.

Rhode Island also requires a 15-hour continuing education course for all types of electricians before the state renews your license.


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