Energy is one of Tennessee’s fastest-growing sectors, and a career as an electrician is a smart move. You can either work for an employer or start your own electrical contractor business. In this guide, learn about the licensing requirements for earning a Tennessee electrical license.
Yes, you need a Tennessee electrical license to perform this type of work in the state.
To start working apprentice-level jobs, you will need an apprentice certificate or diploma. You can work entry-level industrial or commercial electrical wiring jobs. Jobs like these pay an average of $16.27 per hour.
To start working journeyman-level jobs, you will need a journeyman-level electrician license. This license requires at least two to three years of experience, and you will need to pass a licensing exam. At this level, you can accept jobs costing less than $25,000 within the municipality you receive your license. The average pay for a journeyman electrician in Tennessee is $22.88 per hour.
A LLE license is technically a journeyman-level license. It allows you to work anywhere in Tennessee that isn’t within another licensing jurisdiction. Even if you have a LLE license, you will still need to meet local licensing requirements to work in some major Tennessee cities.
The CE license is the only master-level electrical license in Tennessee. With this license, you can accept jobs worth more than $25,000. A master electrician in Tennessee earns an average of $30.10 per hour.
There are two paths to apprenticeship in Tennessee: enrollment in a trade school or community college electrical trade program that transitions you to an apprenticeship; or enrollment directly into an apprenticeship through a union Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) program, non-union trade group, or utility company.
Let’s start with trade schools. Every hour that you work while working towards your certificate or diploma can be counted towards state licensing requirements. Furthermore, most technical colleges help graduates fill local entry-level positions upon graduation.
The length of your schooling will depend on the school and the program. For example, at Nashville State Community College, you can receive an Industrial Electrical Maintenance Technical Certificate in as little as one year or an Associate’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in two years. On average, programs like these require between 500 and 1,200 clock hours to receive a certificate or diploma.
The five best schools for electricians in Tennessee are Nashville State Community College, Northeast State Community College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, and Miller-Motte Technical College.
You will take classes on electrical theory, alternating current, electrical circuits, grounding and bonding, construction drawings, material handling, and OSHA regulations. Trade schools almost always supply their own tools, so you can focus on learning.
Although you may still need to pay for housing and textbooks, all Tennessee two-year community colleges are free to adults that don’t already have a college degree through the Tennessee Promise Scholarship. As long as you fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid before applying, you will automatically be considered for this scholarship.
Some courses can be completed online, but all technical colleges and trade schools will require hands-on learning for you to receive any electrical certificate or degree.
After completing your schooling, you are ready to apply for an apprenticeship. There are five JATCs in Tennessee: Chattanooga Electrical JATC, Nashville Electrical JATC, Oak Ridge Electrical JATC, Electrical Training Academy Knoxville, and Memphis Electrical JATC. All of these apprenticeships are union-sponsored, and all of them would adequately prepare you to become a journeyman electrician.
To become a journeyman-level electrician, you will need at least two to three years of experience at an apprenticeship and to pass a licensure exam. In Knoxville and Memphis, you will need to pass a local exam to become a journeyman. For everywhere else in the state, you will need to pass the LLE exam. Local licenses need to be renewed every year while the LLE license needs to be renewed once every two years.
LLE licenses are issued by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. There is a one-time issuance fee of $50. The LLE license and the master-level CE license have the same exam requirements.
You will need to pass both a trade exam and a Tennessee Business and Law exam. There is an exam fee of $57. This bulletin can help you prepare for these exams.
After passing your exams, you will need to fill out an official application for licensure and obtain a financial statement, proof of insurance, proof of workers’ compensation insurance( if you plan to hire employees), and a reference letter.
Unions help you obtain apprenticeships and job offers. It is possible to have a career in the electrical industry without joining a union, but it will be much more difficult to get a job.
Unions provide immediate benefits as well. For example, if you join the Nashville Electrical JATC, all of your training will be paid. You will receive paid health insurance, pension, and retirement funds. Finally, union affiliation allows you to use your hands-on training as college credits through the American Council on Education.
After receiving your Tennessee electrical license, your union or trade school will help you find your first job. The Tennessee Valley Authority is a major employer hiring electricians and electrical workers, and they have locations throughout the state.
You can expect your interviewer to ask about past work experience, your pathway to licensure, and your grasp of technical skills. They may ask you to demonstrate technical skills as part of the interview process.
You will need proof of general liability insurance both to obtain your license and to be hired as an independent contractor. If you have one or more employees, you also will need proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
Though there is some degree of danger in any technical field, the electrical industry is relatively safe as long as you follow procedure and use personal protective equipment.
The electrician industry is constantly growing, especially in Tennessee. Tennessee Valley Authority creates new jobs every year for licensed electricians, and trade shows have grown in quantity and quality across the country. Check out this list of national trade showsthat you can attend to boost your visibility in the industry.
The electrical industry is projected to grow by nearly 10% from 2016 to 2026. Many states invested heavily in infrastructure and energy over the last decade, and as the demand for alternative forms of energy grows, the need for talented and skilled electricians grows.
Tennessee hopes to lead the charge towards renewable energy in the South. In 2008, the state formed the Tennessee Renewable Energy and Economic Development Council to create jobs and push the state towards cleaner energy. For example, the Council recently finished an initiative to replace street lights with LED lights throughout the city of Knoxville.
A Tennessee contractor license has reciprocity is Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio.
The LLE license and the CE license need to be renewed every two years. Tennessee will automatically send you a renewal form 90 days before your license is set to expire. Your renewal form will be due 30 days before your license expires. Renewal costs $50.
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