Design, Develop, and Test: How to Become an Electrical Contractor


    Take a time machine back to your childhood. Have you always had a passion for taking electronics apart and putting them back together? Did your friends turn to you when their gaming consoles didn’t work?

    You have a natural talent and interest in electronics. With the right education and business savvy, you can turn your skills into a rewarding — and lucrative — career.

    Your first challenge is to make a plan of action. A solid plan will point you in the right direction and fast track your career.

    Learn how to become an electrical contractor starting from square one.

    What Does an Electrical Contractor Do?

    Before you set off on your career path, let’s breakdown the roles and responsibilities of an electrical contractor.

    An electrical contractor is responsible for designing and building electrical systems.

    Many working parts go into an electrical system, including but not limited to:

    • Residential wiring
    • Service panels
    • Subpanels
    • Switches
    • Electrical boxes
    • Outside power lines.

    Electrical contractors are often confused with electricians. Contractors design and install systems, whereas electricians troubleshoot them. Electrical contractors often hire electricians for projects.

    General contractors use electrical contractors when building homes from the ground up. Likewise, commercial businesses need electrical contractors. City and state projects rely on experienced contractors, as well.

    Demand isn’t slowing down, so this career can take you in different directions.

    You could start as a staff electrical contractor for a construction company. If you’re entrepreneurial, you could start an electrical construction company after a few years of experience.

    Types of Electrical Contractors

    Now, it’s time to narrow your career path. Ask yourself: which type of contractor are you?

    Electrical contractors run a gamut.

    For starters, line contractors work with high-voltage power.

    These contractors design electrical systems for the following industries and more:

    • Power plants
    • Factories
    • Car manufacturers
    • Pharmaceutical companies
    • Hospitals
    • Military projects

    Inside electrical contractors design the electrical wiring systems for residential homes, small businesses, and most building projects. If you choose this career, expect to do a lot of cabling work.

    The next career to consider is an integrated building systems contractor, also known as an IBS contractor.

    These professionals are responsible for building wireless internet networks, backup power sources, fiber optic systems, LED lighting, and more low-voltage electrical work.

    Integrated building systems careers also deals with voice, data, and video projects. That’s why IBS contractors are often called VCV professionals.

    How to Become an Electrical Contractor

    Congratulations! You’ve found your lane. But you’re not quite ready for your first electrical construction job.

    Your next challenge is to find the right educational program for your career.

    While a 4-year college education is not required for this career, college-level electrical courses are a plus. Local community colleges also offer courses for your job.

    If you want to fast track your career, start with the Independent Electrical Contractors Trade Association. IEC is the premier resource for aspiring contractors.

    You can find IEC apprenticeship programs at over 50 locations nationwide. There are also educational opportunities through the National Electrical Contractors Association.

    Get Your License

    There are different ways to get the training you need, but it’s critical to note that all professional contractors must be licensed to work. Furthermore, each state has their own requirements for licensing.

    Generally, most licenses require an apprenticeship first. States can require up to 10,000 hours of training, in addition to 1,000 hours of classroom lectures.

    If you want to meet your requirements quickly, look for a journeyman apprentice program in your city.

    The journeyman electrical license is the first license you’ll acquire on your career path. These programs provide much-need training and classes on electrical theory. You’ll also be tested on your knowledge of national and local electric codes.

    Journeyman licensing programs take two years to finish on average. Once your hours are completed, you can finally apply for your first contractor license. The quicker you complete your training, the sooner you’ll work!

    Once you have your journeyman license, apply for the master electrician license. This license is the document you need to bid on project contracts, obtain permits, manage projects, and build electrical systems.

    Your licensing requirements don’t end here!

    While you can work professionally with a master’s license, your entrepreneurial spirit may have other goals in mind.

    After obtaining your master license, apply for the independent electrical contractor license as soon as you can. This license is mandatory for running a business. However, pay your dues first with another company to learn the ropes of the industry.

    Contractor licenses aren’t a one-time deal. You’re required to renew your license. However, the timetable for renewal may vary from state to state.

    Start Working!

    You have all the tools you need to build a rewarding career. Solid decision-making is essential for this next phase.

    If you’re planning on working for a company, write a professional resume that emphasizes your skills, training, professionalism, and pro-active work ethic.

    Include references from your training programs and other applicable skills.

    If you can, take pictures of your work during your apprenticeship. A strong apprenticeship portfolio could go a long way in landing that dream job.

    After a few years, consider taking your career to the next level.

    Use your Master Electrical license to open a business of your own. This way, you can start bidding on lucrative government contracts!

    Marketing an Electrical Construction Business

    You’re a contractor, not a marketer! You may surprise yourself. While growing an electrical business, you’ll pick up vital marketing skills.

    Build a website for your business, or hire a developer that specializes in websites for your niche. Set up social media accounts to connect with your community.

    Don’t forget to invest in a robust PPC campaign to attract B2B Leads.

    Spark Your Career

    This guide could be the beginning of a lucrative and rewarding career, but it’s up to you to realize your potential.

    Apply these strategies as you learn how to become an electrical contractor!

    The secret to career growth is constant learning. Remember to bookmark this blog to stay updated on the latest tips and trends in your industry.


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