How To Find Out if an Electrician Is Licensed

Kathryn Pomroy
Written by Kathryn Pomroy
Updated November 3, 2021
Woman screws in bulb on hanging light
Photo: By ryzhenko23 / Adobe Stock

Hiring a licensed electrician can help you be sure the job is done accurately and safely

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If you’re looking to hire a local electrician for your next home project, you probably have more than a few questions for prospective pros. One of the most important things to determine is whether or not they are licensed. Below, we’ll break down how to find out if an electrician is licensed and why it’s so critical to your home improvement success. 

Does an Electrical License Really Matter?

Electrical work requires training. A journey-level electrician must complete five years of education and 10,000 hours of on-the-job training in many cases. Electrical training is the longest program in apprenticeship work. Hiring a licensed electrician gives you as a homeowner the peace of mind that the electrician you hire will complete the work right and up to code.

When an electrician is licensed, you can feel confident they’ve passed an exam and have the necessary qualifications to guarantee the work. It’s also important for a few more practical reasons:

  • Your electrician will complete the job according to safety guidelines by the National Electrical Code—the minimum standard for electrical work in most states.

  • Licensed electricians are bonded. So, if your contractor leaves without finishing the job properly, you have an extra level of assurance. 

  • Electrical contractors in nearly every state must be licensed before providing electrical services. Also, building codes can vary by state or community. A local licensed electrician will know the code requirements for your area and whether your job requires a permit.

  • Working with an unlicensed electrician could void your homeowner’s insurance should you need to file a claim following their work.

What is the Difference Between a Registered and Certified Electrician? 

Licensed electricians in the U.S. can be either registered, meaning they can only do work in the specific region where they are registered, or certified, which means they can work anywhere in the state where they acquired their license. Some electricians might even qualify for reciprocal licenses so they can work across state lines.

What is the Process for Licensing?

The process of licensing is pretty much the same in most locations across the U.S. However, there are several differences:

  • Some states require apprentices to be licensed

  • Other states only require journey-level electricians to be licensed 

  • A state licensing body licenses most electricians

  • Some electricians can get their licenses at the city or county level

  • There are multiple licenses for journey-level electricians, master electricians, and electrical contractors, each with its own set of requirements, in some states

Tips to Verify Your Electrician is Licensed

Electrician checks voltage
Photo: By spates / iStock / Getty Images

Hiring a licensed contractor helps you to make sure your electrical work is done safely. 

“Ask if the electrician is licensed and has liability insurance,” says Seth Silbaugh, owner ofSwitched Electric in Modesto, CA. “If you’re considering a company with employees, make sure they have workers’ compensation insurance and that the individual electrician is licensed, not just the company.”

Find out how to verify if your electrician is licensed. 

1. Explore State Agencies

While states have different requirements and licensing organizations, your local licensing department can verify if an electrician is licensed to work in your community. Your state'sDepartment of Labor should also be able to offer this information. You can also check out online licensing tools to find licensing requirements for professionals in your state. 

2. Ask Local Contractors

If you’re tackling a larger home project, you may already be working with contractors you trust who can lend a hand. Many contractors work side-by-side with electricians on a daily basis. They may be able to verify if your contractor has a valid license, especially if they’ve worked with them before. 

3. Ask Your Electrician

The electrician you’re about to hire should be able to show you a contractor's trade license number, insurance, and proof of bonding. When your electrician presents you with their license, verify that the person's name matches the name of the license. If the license is for a contractor, verify the person is actually employed by the licensed company.

4. Talk to Neighbors and Friends

It may only take walking next door to find out if your electrician is licensed. Neighbors, family members, and friends who had prior electrical work done are often reliable sources for this information, but it may also help to quickly double-check their info.

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