There’s no time like the present for becoming an electrician. Construction and renewable energy boost demand for electricians across the country, and the Lone Star State is no different.
Demand for these professionals is expected to grow by 8 percent between 2019 and 2029, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is higher than the average growth in all occupations in the country.
If you want to find out how to become an electrician in Texas, we created a step-by-step guide that tells you everything you need to know.
Steps to Become an Electrician in Texas
In a hurry? Here’s a quick snapshot of how to become an electrician in Texas:
- Apply for an electrician apprentice card
- Join an apprenticeship program or electrician school
- Complete the required work hours and classroom requirements
- Take the test to be a licensed Journeyman electrician
- Be your own boss as a Master electrician
- Apply to become an Electrical Contractor as an option
Step-by-Step Guide on How To Become an Electrician in Texas: Overview
If you want to become a licensed electrician, Texas is one of the most straightforward places to do it.
You’ll still need to work hard to get in your hours of work experience plus study diligently for the exams. But the bureaucracy involved is simple.
Before we get into each step in our step-by-step guide about how to become an electrician in Texas, we decided to start off by answering some common questions.
What Kind of Electrician Licenses Does Texas Have?
Texas has 5 main electrician licenses. They are
- Electrician Apprentice License
- Journeyman Electrician License
- Residential Wireman License
- Master Electrician License
- Electrical Contractor’s License
Applications for the above licenses can be found at TDLR (Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation).
There are some electrical areas in Texas where a license is not required. You might want to check out the list.
It’s a good idea to check out our tools list for electrician apprentices to help you get a head start in your collection.
Step 1: Get an Electrician Apprentice License
The journey to becoming an electrician in Texas starts with an apprentice license. This will qualify you to start looking for a place to start work and classroom learning.
Filling Out Your Application
The first thing you’ll need is to fill out an application at the TDLR. This application will qualify you to start looking for an apprenticeship position or start working if you’ve already found one. As of 2021, it costs $20, and you can fill it out online or send it by mail.
You don’t need much to fill out the application and start training to be an electrician. You need to be older than 16 to apply, but you won’t need a high school diploma. You’ll also need some personal information, such as your social security number, for the application.
You should get a response to your application in 30 days with your credentials in an email, and your license later in the mail. Apprentice licenses are valid for one year. You’ll need to renew it annually.
Step 2: Join an Electrician Apprenticeship Program or School and Complete the Required Hours
We all know Texas is a big state, and there are plenty of opportunities to join an electrician apprenticeship. There are union and non-union apprenticeships. Both offer great programs on your way to becoming a licensed electrician in Texas.
Should I Join an Electrician Union in Texas?
As a union electrician, you’ll have rights and benefits such as sick pay, vacation pay, and a pension plan. Your union will also represent you if you have any disputes with your employer.
Most apprentices receive scholarships that cover the majority of their costs.
You should be aware that it tends to be more competitive to join a union apprenticeship. Your work may not be as varied as a non-union electrician’s, but that’s not always the case.
Once you are accepted into the electrician apprentice program, you will be assigned a job position with a union electrical contractor.
Union apprenticeship programs are run by The Electrical Training Alliance (formally the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee or NJATC). Most locations still have JATC attached to their name.
You would start by joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBew).
Here is a list of IBEW Electrician Apprenticeship Locations in Texas:
- North Texas JATC
- South Texas Electrical JATC
- West Texas Electrical JATC
- Gulf Coast Electrical JATC
- Austin Electrical JATC
- Beaumont Electrical JATC
- Houston Electrical JATC
- El Paso Electrical JATC
- Galveston Electrical JATC
- Rio Grande Valley/Laredo Electrical JATC
- Texarkana Electrical JATC – Nash TX – Phone:903-838-8531
- Waco Electrical JATC
- Wichita Falls Electrical JATC
IBEW does not require you to have prior electrical experience. They will train and teach you everything you need to know to become a successfully licensed electrician in Texas.
REQUIREMENTS TO JOIN the IBEW Electrician Apprenticeship Program:
- Have a High School diploma or GED
- Be at least 18 years old
- Physically fit and healthy
- Passed 1 year of high school algebra or the equivalent
- Pass the NJATC aptitude test
- Sit for an Interview
You will be well-trained. Topics covered include residential, commercial, and industrial applications:
- Job Safety
- First aid
- Job Site Management
- Electrical Theory
- Print reading
- Communication equipment
- Testing equipment
- Pipe bending
- The National Electrical Code
The installer-Technician apprentice curriculum includes Electrical Theory, Structured Cabling, Voice and Data, Terminations, and Industry Standards.
Apprentices also cover Job Safety, First Aid, Job Site Management, and Supervision. Both curriculums are registered with and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Should I Join a Non-Union Apprenticeship Training?
You also have vast opportunities to join a non-union electrician apprenticeship in Texas. Benefits include a pay scale that progressively increases, teaching teams of expert electricians, plus the training and textbooks are many times paid by employers.
Popular non-union electrician apprenticeships in Texas include:
- Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
- Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)
- Electrical Contracting companies
Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
With an IEC electrician apprenticeship in Texas that spans 4 years, you will get a minimum of 2.000 hours of on-the-job training per year. Lectures, labs, demonstrations, homework, and an in-depth final are part of the 144 hours per year of classroom training.
IEC Electrician Apprenticeship Locations in Texas:
- Central Texas Chapter IEC
- Dallas IEC
- East Texas IEC
- El Paso IEC
- Fort Worth/Tarrant County IEC
- Lubbock IEC
- San Antonio IEC
- Texas Gulf Coast IEC
- Texas Panhandle IEC
- Rio Grande Valley IEC
To apply for the IEC electrician apprenticeship, you must
- be a minimum of 18 years old
- have a high school diploma or hold a GED
- be a U.S. citizen or lawful resident alien
- have dependable transportation
- be employed by an IEC contractor member (help is available to secure a job)
- have a current State of Texas Apprentice Electrician license
ABC Electrician Apprenticeship
The apprenticeship with ABC is state and federally approved. There is virtually no cost to you personally, and you get paid for on-the-job training. You can expect your apprenticeship to last 4 years.
ABC Apprenticeship Locations in Texas:
- South Texas ABC
- Dallas/Fort Worth ABC
- Corpus Christi ABC
- Southeast Texas ABC
- Central Texas ABC
- Texas Gulfcoast ABC
Electrical Contractor Apprenticeships in Texas
Some apprentices choose to join an apprenticeship with an electrical contractor. You have a good shot at job security with this choice. Many times you will continue as a full-time employee after completing your apprenticeship and earning your license.
Here are some popular contractor apprenticeships:
Should You Go To Trade School?
To work your way from electrician apprentice to journeyman, you’ll need to get in 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience. This can be from a trade school or a strictly professional apprenticeship, but going to a trade school can be helpful.
If you have no experience in electrical jobs, you can build the necessary know-how in a trade school. This will also help you find an electrician apprentice position. Sometimes, your school will help you find one of these apprenticeships after your first thousand or so hours.
There are dozens of schools for electrician apprenticeship programs across the state where you can get your license.
You’ll have to contact these programs directly to find out what their entry requirements and fees are. Some may be night schools or online schools, so you can study while you’re working in another job.
What You’ll Learn in Electrician School
While a trade school for electricians consists of a lot of technical training, you’ll still need to study. There will be different types of content, from wiring to voltages. Some of it will be math-heavy, but you’ll also need to learn about the governmental regulations that are specific to the job.
After studying for some time, you’ll start working as an apprentice, doing your required 8,000 hours to make your way to the journeyman license exam. Your school or employer will track your hours, and they’ll know how many you’ve logged.
After you complete your first 4,000 hours of on-the-job training, you can also opt to take the test for starting to work as a residential wireman. This license will let you start working, but you’re more limited in the jobs you can take. That’s why most people opt for taking the journeyman exam later after another additional 4,000 work hours.
Starting Out as an Apprentice
If your trade school doesn’t directly place you in an apprenticeship position, you’ll need to look for one yourself. You can find a position directly on any online job site, just make sure that the job search is for apprentice electricians. And remember that not any employer will do, because TDLR has to approve them.
You’ll have to send an application and have an interview, just like you would on any other job. When you start working, you’ll begin with minor jobs and slowly move on to more complicated things. As an apprentice, you’ll work with a master electrician, so you won’t have to know everything at once.
Willingness to learn and the ability to know when to ask a supervisor can often be more important than portraying you’re sure about everything. Remember to watch the master electrician work, be curious, and ask questions. The best way to learn is by doing the job, so keep your eyes open when working in your apprenticeship position.
How Long Will It Take To Finish the Apprenticeship?
It takes 4-5 years to gain the 8,000 hours required for a journeyman electrician license. For the electrician wireman license, you should complete the required 4,000 hours of work experience in two years.
Step 3: Pass the Exam to Become a Journeyman Electrician in Texas
When you’re a journeyman electrician, you can start working, either in the place you did your apprenticeship or at another company. You can expect a better salary than as an apprentice electrician.
To become a licensed Journeyman electrician in Texas, you’ll need to take a licensing exam after fulfilling the requirements of your apprenticeship or trade school. This exam will test the knowledge and skills you’ve gained on the job.
To qualify, you’ll first need to submit a license application for a journeyman electrician. You’ll also need to pay the non-refundable $30 fee in advance and then arrange for the test.
Texas uses a third-party vendor, PSI, to administer the test, offering several testing locations across the state.
How To Sign up for the Journeyman Electrician Exam in Texas
You’ll need to sign up for the test on the PSI website. It costs $78 to sign up for the test, in addition to the license fee you’ve already paid to TDLR.
Here are some important steps when you’re signing up.
- Select “Schedule test”.
- When the page asks you for your sponsor, start typing in your school or employer information and it should appear.
- Click on their name and “locate existing records” to find your information. If you don’t do this, the system won’t identify your apprenticeship and put it together with your test results.
- Choose between the journeyman electrician and residential wireman tests.
- Pick your testing location and date.
Important: In Texas, you can take the exam in English or in Spanish at no additional cost. Just remember to specify this when you’re scheduling the exam.
Taking the Journeyman Electrician Exam in Texas
On the day of the exam, show up at the testing site early. If you’re late, you’ll lose your spot and your fee. Also, remember to keep a photo identification and a copy of the registration form with you, or you won’t be able to take the test.
The exam consists of 80 multiple-choice questions you’ll have to answer in 260 minutes. You’ll need a score of 70 percent or higher of correct answers to pass.
It’s an open-book exam, done on a computer, so you can keep the National Electric Code with you. You’re responsible for taking your own material with you, and the testing site won’t provide this information.
What if You Don’t Pass the Test
The exams are tough, and only a little over 30 percent tend to pass. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t pass the first time, you can take the exam again as many times as you want, although you’ll have to pay the fees again.
Keep in mind that you have one year from the day you sent your license application to pass the exam and fulfill all other requirements. If you don’t pass the test during this time, you’ll have to send in your application again.
After the Test
So, you studied hard, logged in the hours, and you’ve got your journeyman electrician license. Now, you can start looking for work.
When you have your journeyman license, you’ll need to renew it every 18 months. You’re also required to take four hours of continuing education classes from TDLR-approved providers. These classes are on the National Electric Code, Texas Law and Rules, and Safety.
Texas has a journeyman license reciprocity agreement with the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming
Step 4: Become a Master Electrician To Be Your Own Boss
Once you’re a journeyman electrician, you can start working toward becoming a master electrician. This will allow you to work on your own, without needing the supervision of a master electrician.
If you’re eventually looking to start your own company or become an electrical contractor, you’ll need to fulfill this step.
What Are the Requirements for a Master Electrician?
To become a master electrician, you’ll need to have completed 12,000 hours of training under the supervision of a master electrician. This includes the 8,000 hours you completed during your apprenticeship plus working as a journeyman electrician for at least two years. This will give you the combined 12,000 hours required to sit for the master electrician exam in Texas.
You need to contact your employers so they’ll verify you’ve fulfilled the work requirements to become a master electrician. If you’ve worked with more than one company during this time, you’ll need this confirmation from all of them when making your application. TDLR can contact the master electricians you’ve worked with to verify your work experience.
After you’ve completed the requirements, fill out the application for a master electrician license and mail it to the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration along with the $45 fee.
Then, once your application is approved, you can schedule an exam date and time. Master electrician exams are administered through PSI Exams.
We recommend that you take the time to read about the details of the exam. We can tell you that it consists of 100 questions on two topics. You’ll get 170 minutes for calculations, and 150 minutes for questions on the National Electric Code. To pass, you need to get at least 70% of the answers correct.
After the Master Electrician Exam in Texas
Congratulations! Once you’ve passed your master electrician exam, you have many wonderful opportunities open up for you as a licensed master electrician in Texas. You can expect a salary increase, job variety, and increased job prospects.
You can work on your own or with other residential wiremen or journeymen. You’ll still need to renew your license every 18 months for a $45 fee and take four hours of continuing education classes each time.
Master Electrician License Reciprocity Agreement in Texas
Texas has a reciprocity agreement with the following states for the master electrician license: Louisiana (state contractor’s license) and North Carolina (master electrician or unlimited electrical contractor)
Step 5: Opt to Get an Electrical Contractor License
When you’re a master electrician, you can also apply for an electrical contractor license. This will qualify you or your business for bigger projects in electrical design, installation, or maintenance. If your goal is to find work in bigger construction projects for your company, for example, you’ll benefit from this license.
Becoming an electrical contractor is a little easier and doesn’t require an exam or continuing education. But you’ll still need to renew the license every 18 months and pay a $110 fee.
Also, you either need to be a master electrician or have a master electrician in your company to apply. This master electrician also needs to renew their license every 18 months.
Also note that if you employ a master electrician in your company, they can’t be assigned to work for any other electrical contractor. And if they leave your company, you need to notify TDLR and find a replacement in 30 days.
So, we hope you’re still convinced of wanting to become an electrician in Texas. Reaching the position of a master electrician will take lots of work and time, but everybody has to start somewhere.
Fill in the application for an apprentice license first, and look for a spot in an apprenticeship program, trade school, or an electrical contracting company to start learning. Fulfill your 8,000 hours of work to take your journeyman electrician exam. Then, you can start working towards having your own business, even becoming an electrical contractor.
As an electrician, you can expect to find work relatively easily, since the demand for skilled electricians is likely to rise.
So don’t waste time. Fill out your application and start looking for a school or apprenticeship. You won’t regret it.