The Residential Electrician

Elizabeth Tomlinson  |  10/7/2008 11:41:20 PM

The primary job of residential electricians is to install wiring and/or repair wiring in residential structures. According to the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), an electrician’s job may involve “erecting, installing, repairing servicing or maintaining electric wiring, devices, or equipment.”

For what specific tasks would you seek the services of someone in this profession?

An electrician is hired to install all electrical wiring and related components required during the construction of a new house or during renovation and repair. An electrician also may install lighting fixtures and be involved in whole-house audio or smart-systems installation. A consumer would also hire an electrician for wiring upgrades or for any home repair work that involves electrical wiring and components.

An electrician also would be involved in installing or repairing any burglar alarm systems, closed circuit television systems and fire alarm systems but would need a Louisiana state contractor’s license, as well as a State Fire Marshal’s Type “Security” license, to do this. The license issued by the State Fire Marshal is not required when work is performed by a Louisiana state licensed electrical contractor.

All electricians must perform work in accordance with the current National Electrical Code (NEC).

What licenses and certifications are available in this profession and what requirements are needed to obtain these?

An electrician is considered a tradesman, and so, in Louisiana, a state license is not required for electrical work totaling less than $50,000 on a single job, which includes most residential work. For work on a single job more than $50,000, an electrician must have an electrical license issued by the Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors. These licenses must be renewed each year.

A master electrician is simply an electrician with a state electrical contractor’s license. A master electrician may also be a journeyman. A journeyman, also referred to as journeyman wireman, is an electrician who works in the field.

Note: Many jurisdictions have licensing requirements on the local or parish level in addition to those above at the state level or where no requirement for licensure exists at the state level.

How can a consumer verify the professional has the license he/she purports to have?

The consumer can contact the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors at (225) 765-2301 or visit the Web site at www.lslbc.state.la.us. In cases of burglar alarm work, the office of the Louisiana State Fire Marshal, (225) 925.7047, can assist in determining appropriate licensure.

What license is required in Louisiana to do what type of work?

Currently, there is no license required in Louisiana to do residential work, as long as the total amount of an electrical job is less than $50,000. For work on single jobs more than $50,000, an electrician must have an electrical license issued by the state Licensing Board for Contractors. Requirements may change in 2009. The 2008 Senate Bill 616 (under consideration) allows for creation of the Louisiana State Plumbing and Electrical Board, which would become the regulatory body overseeing electricians in addition to plumbers. This board would then have authority to provide for licensing requirements for electricians.

Electricians involved in installing or repairing burglar alarm systems, closed circuit television systems, and/or fire alarm systems is required to hold current Louisiana state contractor’s licenses, as well as a State Fire Marshal’s Type “Security” license, regardless of project costs. The license issued by the State Fire Marshal is not required when work is performed by a Louisiana state licensed electrical contractor. (See appendix for more information on security license requirements.)

The National Electrical Contractors Association (the primarily union trade organization) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are working to strengthen and improve the industry by championing stricter licensing requirements in the states.

Most electricians, or the firms they work for in Louisiana, are members of an IBEW union. The IBEW requires members to hire only trained electricians. To that end, the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee was formed by a NECA and IBEW partnership to develop and standardize training. IBEW suggests that, for now, in the absence of a state licensing requirement, hiring electricians with NJATC journeyman wireman certificates and  Louisiana Workforce Commission certificates will ensure these electricians have gone through both thorough classroom training and on-the-job training.

What is the typical pay basis for this profession and what is the typical cost?

Fees are usually based on one of the following options:

  • Hourly (+ cost of materials)
  • Flat Fee

Service calls to existing residences are almost always charged on an hourly rate for labor. The homeowner also must pay for the cost of the materials required for the job. New construction or rebuilding work is usually quoted to the contractor as a flat fee.

How does a person become an electrician?

The NJATC offers a journeyman wireman certificate. An applicant must have a high school diploma or GED and one year of Algebra 1 to start the training required. Applicants must then complete a minimum of 180 hours of theory training and a minimum of 8,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training. This prepares applicants for residential, commercial and industrial electrical work. Upon graduation, applicants will receive journeyman wireman certificates from the NJATC.

Applicants also will file with the Louisiana Workforce Commission (formerly the Department of Labor) as an apprentice through his/her training program sponsor. After successful completion of the five-year program, each applicant receives a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship in their program of choice – in this case, electrical contracting. This certificate is nationally recognized by the United States Department of Labor and is portable.

How do electricians who are licensed or certified for providing service in another state get authorization to provide services in Louisiana?

Electricians from other states wishing to provide services in Louisiana can work jobs under $50,000 because a Louisiana license is not required for these types of jobs. However, electricians must check with the local jurisdiction to determine if there are any local requirements that must be met before practicing in that jurisdiction. Also, out-of-state electricians should know that most firms who are members of the IBEW union may not hire electricians who do not hold an NJATC certificate. Because this is a national certificate, an electrician may be a holder, in which case this will not be a problem.

For out-of-state electricians who wish to provide services in Louisiana for jobs more than $50,000, the state of Louisiana has reciprocity agreements with Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Out-of-state electricians wanting to provide burglar alarm, fire alarm or closed circuit TV systems services must submit a fingerprint background check to the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’ s office.

Note: It is always good to have a written contract with any building professional to protect both you and the professional.

Auido Clip:  What questions do I need to ask my electrician?

APPENDIX

Brief description of the requirements to obtain a Louisiana State Fire Marshal Security license (please contact the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s licensing division at 225.925.7047 for complete listing of requirements):

To obtain a Louisiana State Fire Marshal Security license (formerly called Type A license), a firm must be located in Louisiana and designate an employee as a qualifier. This qualifier must successfully complete the Advanced Burglar Alarm Technician’s course (ABATC) and the Fire Alarm Installer Methods course (FAIM). These courses are administered through the Louisiana Life Safety and Security Association (LLSSA). The qualifier is a technician and must live within 150 miles of the home office of his/her firm.

In addition to the qualifier/technician, a firm may have an installer who can work in the field only after completing the Certified Alarm Technician’s course. An apprentice may work in the field but only under supervision of a technician or installer.

Licenses require annual renewal. Six contact hours of continuing education are required for this renewal.

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