Florida electricians must be licensed to work within the state. Find out what licenses are offered and how to be approved to start your Florida electrical business.
Becoming an electrician can be a lucrative and rewarding career opportunity. Electricians provide valuable services to Florida homeowners, ensuring their electrical systems are running efficiently and preventing electrical issues that can cause damage to the home. When it comes to an electrician salary, Florida professionals should expect earnings around the national average of $24.72 per hour. With a population of more than 21 million residents, electrician jobs in Florida are available to pad those hours. If you've been thinking about starting a career in electrical work or you're an established electrician considering making a move to Florida, there are a number of steps you must take to get your Florida master electrician license.
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How To Become An Electrician In Florida
Florida electricians must be licensed to perform electrical work in the state. Licenses are classified as either certified or registered. Certified electricians have passed a state examination and are free to offer their services anywhere in Florida, while registered electricians are limited to the local county or municipality that issued their license. Certification is required for electrical businesses in Florida, but independent electricians can choose to be registered and remain in their local area. Beyond these classifications, Florida offers three types of electrician licenses.
The electrical contractor license covers most general electric work, making it the broadest option for those who want versatility in their services. Electricians with this certification handle the design, installation, and maintenance of electrical systems.
Alarm System Contractor
This certification is more specialized, focusing on different alarm systems, such as fire and burglar alarms. These electricians are responsible for the design, installation, and maintenance of these alarms, and the scope of permitted work duties can vary depending on the license classification. A certified or registered Alarm System Contractor II can only perform work on burglar alarms, while an Alarm System Contractor I is also qualified to work on fire alarms and two-way radio communications enhancement systems. There's also a special designation for those wanting to keep their focus on residential alarms.
Electrical Specialty Contractor
The specialty contractors have skills that are focused on one area of electrical work. Whether certified or registered, Florida offers the following specialty licenses:
- Residential Specialty
- Utility Line Specialty
- Lighting Maintenance Specialty
- Sign Specialty
- Limited Energy Specialty
Specialty contractors have additional licensing requirements beyond those needed for a standard certification or registration. A Florida electrical specialty contractor must pass the business and technical portions of the exam, submit to a credit check, and provide financial statements that prove a net worth of at least $5,000.
Should I Be Certified Or Registered?
The steps you take to get licensed in Florida depend on whether you're looking to become registered or certified. If you're planning on working in a limited area, becoming registered may be enough to satisfy your needs. If you wish to have the freedom to work in all areas of the state, however, you'll need to go through the process of being certified. A registered license and a certified license can be held at the same time, but they must be in different licensing categories. For example, a certified electrical contractor can also be licensed as a registered alarm system contractor for a specific county.
Education And Work Experience Requirements
Whether you're looking to become registered or certified, Florida requires a minimum level of education and experience to be eligible for either license type. Certified and registered licenses are only available to those who are journeymen or master electricians. Along with having a high school diploma or equivalent, the Florida Electrical Contractors' Licensing Board has set these requirements:
- 3 years of electrical trade management experience within the last 6 years
- 4 years of experience in an electrical supervisory or contract role within the last 8 years
- Have an electrical professional engineering license for at least 3 of the last 12 years
- 6 years of experience in the electrical contracting business, technical education, or comprehensive training within the last 12 years
- 6 years experience in military or government electrical work within the last 12 years
- Have a combination of the above totaling 6 years within the last 12 years
It's important to note that Florida has a poor reciprocity program when it comes to licensed electricians. Having a license in another state doesn't automatically grant licensure in Florida, and only a few specific out-of-state licenses are recognized from North Carolina, Georgia, and California. Electricians from other states will need to prove the standards from their licensing state are equivalent to those set in Florida. If you don't already have a license, meeting the education and experience requirements can be done through one of the many trade school programs offered in the state.
To become an electrician in the Sunshine State, you'll need to choose whether to attend a traditional technical college or join a Florida electrician apprenticeship. Many of the trade schools that offer electrical education are rooted in an apprenticeship with supplemental classwork to cover all areas in the field. When choosing a school, you'll need to decide whether you want a program that's union-sponsored. Florida offers eight union-based school options and has a variety of non-union programs to choose from as well.
Independent learning is a rare third option if you're just looking to obtain a registered license. Most counties in Florida require classroom training to be eligible for a registered license, but a few may accept on-the-job training as enough. There are no licensing requirements to work as an apprentice electrician.
Preparing For The Test
If you meet the education and work experience requirements, the next step is to take the Florida electricians licensing exam. This exam is administered through Pearson VUE and can be scheduled online. A fingerprint reservation should also be scheduled to be completed before the exam takes place to verify your identity when arriving for the exam. It's possible to have your fingerprint reservation and exam reservation scheduled on the same day, but fingerprinting will need to be completed before the exam takes place. There are separate fees for the exam and fingerprinting. The licensing exam consists of two parts that cover business and technical/safety.
The business section of the exam goes over the fundamentals of running an electrical business, covering topics such as:
- Cash flow
- Estimates and bidding
- Contract interpretation
- Insurance and bonding
- Law and rule compliance
- Personnel management
- Payroll and tax law compliance
- Financial statements and reports
- Management accounting
This portion of the test should take around 2.5 hours to complete, has 50 questions, and is open book.
The technical/safety portion of the exam is designed to cover electrical contracting fundamentals specific to the type of license the applicant is seeking. A few general electrical concepts are covered for all or most license categories, including:
- General theory and electrical principles
- Plan and specification interpretation and reading (except for lighting maintenance specialty)
- Wiring and protection
- Wiring methods and materials (except residential specialty)
- OSHA, safety, procedures for testing, and use of tools and equipment
This part of the exam has a 5-hour window, consists of 100 questions, and is also open book.
Additional Exam Information
To obtain an electrician license, Florida requires applicants to pass the licensing exam with a score of at least 75%. Candidate information booklets are available online to give full details of testing procedures and provide example questions to those who are scheduling an exam.
How Do I Get My Electrician License In Florida?
Once the licensing exam is completed and all work and experience requirements are met, it's time to apply for the license you've chosen. The licensing application is submitted through the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR). The fee for the application is $308.50 and the licensing fee is $296. Applicants are subject to a criminal background check, and the Florida DBPR website lists the criminal offenses that have been established as a cause for licensure denial. Applicants will also need to demonstrate a positive credit history. To maximize the likelihood your application will be accepted, be sure to check the following before submission:
- You meet the experience and education requirements
- You've submitted all the documents needed to support your experience and education levels
- You've passed the licensing test with a score of 75% or better
- You don't have criminal offenses on your record that are included in the application denial list
- You have a credit score that reflects a positive financial history
- You've paid the appropriate fees
Remember that the application process for becoming a registered electrical contractor will vary by location.
Maintaining Your Florida Electrician License
Once you've obtained your electrician license, Florida requires you to keep it in good standing to continue working. These licenses expire on August 31st of even-numbered years. Florida electricians will receive renewal notices 90-120 days before expiration.
To renew your current license, Florida requires specific continuing education (CE) hours be completed that vary depending on the type of license held. The subjects required for all license categories include:
- Workers' compensation
- Workplace safety
- Business practices
- Florida laws and rules
A fee of $296 must be paid and all CE hours completed before midnight on the expiration date to renew. To renew a delinquent active certified license, the same rules apply, but the fee increases to $625. Delinquent registered licenses can be activated for a fee of $275. Other fees apply if you wish to renew an inactive license or inactivate an active delinquent license.
What To Do When My License Is Approved
Once you've obtained your certified or registered electrical contractor's license in Florida, there are other professional issues you'll need to consider.
Should I Join A Union?
Being a member of a union is not required to perform electrical work in Florida, but it could be beneficial to your business. Check out the unions in your area and see what they have to offer. Carefully weigh the benefits offered by the union against the limitations and fees. If you've attended a Florida trade school that was union-based, you may already be a member.
Electrical work can be dangerous, and it's possible a mistake could damage property or cause injuries. Obtaining insurance is an important part of your business. Certified electrical contractors are required to carry workers' compensation insurance in Florida. Coverage limits must meet or exceed:
- $300,000 per occurrence
- $500,000 property damage
- $800,000 combined single limit or $100,000 per person
Optional coverage types include:
- General liability insurance
- Tools and equipment insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Commercial property insurance
It's a good idea to figure out the appropriate business structure for your company once you obtain your license. If you're working solo, you have the option of performing as an independent contractor, but there are some legal protections and tax incentives for choosing an official structure such as a limited liability company (LLC). Check the Florida definitions and application requirements to decide which is the right choice for your professional goals.
Once you've completed all the licensing steps and obtained the appropriate insurance coverage for your electrical business, the next step is to start seeking electrician jobs in Florida and building your professional reputation.