North Carolina Electrical License: Requirements & Benefits

Category: Jobsite | By Liz Allen | 5 minute read | Updated Mar 26, 2024

With unsure job markets, higher cost of living, and hefty college fees, more and more people are looking into the trades as an option for a career. Having a craft is powerful, and no matter where you go, there is demand for skilled workers.

The electrical trade is a popular choice, especially for those with a head for maths! Electrical work can offer decent wages, a steady workload, and the opportunity to work in different places. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has the electrician trade growing at over 6% per year, double the national average for job growth. North Carolina has seen even higher levels of growth in the past few years, almost double that again! 

Are you considering an electrical career in North Carolina but still figuring out where to start? We’ve got you covered with our step-by-step guide!

How To Get a North Carolina Electrical Licence: Step-By-Step

Electrical license requirements vary state by state, and the path will differ depending on where you want to work and study. With that in mind, our focus is on how to get a North Carolina electrical license, what you’ll need to consider, and more!


As mentioned above, to start the journey, you need to pick a place to start. This isn’t just about schooling, but the municipality. Journeyman electrical licenses in North Carolina aren’t given out by the state but by the local area. In that vein, you’ll need to decide where you want to be. 

It makes it more straightforward for you to train in the area that will grant your license. 

Cities with a higher population, such as Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte, are a more straightforward bet, as more people mean more work and opportunities. Many have training programs through their community colleges: more on that below.


You’ll need training under a licensed supervisor to get a North Carolina electrical license. This differs by municipality. In Greensboro, Charlotte, and Asheville, you’re required to train for four years under a supervisor; in Raleigh, it’s two years.

In North Carolina, you’re not required to become an apprentice or attend a relevant trade school. Still, it is highly recommended as it can be a more streamlined experience, with more support in securing apprenticeships and training opportunities. It can also offer opportunities and roles you might not have considered.

Community College Programs

Community colleges around the state offer electrical programs, and the content and curriculum will vary depending on the requirements and college. Any community college that is part of the NC Community College System can certify your hours of experience as an apprentice. 

Some examples of community colleges that offer electrical programs:

  • Cleveland Community College, Shelby
  • Durham Tech Community College, Durham
  • Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville
  • Forsyth Tech Community College, Winston-Salem
  • Montgomery Community College, Troy


Apprenticeships are an excellent way to work towards your North Carolina electrical license, make connections in the industry, and learn from experienced professionals. 

Apprenticeships are possible through programs with the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATC) or Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC.) Union-based apprenticeships are also available from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA.)


In NC, all licenses require some hands-on experience and vocational education. While we use the term ‘years’ when describing the time needed to earn a license, the exact time used is the number of hours. 2,000 hours equals one creditable year; therefore, when a requirement for an NC electrical license says ‘four years,’ that translates to 8,000 hours. 

Regarding contractor licenses, the level and type of license determine how much work experience is required and what kind of hours have been worked. What do we mean by that? Work experience is separated into two types: primary and secondary.


Primary hours count as direct experience and are the most important hours to gain. These are hours spent directly installing electrical systems and equipment and work directly related to them. 

For example, electrical foreman, maintenance journeyman electrician, electrical inspector recognized by the State Department of Insurance, and estimator for a licensed electrical contractor. This means you can get into working getting paid while also fulfilling the requirements for a contractor license. 


Secondary hours also contribute to the overall work experience of an electrician; however, they supplement the primary hours. They aren’t directly related to the installation of electrical systems and equipment but are related to the electrician trade.

These roles include appliance repairman, sales representative for electrical wholesaler, and electrical utility serviceman. They also have different percentage rates depending on the kind of work done and how it counts towards the hours for a license.

For example, according to NCAC Title 21 Chapter 18, 100% of hours spent as an apprentice electrician in an apprentice training program approved by the NC Community College System count towards the total hours of experience. 

On the other hand, only 50% of the hours spent count towards the total hours of experience required when working in electrical construction design under the supervision of a professional engineer. 

We’ll go into the breakdown by license in the ’Types of Licenses’ section.

Written Statements

Depending on the license, North Carolina also requires prospective licensees to have two written statements confirming their character and experience. Essentially, you need two licensed electricians or relevant individuals who can vouch for you! 


All North Carolina electrical licenses have exams as part of their requirements. The local municipality runs journeyman license exams, while electrical contractor licenses are administered by the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors (NCBEEC or BEEC.) 

BEEC highly recommends studying the Examination Information Handbook before each exam. 

Contractor License

Once you’ve obtained your journeyman electrical license, the next step is a contractor license! This requires experience as a journeyman electrician or in another type of ‘primary’ hours and has a higher entry bar, given that it is the gateway to running projects and operating a contractor business.

Applications for an NC electrical contractor license must go through the NCBEEC as they are only administered at a state level,  and you can obtain several kinds of contractor licenses.

In fact, we’ve got a whole section just to break it down!

Types Of Licenses in North Carolina

Getting a North Carolina Electrical License requires a few main steps, depending on what kind of license you’re striving for. 

To recap the eligibility requirements for any NC electrical license:

  • be over 18 
  • have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Have a certain number of hours of experience

Once you’ve met these requirements, there’s a relevant exam you’ll need to pass.

We’ll cover more about training, experience, and hours in the step-by-step guide, but first, we’ll cover what kind of electrical licenses are available. 

Journeyman vs. Contractor License

There are two major types of licenses in NC: a journeyman license and an electrical contractor license. It can get confusing what kind of license is required to do electrical work in the state. 

As mentioned, journeyman electrical licenses are issued by the local municipality rather than the state. These licenses are required to work as a journeyman electrician in NC, and depending on the city, the renewal terms and costs will change. 

However, a North Carolina electrical contractor license is issued by the NCBEEC or BEEC. The NCBEEC offers ten different electrical contractor licenses (yep, ten!). NCAC Title 21 Chapter 18 covers all of these nitty-gritty details, but we’ll run with the cliff notes!

The main difference is that while a journeyman electrician can work in the field without supervision, they cannot run a contractor business or employ other contractor electricians. North Carolina electrical licenses provide plenty of work options, but a state contractor license is the next step to increase your earning potential.

Depending on the type of electrical contractor license, you will be recognized as an expert in your field and be able to do more specialized work. 

All contractor licenses in North Carolina are issued yearly and have an associated fee. 

General Contractor License

There are three general electrical contractor licenses for electricians who don’t have a specific area of expertise but want recognition for their experience and training in order to do higher-level work.

Limited, $100 per year

The lowest classification of an electrical contractor in NC.

This allows the licensee to engage in a contracting project valued at less than $60,000, with the equipment/installation not rated at more than 600 volts. 

Requires 3,000 hours of experience, with 2,000 being primary hours.

Intermediate, $150 per year

This allows the licensee to engage in a contracting project valued at less than $150,000. The equipment and voltage rating you work at can be any limit. 

Requires 5,750 hours of experience, with 5,000 being primary hours.

Unlimited, $200 per year

The highest classification of an electrical contractor in NC. Electricians with this license can work on contracts with no upper limit on dollar value. They are also able to work with any rating of equipment. 

Requires 9,000 hours of experience, with 8,000 being primary hours.

Special Restricted Licences

These NC electrical licenses are required for their relevant specific contracting work. Each one costs $100 per year to hold. 

Residential Dwelling License (SP-SFD):

Allows you to work on single-family detached dwellings with projects up to the value of a limited license. This NC electrical license also allows you to work on residential projects that might fall under other special licenses, such as wiring for HVAC systems.

Fire Alarm/Low-Voltage License (SP-FA/LV):

Allows you to work on alarm systems or systems with very low voltage.

Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning License (SP-PH):

Allows you to work on wiring for those relevant systems. Must be a plumbing or HVAC professional.

Swimming Pool License (SP-SP):

Allows you to work on pool-related contracts as long as you have a relevant pool contracting license. 

Groundwater Pump License (SP-WP):

Allows groundwater pump professionals to install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring related to pumps.

Electric Sign License (SP-ES):

Allows you to install, maintain, and repair wiring related to signs, separate from building wiring.

Elevator License (SP-EL):

Allows you to install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring as part of a relevant business. 

Keep these levels in mind while going through the steps to obtain a North Carolina electrical license. You still may be undecided on your area of specialization, and that’s no big deal! Working towards an NC electrical license is the main goal; this list can simply give you an idea of where electrical work can take you!

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Main Considerations 

Earning a North Carolina electrical license is work and takes commitment. It can be hard to take that first step! 

Here are some of the main points and questions you might be thinking about as you consider a career in electrical.

Average Pay

Money! We need it, and knowing how much you can expect to earn with an electrical career is essential. Electricians earn respectable wages and can increase their earning potential with different licenses and great experience. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of electricians in NC is $50,900, with an average hourly rate of $24.37.

Apprentice Electrician: $18.82 per hour, with $6,000 overtime

Journeyman Electrician: $26.93 per hour, or $53,800 per year

Master Electrician: $32.55 per hour, or $75,800 per year

Training Cost

Education costs money, and becoming a licensed electrician takes time. However, training towards a trade is different from other types of study. Where other careers and classes encourage or require internships, electrician students can begin to work under supervisors, earning and learning. 

Most training courses in NC community colleges run just under $3,000 a year, not including books and tools. Compared to the usually prohibitive cost of college tuition, it’s a steal!

Ongoing Education

Once you’ve earned a North Carolina electrical license, your learning and training don’t stop there. Electrical tech is a fast-growing sector, constantly changing and innovating. Your vocational training will give you the foundation and hands-on experience the skill, but there’s always more to learn. 

Each year, NC requires electricians to be up-to-date with the latest codes and study for at least 8 hours for their exam. 

While optional, electricians can take additional national certifications to add to their official capacity and scope of work. 

Running A Business

Once you’ve got your NC electrical contractor license, you can start your own business! Setting up a contractor business means you’ll be able to seek work and projects yourself, with your own hours. You’ll also be able to hire other electrical contractors to build a field service team.

A wealth of resources is currently available for business owners as technology improves. Electrician software streamlines many of the painful parts of business management, giving you more time to focus on your craft. 

Reciprocal Licences

The state of North Carolina has a reciprocal licensing agreement with several different states, which means that once you’ve obtained an NC electrical license, you’ll be able to apply for a relevant license without needing to undergo state-specific exams. Pretty handy, and this can keep your options open in the future.

The states with a reciprocal agreement with North Carolina are: 

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Spark Your Career

We hope this guide has given you a complete rundown on everything you need to start a thriving career and shown how a North Carolina electrical license can open doors to opportunities, craftsmanship, and earning potential. 

And it doesn’t just stop at a job! With a contractor license, the effort is well worth it. You can get your foot in the job market and then be part of the job market by starting your own business. It will be a big step; figuring out leads, customer retention, time management, and administrative work takes time.

Fortunately, with software like ClockShark, you can boost your efficiency, improve workflow, and ultimately increase your earnings. 

Here’s to the next step!

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