A Master Electrician has obtained the highest level of certification that an electrician can get. If I hire someone, I want the best person for the job. No one asks a company to send them the least qualified person they have to do work on their home.
Obtaining a Master Electrician license takes many years of work and the electrician must pass multiple state exams. Here is a detailed breakdown of the process to become a Master Electrician as stated in Oregon electrical code.
The first step to becoming an electrician is to become an apprentice. The minimum qualifications to join an apprenticeship program are: (1) applicants must be at least 17 years of age to apply, and 18 to begin the program; (2) they must provide proof of high school graduation or general education development (GED) equivalent; and (3) they must complete at least one year of high school algebra or post high school algebra course with a passing grade of “C.”
An apprenticeship requires 140-180 hours of classroom time per year. Apprentices have to submit transcripts with passing grades of “C” or better in graded classes and a “pass” in non-graded classes in the following related electrical training classes:
(A) Electrical mathematics;
(B) Safety and accident prevention;
(C) Care and use of hand and power tools;
(D) Blueprint reading and electrical symbols;
(E) Introduction to National Electrical Code;
(F) Electrical fundamentals and basic theory, including AC and DC;
(G) Electrical measuring devices;
(H) Wiring methods;
(I) Low voltage and limited energy circuits;
(J) Residential, industrial and commercial calculations;
(K) Motors, generators and transformers;
(L) Practical circuit sketching;
(M) Lighting circuits;
(N) Fundamentals of electronics;
(O) High voltage distribution and equipment.
An apprentice is also required to complete a total of at least 8,000 on-the-job training hours before they are qualified to take the journeyman electrician exam. That takes a minimum of four years to complete and the work experience must include a minimum of:
Once an apprentice has completed the required classroom hours and work experience, they can take the general journeyman electrician exam. That exam is 3 hours long and is a 52 question open book exam. You must score 75% or better to pass.
Once an individual becomes a general journeyman electrician, they are qualified to work for a company under the supervision of a master electrician and perform electrical installations, construction, maintenance, repair, and service. They work on electrical construction projects such as: single-family residences; multi-family residences; small commercial buildings; large commercials buildings; and industrial plants. They work on new construction as well as remodel projects in these environments.
In order to maintain a General Journeyman license, each individual must complete 24 hours of continuing education every three years. Eight hours must be code change, 12 hours must be code related, and 4 hours must be rule and law.
In order to qualify to take the Master Electrician exam, an individual must be licensed as a General Journeyman Electrician and must complete 8,000 hours of work experience as a journeyman. It takes a minimum of 4 years to complete that much more work experience. The journeyman must provide proof of their 8,000 hours of work experience when applying to take the Master Electrician exam. The exam itself consists of 3 separate parts and individuals have 7 hours to complete all 3 parts.
Therefore, a Master Electrician must have at least 8 years of work experience (4 as an apprentice and 4 as a journeyman) before they can apply to take the Master Electrician exam. There are NO other trades that require this level of experience before obtaining a higher license.
In order to maintain a Master Electrician license, each individual must complete 24 hours of continuing education every three years. 12 hours must be code change, eight hours must be code related, and 4 hours must be rule and law.
A Master Electrician will design, plan, and lay out work and sign all permits. They are the only individual who is authorized to direct, supervise, or control the installation or alteration of an electrical service. All project liability falls on the Master Electrician. They are responsible for signing all project permits and supervising the work done by all electricians (apprentices and journeymen) working for the company.
When you are researching and considering which electrical company to hire for your project, you should understand what license(s) the owner of the company holds. Anyone can obtain an Electrical Contractor license to run an electrical contracting business. There are three types of electrical company owners:
Let’s break this down a little more to explain the significance of the differences.
An unlicensed individual (let’s call them Mr. Smith) can obtain an Electrical Contracting license and run an electrical contracting business. There are two Mr. Smith types, both are usually larger companies. The first Mr. Smith electrical company hires a Master Electrician as Mr. Smith is not an electrician (they have not completed 4 years of apprenticeship and are not allowed to do electrical work). Without hiring a Master Electrician, Mr. Smith cannot obtain electrical permits.
The second Mr. Smith is typically an individual who has been in the construction field but is not specifically a licensed journeyman or a master electrician (for example, a heating and air conditioning or plumbing shop that wants to offer electrical as one of their services). These types of companies are typically large and have multiple individuals involved: owner, Master Electrician, journeyman, etc. The trouble with this style is that too often someone assumes that someone else is doing a task and there can be struggles during a project. When you have multiple people handling a project, there is a higher chance something could get lost in translation. Typically in these scenarios you will not meet the owner, but rather an estimator.
A general journeyman electrician can also own an electrical contracting company. They have obtained a license to do electrical work, but they have not taken and passed the more complex exam to get a Master Electrician license. The journeyman owner has to hire a Master Electrician because they do not have the authority to sign permits and they do not have the extra training required to be able to design, plan, and lay out work or to direct, supervise, or control the installation or alteration of an electrical service. Their knowledge and capability is very limited. Also, when you have multiple people handling a project, there is a higher chance something could get lost in translation. Typically in these scenarios you will not meet the owner, but rather an estimator.
A Master Electrician has achieved the highest level of electrical licensing. By hiring a company that is owned and operated by a Master Electrician, you are getting the best. People always ask for the best: the best auto mechanic for their car or truck; to work for the best employer; eat at the best restaurant; and have the best healthcare. Don’t you want to hire the best for your electrical project?
Thomas Adams at Classic Electric holds the following licenses:
Thomas has spent over 25 years working in the electrical industry, studying electrical code, and taking multiple state exams to achieve this high level of expertise. When you call Classic Electric, you get the owner and Master Electrician every time. With other electrical companies, you might call and speak with the receptionist, who schedules a time for an estimator to come look at your project, the estimator looks at your project and sends you an estimate, then, when you are ready to move forward with the project, the company sends out a crew to your house. It is likely that you have never met anyone on the work crew before and you will have no idea how much experience they have or if they are specialized in the type of work you want them to do.
At Classic Electric, you call us and you will speak with the owner and Master Electrician every time. He looks at your project, goes through everything you want to have done during your project, and writes up a detailed estimate that lays out specifically every item in the scope of work. Then when you approve the estimate and agree to move forward with us, Thomas, the owner and Master Electrician, is the person who arrives at your house on time and does the work. With our system, there is no “telephone game” where you have given information to one person about what you want, but by the time it passes through several hands and the crew is at your house to do the work, that crew may not understand exactly what you are wanting because the details were lost along the way. Most importantly, Thomas will not leave a project and will not accept payment for a job until the customer is happy with the result.
To figure out the licenses held by an individual or company, here is a link to the Building Codes Division site where you can find that information: https://www4.cbs.state.or.us/ex/all/mylicsearch/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.show_search_name&group_id=30
Also, if you search for a company on the CCB site (https://www.ccb.state.or.us/search/) there is a link at the bottom of a company’s information page to related licenses (electrical, plumbing, landscape, etc.). Click on the relevant link to see the licenses associated with that company.
Electricians have the most stringent licensing requirements of all the construction trades. As a comparison, once a plumber passes the exam and gets a journeyman license, they can open their own contracting business the next day by getting a Plumbing Business license. There is no more testing/licensing required. There is no Master Plumber license that they have to wait another four years to test for.
General contractors have no licensing (apprenticeship) requirements for the actual work they perform (framing, siding, windows, paint, cabinets, etc.). All construction companies do have to obtain a CCB (Construction Contractors Board) license, but anyone can take the classes and pass the exam for that license. All businesses performing construction-related work have to obtain a CCB license. The exam for that license covers the following topics: purpose and function of the CCB; enforcement of licensing requirements; employer requirements and employee rights; contract law; Oregon construction lien law; taxes, record keeping, and business practices; project management; building codes; OSHA and safety issues; and environmental laws and practices. As you can see, there is no licensing regulation over the actual construction work they perform, it is all related to running a business with a general touch on some building codes.