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Should I Get My Journeyman’s License?

In my almost 45 years in the electrical trade, I have been exposed to both sides of the question asked in the title. I completed my apprenticeship in south Florida and by 1988 I passed my first exam for a journeyman’s credential for West Palm Beach county. I choose this county because it allowed reciprocation with all but two other Florida counties. Then in 1990, I moved to Arizona where licensing was not required for any trade. As a superintendent for a large project, I quickly realized that this model was not beneficial to the greater public good. I had to sift through many job applicants to get one good, qualified electrician, and that person typically came from another state that had license requirements. My wife had to be certified in Arizona as a nail technician to work on manicures and pedicures, but anyone with four years in the trade working with electricity was considered a journeyman. This put a lot of pressure on the employer to ensure high quality, safe work.

Credentials, such as a journeyperson license, show your employer that you have the skills and knowledge to pass an exam. This may seem somewhat antiquated but the weight that it carries is important. It proves that you know your way around the Code book and can do the calculations required to be a good electrician. Some exams are harder than others; they vary from state to state. Some states have very strict rules on what is permitted to be used while writing the test and others do not. But one thing is true; no state wants an exam so easy that it could allow licensure of unqualified journeymen or master electricians.

Hiring practices in unlicensed regions can prove to be problematic. Backgrounds and educations need to be verified as well as job history. When I needed to recruit, I would ask the potential employee to meet at a public location for an iced tea or coffee and asked if they could bring some of their tools. Looking at a person’s tools told me a lot about their experience.

While I remain a strong proponent for licensing, it still does not measure the person’s abilities fully. The electrical field has become so advanced and technical that we cannot expect that a 1950’s template of measuring a person’s skills and knowledge will work in the 2020s. When I first moved to Arizona, the electrical trade there was divided into “residential” and “commercial” wiremen, which I wasn’t necessarily sold on. As I moved up in my career and learned more as technologies advanced, I realized the need to focus on one thing and be very good at that one thing. For example, I’m not trained or experienced in smart homes or home automation and will leave that work to those who are.

At Faith Technologies, we know that having a license can be an indicator that a person is in it for the long haul. It shows commitment and dedication to their skills and knowledge. Even in a world where we all can be specialized in this field, having a card in your wallet or a certificate on your wall shows others that you mean business and are willing to put in the hard work necessary to accomplish something meaningful with your career.