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Can a Felon Get an Electrician License?

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So you’re thinking about becoming an electrician? Well, most of them have a license. The issue is whether or not a felon can get an electrician license.

Let’s find out an answer to this question.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is an Electrician?
  • What Is Required to Get an Electrician License?
  • How Much Does an Electrician Earn?
  • Background Check?
  • Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?
  • Steps to Take


What Is an Electrician?

An electrician is a skilled tradesman who installs and repairs wiring in buildings, houses, and businesses. 

An electrician reads blueprints and diagrams to install and repair wiring, circuit breakers, and transformers.  

Electricians must be current on safety codes and know about proper safety protocols relating to electrical circuits. To work as an electrician, a person must typically have a license that is issued by a state agency to work as an electrician. Licensing is similar to certification, though it is different. Each state defines what an electrician can do and all electrical work must be performed only by those who are licensed as electricians.

What Is Required to Get an Electrician License?

To be eligible to get an electrician license, you must graduate from high school or have a GED.

Next is to take electrician courses at a vocational school or community college for education in the basics.

Someone interested can then join an electrician apprentice program. These programs are typically sponsored by various electrical contractor unions, such as the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC). 

An apprenticeship lasts four or five years in which an apprentice is paid while learning the basics as an electrician working under a licensed electrician. When you have met all requirements of the apprentice program (typically 8,000 hours of paid supervised work experience), you take an exam to become licensed as a journeyman electrician. 

As a journeyman you can work on electrical designs, installation, and repair. Following at least two years as a journeyman electrician, the next step is to get a master electrician license. For this you must complete 12,000 hours of supervised experience working under a currently licensed master electrician. You must also pass an exam to complete a master electrician license.

After all that, you can finally call yourself a licensed electrician.

That can amount to as many as five to six years to complete the entire process. That takes dedication to achieve, but it can be accomplished if you are serious about joining this trade.

How Much Does an Electrician Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 711,200 licensed electricians which includes journeymen as well as master electricians. This occupation is constantly growing due to continued construction in commercial as well as residential areas.

The median salary for an electrician in 2021 was $60,040 with experience and skill level having an impact on these earnings. 

Background Check?

Yes, there is a background check that will be run as part of getting an electrician license. Actually, there will be more than one background check that you will go through in the process of qualifying for an electrician license.

The first would be for any educational training program you apply to in order to learn the basics of becoming an electrician. 

Most traditional vocational schools or community colleges are fairly lenient in their background check.  Typically, they will focus on felonies in the past seven years. More serious felonies, such as violent or sexual offenses may work against you in passing the background check. Otherwise, you may have a good chance of passing, depending on the particular school involved.

Then, if you successfully complete your basic electrician education, you will have to deal with the board in the state in which you reside for further background checks. These checks may be somewhat different, but they also will likely share some similarities.

It will depend on several factors as to whether or not you will be accepted for licensure based on your criminal history. Generally, state licensing boards for the trades look at many factors. It depends on the nature of the crime and how serious it was. It also makes a difference as to how the crime is related to the electrical field and whether or not having an electrician license would give you an opportunity to carry out a similar crime.

These factors are also important regarding your criminal history:

  • Extent and nature of your past criminal activity
  • Age at which you committed a crime
  • Amount of time since your last crime
  • Your work history 
  • Conduct since your conviction
  • Evidence of rehabilitation
  • Letters of recommendation

That’s a lot to consider. However, remember that as you progress through the electrician licensing process, each background check will likely become a little easier for you.

This means that if you are being successful in the steps of getting a license, you will hopefully remain honest and crime free. It’s a lot of work to pass each of these steps, so it will gradually be a longer and longer time from your conviction. It will take a number of years to pass all of the guidelines for obtaining an electrician license. 

While your conviction will still be on your record, you could pass the seven-year mark since your conviction and completing your sentence.

Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?

Yes, the type of felony does make a difference.

The exact requirements for an electrician license differ somewhat depending on the state. Typically, state regulations indicate that certain convictions are not eligible for licensing. 

These include offenses

  • Involving fraud or deceptive trade practices 
  • Against children or a sexual crime 
  • Against property like theft or burglary 
  • Involving homicide, kidnapping, or assault 

Steps to Take

If you want to be successful in getting an electrician license, you need to be honest about your background. Lying about any part of your criminal history could jeopardize your chances.

You could run a background check on yourself to see what an electrician program or a state licensing board would find if they ran a background check on you.

To give yourself the best chance at getting an electrician license, it would help to have your record expunged. That way you could honestly state on an application that you have not been convicted of a felony.

You have made many mistakes in the past, but you don’t have to be defined by them. You are defined by how you recover from those mistakes.

If you want to get an electrician license, don’t get discouraged and give up. You can live an honest lifestyle that could include becoming an electrician.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get an electrician license with a felony? What was that like, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Get an Electrician License?”

  1. I have a burglary of a habitation in 1993. Would that not allow me to get an apprentice license? How far do they go back.


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