The Master Electrician Exam

Becoming a master electrician requires a lot of work, including four to five years of an apprenticeship and at least two years as a journeyman-level electrician. However, even with all of the hard work you’ve put in, there is still one last hurdle to overcome before you can claim the master electrician title. You will need to take a master electrician test to prove your knowledge of building codes and competence in the trade. Regulations for master electricians can vary by state and locality, but in general you should expect to have to take an examination, either written or oral, and become licensed before you can practice your trade independently. 

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As a master electrician, you will have reached the pinnacle of your career. Working as a master electrician requires you to supervise a crew of both apprentice and journeyman electricians, read blueprints and schematics, design electrical systems and consult with permit agents. With this extra responsibility, you will gain an increase in freedom, the ability to work with complete independence, and own and run your own business. 

Master electricians need to have an in-depth knowledge of electrical building codes, as they will be responsible for ensuring regulations are met at all times in both the jobs they perform and the jobs they supervise. Building codes tend to be specific to the locations in which you will work, with each state and jurisdiction setting their own regulations. However, for the most part, the regulations are based on one of several nationally-recognized building codes. These include:

  • The National Fire Protection Association developed the National Electrical Code (NEC), upon which most local codes and regulations are designed. Regardless of where you intend to work, you will want to be well-versed in NEC guidelines. 
  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) publishes the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) every five years.
  • The International Code Council (ICC) provides codes and resources for building safety professionals through the development of the International Building Code (IBC), the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

State-by-State Requirements for Master Electrician Examinations

If the various requirements for studying seem overwhelming, you will be happy to hear that your test will be centered on your local regulations, which will draw from one or more of the above codes. The chart below provides more information on the requirements in various states. In addition, it is recommended that you contact your local licensing board for more detailed information. However, wherever you are taking your exam, NEC standards are likely to be covered, so you will want to have extensive knowledge of them.

StateExam Required?Statewide or Local?Exam ReferencesReciprocity ith Other States
AlabamaYes, for electrical contractorsStatewideNEC, IBC, IFCAK, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA
AlaskaYes, but only for journeyman, residential electricians and contractorsStatewideNEC, NESCAL, CO, ID, MN, MT, NE, ND, SD, UT, WA, WY
ArizonaYes, but only contractorsStatewideNECCA, NE, UT
ArkansasYesStatewideNECAL, LA, MS, TN
CaliforniaYes, but only contractors and general electrician licensesStatewideCA Electrical code (based on NEC), CA Fire code (based on IFC), CA Building Code (based on IBC)AZ, NV, UT
ColoradoYesStatewideNECAL, AK, AR, ID, MN, NE, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
ConnecticutYesStatewideConsumer Protection Department, Electrical Board of Occupational Licensing (both are similar to NEC)Not Applicable
DelawareYes, for general and limited master electriciansStatewideNECMD, MI, NC, WY
District of ColumbiaYesStatewideNECNot Applicable
FloridaYesLocal (county jurisdictions)NECAL, GA, NC
GeorgiaNo exam Journeyman and contractors are licensedNot ApplicableNot ApplicableAL, FL, NC, SC
HawaiiYesStatewideNECNot Applicable
IdahoYesStatewideNECAK, CO, MN, MT, NE, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
IllinoisYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECNot Applicable
IndianaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECNot Applicable
IowaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NEC, IBCNot Applicable
KansasYesLocal, but the Block and Associates exam is recognized statewideKansas City Fire Prevention Code, NECNot Applicable
LouisianaYesStatewideNECAL, AR, MS, NC, TN, TX, UT
MaineYes (test is open-book)StatewideNECMA, NH, OR, VT
MarylandYesLocalMaryland Building Performance Standards (MBPS), Maryland Building Rehabilitation Code (MBRC)   (Both follow NEC)DE, VA
MassachusettsYesStatewideMassachusetts Electrical Code (based on NEC)ME, NH, OR, VT, WA
MichiganYesStatewideMichigan Electrical Code (based on NEC)Not Applicable
MinnesotaYes (to become an “A” master electrician)StatewideMinnesota State Building Code, NEC, NESCAL, CO, ID, MO, NE, ND, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
MississippiYesLocal (some jurisdictions)Based on code requirements in each jurisdiction (NEC-based)AL, AK, LA, TN
MissouriYesLocal (some jurisdictions)Based on code requirements in each jurisdiction (NEC-based)Not Applicable
MontanaYesStatewideNECAL, AK, CO, ID, MN, NE, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
NebraskaYesStatewideNECAL, AK, CO, ID, MN, MT, NH, NM, ND, OK, SD, UT, WA, WY
NevadaYesStatewideNECNot Applicable
New HampshireYes (exams are written or oral)StatewideNEC, NESCME, MA, VT
New JerseyNo exam, but journeyman and contractors are licensedNot ApplicableNot ApplicableDE
New MexicoNo exam, but journeyman and contractors are licensedStatewideNEC, New Mexico Electrical CodeNot Applicable
New YorkYesLocal (some jurisdictions)Based on code requirements in each jurisdiction (NEC-based)Not Applicable
North CarolinaYes (for unlimited electricians)Local (some jurisdictions)NEC, North Carolina Building Code CouncilAL, FL, GA, LA, MS, SC, VA, WV
North DakotaYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, ID, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, OK, UT, WA, WY
OhioYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECKY, WV
OklahomaYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, SD, UT, WA, WY
OregonYes, for general supervising electriciansStatewideNEC, Oregon Electrical Specialty CodeAK, ID, ME, MA, MT, UT, WY
PennsylvaniaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECCT, plus reciprocation may be recognized locally
Puerto RicoYesStatewideNECNot Applicable
Rhode IslandYesStatewideNEC, Rhode Island State Building CodeNot Applicable
South CarolinaYesStatewideNECAL, GA, MS, NC, TN, TX, UT
South DakotaYes, for journeyman and contractor licenseStatewideNECNot Applicable
TennesseeYes, for contractor with a CE license (Tennessee’s equivalent to Master)StatewideNEC, State fire Marshall Regulation No. 15AL, AK, LA, MI
UtahYesStatewideNECID, OR, WY
VermontYes (exam is written and oral)StatewideNECME, NH
VirginiaYesStatewideNEC, ICCMD, NC
WashingtonYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, ID, MT, NE, ND, MA, MN, SD, UT, WY
West VirginiaYesStatewideNECNC, OH, VA
WisconsinYesStatewideNEC, Chapter 16 of Wisconsin Administrative RulesNot Applicable
WyomingYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, OK, SD, UT, WA

Master Electrician Exam Prep

So, what is the best way to approach your master electrician test prep? It depends on your learning style, test-taking ability and confidence. However, most electricians study with a combination of a master electrician test prep course, master electrician study guide and master electrician practice tests. 

For many who are preparing to take a master electrician examination, enrolling in a test prep course is the best option, despite the cost. Exam preparation courses run the gamut from instructor-led, specifically tailored lessons to free online help and downloadable master electrician practice exams. If you’re confident in your abilities, you may not need to invest in one of the more expensive courses, while if you struggle with test-taking, the extra expense might be worthwhile. Among the programs in which you can choose to enroll are the following:

  • Electrical Exam Seminars offers one of the most extensive and individually tailored training programs in the field. Students will have access to one-on-one attention from a trained instructor, who will thoroughly cover exam basics. Topics covered include Ohm’s Law, box fill calculations, grounding, branch circuit calculations, residential and commercial load calculations, cooking equipment demand factors and ampacity calculations. Seminars start at around $160 per month. The program boasts a 95 percent pass rate, with unlimited, free repeat attendance until you pass. 
  • Mike Holt Enterprises offers a top-rated program for both journeyman and master electricians who are preparing to take an examination. This course is based on a series of books and videos that you can complete at your own pace. Students can also take master electrician practice exams, ask questions in an online forum and self-evaluate with practice questions. The Master Basic Training Library will cost around $500, with additional modules available for purchase. 
  • Jade Learning offers master electrician practice exams with information and feedback available on all questions. The program includes 600 exam questions and 15 code-based modules with videos to explain the exam questions. In addition, you can purchase add-ons for California, Texas and North Carolina. The course costs around $85 for 30-day access and $150 for 90-day access. 
  • AE Tech Electrical Training Center offers a five-day exam prep course with two days devoted to NEC review and the three remaining days focusing on a workshop for exam prep calculations. The system costs around $950. 
  • Electrical Exam Academy offers an electrical exam study guide, along with free online resources for study. Topics available include Ohm’s Law, example calculations, sample electrical exam bulletins and NEC practice tests. This option is a good fit for anyone who is a confident, self-directed learner. The study guide costs around $27.00.

The Benefits of Earning Your Master’s Electrician License

With the expenses of obtaining licensing, studying for and taking an examination, you may be wondering if becoming a master electrician is worth it. The answer probably depends on a variety of factors, most importantly your career and financial goals. Master electricians are the only electricians who can work without supervision and provide supervision for journeymen. In addition, if you want to own a business, even a small one where you work for yourself, you will need to be a master electrician before you can design systems, deal with permit agents or supervise a crew. 

The pay benefits for master electricians are also relevant, as the master makes about $4,000 to $9,000 more annually than their journey-level counterparts. Master electricians can also expect a significant increase in bonuses, profit-sharing and commissions, adding to their wages overall. For those who wish to start their own business, the sky is the limit for earnings, depending on the time and effort you want to put into building your company. For example, a large contracting company with many employees can handle larger, more lucrative jobs than a one-man show. If you are willing to take some risks and put in the time, having the credentials of a master has the potential to be extremely profitable.

For some, the downside of becoming a master is the need to supervise others. Master electricians should expect to face a lot more responsibility than those below them. As direct or indirect supervisors, they will need to answer for the work of the entire crew. It is essential for a master electrician to have the ability to manage a crew of workers effectively. As such, if you are uncomfortable managing others, you may want to invest in some management training. 

Regardless of your attributes, if you want to advance your career you will need to take the required steps. There is high value in pushing through the difficult hurdles of taking an examination and attaining licensing for both your professional and personal life. These benefits include more professional clout and a better standard of living for you and your family. All in all, becoming a master electrician will allow you to experience more independence and bring home more money than you have previously in your career, making your future a little bit more promising.