How to Become an Electrician in Tennessee, TN

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As in the majority of the states, in order to be able to perform electrical work in the state of Tennessee, you will have to be properly licensed.

There are two main classifications, depending on the value of the involved project. More specifically, for projects valued $25,000 or more you will need a contractor license, while for projects under $25,000, a limited license is required.

Tennessee Electrical Contractor License Requirements and Procedure

An electrical contractor services include low voltage, fire detection, sign wiring, and all residential, commercial and industrial building or structural wiring. In order to obtain an electrical contractor license, you will have to complete the Board’s application process.

- First, you will have to take the respective exams and supply the exam scores with your application. There are two types of exams, the “Business and Law” exam and the corresponding trade exam. You may find more information about the examinations here.

Note that it is possible to obtain a waiver of the trade exam if you are licensed in one of the reciprocating states. For more information on reciprocity, please see here.

- Then you will have to provide a Financial Statement. The law requires a Reviewed or Audited financial statement which must be prepared by a licensed independent firm.

Every contractor is assigned a monetary limit on their license, as to the size of project they wish to contract or bid. This limit has to cover the whole project and cannot be divided into smaller phases in order to circumvent the law. The total contract should include materials, labor, and profit.

You will need a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or a Licensed Public Accountant who is actively licensed to prepare a “Reviewed” or “Audited” financial statement.

You will then have a current (less than 12 months old) financial statement prepared with a:

Reviewed opinion (required for a monetary limit of $1,500,000 or less); or
Audited opinion (required for a monetary limit exceeding $1,500,000);

which will be based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

You may find more information regarding the financial statement here.

- Next step is to provide a reference. A “Reference” letter can be obtained from a past client, employer, or codes official (the relevant form is in the application).

- In the cases of Corporations, Limited and General Partnerships, and Limited Liability Companies (LLC) you will have to register with the Tennessee Secretary of State, who may be contacted at (615) 741-2286 or online here.

- You will have to obtain Workers Compensation Insurance in case you employ one (1) or more employees. You must also provide proof of General Liability Insurance (insurance information). The workers’ compensation laws are governed by the Department of Labor and Workforce.

- The, you complete the contractor license application and attach exam scores, financial statement, reference, proof of insurance and mail them to the Board office, by the deadline date of the next Board meeting, with the $250.00 fee (check should be made payable to “Contractors Board”). The Contractor’s License Application can be found here.

- The Board reviews the contractor applications before a license may be granted and assigns the classification and monetary limit. In general, you will not have to personally appear in front of the Board, the interview is typically waived. However, an interview might be necessary in the following cases:

  • If the qualifying agent is not an owner and has not submitted proof of employment of more than 6 months.
  • Restricted Residential (BC-A/r) $70,000 license, who have taken a course in lieu of passing an exam, are scheduled for an interview.
  • Those who have complaints, felony convictions, bankruptcies, lack of experience, may be scheduled for an interview prior to the license being issued.

If your interview is not waived, you will be notified in writing of date, time and location to appear.

- Finally, a letter acknowledging receipt of the application will be mailed to you. Note that state mail takes 5 to 7 business days. You may check the “License Roster Search” to confirm receipt. Bear in mind that you should not contract until you have received a license certificate in the mail with the license ID number, classification, monetary limit, and expiration date, which are issued after the Board meeting. If additional information is needed, the Board will send you a letter requesting additional information, with another deadline date, in order to be reviewed.

Once you are granted a license, it is issued for two (2) years and you will be required to renew 30 days prior to the expiration date. Renewals are mailed out 90 days prior to expiration date; renewal is due 30 days prior to expiration to the expiration date to prevent contracting unlicensed which is a violation. You may also download the renewal form from here. There is the possibility of “partial” renewal online, here.

There are no requirements for continuing education as of now.

A contractor’s license is obtained as a Sole Proprietor, Corporation, Partnership or LLC, and issued in the exact name of the entity listed on the financial statement.

All contractor licenses are issued with a classification and monetary limit.

Note that a contractor’s license is required regardless, even if a local permit is not required for inspections.

Finally, don’t forget to check Electrician Jobs in Tennessee.

Tennessee Electrical Contractor License Exams Information

As mentioned above, you will have to pass the relevant exams in order to acquire your electrical contractor license.

There are two types of exams:

  • Business and Law – $55
  • Trade Exams (for various license classifications) – $55

The Tennessee “Business and Law” exam is required by all contractor license applicants. A “Trade” exam may also be required, depending on the type of license classification requested.

Trade Exams are required for many of the classifications, as shown below:

  1. Electrical Transmission Lines (CEA,H) (Test Required – CEA,H is limited to High Voltage)
  2. Electrical Work for Buildings and Structures (Test Required – full CE)
  3. Underground Electrical Conduit Installation (CE-C) – (No Test for Low Voltage – 70 volts or less)
  4. Sound/Intercom Systems, Fire Detection Systems, Signal/Burglar Alarm, Security (CE-D) – (No Test)
  5. Electrical Signs (CE-E) – (CE) Test Required if more than 70 volts)
  6. Telephone Lines and Ducts (CE-F) – (No Test; Low Voltage)
  7. Cable T.V. (CE-G) – (No Test; Low Voltage)
  8. Substations (CEA,H) – (CEA,H Test – Limited to High Voltage – CE covers all)
  9. Electrical Temperature Controls (CE-I) (No Test; Low Voltage)
  10. Fire Detection Systems, Signal and Burglar Alarm Systems and Security Systems with conduit and wiring above (70) volts require an electrical exam. (CE-J) – (CE Test Required)
  11. Roadway Lighting, Attenuators and Signalization (CE-K) – (CE Test Required)

The “Business and Law” exam is open book and as reference material, you should obtain the “NASCLA Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management” manual.

The exams are administered by PSI Services. You may find more information and register online for an exam here.

PSI has testing centers throughout Tennessee. Note that in order to take an exam, you will have to schedule an appointment ahead of time (exams are offered on a daily basis). Upon completing the exam, you will be given your score, so you will know right away if you have passed.

Note that the same person taking the Business and Law is not required to take the trade exam and more than one person may take the exams for the company.

There is a number of 100 questions with a time limit of 240 minutes. You will need a score of at least 73% in order to pass.

The Candidate Information Bulletin has a list of all exams, outline, reference materials, books, security requirements, rules for using books for open book exams, and how to register for exams. The candidate information bulletin can be found here.

Exam scores are generally accepted for two (2) years by the Board.

Tennessee Electrical Contractor License Reciprocity

Regarding reciprocity, there are agreements with several state license agencies for contractors having an active license with many Boards. The following states are included:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina

For commercial, the “NASCLA National Commercial” exam is also accepted in Tennessee.

In order to obtain a Tennessee license without having to pass again the trade exam, you may apply for a trade exam waiver by having one of the participating states (listed above), complete the attached “License Verification” form and returning it with their “Tennessee Contractor’s License Application”.

Note that some states charge a fee for completing.

The trade exam waiver agreement with States along with the request for license verification form can be found here.

Tennessee Electrician Limited License Requirements and Procedure

The Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) license is issued to those passing the LLE trade exam. Before applying for an LLE license, make sure to check with the local code enforcement to confirm that this license is accepted for obtaining permits for inspections. Note that an LLE cannot advertise as a “contractor” without having a contractor’s license.

A local license might also be required regardless of the amount of the project in areas where there is a codes office. Every jurisdiction is different and you will have to adhere to their local requirements.

The LLE is not accepted where the local jurisdiction has licensing and inspections already in place, for example: Davidson (Nashville); Hamilton (Chattanooga); Knox (Knoxville); Shelby (Memphis).

In order to obtain the Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) license, you will have to take and pass the LLE trade exam. You may find more information about the LLE trade exam here.

After you succeed, submit a copy of your passing exam score with your completed LLE License Application, with the two year license fee of $50.00. These license applications may be approved by the Board staff and are not required for full Board approval, unless there is a felony conviction or complaint.

You may find the LLE license application form here.

Once you are granted a license, it is issued for two (2) years and you will be required to renew 30 days prior to the expiration date. Renewals are mailed out 90 days prior to expiration date; renewal is due 30 days prior to expiration to the expiration date to prevent contracting unlicensed which is a violation. You may also download the renewal form from here. There is the possibility of “partial” renewal online, here.

There are no requirements for continuing education as of now.

Finally, don’t forget to check Electrician Jobs in Tennessee.

Tennessee Electrician Limited License Exams Information

As mentioned above, you will have to pass the relevant exams in order to acquire your LLE license. There is only a trade exam, “Business and Law” exam is not required.

The exams are administered by PSI Services. You may find more information and register online for an exam here.

PSI has testing centers throughout Tennessee. Note that in order to take an exam, you will have to schedule an appointment ahead of time (exams are offered on a daily basis). Upon completing the exam, you will be given your score, so you will know right away if you have passed.

There is a number of 40 questions with a time limit of 120 minutes. You will need a score of at least 72.5% (29 items) in order to pass.

The Candidate Information Bulletin has a list of all exams, outline, reference materials, books, security requirements, rules for using books for open book exams, and how to register for exams. The candidate information bulletin can be found here.

The LLE exam is not reciprocal with other states electrical license exam.

The above apply for the following largest cities (among others):
MemphisNashvilleKnoxvilleChattanoogaClarksville
MurfreesboroJacksonJohnson CityFranklinBartlett
HendersonvilleKingsportColliervilleClevelandSmyrna
GermantownBrentwoodColumbiaLaVergneCookeville
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