How To Become an Electrician in Virginia

Electricians will always be in demand, and in Virginia the average they make over $64K on average, according to the Bureau of Labor.

Training and Education

A good way to get started is through an online or hybrid program offered through a local institution.

Search Electrician Programs

Get information on Electrician programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

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How Long Does It Take?

Most starter programs take between 7 to 12 months.

What Are the Costs?

$2,500 to $3,500 depending on the length and depth of the course.

What Do You Study?

Most programs will cover these essential topics:

Introduction to Construction Electrician

  • Electrical theory and current fundamentals
  • Hands-on experience with electrical schematics and wiring diagrams
  • National Electric Code (NEC) and OSHA 10-hour safety certification

Basic Electricity

  • Alternating currents and conductor installations
  • Load calculations and branch circuitry
  • NEC requirements and proper wiring techniques

Electric Motor Principles

  • Overview of AC and DC motors
  • Motor enclosures and HVAC system components
  • Troubleshooting and testing equipment usage

Life Safety Specialty Systems

  • Fire alarm systems and troubleshooting
  • Pools, spas, fountains, and semiconductor applications
  • Solid State Relays (SSR) and Life Safety Systems (LSS) control panels

The Electrical Industry

  • Residential electricity basics and electrical math
  • Electrical system operation and personnel protection
  • Jobsite and electrical safety practices

Soft Skills for the Electrician (optional)

  • Communication and teamwork
  • Time management and project planning

More Local Trade School Programs

    Advanced Technology Institute
    ATI’s Electrical Systems Technology program offers comprehensive training over 7 months, preparing students to become proficient residential, commercial, or industrial electricians. The curriculum covers essential skills like reading schematics, installing electrical components, and maintaining power systems, ensuring graduates are equipped to work safely and effectively in diverse electrical environments. Upon completion, students earn a Certificate in Electrical Systems Technology, recognized for its focus on practical, hands-on learning and adherence to industry codes and standards.

    • Norfolk, Virginia Beach

    Brightpoint Community College

    The Electrical Engineering Technology, AAS program at Brightpoint College is a two-year degree that prepares students for entry-level jobs as electricians and electrician helpers, including the completion of a Career Studies Certificate in Residential Electricity. Graduates are equipped to meet state certification requirements for journeyman electricians, with guidance from local business leaders and the flexibility of regional reciprocity agreements for online courses.

    The Residential Electricity, CSC program is a one-year certification that provides training for entry-level residential electrician positions, focusing on direct and alternating currents, electrical circuits, and compliance with national, state, and local electrical codes. Offered at the Chester campus, this program also qualifies for G3 tuition assistance, making it accessible to eligible students.

    • Midlothian

    Centura College
    Centura College's Construction Electrician Diploma program offers a focused path into the electrical industry, combining comprehensive theoretical knowledge with hands-on training. Spanning 12 months with flexible day and night courses, the program covers essential topics like electrical theory, safety protocols, wiring methods, and PLC programming. Graduates emerge equipped for diverse roles including smart home installation and commercial electrician positions. With a curriculum emphasizing real-world applications and certification readiness, students also gain vital credentials such as OSHA 10-hour safety certification and proficiency in National Electric Code standards. Centura College supports student success with financial aid options and career services, ensuring a seamless transition into the workforce upon program completion at their Norfolk, VA campus.

    • Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Richmond

    FORTIS College
    Prepares students for entry level electrician jobs with classes in areas such as Alternating Current Theory, A.C. Motors, and Three Phase Power and Transformers.

    • Norfolk, Richmond

    Tidewater Community College
    The Electrical Technology program at Tidewater Community College (TCC) prepares students for diverse careers in the electrical industry. Offering specializations such as Fiber & Data Cabling, Industrial & Business Management, Occupational Safety, Programming & Logic Control, and Renewable Energy Technologies, students gain hands-on experience over four semesters. Certificates in Electrical Wiring and related fields like Renewable Energy and Fiber & Data Cabling provide focused training in as little as two semesters, preparing graduates for industry-specific certifications, including those required for electrician licensing in Virginia.

    • Chesapeake

    Virginia Highlands Community College

    The Electrical Technology Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree at VHCC prepares students for careers in the electrical, electronic, or industrial maintenance fields over two years (five semesters). This program includes Practical and Advanced Practical Electrical Technician certificates and prepares students to sit for the NEC Journeyman’s license. With G3 eligibility, Virginia residents of modest income can cover tuition and fees for high-demand careers, and the program offers significant tuition savings compared to other institutions.

    The Industrial Electricity Career Studies Certificate at VHCC is a one-year program designed to equip students with the skills necessary for full-time employment as industrial electricians. The program, guided by experienced professionals like Donnie Melvin, covers essential topics such as industrial wiring, programmable logic controllers, and hydraulics and pneumatics. It is G3 eligible, offering financial aid for Virginia residents pursuing high-demand careers, with additional tuition savings for local out-of-state students.

    • Abingdon

Salary Range

Below is electrician pay data for areas within the state.

Northeast VA$26.38$54,870.00
Northwest VA$30.42$63,270.00
Southside VA$28.04$58,320.00
Southwest VA$31.21$64,920.00
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News$28.33$58,930.00
Occupation: Occupation: Electricians (SOC Code472111)

Virginia Requirements

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s Board for Contractors regulates individual tradespeople, including electricians; state certification is mandatory.

Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation logo

To become an electrician in Virginia, in addition to completing mandatory prerequisite training and work experience, you must be at least 18, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and possess a Virginia driver’s license or a Social Security number.

Tradesmen must also comply with local ordinances, laws, and other requirements imposed by state agencies, courts, and localities.

Apprenticeship Not Mandatory

While most electricians opt to complete a 4-to-5-year apprenticeship program (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), it is not a mandatory component of your prerequisite training to become an electrician in Virginia.

Licensing & Certification

To apply for a license, electricians and other prospective licensees in the skilled trades use the same application form for the TRADESMAN Exam and licensing process.

Prospective electricians can qualify to take the licensing exam through a combination of work experience and formal education, through the completion of an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree paired with on-the-job experience, or 10 years of verifiable, practical experience as an electrician, according to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).

Becoming a Journeyman Electrician

To become a Journeyman Electrician in Virginia, applicants must meet only ONE of several criteria:

  • 4 years of practical experience coupled with 240 hours of formal vocational training
  • 5 years of practical experience coupled with 160 hours of formal vocational training
  • 6 years of practical experience coupled with 80 hours of formal vocational training
  • 7+ years of practical experience coupled with 40 hours of formal vocational training
  • An Associate’s degree or certificate of completion from an accredited 2-year program and 2 years of practical experience
  • A Bachelor’s degree or certificate of completion from a 4-year program and 1 year of practical experience
  • 10 years of verifiable practical experience

Applicants who hold Journeyman or Master electrician’s licenses from other jurisdictions are also acceptable prerequisite qualifications.

According to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, these qualifications require formal verification through supervisor endorsements, transcripts, or letters of good standing and copies of previous licenses. 

Following the prerequisite experience verification process and the acceptance of your application to take the TRADESMAN Electrician’s exam, prospective licensees will be eligible to apply for their electrician’s license of choice. 

Journeyman Electricians are authorized to perform electrical work independently without direct supervision, install and repair electrical wiring and equipment, and work on residential, commercial, and industrial projects. They are also eligible to supervise apprentice electricians and can advance to becoming a master electrician with additional experience.

These privileges are regulated by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s Board for Contractors.

chart with local salary data for journeyman in VA
image source: ZipRecruiter

Becoming a Master Electrician

To apply to become a Master Electrician, applicants must meet one of the following criteria in addition to meeting the primary age and citizenship requirements necessary for all license levels:

  • 1 year of practical experience as a licensed Journeyman Electrician
  • 10 years of verifiable practical experience in the trade
  • A Journeyman Electrician License or higher from another jurisdiction

After their application to take the licensing exam is accepted, prospective Master Electricians must pass it to obtain their licenses, following regulations outlined by the Virginia DPOR.

In addition to the privileges granted to Journeyman Electricians, Master Electricians in Virginia have the highest level of certification, allowing them to design, install, and supervise all types of electrical systems and projects, including residential, commercial, and industrial installations.

They can also pull permits, bid on projects, and oversee journeyman and apprentice electricians.

Master electricians often take on leadership roles in electrical contracting businesses. 

License Upgrades & Renewals

To upgrade an electrical license in Virginia, you must meet the requirements for the desired license level, such as moving from journeyman to master, which requires one year of practical experience as a licensed journeyman, ten years of practical experience verified by a supervisor, or an out-of-state journeyman license. Fill out the DPOR application for license upgrades or additional designations to an existing license. 

Continuing education (CE) credits are required for license renewal, and courses must be board-approved. You can check the hours needed to renew your license and find approved courses on the Board for Contractor’s website.

Licenses must be renewed every two years, with a renewal fee of $90. Missing the deadline results in a 30-day grace period during which you cannot work, for which you must complete an additional three hours of CE.

Renewals can be completed online at the DPOR website

State Reciprocity

According to the Virginia Board for Contractors, electrical licenses have reciprocity with several states:

  • Alabama: Electrical Contractor License and Virginia Master Electrical Tradesman License Examination Reciprocity.
  • District of Columbia: Journeyman and Master Electrical Tradesman License and Virginia Journeyman and Master Electrical Tradesman License and Examination Reciprocity.
  • Kentucky: Electrician and Master Electrician License and Virginia Journeyman and Master Electrical Tradesman License Examination Reciprocity.
  • Maryland: Master Electrical Tradesman License and Virginia Master Electrical Tradesman License Examination Reciprocity.
  • West Virginia: Journeyman and Master Electrical Tradesman License and Virginia Journeyman and Master Electrical Tradesman License Examination Reciprocity.
  • North Carolina: Unlimited and Intermediate Electrical Contractor License and Virginia Master Electrical Tradesman License and Class A or Class B Electrical Contractor Business License and Examination Reciprocity.

Joining a Union

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers logo

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is the leading union for electricians and one of the most powerful labor organizations globally.

Established in 1891, it holds the distinction of being the oldest electrical union in existence.

The IBEW has several locations throughout North Carolina, including:

  • IBEW Local 666 — Highland Springs, VA
  • IBEW Local 50 — Highland Springs, VA
  • IBEW Local 26 — Winchester, VA
  • IBEW Local 26 — Manassas, VA
  • IBEW Local 26 — Roanoke, VA
  • IBEW Local 26 — Charlottesville, VA
  • IBEW Local 80 — Chesapeake, VA

To join an apprenticeship program offered by the IBEW, you must be at least 18 years old, have a GED or a 2-year associate degree or higher, and have completed high school algebra with a passing grade. You need to provide official transcripts or records of your education and training, complete the IBEW Apprenticeship Aptitude Test, and interview with the local union office or the apprenticeship director. After the interview, you will be placed on an eligibility list for two years, with names ranked according to score.

For experienced electricians, joining a union typically involves contacting your local union. Requirements include living in the union’s jurisdiction, possessing a state driver’s license, providing a social security card, having a high school diploma or GED equivalent, and agreeing to a background check. Local requirements may also vary.