Becoming a licensed electrician in South Carolina is a great career choice. Electricians are considered specialty contractors with specific skills and knowledge. There will always be a demand for this knowledge during construction projects, especially in South Carolina, a growing state.
Specialty contractors work with general contractors, licensed residential builders, or individual property owners to provide specialized work. In South Carolina, you're considered a specialty contractor when the job requires specialty skills and the undertaking exceeds $500 and it's not regulated by Chapter 11.
In this article, let's cover:
- The four steps to getting your South Carolina electrician's license
- How to secure your speciality contractor surety bond
- The purpose of a contractor license bond
4 Steps To Get Your Electrician License In South Carolina
Before you can get licensed as an electrician in South Carolina, you must show 1 year of experience in the field under a licensed electrician or general contractor within the last five years.
South Carolina does not allow a trade school or college degree to substitute for hands-on experience.
You can get a journeyman and master electrician certification through the Municipal Association of South Carolina. These are not state issued licenses, but association certifications which make getting experience a lot easier.
Plus the Master electrician license has the benefit of allowing you to skip your technical electrician exam. More on this below.
Once you're ready to get your official electrician license, follow these four steps.
Step 1: Complete Initial Application With Fee
First, complete the electrician application and submit it with an application processing fee of $135.
Click here to access the electrician application. The link is under "Residential Specialty Contractor Applications" heading.
This part of the application is where you'll prove your work experience. Without at least one year of hands-on experience under a licensed electrician or general contractor, you will not be approved to take the two exams required to complete your license.
You'll be asked to provide W2's and/or 1099's from the employers or managers on the application. If you apprenticed under an electrician and did not receive payment with a W2 or 1099, you will be asked to appear before the Residential Builders Commission (the Commission) for an experience review.
During the application approval process the individuals you listed will be sent an affidavit of work experience. An affidavit is a written statement confirmed by oath proving what you stated is true. This is a legal document. Your prior employers or managers will complete the form and send it to the Commission.
If you don't have one year of experience supervised by a licensed contractor engaged in residential electrical work, you will have to appear before the Commission for an experience review.
If you hold an electrician license in good standing from another state, you'll need to provide the Commission with a license verification from the state you're licensed in.
Once the Commission receives the signed affidavits from the individuals you listed on the application, you will be given permission to take your technical electrician and business exams.
Step 2: Take The Electrician And Business Exams
There are two exams required to obtain your electrician license.
You must complete your exams within within a 12 month period after your initial application approval. If the exams are not completed, you will have to start the application process from the beginning.
Keep in mind this could mean losing your full year of experience eligibility.
Exam 1: Electrician Technical Exam
This exam is 60 multiple choice questions to test specific electrical code knowledge. You must pass this exam with a 73.3% or higher.
To prepare for this exam, you can find coaches, independent businesses, technical schools, and test materials online.
You Can Skip This Exam If:
You're a current South Carolina Commercial Mechanical Contractor with an electrical classification.
Or you have a Master License issued by examination from the Municipal Association for SC.
To obtain your Master license you must pass a four hour exam.
Exam 2: Business Management and Law Exam
This exam is 50 multiple choice questions. A score of 68% or higher is required to pass.
This exam covers:
- Basic business management
- Estimating and bidding on projects
- Contracts and agreements
- Project management and assessment
- Financial management for business and projects
- Pertinent tax laws
- Liens and how they work
- Environmental laws and regulations
Once you pass both exams, resubmit your application with:
- Your test scores
- Surety bond
- Licensing fee
The licensing fee works like this::
- $220 if your license is to be issued on or between July 1 on an odd numbered year to June 30 on an even numbered year.
- $110 if your license is issued on or between July 1 on an even numbered year to June 30 on the next odd numbered year.
The reason for this difference in fee is an electrician license renews every odd numbered year.
If you plan on doing more than $5,000 in labor and materials in 12 months you will need to purchase a $10,000 surety bond before you submit your application.
Step 3: Purchase a Contractors Bond For $10,000
The South Carolina Residential Builders Commission requires all state contractors to purchase a surety bond before a license is issued.
A surety bond is proof of financial responsibility to the Commission and to your customers.
Here's how a surety bond works.
You (referred to as the Principal) purchases a bond valued at $10,000 through a broker like Surety Bonds Direct.
South Carolina specialty contractor bonds are sold for a fixed price of:
|$10,000||1 year bond for $150|
|$10,000||2 year bond for $255|
|$10,000||3 year bond for $383|
The South Carolina Residential Builders Commission is called the Obligee, the party who requires the bond to be purchased.
This surety bond will need to be in your full legal name even if your business is registered as a corporation, partnership, or LLC.
Submit your bond form with your final application.
Step 4: Wait 15 Days For Your License
- You've proven your experience
- You've passed your exams
- You've purchased the required surety bond
- You've paid your fees
Now you wait up to 15 days for your final application to be processed.
In South Carolina, there are only four application processors and all applications are processed in the order they are received.
The Commission may require additional information for your application. If this is the case, an additional 15 days may be required as your application will fall back in line.
Soon enough you should receive your official license.
What's The Purpose Of The Surety Bond?
A surety bond is proof of financial responsibility to complete jobs and follow the regulations of being a licensed electrical contractor.
It should come as no surprise, there are contractors who:
- Perform poor work
- Neglect to follow electrical code
- Fail to complete jobs
- Plus a range or other negligent behavior
When poor performance like his happens the consequences can be serious. The customer can make a complaint and claim against your bond. The surety company who issued your bond will investigate the claim to make sure it's legitimate.
Not all claims are legitimate. This is why if there's ever any issue with a customer, try to work it out with your customer directly.
If the surety company pays out the claim (up to the $10,000 value of the bond), you have to pay back the claim amount plus any fees to the surety.