You’ve likely been managing your own personal finances for years, so it might be tempting to just apply the same principles you use for your personal finances to your business. But there are important differences to consider.
Your five year stint as an electrician’s apprentice is up. Over the course of your apprenticeship, you’ve gained thousands of hours of hands-on experience with electrical work and soaked up everything you need to know to become a master of your craft. In your training program, you’ve learned from the best and seen what it takes to run a successful electrical business.
Now, it’s time to fly solo.
Leaving the nest is never easy. It can be a daunting undertaking. That said, becoming successful in the electrical industry requires that you use your hands on training to eventually establish your own business, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Before you can ever start wiring, there are several tasks you must first complete.
Curious what those might be? Keep reading to find out.
How to become an electrician
Electrical contractors aren’t in an easy line of work; it takes a great deal of skills, training, know-how, and problem solving. This is why the job is in high demand, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a continued job growth rate of 14% through 2024. So, if you’re just now diving into your career, you’ve gotten in at a great time.
But you can’t simply set up shop and expect to begin making money hand over fist. There are several items you must check off the list before you get anywhere near electrical wiring or electronic control systems. The same holds for any profession (whether you’re an electrician or even a clown)—if you’re starting your own business, your initial task is to establish a business plan.
Step #1 – Create a business and marketing plan
Few great undertakings succeed by simply winging it. Regardless of if it’s the battlefield, the basketball court, or the world of business, overcoming opposition requires a pointed strategy. And this is especially true for small businesses, which lack the funding to simply weather any financial hurdle or work hiatus that might occur.
To be a successful electrician, you need to know everything there is to know about your business’ identity before it ever becomes a reality. Doing so will help you prepare for the future, understand your budget and its limitations, and strategize to grow.
Take the time to create the following documents:
A Business Plan – This encompasses everything about your business, including: the business name, the optimal customer profile, and the projected costs and pricing structures. It will be your pathfinder in the early stages of the business and will be a crucial part of securing loans or outside investment.
A Marketing Plan – Aside from the relationships you’ve already established with contractors, interior designers, and real estate agents, you need to develop a marketing plan in order to target customers directly. There are a variety of avenues worthy of pursuit, including:
- Website and SEO
- Social media
- Online advertising
- Media advertising
- Physical and print advertisements
- Job service sites
Once you’ve formulated your plan, it’s time to act. To do so, you must obtain your state license as a Master Electrician.
Step #2 – Get your state master electrician license
Even if you’re great at fixing things with your hands, no client will hire an amateur wireman without electrician licensing to handle something as crucial as their home electricity. Because of the inherent dangers, the vast majority of states legally require you to receive a state license in order to practice independent electrical work. It’s presented to those who pass the state exam, demonstrating their understanding of the National Electric Code (NEC) as well as local electrical and building codes. To achieve your credentials, you must:
- Submit exam fees
- Have proof that you completed an electrician apprenticeship and work experience that lasted at least 4 years
- Take and pass the Master Electrician Exam
In addition, some electricians opt to get an electrical contractor license, which is an optional business license that can only be obtained by Master Electricians.
Step #3 – Get your certifications
Similarly to your license, certifications demonstrate to customers that you are a professional tradesman. Certain certificates also establish that you’re an expert within certain facets or niches of the business. Often, you can leverage such credentials to charge higher prices. Organizations that offer these types of certification courses include:
- American Lighting Association
- International Association of Electrical Inspectors
- ESCO Group
- International Association of
- Lighting Management Companies
- International Code Council
- Door and Hardware Institute
Now that you have all the proof you need to convince customers that you know what you’re doing, it’s time to legally register as a business.
Step #4 – Register your electrical business
To operate legally, it’s mandatory that you register your electrician’s business with the local, state, and federal authorities, as well as obtain a business license. To do so, you must select a legal structure for the company. There are several to choose from, including:
- Sole proprietorships
- S Corporations
Before you decide on one, speak with your CPA and see what they recommend for you. They’ll have knowledge on local, state, and federal tax regulations and should be able to help you select the most appropriate structure. In addition, you’ll have to register for an EIN, which lets you file the business’ taxes to state and federal revenue services.
Step #5 – Get Thimble’s Electrician Insurance
During the course of your electrician apprenticeship, there’s little doubt that you witnessed a variety of mishaps, injuries, and screw-ups from one job to the next. The electrician’s field is inherently dangerous and filled with opportunities for things to go wrong. And when they do, that can be disastrous. Simply put, the business is rife with liability.
You plan on running a business that (literally) plays with fire. Anything that can go wrong, very likely will at some point. If you don’t have general liability insurance for electricians, you’re exposed to a variety of legal suits.
Imagine what would happen if you wired a home and an electrical fire broke out. You could be sued for third-party property damage. Or if someone was electrocuted because of an exposed line, your client might file a bodily injury claim.
You never know what could happen. This is why you must have electrician insurance.
But you don’t need just any normal insurance policy, especially when you’re starting up and work isn’t steady. What you need is a policy that lets you pay when you’re working and lets you save when you’re off—a policy that can go by the hour, the day, or the month.
You need insurance with Thimble. Thanks to Thimble’s fast and affordable policies, you can go from having no coverage to purchasing a policy in the span of 60 seconds. Simply sign up, receive a free quote, purchase a plan, and a certificate of insurance will be sent instantly.
An "electric" career
Now you understand the fundamentals of becoming an electrician. In a nutshell, you’ll want to:
- Create a business and marketing plan
- Get your state master electrician license
- Get your certifications in order
- Register your electrical business
- And make sure you’re insured
As you set out on your journey, we wish you the best of luck. Pretty soon, we’ll all be thanking you for keeping our lights on.
Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.