Embarking on a career as an electrician is not just a job, it’s a solid career path. Electrical contractors enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities and earn a respectable income. There’s also job security—customers will always need skilled trade professionals to install and service electrical systems in their homes and businesses. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the steps and requirements for electricians to establish eligibility, apply for their electrician license, and renew their electrician license in Ohio.

Licensing Requirements for Electricians in Ohio

In the state of Ohio, there is a statewide certifying qualification process to become a licensed contractor electrician. This process requires five years of experience working as an electrician employee. However, it’s important to note that the state of Ohio only mandates licensing for electrical contractors who work on commercial projects, also known as commercial contractors.

The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB), which is a part of the Ohio Department of Commerce, is responsible for issuing state licenses for electrical contractors. It’s interesting to note that Ohio does not require state-level electrician licenses for residential journeyman electricians or master electricians.

Only two cities in Ohio require a licensed journeyman electrician to perform electrical work. These cities are Middletown and Hamilton. In these cities, you must have a minimum of three years of experience in an apprenticeship along with technical training to apply for a journeyman electrician license. All other municipalities in Ohio allow one to work under a licensed contractor electrician for five years as an electrician employee before becoming eligible to apply for an electrician contractor license.

Steps to Get an Electrical Contractor License in Ohio

The process to obtain an Electrical Contractor License in Ohio is quite straightforward. Here are the steps:

  1. Age and Citizenship: The first requirement is that you must be at least 18 years of age. Additionally, you must be a U.S. citizen or a legal alien.
  2. Work Experience or Engineering Registration: You must either work as a tradesperson in the electrical trade for at least five years prior to application, or currently be a registered engineer in the state with three years of business experience in the electrical trade. Alternatively, you can provide other acceptable experience.
  3. Criminal Background Check: You must pass a criminal background check. This is to ensure that you have a clean record and are a trustworthy individual.
  4. Electrical Contractor Exam: You must pass the electrical contractor exam. This exam tests your knowledge and skills in the electrical trade.
  5. Contractor Liability Coverage: Finally, you must carry at least $500,000 contractor liability coverage. This is to protect you and your clients in case of any accidents or damages.

How to Become an Electrician in Ohio

Becoming an electrician in Ohio involves a series of steps. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

  1. Verify Work History: You must provide proof of five consecutive years working in the electrical trade prior to completing the application. Specifically, this means five years working as a tradesperson under a licensed electrician on projects that require a permit.
  2. Registered Engineers: If you are currently registered as an engineer in the state with three years of business experience in the electrical trade, you can also apply for a state-level electrician license. Work performed through local registrations counts toward your overall work experience.
  3. Background Check: Once the OCILB approves your application, you must complete a state and federal background check, prior to taking the examination. This is to ensure that you have a clean record.
  4. Licensing Exam: Once the OCILB approves your application and you complete the background checks, you’ll receive an application packet from PSI, the testing administrator, with instructions on how to schedule your licensure exam. All exams are computer-based and conducted at sites throughout the state of Ohio.
  5. Final Steps: Once you pass the exam, send a copy of the results, a $25 check, and proof of at least $500,000 contractor liability insurance to OCILB to receive your electrical contractor license.

Types of Electrical Contractor Licenses in Ohio

There are two main types of electrical licenses in Ohio:

  1. Journeyman: The cities of Hamilton and Middletown require journeyman electrician licenses; the state of Ohio does not. A journeyman license allows an electrician to install electrical wiring under the supervision of a master electrician or electrical contractor.
  2. Independent Electrical Contractor: To operate your own electrical contracting business, you must obtain an electrical contractor license. The licensing requirements include providing a valid U.S. ID showing you’re at least 18 years old, proof of five years of hands-on or engineering experience as an electrical tradesman, ability to pass a state and federal background check, proof of at least $500,000 in general liability insurance, and successfully passing both sections of the licensing exam.

Benefits of Getting Your Electrical Contractor License in Ohio

There are many benefits to becoming a licensed electrical contractor in Ohio:

  • Legal Requirement: Most importantly, Ohio law requires a state license to legally perform electrical work as an electrical contractor. Journeyman electrician licenses are required to perform electrical work in the cities of Hamilton or Middletown, Ohio.
  • Proof of Skill: A trade license provides proof of your experience and skill. This can be very beneficial when looking for employment or clients.
  • Business Operations: Only licensed electrical contractors can operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits, pass inspections, and bid on public and government projects.
  • Protection: Securing an electrician license protects your company and customers. It ensures that you are qualified to perform the work and that you are accountable for your work.
  • Competitive Advantage: Licensure gives you a competitive advantage in the job market. It sets you apart from other electricians who may not be licensed.
  • Increased Earning Potential: It also increases your earning potential as an electrician. Licensed electricians often earn more than unlicensed electricians.

How Much Does It Cost to Get an Electrical Contractor License in Ohio?

The cost of obtaining an Electrical Contractor License in Ohio is quite reasonable. Electrical contractors must pay a $25 fee when first applying for their state-level electrical contractor license. Licenses must be renewed annually, and include a $60 renewal fee.

In Middletown, you must pay a $50 fee to apply for your journeyman electrician license. The open-book test comprises 50 multiple-choice questions that you must answer within three hours. You need a score of at least 70% to pass.

In Hamilton, you must register with the city to do any work that requires a permit. For electricians, you must register as a master electrician before beginning any work or obtaining the necessary permits. To apply for registration, you must contact the city of Hamilton. In addition to the application, you need to submit proof of your OCILB-issued electrical contractor license and pay the $200 new license fee. You must renew your license with the city, at a cost of $100 each year.

Who Issues Electrician Licenses in Ohio?

The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB), part of the Ohio Department of Commerce, issues state licenses for electrical contractors. This board is responsible for ensuring that all electricians in the state are qualified and meet the necessary requirements.

Electrician License Reciprocity

Ohio maintains a reciprocal agreement for electrical licenses with several states. This means that if you hold a valid electrical license in one of these states, you may be eligible to receive an Ohio license without having to pass the Ohio electrical examination. The states with which Ohio has reciprocity include:

  • West Virginia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina

It’s important to note that reciprocity is not automatic. You’ll need to apply for it and meet all of Ohio’s licensing requirements. Also, the reciprocal agreement only applies to journeyman electricians, not to electrical contractors or master electricians.

License Bond Requirements in Ohio

In Ohio, electricians are required to post a contractor license bond to legally operate. This bond is a type of surety bond that protects your clients. If you fail to fulfill your contractual obligations, your client can make a claim against your bond. The bond amount for electrical contractors in Ohio is typically $25,000. However, the cost you pay for your bond will be a small percentage of this total amount, usually 1-15% depending on your credit score and other factors.

Insurance Needs for Electricians in Ohio

In Ohio, electricians are required to carry a minimum amount of general liability insurance to protect their business and their customers. This policy offers protection from any covered claim for any injuries or damages to third-party persons or property as a result of your work. This also includes legal fees to defend your business from any covered claim.

In addition to general liability insurance, electricians in Ohio may also need to consider other types of insurance coverage, such as:

  • Commercial Auto Insurance: This covers vehicles used in your business.
  • Inland Marine Insurance: This covers tools and equipment from loss or theft.
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance: This covers your employees from injury or illness caused by their employment.
  • Surety Bonds: These may be required for licenses, permits, or contractor registrations.
  • Umbrella Insurance Coverage: This covers you for catastrophic losses that exceed the underlying policy limits.

The cost of your insurance will depend on a variety of factors, including your sales/revenue, policy limits, claims history, and the location of your business. It’s recommended to work with an experienced insurance agent to ensure you have the appropriate coverage for your specific needs.


Becoming a licensed electrician in Ohio involves several steps, including gaining experience, passing an exam, and obtaining insurance. However, the benefits of licensure, such as increased job opportunities and earning potential, make it a worthwhile investment. As an electrician, you can enjoy a rewarding career that offers job security and the opportunity to provide a valuable service to your community.