As an electrician in Tennessee, it’s crucial to understand the licensing process to legally perform electrical work. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the steps and requirements for establishing eligibility, applying for, and renewing an electrician license in Tennessee. It also covers reciprocity with other states, license bond requirements, and insurance needs for electricians in the state.

Understanding the Types of Licenses

In Tennessee, electrical work is licensed at various levels, both at the state and local levels. The type of license required depends on the total cost of the project and the location of the project.

Contractor – Electrical License (CE)

If you perform electrical work where the total cost is $25,000 or more, you need to obtain a “Contractor’s” license with a CE license classification. This state contractor’s license is required for electrical work as a prime (general) and also by subcontractors. The “CE” electrical classification is accepted statewide, and additional exams are not required in each county or municipality. However, you must adhere to their local permit, licensing rules, and inspections within their jurisdiction and pay local fees.

This state electrical contractor’s license is comparable to a “Master’s” electrical license, which is typically a license at the local government level. In addition to the CE classification designated on the state license, a monetary limit is also designated. This limit is based on the financial solvency of the contractor, as determined by a review of their net worth or assets.

Local Licenses (City/County from each municipality) and Business

The local license is required regardless of the amount of the project in areas where there is a codes office. This type of licensing is referred to as journeyman/master, etc. Every jurisdiction is different, and you must adhere to their local requirements. If you have a state contractors CE license, you will not be required to take their local electrical exam, but will need to pay their fees.

Local licenses are typically issued by the city or county where the work is to be performed. These licenses may have different names (such as journeyman or master electrician licenses), but they all serve the same purpose: to ensure that the electrician has the necessary skills and knowledge to perform electrical work safely and correctly.

Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE)

This state license is only required for electricians where the total cost is LESS THAN $25,000, and if the electrician is working in a municipality where there is not a local license agency for inspections. Always check with the local government to see if they accept the LLE or if they have an exam requirement.

The LLE license is a unique type of license in Tennessee. It’s designed for electricians who are working on smaller projects that don’t exceed $25,000 in total cost. This includes both the cost of materials and labor. The LLE license is not considered a “Contractor’s” license, and individuals with an LLE license cannot use the term “Contractor.”

Applying for the License

To obtain the Limited Licensed Electrician (LLE) license, the LLE trade exam is required. 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.

The application process for an LLE license involves several steps. First, you must pass the LLE trade exam. This exam tests your knowledge of electrical systems and the National Electrical Code. Once you’ve passed the exam, you can submit your LLE License Application. This application requires you to provide personal information, proof of your passing exam score, and the license fee.

Renewing the License

Renew the license before it expires to prevent working unlicensed. If the renewal is received by the office past the expiration date, it will not get issued without the late fees. If a license is expired 90 days or more, you cannot renew and must submit a license application for reinstatement with a fee of $80.00 ($50.00 renewal fee and $30.00 late penalty fee).

Renewing your electrician license is a critical part of maintaining your ability to legally perform electrical work in Tennessee. The renewal process involves submitting a renewal form and paying the renewal fee before your current license expires. If your license expires, you cannot legally perform electrical work until it has been renewed.

Electrician License Reciprocity

Reciprocity agreements between states can make it easier for licensed electricians to work across state lines without having to meet all the licensing requirements in the new state. Tennessee has reciprocity agreements with several states, which means that if you’re a licensed electrician in one of these states, you may be able to get your Tennessee license without retaking the trade exam.

The states that have a trade exam waiver (reciprocal) agreement with Tennessee include Alabama (General, Electrical, Residential, and HVAC), Arkansas (Commercial/Residential Building only), Georgia (Commercial Building and Electrical), Louisiana (Residential, Commercial, Electrical and Mechanical), Mississippi (Residential, Commercial, Electrical, Mechanical (Unlimited)), North Carolina (Residential/Commercial Building, Electrical), Ohio (Electrical; Plumbing; and HVAC), South Carolina (Commercial Contractors Licensing Board), and West Virginia (Residential, Commercial, Industrial Building, Electrical, Mechanical, Masonry). Tennessee also recognizes the NASCLA (National Commercial Exam).

However, there are some exceptions and other requirements. The reciprocating state must be the applicant’s home/domiciled state, or the applicant must be licensed in one of the participating states and have taken an exam comparable to Tennessee’s. If there is not a trade exam required, there is no need to apply for reciprocity of an exam waiver. Contractors with disciplinary action, open complaints, or felony convictions are not granted a trade exam waiver.

License Bond Requirements in Tennessee

In Tennessee, electricians are required to post a contractor license bond as part of their licensing process. This bond is a form of financial guarantee that protects the state and any consumers who might suffer financial harm due to the electrician’s work. The bond amount varies depending on the type of license and the specifics of the electrician’s business.

For example, electrical contractors who perform work on projects that cost $25,000 or more are required to post a $10,000 bond. This bond must be maintained for the duration of the license period. If the electrician fails to comply with the terms of the bond, a claim can be filed against it. If the claim is validated, the surety company that issued the bond will pay out the claim. The electrician is then obligated to reimburse the surety company for the amount paid out.

It’s important to note that the bond is not insurance for the electrician. Instead, it’s a form of consumer protection that provides a financial guarantee to the state and the consumers who hire the electrician. The bond ensures that the electrician will comply with all state laws and regulations related to their trade.

Insurance Needs for Electricians in Tennessee

Insurance is a critical component of running a successful electrician business. It protects your business from financial losses that can occur due to accidents, property damage, and other unforeseen events. In Tennessee, electricians are required to have certain types of insurance coverage.

One of the most important types of insurance for electricians is General Liability Insurance. 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 most states, General Liability Insurance for Electricians is not mandatory. However, some states do require a license, and usually, one of the requirements is to have General Liability Insurance.

Other types of insurance that electricians might consider include:

  • Commercial Auto Insurance: This covers vehicles used in your business.
  • Inland Marine Insurance: This covers tools and equipment from loss or theft.
  • Workers’ 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.

Remember, the specific insurance requirements can vary by state and the type of work you do, so it’s important to work with an insurance professional who understands the unique needs of electricians.


Becoming a licensed electrician in Tennessee involves understanding the types of licenses, applying for the appropriate license, and renewing the license as needed. It’s important to stay informed about the specific requirements in your city or county, as well as any changes in state regulations. By following these steps, you can establish eligibility, apply for your electrician license, and renew your license as needed.

Remember, working as an electrician without a valid license is illegal and can result in penalties, including fines and the loss of your ability to work in the electrical trade. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your license is always current and valid.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the licensing process for electricians in Tennessee, but it’s always a good idea to check with your local and state authorities for the most up-to-date information.