Licensure: Are You Ready?

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You’ve been to school to learn your trade and you’ve gotten a job plying your trade, so what’s next?

Maybe you’d like to start your own business or just get a boost in pay. You know how to do your job, and now you want something that proves you know what you are doing.

Maybe you should consider licensure.

This is a big step and one that takes lots of preparation. There are several steps and many things to consider.

Are you ready?

One of the first steps in obtaining your license is locating all the information you need to apply for and take the exams. Yes, exams. There are two. One is the technical exam for the area in which you are seeking licensure. The other is a Business Management and Law exam that is required for all contractors’ licenses.

There are two types of license available:

  • South Carolina contractors’ license
  • South Carolina residential specialty license

Since the requirements are different for the two, we will start with the SC Contractor’s License. The procedure is a three-step process.

  1. Obtain two years of verifiable commercial experience in the past five years
  2. Pass both the technical exam and the S.C. Contractors’ Law exam
  3. Submit an application to the state for licensure

There are also fees that will need to be paid along the way.

  • Technical Exam: $60-75
  • Business Law Exam: $75
  • Initial License and Renewal Fee: $350 Bi-annually (Just reduced to $135.00)

There are other expenses that will need to be covered if one plans to start their own contracting business such as liability insurance, workman’s compensation, privilege licenses, and permitting fees, just to name a few.

The residential specialty license is less expensive, but it only allows the license holder to perform residential work. The licensing procedure is similar to the contractors’ license. The procedures are

  1. Obtain one year of experience under a licensed electrical contractor
  2. Submit an application to the SCLLR with a $100 application fee
  3. Pass both the technical exam and Business Law exam
  4. Pay the licensing fee

The fees are:

  • Technical exam: $75
  • Business Law exam: $75
  • (If taken together: $90 for both)
  • Initial License and Renewal Fee – $160
  • Application fee: $100

About the Exams

The Business Law exam consists of 50 questions with a two-hour time limit.

The Contractors’ Technical exam consists of 80 questions with a four-hour time limit.

The Residential Specialty exam consists of 60-80 questions with time limits from 180 – 240 minutes.

If you look at the time limits and number of question per exam, you will see that the average time per question is 3-5 minutes. These tests are open book, but taking the time to look each one up will take more time than is allotted.

You are allowed reference books, but when I added up the number of pages in the four reference books allowed for the Electrical Contractors’ exam, it came to a whopping 3,287 pages. This means that in preparing to take the exams, the best preparation would be to know as much of the material as possible so that you don’t need to look up each question and to be familiar enough with the reference material to be able to find the tables and articles quickly.

I highly recommend that anyone preparing for taking their exam attend a preparatory class. I would avoid the “quickie” two-day seminars as they are more strategy sessions than information sessions.

If you are ready for the next step, give us a call and we will be glad to help you prepare.

Links

PSI Application

Document #165

https://candidate.psiexams.com/catalog/fti_agency_license_details.jsp?fromwhere=findtest&testid=432

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What Will You Be?

What do I want to be when I grow up?

What do I do now that I have finished high school?

This is a hard decision facing many young people right now. As part of our recruiting efforts, we speak with many high school students and guidance counselors every year. I always start with the same question: who wants to be a plumber, electrician, carpenter, or HVAC technician? I usually see very few hands raised.

My next question is what do you want to be? I seem to always get the same responses: engineer, architect, doctor, lawyer, casino manager. While I applaud these students for their lofty goals, I wonder to myself if they have looked at the cost and time involved in training and, most importantly, the salary and job outlook for their planned career.

When I ask students about those things, most have no idea of the forecast growth and starting salary for the career they have chosen. This make me wonder how such highly intelligent students can commit a minimum of four years of their lives and thousands of dollars for training for a career in which they may never be able to get a job.

I realize that not everyone has the mental capacity for a career as tradesperson, but I think that many do, so it disturbs me that they are planning to waste a lot of time and money on education for career that may never even take off.

They are making choices without even considering their options.

We have had several successful graduates from our programs that came to us because they could not find jobs even though they held a bachelor’s or master’s degree. We have programs where, in as little as sixteen weeks, we can prepare a student for a rewarding career, a career that has an expected job growth of more than 20% and a median pay of about $20-25 per hour.

I’ve had many students ask how much money they could make in the trades, and my reply is always, “How much do you want to make?” There are many very wealthy business owners that got their start at a technical college.

We just ask that you consider all your options before making a decision that will affect the rest of your life.

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Surge Protection

 

lightening storm

Since this is the time of year for tremendous lightning storms and heavy winds that can cause downed power lines, I thought I’d share some information on surge protection. Electrical surges are caused when higher than line voltages are inadvertently applied to the internal wiring of a building.

Most people have surge protection for their electronics in the form of power strips with built-in surge protection, and they are great, but they only protect the items plugged into them. What about your other electronics? Do you have one of the newer clothes washers? Dryer? Range? Microwave? If so, then a power surge could damage these items resulting in costly repairs. A whole house surge protection unit may be a good investment for your house. With whole house surge protection, all of the electronics in the house would then have surge protection. A whole house surge protector is installed in, or attached to, the main breaker panel. Some are even designed so that they replace one of the double pole (240 volt such as the range or dryer) breakers. Others mount to the outside of the panel.

A friend told me a few days ago that the control board went out on her kitchen range. When she had a service technician check the range, she was told that the part to fix her three-year-old range was no longer available, and if it were, it would cost $275.00 plus labor to install. Of course, we commiserated a bit about how things aren’t made the way they used to be, but the bottom line is that spending a few dollars for whole house surge protection may have prevented the damage. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

For more information on whole house surge protection, call a licensed electrician or visit the website for the manufacturer of your electrical panel. I have also included a link to a great article on the This Old House website.

Electrical Wiring – Do NOT Try This at Home!

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At Least This Guy Survived!

Electrical wiring is best left to the professionals. In order to become a licensed electrical contractor in the state of South Carolina, one must meet several qualifications. The first is a minimum of two years experience under the supervision of a licensed electrician. Secondly, one must pass the master electrical exam and business exam: 80 questions, four hour time limit-50 questions, 3 hour time limit, respectively. Which means that you have about three minutes per question. Thirdly, once the exam have been passed, (most don’t make it this far!) you must submit your application to the state for an electrical contractor’s license. Oh, and you must complete the Code of Laws Take Home exam, 40 questions, and submit it with your application. Lastly, one should obtain a minimum one million dollar liability insurance policy, just in case. Fees, I almost forgot the fees, about $700 in fees just to get started.

Why is it so hard to get an electrical license? The reason is to protect you! 

Electrical contractors are held to a high standard of professionalism. Our work is subject to inspection by officials that are employed by the jurisdictions in which we work. We have a code that we are required to follow, the National Electrical Code, an 870 page book of regulations that is updated every three years. The purpose of the Code is: Article 90-Practical Safeguarding. The purpose of this Code is the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the hazards arising from the use of electricity.

 

Do yourself a favor, the next time you need some electrical work done don’t call your brother-in-law because he once hung his own ceiling fan, call a professional. And, by the way, when you get the bill, try to remember what I’ve said about the journey to be an electrical contractor. Your electrical contractor has invested literally thousands of dollars into becoming the professional that you want working in your home.

Come see us at York Tech, and we can teach you to do it the right way! Or call us at (803) 981-7755.