The U.S. economy is demanding more and more trade electrical contractors, so it’s a great time to invest in starting or growing your electrical business.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 628,800 electricians working in America today. That number is expected to shoot up 14% between 2014 and 2024, making the job prospects for electricians much brighter than they are for professionals in other industries. This makes sense because homeowners and property managers will always need electricians to help them install components and wiring on projects big and small.
So when you are already an experienced electrical engineer or professional in the field of construction and industrial, commercial, and residential servicing, then why not consider leveling up and become a trade electrical contractor?
What Do Trade Electrical Contractors Do?
Before you set off on your career path, let’s breakdown the roles and responsibilities of an electrical contractor.
An electrical contractor is responsible for designing and building electrical systems.
Many working parts go into an electrical system, including but not limited to:
- Residential wiring
- Service panels
- Electrical boxes
- Outside power lines.
Trade electrical contractors are often confused with electricians. Contractors design and install systems, whereas electricians troubleshoot them. Electrical contractors often hire electricians for projects.
General contractors use trade electrical contractors when building homes from the ground up. Likewise, commercial businesses need electrical contractors. City and state projects rely on experienced contractors, as well.
Demand isn’t slowing down, so this career can take you in different directions.
You could start as a staff electrical contractor for a construction company. If you’re entrepreneurial, you could start an electrical construction company after a few years of experience.
Types of Electrical Contractors
Now, it’s time to narrow your career path. Ask yourself: which type of contractor are you?
Electrical contractors run a gamut.
For starters, line contractors work with high-voltage power.
These contractors design electrical systems for the following industries and more:
- Power plants
- Car manufacturers
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Military projects
Inside, electrical contractors design the electrical wiring systems for residential homes, small businesses, and most building projects. If you choose this career, expect to do a lot of cabling work.
The next career to consider is an integrated building systems contractor, also known as an IBS contractor.
These professionals are responsible for building wireless internet networks, backup power sources, fiber optic systems, LED lighting, and more low-voltage electrical work.
Integrated building systems careers also deals with voice, data, and video projects. That’s why IBS contractors are often called VCV professionals.
How to Become an Electrical Contractor
After finding your lane in this industry, your next challenge is to find the right educational program for your career.
While a 4-year college education is not required for this career, college-level electrical courses are a plus. Local community colleges also offer courses for your job.
If you want to fast track your career, start with the Independent Electrical Contractors Trade Association. IEC is the premier resource for aspiring contractors.
You can find IEC apprenticeship programs at over 50 locations nationwide. There are also educational opportunities through the National Electrical Contractors Association.
1.Get Your License
There are different ways to get the training you need, but it’s critical to note that all professional contractors must be licensed to work. Furthermore, each state has their own requirements for licensing.
Generally, most licenses require an apprenticeship first. States can require up to 10,000 hours of training, in addition to 1,000 hours of classroom lectures.
If you want to meet your requirements quickly, look for a journeyman apprentice program in your city.
The journeyman electrical license is the first license you’ll acquire on your career path. These programs provide much-need training and classes on electrical theory. You’ll also be tested on your knowledge of national and local electric codes.
Journeyman licensing programs take two years to finish on average. Once your hours are completed, you can finally apply for your first contractor license. The quicker you complete your training, the sooner you’ll work!
Once you have your journeyman license, apply for the master electrician license. This license is the document you need to bid on project contracts, obtain permits, manage projects, and build electrical systems.
Your licensing requirements don’t end here!
While you can work professionally with a master’s license, your entrepreneurial spirit may have other goals in mind.
After obtaining your master license, apply for the independent electrical contractor license as soon as you can. This license is mandatory for running a business. However, pay your dues first with another company to learn the ropes of the industry.
Contractor licenses aren’t a one-time deal. You’re required to renew your license. However, the timetable for renewal may vary from state to state.
Now that you have all the requirements you need to start your career as an electrical contractor, the next phase is to make decisions. After gaining experience in the field, take your career to the next level. Use your Master Electrical license to open a business of your own. This way, you can start bidding on lucrative contracts.
To start working, scout for competent electricians who can work with you. If you’ve been an employee, then you might want to ask your former colleagues if they want to join you in your business. Start with a few people first and try getting residential projects. After growing your funds and experience, try to go commercial and industrial. Bid on projects.
Be sure to equip your business with the right tools too. Complete the equipment usually used in the field so you won’t have to rent every time you have a project. Get the basics. Invest in technology too, like electrical contractor software. These programs such as Pro Crew Schedule Electrical Contractor Software will help you organize your projects from job orders to schedules. It will also help you make quotes and write invoices. Furthermore, electrical contractor software will help you track your members’ performance and your equipment too.
3.Develop better branding
When’s the last time you updated your company’s logo? Do you even have a logo? What about a company website?
If it’s been a while since you thought about your logos, it may be time to modernize your company’s branding. Developing strong branding can help your company increase awareness and credibility. It also helps customers recognize your business and remember it the next time they need an electrician. What’s more, great branding convinces your customers that your company is more than just a guy or two hopping from job to job—even if that’s exactly what it is.
When you create an awesome logo and stick it to the side of your work vehicles, you’ll gain more exposure when you’re moving between job sites. You can also buy shirts and hats that have your branding on them too so that people who see you and your team over the course of the day are reminded of your company.
Update your company’s website if it looks like it was designed last decade. Once you’re happy with the new branding you develop, include your modernized logos on all communications to further reinforce your brand.
4.Incentivize your customers
Grow your trade electrical contracting business by encouraging your residential and commercial customers to successfully recommend your services to someone they know. To do that, you could give them discounts on future jobs, which is something a property manager would likely be interested in. You could give residential customers, who might not need your services as often, some small gift—like a $25 Amazon gift card. With the right incentives, your customers will essentially become an extension of your marketing team.
5.Shop suppliers and vendors
Do you know whether you’re getting the best deals on your insurance, utilities, rent, and supplies? If you haven’t shopped suppliers and vendors in a while, you may be surprised at how much money you can save by switching.
In the event you’re already getting great prices from your suppliers, see whether they will offer you extended terms so that you have a little bit longer to settle your account. An extra month or two could be all the difference you need.
Growing an electrical contracting business is hard work. But it’s not impossible. When the going gets tough, you may just have to get a little creative!