Expansion of Electrical License Reciprocity : Update on NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program

Getty Images / Jackie Niam
Published On
Dec 15, 2021

To provide mobility in the licensure process, the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) offers three separate open-book electrical trade examinations through the NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program for electrical contractors (master/unlimited electricians), journeyman electricians and residential electricians. As of April 1, 2021, the 2017/2020 National Electrical Code is one of the primary references on these examinations. NECA is one of several industry stakeholders partnering with NASCLA to create nationally recognized accredited trade examinations for electricians.

NASCLA is a nonprofit corporation formed in 1962 to assist its members in regulating construction contractors while promoting the general public’s protection and the construction industry’s integrity. This is an update on the program acceptance. Currently accepted by 13 state agencies, the NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program is used as an examination waiver for the state-specific trade examination as part of the process for obtaining licensure within each adopting agency.

Examinations within the NASCLA program meet and often exceed existing state licensing requirements, so reciprocity processes are easily achieved.

The NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program provides a shared standard for examinations, but it is not intended to create a national license. Each regulatory agency maintains its sovereignty and will be in control of its licensing requirements, which may include background checks, financials, applications and a state business and law examination, where applicable.

Many ECs hold licenses in multiple states and jurisdictions and are supportive of an examination program that is reciprocal across multiple jurisdictional lines. For electricians, the NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program (where accepted) offers greater mobility because it allows licensed electricians to move quickly between jurisdictional lines for normal electrical contracting, to aid during natural disasters or to help meet demand in states with a high need but limited supply of qualified electricians.

The shared examination also reduces the need for electricians to invest significant time, money and stress traveling to different states to take multiple licensing exams. Once a candidate passes a NASCLA Accredited Examination, their information is stored in the NASCLA National Examination Database. Candidates can send a regulatory agency their transcript electronically to alert the agency that they have passed one or more of the examinations. Regulatory agencies can then pair the transcript with the candidate’s license application.

“NEMA [National Electrical Manufacturers Association] supports the need for state licensing of electricians who are employed by electrical and alarm contractors that install fire alarm products,” said Jack Lyons, Northeast field representative at NEMA, Arlington, Va. “The mobility and portability opportunities for candidates through NASCLA’s nationally accepted trade examination via their NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program will help in this process. States that require and enforce licensing understand the safety hazards associated with an unlicensed and unqualified individual performing work on these systems. Licensing requirements ensure only licensed and qualified individuals, who have received the necessary training and education on the safety aspects, install these products based on product and installation codes and standards.”

“Why are trade licenses treated differently? If someone has shown that they are competent to be licensed as an electrician in one state, why have to test again in another state? Are we to believe that electricity acts differently from one state to another state? I don’t think so,” said Joseph Wages Jr., director of digital education, International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), Richardson, Texas. “Adoption of the NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program by states is a viable solution. It will help states determine that the certificate holder has been tested to a national test produced by members of various national electrical organizations such as NECA, NFPA, IEC, NEMA, IAEI, etc.”

NECA has been working with NASCLA since 2014 and supports efforts to develop these national examinations that could reciprocate with those currently in use by regulatory licensing agencies. NECA chapters and members are encouraged to reach out to their local regulatory agencies to express their support in recognizing these examinations and to encourage serious consideration of this effort at the state and local levels, where feasible.

For more information visit https://www.nascla.org/page/ElectricalExams.

About the Author

Michael Johnston

Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA

Michael Johnston is NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. He is a member of the NEC Correlating Committee, NFPA Standards Council, IBEW, UL Electrical Council and NFPA’s Electrical Section. Reach him at mj@necanet.org.

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