Exams may differ slightly by state, but most electrician licensing exams contain questions about electrical theory, trade knowledge, wiring installation and safety concerns. For journeyman electricians, exams cover topics such as grounding and bonding, overcurrent protection, boxes and fittings, and lighting. Test questions are typically in multiple-choice format with three to five answer options. All states base their exams on the National Electrical Code, but tests differ according to state regulations and laws concerning electrical system installation and safety.
The three electrician categories are apprentice, journeyman and master. Apprentices work for three to five years under more experienced electricians to gain knowledge before attempting the journeyman exam. This test covers material that includes basic electrical theory and specific skills, including reading blueprints, wiring or terminating devices, installing electrical systems and retrofitting systems with updated technology. Those who pass this test can work unsupervised, though they may only work if a master electrician is present on the job site. They may also need a high school diploma or associate degree depending on state or union regulations.
After three to six years of experience, journeyman electricians may take the master electrician exam to obtain a more advanced license. Some states do not require electricians to have a journeyman license before taking the master exam. Like the journeyman exam, the master exam differs by state according to local laws and regulations. Master exams test skills such as designing wiring systems and circuit routing. Test takers may have to answer questions on trade-related business management and laws. Electricians may have to re-take these exams if they move to another state. However, if an electrician's test score is high and the test is well-regarded, some states acknowledge licensing by other jurisdictions.