July 14, 2023

What You Need to Know About Electrification Licenses and Permits as an Electrical Contractor


6 Min. Read

This article was originally published July 21, 2021 and was updated July 23, 2023. 

With the continued expansion of the renewable energy transition comes new expectations for electrical contractors. Safety and quality standards are accepted, and new regulations spring up alongside them. Equipped with an understanding of the necessary licenses and permits for this rapidly evolving technology, you can expand your business to cover the growing demand for these services, including at-home EV charger station installations.

Standardization in the World of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is the fastest-growing energy source in the United States. Power production from wind, solar, and hydropower grew 58% from 2019 to 2022 and is only expected to keep accelerating exponentially. Renewable energy now comprises about 22% of electricity powering the country, which is already more than coal or nuclear energy provide. This sector has created thousands of jobs across industries and opened up new business opportunities for electrical contractors.

As the renewable energy market surges, international and local standards need to keep pace. Existing standards must be changed or restructured to deal with new technologies, including post-installation services, repairs, and maintenance.

Cities are moving fast to make standardization a priority so services and safety requirements can be consistent nationwide.

Certifications, Licenses, and Permits for Electrical Contractors

Knowing the differences between these terms is important to remain compliant. In the electrical contracting industry, staying current with any changes to codes, permits, or licensing requirements is a must. For electrical contractors, we will look at a few definitions:

Electrical Contractors Certificate

An electrical contractors certificate is usually earned from a national or international professional society. They show that you have considerable knowledge in a specific area of your trade, such as a renewable energy certificate.

Generally, unless you provide a permit under the owner builder rule then an unlicensed contractor cannot pull permits. Permits are required on all EV installations per the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in most areas. Some states are even going as far as requiring licensing for the individual workers that are working for said contractor. By hiring a non-licensed contractor, you also are taking a huge liability risk. They are considered to be employees of the residence or building owner. In the event of damage to a person or property you will be held liable by law to cover all costs. This includes if the un-licensed worker gets hurt or hurts another person on your property.

An electrical contractor’s certificate isn’t required for you to perform work, but they add credibility and can help ensure you have a full understanding of the technology installation requirements for optimal installation, safety, and efficiency. Besides the renewable energy certificate, other useful certifications for electrical contractors show you are knowledgeable about residential, voice data video, OHSA safety, medium voltage cable splicing, certified energy management, and other areas.

Beyond helping you learn about other technologies, electrical certifications are a good marketing tool. You can showcase that you have studied and earned a certificate in that area. Additionally, an electrical contractor’s certificate will move with you state-to-state, allowing you to gain customers across a region or the entire country as you continue to build your business.


Electric contractor licenses are very different from electrical certifications. Electrical licenses are issued by each state and must be held by electrical contractors to perform and provide services in that state legally. If you move out of state, your license becomes invalid unless you move to a state that offers reciprocal licensing.

A license shows customers that you are educated and experienced in dealing with the dangers inherent in electrical work. Remember, electrical safety rules vary by state. For example, California requires 8,000 hours of work for a general electrician license contractor to install, construct, or maintain electrical systems covered by the National Electrical Code (NEC).


Permits are necessary documents that apply to the city where you are working. The NEC provides standards and guidelines on how electrical work should be performed. Electrical contractors need to “pull” permits before any work is started. This protects both the customer and the contractor.

Opportunities and Advantages of Renewable Energy

The renewable energy market can transform struggling electrical contractors into successful ones. Here are a few advantages.

  • A new customer base for contractors. Modern technology in energy brings new business opportunities. More customers are installing solar panels, battery storage systems, as well as charging stations for their EVs. This opens up new territory for electrical contracting businesses.
  • Retrofits can be profitable. When merging old technology with new, electrical contractors will be in demand to help with these projects. This creates new revenue streams for the business.
  • Increased knowledge base. Learning new technology makes you more marketable as an electrical contractor.

Renewable energy typically consists of solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and a few others. Contractors who know the latest technology are needed to install and provide repairs, especially as they continue to become more prevalent across the country.

Big and small battery storage projects will need electrical contractors to allow the storing of excess renewable energy, ensuring power is available when the sun sets or there is no wind.

Common household installation projects may include rooftop solar panels, battery storage, EV charging (particularly bidirectional EVs), and a smart panel to help manage and make the most of the power. Alternatively, a homeowner might need to charge their EV or run their laundry during peak hours and opt to use the power they stored instead of paying for high utility rates.

On a commercial scale, battery storage is growing as businesses and other entities want to store renewable energy and avoid grid- or weather-related outages. Various states also have major battery installation projects, with Maine becoming the ninth state to set battery storage goals as part of its electrification efforts.

In the solar niche, electricians continue to be in high demand to integrate solar panels and complete wiring.

The explosion of electric vehicles in the market opens up an entirely new area with limitless potential. EVs reportedly comprised 7.1% of the new car market in January, a 77% increase over January 2022. In California, EVs were 19% of new cars sold in 2022.

The automobile landscape is changing daily and will only continue to spark new businesses and opportunities down the line. Customers are demanding in-home EV charging stations, and businesses are opting to install charging units in their parking facilities, fleet depots, and in the homes of their fleet drivers, creating a great opportunity for electrical contractors to obtain new business.

Differences in Residential Versus Commercial Installs

There is demand for both residential and commercial charging stations, and electrical contractors should be aware of some differences.

Residential projects require permits. Site plans and load calculations will need to be submitted and approved before work starts. Residential applications have normally been less complex, but with the advent of new electrification technology, the complexity is growing.

Commercial installations also require permits but may require additional paperwork, depending on location and the local authority. They can also be more complex since some locations require intensive work to extend access to power with trenching, power and panel upgrades, longer cabling, and other needs.

In either situation, it is important to understand and apply all codes as dictated by NFPA 70 and to research recent aspects of the code. For example, Article 625 applies specifically to charging equipment that is external to the vehicle.

Partner With Qmerit for Success

Partnering with Qmerit puts your business at the forefront of electrification projects near you. With more than 269,000 EV charging stations and 18,500 battery storage sysyems installed, 86,700 electric panels upgraded, and 53,000 solar systems integrated for homes and business across North America, Qmerit is the leading provider of electrification services and installations across the United States and Canada.

As North America’s most trusted network of electrical contractors for electrification technologies, Qmerit-certified electricians benefit from continued and in-depth training, expert tutorials, technical guides, and updates on the latest electrification trends and technologies, as well as business support. Moreover, you’ll be able to receive exclusive access to electrification projects involving fleets, leading automakers, utilities, EV charger manufacturers, and more.

This partnership will open up a new customer base for your electrical contracting company, provide training and resources, and make you a leader in your local market.

Reach out to Qmerit for more information today.

Author: David Santillo

David Santillo

Senior Vice President, Contractor Support