ECN Forum

A National Licencing Scheme??

Posted By: Trumpy

A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 07:48 AM

electure cannot work where Iwire is and Iwire cannot work where electure is.
What's wrong with this picture?.
I'm advocating a US wide National Licencing Scheme.
One Licence, one Qualification for Electricians.
Sure you could have another for Appliance servicemen and another for Linemen.
You guys might say that it's all very well for a Non-US guy to say this.
Over here in New Zealand, if you can't show a Practising Licence at the door, chances are the door will be slammed in your face.
Gets rid of the hacks for a start.
Your thoughts folks?.
Posted By: iwire

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 08:09 AM

Not going to happen in my life time.

Some areas do not have any licensing, another area has had strict requirements for decades.

There is no way that the States will get together on this.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 08:28 AM

Is that because of stubborness, or a
pre-concieved idea that it will not work from the outset?.
Posted By: iwire

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 09:49 AM

Perhaps you would have to live here to understand...and that is not meant at all as an insult.

The fact is we have 50 very different states that are for the most part fiercely independent.

Anything that happens on a national basis is usually done by force.

The seatbelt laws are a good example. The Feds wanted it, many States did not. So the Feds said OK, if you do not pass a seat belt law in your state we will cut off millions of dollars in highway funds.

Back to the electrical Licenses.

Here in MA the requirements to get a Journeyman license are 8000 hours in the field under a licensed person and 600 hours of school.

In some states there are no licenses.

So now you want to go National.

Do you let the long time electricians from the non-licensed areas get a license by 'grandfathering' greatly upsetting those of us that worked hard to get our license.

Or do you make all those electricians that may have been doing fine work for many years stop working and start out as apprentices again?

Mike I would like a National License. I live in a group of the smallest States (New England) I had to test for a MA, CT and RI license I can apply for a NH, ME and VT license based on reciprocity.

We only recently (in the past 15 years) went to a sort of National license for truck drivers. What had been happening was that truck drivers where holding State drivers licenses in many states so that they could hide a large number of road violations.

It took the feds to come down and sat that truck drivers needed a Federal CDL (Commercial Drivers License)

So call it stubbornness or just tradition but I do not see any interest on a Federal level for National Electrical Licenses.

Here in MA one of our Politicians wanted to eliminate trade licensing and inspection. He felt that the free market would be self policing. [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by iwire (edited 12-21-2006).]
Posted By: Texas_Ranger

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 11:37 AM

The fact is we have 50 very different states that are for the most part fiercely independent.

I think this is at the very same time America's biggest advantage and biggest problem. And since it's a historic fact I guess it won't change anytime soon.

On the other hand... I'd see good reasons for forcing a national licensing system, similar to the seat-belt laws but with economic advantages as an incentive.
There could be a requirement like if you can prove you have been working in the trade previously annd pass a simple theory test you get a license, if you're new you have to take the full apprenticeship to get a license (or maybe an advanced college course like it's possible in Austria and Switzerland, students of a technical high School (5 years 14-19, lots of shop work and I think 4 times 4 weeks of working for a company to get real hands-on work experience) and technical College courses (2 years, 2x 4 weeks work experience, that's what I did) are equivalent to journeymen as far as I know and can apply for a master's license after taking a postgraduate course. The master license has to be renewed yearly, so I won't bother to get one until I need it.
Posted By: Dnkldorf

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 11:53 AM

I am under the impression that the seat belt laws were driven by advisory groups that proved that seal belts saved lives. They provided stats and reports that the wearing of the belts in a large number of accidents would of prevented many deaths.

Now, having said this, if somehow a large group of people could prove with stats and reports that many deaths are being caused by unlicensed electricians on the scale of seat belt deaths, maybe someone would listen. But I don't think that is happening here.

Mike, do you have a national plumbing license?
A national remolder (building) license?

Where would you want to stop? Just in our trade, or should everyone who deals with public safety in one way or another be required to be licensed nationaly?
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 04:20 PM

I, for one, have never understood the problem either. I thought it was addressed at the very beginning.

Our Constitution states plainly that we are entitled to all the rights and priveledges of our home throughout the entire country. However, it seems that this part of the Constitution has been recognised only in regards to marraige and drivers' licenses.

So, instead, we have this incredible mish-mash of entangled jurisdictions, differing requirements, and conflicting regulations.

Now, I'm familiar with all the arguments that we need protection, accountability, etc. ... but I'm not convinced that the current system accomplishes any of that. Rather than seeing the license as an endorsement of legitimacy, many folks see it as just another intrusive bit of meddling government, another way to extort your money. Thus, the unlicensed are pretty much able to ply their trades with the active assistance of their prey ... OOPS, I mean customers.

This, of course, can result in an 'upside down' situation, where the law-abiding gets penalised, while the scamp has a competitive advantage.
Posted By: hbiss

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 04:49 PM

Not going to happen because of something that is fundamental to our governing, it's called home rule.

Each town, village, city county and state is responsible for itself. They can do many things independently such as assess taxes, create their own codes and laws as well as dealing with licensing. This is why there is no US drivers license. Each state is responsible for administering their own program.

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 06:53 PM

We are having a hard enough time trying to get a uniform system in one state (Florida). We have a uniform building code but the local inspectors/AHJs are still making this 1000 "intrepretations" of that code. A guy in Collier county still works with different rules than his counterpart a foot away in Lee County.
The same is true of the trades. There is no state wide licensing of the tradesmen, only the contractors and there is an assortment of local journeymen rules. Contractors who have good hiring and training programs in place do not want the state telling them what to do and of course the "handyman" types (wouldn't want to offend the Roma with the common "G" term) want no part of a journeyman card.
If you magnify that times 50 states and 50,000 other AHJs you see the problem.
That doesn't even address the "U" word which is considered very political on this BB and divisive across other parts of the country.
Posted By: NJwirenut

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 07:08 PM

State's rights and "Home Rule" are all well and good, but tend to go out the window whenever the Feds feel like it.

Witness the DEA moving in to bust cancer/AIDS patients and grandmothers with glaucoma in states which have legalized medical marijuana.
Posted By: iwire

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 07:35 PM

Now, I'm familiar with all the arguments that we need protection, accountability, etc. ... but I'm not convinced that the current system accomplishes any of that.

I have worked in areas that have licensing and areas that do not.

I will take licensed and inspected work any day over what I have seen when people are left to do as they please.
Posted By: Roger

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 08:09 PM

Mike, for some comparisons of the licensing laws between states check out the link below.

Posted By: Jps1006

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 08:11 PM

Bob makes some great points. From sea to sea shining sea across this great nation you have a very broad mix of people, people groups, mentalities, ways of doin' things, values, etc.

Some areas of this country would resent the idea that "some people over there are telling us how to do things over here." It must be part of that independent spirit that some how has been passed form generation to generation since the country's inception. Autonomy has a way of feeling more real when power and control remains as local as practical.

Being from IL, just outside of Chicago, I'd love to see at least a state license. Around here, within a given radius of my home town, there are different requirements for codes and licensing, it starts to become a real headache. To me it makes sense to at least have licensing requirements and codes be universal within a couple hour commute, but then you have to debate where the center of that circle is placed.

As a free people, I think it is more comforting to submit power and authority to a local jurisdiction and/or entity. That way if the need should arise to yank that authority back, it would be easier, only a small local uprising rather than another revolution.
Posted By: Elviscat

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 09:58 PM

I would say this is a state's rights issue, this issue has been hotly debated, and at one time even caused the United States to break into a bloody civil war.

Congress is given, in Article I, Section 8, specifically the power to regulate commerce BETWEEN states, and with foreign nations, the right to regulate commerce between states (which, IMHO a national license for tradesmen would do) has long been held as a fundamental right of each individual state (I.E. a state can tax something bought in the state, but only the federal government can tax goods moving between two states) so, if I'm reading the situation right, such a proposal would be unconstitutional.

Remember, the U.S. was not always one nation, it has been 14 several nations (Texas was independant until at asked to be annexed by the United States) and many powers of government are still reserved for the individual states.
Posted By: Mash

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 10:04 PM

Id like to see a country wide license in Australia and all of our electricians are licensed. We are only lisenced in our states and cannot work in another "legally" without getting a license for that state also and we only have 8 states and territorys. I have often wondered how the licensing goes for shutdowns and construction when people come in from different states, maybe it is convieniently ignored? In the long term it would be better for us here and in the US but like many have said, it wont happen quickly.
Posted By: ITO

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/21/06 10:49 PM

It won’t work for the simple reason that anything the US Federal Government touches goes straight to hell; there are way too many special interests, lawyers, and bureaucrats involved. That and the local AHJ would lose too much power.
Posted By: Ann Brush

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 03:12 AM

It's only something the licensed folk will debate, the DIY'ers will continue as usual straight on through till morning.

On the down side, could you imagine trying to get something inspected, you would have to call on someone from the federal electrical inspection agency (closed every time you need them - fill out this form in gazillicate) - you would have a better chance of pulling your own head off. It's better that it's a local issue.
Posted By: NJwirenut

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 03:35 AM

The issues of licensing and inspections are really 2 totally different areas of responsibility.

Because building inspections need to be done at the actual worksites, inspection seems like a natural function of the local municipality. The fact that building improvements also connect with local property tax assesments, etc. provide further reason to leave this at a local level.

I would support licensing of electricians at a national level, though. The NEC in some form is pretty much universal nationwide, and any local amendments/additions could be provided to the electrician when they pull a permit in an area that enforces such changes. A single nationwide licensing standard would help electricians who want to move around the country, help assure consumers of a minimum baseline level of competence no matter where they live, and smooth out a lot of red tape in times of national emergency like hurricane rebuilding efforts where sparkies from all over converge in a given area to lend a hand.
Posted By: ITO

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 03:50 AM

I am hope I find time to play devil's advocate on this tomorrow...
Posted By: XIceboss

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 06:02 AM

It is to my understanding in the medical field (As In a Doctor)you can have a "National" license if you take your test in California, Michigan, or New York. That is something I heard many years ago. Never bothered to check it out though. In fact if I am thinking right your Board Exam from those three states helps you get your license in any state. I'm all for State's rights. But, good grief this is the 21st Century. I have heard rumors in Florida you have to yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. Including Doctors with a barely visible tag on the front license plate! Do you know every State's traffic laws? I don't and I think common sense should prevail here.
Posted By: LK

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 07:44 AM

"On the down side, could you imagine trying to get something inspected, you would have to call on someone from the federal electrical inspection agency"

Ann, not to worry, you could buy a permit at the post office, then train the postal carriers to do inspections, this way they could do the inspections on their route.
Posted By: e57

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 07:47 AM

Funny, I grew up where Iwire is, and currently live where Electure lives... I didn't go back for that reason, and its freezing COLD there! A few other reasons too... But when I started the trade here, if I went back, I would have to start over again. (If I knew the right people... as the saying goes with the crooked nose crowd - it could have been easier.)

But I can drive all across the country with a single drivers license, and be required to get one in what ever state after I appear to develop residency there. (CA is 90 days) The money is all green, toilets all turn the same way when flushed and we all drive on the right side of the road, and for the most part we all speak the same language... I can also take your order at any Jack in the Box nation-wide.... But if I want to work as an electrician, or contract in another state - that's where it gets squirly! In my sincerest opinion this HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH STANDARDS!


Sorry for shouting.... the subject tweeks me...

As standards go we are all pretty much on similar levels, similar codes with some exception and do similar work, practices vary only slightly - except for Chicago, and that is a case in point IMO. But really this is to reduce or restrict "traveler" employment, and eliminate out-of-state contractors who might follow the work and take the money and leave the state to spend it elsewhere. For the most part that is why these types of laws were enacted - but they did so under the guise of safety, and fear... Much the way California's 'Certification' joke was initiated. Meant to level a playing field within the state and unlevel it for others from outside the state. (A few other shims in thier too for other favoritisms.) Reciprocal agreements are extensions of the same, you're in my 'region' and you can work here, but not them fancy boys from wherever they come from.... Now if say you were an RN (Registered Nurse) they would be saying - "Come on in, sit right down, have some wine, rest your head on this pillow made of money - that is yours to keep for your time. We'll help you prepare for a mandatory test you have to take - but don't worry we have a nice job and we'll find you a nice place to live here too...." Supply and demand - simple. They want nurses.... They don't want other electricians or contractors coming in to take thier work....
Posted By: Texas_Ranger

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 12:22 PM

I guess it's still very important to make a difference between licensing issues and local codes!
For example, the small country of Austria has got 9 different state construction codes, still, construction workers are allowed to work in all 9 states if they work to local code!
The same is true with PoCo amendments concerning metering and surrounding equipment.
So it IS possible to keep a great deal of local authority while making licensing nationwide!
Posted By: dougwells

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 12:26 PM

we have a program in Canada
Posted By: Ryan_J

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 06:12 PM

Utah has reciprocal licensing with several states in the West.
Posted By: LearJet9

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/22/06 06:46 PM

I agree with e57. It's a subject that gets under my skin. If you are licensed in MA, you can get a recip license in ME, NH, VT, OR and WA but NOT in RI or CT!! I know the reason is politics but it is crazy! We all take a test based on the "NATIONAL" E.C. (I think) So, like driving thru the country, I think we should be able to work in ANY state with our issued license. If you don't have a license for whatever reason, you are not included. If you move to a particular state, you must get that license within XX months.

[This message has been edited by Roger (edited 12-22-2006).]
Posted By: Obsaleet

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/24/06 04:34 PM

It will never happen. Dr's, Lawyers, Teachers, Nurse's, businesses and many others i'm sure, all are not under 1 "National" license. How can we think we could be? But I think having a license in 1 state should allow 1 to either waive apprenticeship or be out right reciprocal. A quick review test would be fine. I.E. drivers license test from state to state.

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/24/06 05:00 PM

I am probably the best example of why simply testing people is a bad idea. I always do very well on tests, even if I don't have a clue what I am talking about. If it was just a test I would be a doctor, a lawyer and an indian chief.
Apprentice programs may be intended to control the flow of new people into trades and might be holding back faster learners but they do somewhat guarantee that a person has some real experience and training.
Posted By: pauluk

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/24/06 09:21 PM


Perhaps I can chime in here, as I'm somewhat familiar with the American systems (more so than the average Brit anyway), but of course I grew up in the U.K. where many more things are handled at a national level, as I imagine is the case in N.Z.

You have to remember that many more things in the U.S. are done at state, county, and even city level than in most other countries. For example, because sales tax is handled locally, you might pay a 5% tax in one particular state, then each county can add its own 1 or 2%, and cities can then add tax too, so you might pay 8% in this town, 7.5% in the next town, 7% in the rest of the county, only 6% in the next county over, and so on. That's a big contrast to the typical system elsewhere where the same rates apply right across the country.

Remember too that the U.S. Constitution specifically states that powers not explicitly assigned to the Federal govt. are reserved to the individual states and the people.

Hence Bob's example:
Anything that happens on a national basis is usually done by force.

The seatbelt laws are a good example. The Feds wanted it, many States did not. So the Feds said OK, if you do not pass a seat belt law in your state we will cut off millions of dollars in highway funds.

And as somebody who thinks that the seatbelt laws have absolutely no place in a free society and has opposed them ever since they were introduced, I see that as nothing but legalized blackmail.

As I understand it, the same happened with the "double nickel." The Feds had no legal authority to order individual states to enforce a 55 mph speed limit, so they resorted to threats of withdrawing federal funding for any state which failed to comply.

I believe that at least one or two places (Kansas for one?) enforced the 55 limit to keep funding, but set the fine for exceeding 55 (but not over the old limit) to a paltry $5.

Also, just remember how vast the U.S.A. is compared to the U.K., New Zealand, or many other countries, e.g. although the populations are vastly different, the entire land area of the U.K. would fit comfortably within the single state of Wyoming.

[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 12-24-2006).]
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/26/06 11:54 AM

Interesting Paul,
I can't see why it is called the United States of America, when there seems to be no unity whatsoever.
They don't like metrics or the way other English speaking countries spell thier words, like Colour {Color}, or Light {Lite}.
Not Queens English at all.
When they poured the tea into the harbour, they must have tossed all the dictionaries in there as well!.

{Please take this post as tongue-in-cheek as it was written, it's only a joke.} [Linked Image]
Posted By: Alan Belson

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/26/06 12:45 PM

1. The only dictionary existant at the time of the Boston tea party would have been Dr. Johnson's [1755]; but he was still writing it in 1746. Besides, even a proof copy of such a weighty tome would have probably caused a minor tsunami had the rebels the strength to heave it over the gunwales*. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy to hand right now, but his spelling was bloody pathetic as well! 'Physicks' was one I remember.

2. United States is presactly what it says on the label. Otherwise, it would be just America and Texas!

3. As to losing England and NZ in Wyoming, while a laudable notion, it's just plain silly. We'd find them both straight away, by all the whining, carping and tutting coming from the long grass!


edit, after looking up date of the BTP!
[ Afficionados of Blackadder will remember that Baldrick burnt the original by mistake, forcing Blackadder to rewrite the whole thing in one night! ].

[This message has been edited by Alan Belson (edited 12-26-2006).]
Posted By: hypress

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/26/06 11:45 PM

What about a national certificate of compentency. If I have a NCC then I can go in to a area or city that accepts the NCC buy a local license and work.
The best of both worlds. The city gets to sell a license and I only have to to take tests in areas that do not accepts the NCC.The major selling point of the NCC is one must document continuing education on the NEC to renew thge NCC.
I can remember the National Board of Electrical Examaners late 80's early 90's I did see it in EC&M magazine.I did take and pass the journeymans test it cost $150.00 and wag good for 3 years.The organization did not last long enough for me to renew my license.I think it was only accepted in 5 states at the most.The key to getting anything to work is the sponsering organizations creditibility. I think that perhaps a national industral electrical might be a good thing this would help the road whores who work the powerhouse and petro-chemical construction and shutdown circuit.With a industrial license you would have to be under the supervision of a engineering staff and you could not work outside of the power and petro-chemical industry.
Posted By: e57

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/27/06 02:49 AM

Trumpy check out this gent , from what I understand, you are very correct in the thinking that we were not going to continue speaking the "Queens English", put her on our money as the rest of thier former colonies, fork in left hand up-side down - knife in right, or drive on the left. (Traitors and spies were found out due to this 'fork in hand' type of thing way back in the Revolution. -says the common American myth.)Or any of those other tell-tale English subtleties. As far as 'United' goes, you'll just have to think of where the EU got thier examples from.... The United (Nation) States of America. Some of them would like to suceed, and some wish others would..... [Linked Image] There are still political parties who maintain the adgenda, and dedicated to the division of State and Federal rights and responcabilities. Calling the US a single nation is a mis-nomer in some minds....

[This message has been edited by e57 (edited 12-27-2006).]
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/27/06 05:48 AM

If you really start looking at where federalism started you have to go back to the end of the civil war and the 14th amendment. That still was only seen as giving rights to individuals until the 60 and 70s when the courts started ruling that section 1 gave people the "right" to be oppressed by the federal government. We are all "victims" of things the feds think are too dangerous for us. Things that were reserved for the states started becoming federal issues with things like the drug war, the EPA, BATF and the afore mentioned national speed limit. Now all americans have the right to go to jail for unconstitutional federal laws. Ain't we lucky!
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/31/06 07:31 AM

To be honest I like what hypress has to say.
What really gets me up in arms when anyone has an idea, is the fact that the City will try and implement it, but with lots of people that have nothing to do, as in, it will not be implemented properly.
I am not saying strip the cities of their jurisdiction, but implement what is going on, better.
Sure there will be arguments and there will be whinging and screaming.
A National Licence is the next way forward, why fight it?.
Only the honest Electricians will apply, and that gives you leverage.
Handyman anyone?. [Linked Image]
Posted By: iwire

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/31/06 01:47 PM

Mike I respectfully suggest your looking at it backward.

A National License is the next way forward, why fight it?.

I do not believe many electricians would fight against it. I would gladly test for a National license.

The problem is who will fight for it?

What organization will pay the bill to lobby Congress for it. (Money is what makes Congress act)

Lets assume some National agency decided it was time for a National license.

What leverage would they use to get each state to agree?

As has been pointed out in many cases the Federal Govt literally has to blackmail each individual state into agreement on most any issue.

I think if you lived here you would have a better idea of the resistance of each individual state to compromise with another.

Keep in mind many states do not even have State electrical licensing yet.

JMO, waiting for my National License Application, Bob

Edit Spelling

[This message has been edited by iwire (edited 12-31-2006).]
Posted By: pauluk

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/31/06 03:46 PM

As has been pointed out in many cases the Federal Govt literally has to blackmail each individual state into agreement on most any issue.

And if my time spent living and traveling in America is anything to go by, a great many people have a huge distrust of the Feds getting involved with anything, and would much rather see control (for licensing or anything else) retained locally than to have it handed over to the Federal Govt.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/31/06 05:23 PM

There are plenty of areas in "flyover" states that have no building departments to enforce a national license and they don't want any. It is very common out in the country to see a sign "building permits required beyond this point" when you enter a city. Out of town you are on your own. I bet the stats are not any worse there than they are in the city. I guess residents out in the sticks are smart enough not to screw with the wirenuts on a flying splice.
Posted By: Elviscat

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 12/31/06 06:54 PM

yup, I doubt there's many EC's out there big enough to foot the bill for a lobbying company, and if there are any I doubt they're really motivated to do it. Some companies do have a ridiculous amount of lobbying power, for example the national dairy council (or whatever it's called) managed to lobby the FDA to include dairy as a bigger portion of the ridiculous "food pyramid" along with the grain farmers and meat and poultry producers [Linked Image]

[This message has been edited by Elviscat (edited 12-31-2006).]
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: A National Licencing Scheme?? - 01/04/07 11:16 PM

Speak of it, and it shows up.....

I just returned from renewing my local journeyman card. Lo and behold, there WILL be changes made by this time next year....

Reno has adopted ICC certification. Also recognised in the Las Vegas area, getting the ICC card will allow me to work statewide without the need for additional certifications.

For that matter, it will be recognised anywhere else that has adopted ICC certification.

As an already credentialed journeyman, I will not have to take a test; there are some paperwork hoops to jump through, though. The new card will be good for 3 years, and include a photo ID.

There is a requirement for some continuing education, be it from ABC, IBEW, IAEI, or others.

I'm not sure if this is a good, or bad thing. It came to me completely 'out of the blue.' It does, however, seem to be creating a sort of "national certification." It also looks to be avoiding all the mess our western neighbor (California) created with their attempt at certification.
© 2020 ECN Electrical Forums