Ya Gots to Have A License

When I first started working in the electrical trade we paid no attention to licensing, permits, inspection or unions.  Mostly we worked on farms.  Farmers are great innovators!  They usually do anything that needs to be done.  Most of the farm wind chargers were wired by the farmers themselves.  We were just an extension of that do-it-yourself mentality.

When the R.E. A. (Rural Electrical Administration) came to the farms, bringing power to the outlying areas, electrical work came under the auspices and oversight of the Federal Government.  It was difficult for many individuals to submit to that oversight.  Even today after many decades there is still a deep seated resentment towards electrical oversight, especially regarding permits, licenses, and registration.

The National Electric Code was first implemented in the 1800s.  Most of the time, it had only been enforced in cities.  Starting there we have become more and more regulated.  As an electrician, starting in North Dakota and moving into Montana and then on to Washington and Idaho, I had to have more and more licenses.

It was also necessary to become familiar (QUITE familiar) with the NEC code book.  Just as soon as you get it figured out, it is adjusted and revised, every three years.  The changes involve new regulations and laws, and dropping or rewording regulations.  There have been times where after three years of considering, discussing, offering amendments etc. a new code change is implemented.  A great deal of people whine and complain about it, and three years later the code is changed again; back to its original form.  And you have to keep up with the whole process.

After about 35 years experience in the trade, work dropped off considerably.  Instead of choosing to travel around the country (have electrical tool box – will travel), my wife and I decided to start our own business.  We were tired of being broke and out of work.  Starting our own business cured the “out of work” part of the equation.

It was easier said than done.  To get my Washington Electrical Administrators license I had to pass 4 sections with a passing grade.  I had to test a total of 8 times to get the final O.K. to run an electrical contracting business.  It cost about $500.00.

At one time I was keeping seven licenses current.  Keeping inspectors satisfied, customers satisfied, and general contractors satisfied came to be a major part of my life.  To this day, I have to take “up-dates” on a regular basis to keep my licenses existent.

I did manage to build up a good customer base before I turned the business over to my sons.

Some inspectors have been a joy to work with.  Others, not so much.  Then one day one of my daughters married an exceptionally sharp man.  He studied the code book and became an inspector.  Now he teaches electricians and inspectors.  Our company now has the respect of inspectors and customers alike.  The inspectors have come to trust our understanding of the code.

My how things have changed for this barefooted North Dakota farm boy!