Low Voltage Electrician

Average SalaryAvg. Hourly Wage
$53,600$28.60
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Low voltage electricians work around and in residential and commercial structures installing, upgrading, repairing, and maintaining low voltage electrical systems.

As a profession, low voltage electrician occupation exists since the early 20th century.

Originally, they were installing, maintaining, and repairing leadline telephone networks.

A hundred years later, this occupation became fully mature since multiple low voltage systems are now common.

They include CCTV systems and other security devices as well as broadband cabling and on-site fiber optics, and more.

In terms of licensing, low voltage electricians face countless state regulations.

However, the professional techniques, guidelines, and tools are regulated by the National Electrical Code (NEC).

Low voltage electricians with proper credentials can count on growing salaries, stable job environment, and challenging and diverse daily tasks.

Low Voltage Electrical Job Settings

Low voltage electricians, a.k.a voice-data-video (VDV) electricians, install, repair, and maintain low voltage electrical systems, including:

  • Landline telephones.
  • CCTV (closed-circuit television) systems.
  • Broadband internet.
  • Home entertainment systems.
  • LAN (local area network) and WAN (wide area network).
  • Security and fire alarms.
  • Telephone systems.
  • Fiber optic networks.
  • Cable and digital television.

According to the NEC, low voltage systems include those that run from 0 to 49 volts.

However, this definition may vary in different jurisdictions.

As you can see from the list above, low voltage electrical systems are common in all places where there is electricity:

  • Public services settings.
  • Residential settings.
  • Industrial settings.
  • Offices and businesses.
  • Ships, airplanes, trains, buses, and automobiles.
  • Hospitals and schools.

Duties and Skill Requirements

When working on the installation, repairing, or maintenance of the low voltage systems, electricians face the following common duties:

  • Dressing and terminating distribution frames.
  • Trimming out security devices.
  • Testing and adjusting connections to diagnose problems.
  • Working with low voltage cables, conduits, and circuits.
  • Analyzing schematics, blueprints, and drawings of low voltage electronic systems.
  • Roughing in new installations.
  • Pulling and terminating wiring cables, such as Cat 5E or 6.
  • Installing and wiring alarm panels.
  • WAP and card access system installations.
  • Working with coaxial cables, category rated cables, and fiber optics.
  • Installing alarm systems that include pull stations, strobes, horns, detectors, and exit signs.
  • Installing j-hooks and ladder racks.
  • Working with DC battery systems.
  • Programming video surveillance equipment.

Training and License Requirements

License and training requirements can differ depending on the state, county, and city given how on what kind of requirements the licensing jurisdiction sets.

A comprehensive state-by-state directory of licensing requirements for low voltage electricians is provided by the NECA (National Electrical Contractors Association).

It’s divided by occupation, e.g., alarm technician, telecommunication technician, etc.

This directory is briefly summarized below.

Low voltage electricians can obtain a license in three common ways:

  • Low voltage electrical work can be included in the residential electricians’ category by the licensing jurisdictions.
    In this case, you will have to follow the residential electrician licensing path.
    It includes 4-6 years of an apprenticeship followed by an exam.
    Then, 2-4 years as a journeyman plus examination, and master electrician.
    At this level, you may have to pass an exam to obtain a contractor’s license should you need one.
  • In some jurisdictions, low voltage electricians are classified as a separate licensing category.
    The licensing and training requirements, in this case, don’t take as much time as residential electricians.
    This path also includes the standard licensing process with apprentice-journeyman-master levels.
  • In some jurisdictions, low voltage electricians can be licensed according to their individual roles.
    It implies a different licensing process for each specialty, such as fire alarm technicians, security alarm technicians, phone line technicians, and so on.
    The amount of time necessary for such licensing is the least compared to other paths and can be completed within just a few months.

Low voltage electricians may not be regulated in some jurisdictions at all, while in others, they may have to meet additional requirements not included in any of the standard processes.

To find out how exactly the licensing process is regulated in your area, check with the local chapter of the IBEW or the regulatory agency of your jurisdiction.

Certification for Low Voltage Electricians

In some jurisdictions, licensing is considered to be certification.

For the areas that require a training program and formal education for licensure, universities and colleges may offer certification programs that meet the requirements for a state license.

There is also a professional specialty certification.

It’s another type of certification available through national organizations that allows you to distinguish yourself showing your expertise in a special trade area.

These nationally recognized credentials may be required or optional as an addition to your qualifications.

Certifications for low voltage electricians are usually offered in specific categories by national organizations.

Here are some of the options available from the national organizations:

  • Electronics Technicians Association (ETA):
    • Residential Electronics Systems Integrator.
    • Electronic Security Networking Technician.
    • Fiber Optics Technician.
    • Data Cabling Installer.
    • Certified Alarm Security Technician.
    • Fiber Optics Installer.
  • Elite Continuing Education University (CEU):
    • Alarm Level 1.
    • Video Surveillance Systems and Closed Circuit Television.
    • AEIT (Advanced Electronic Intrusion Technician).
    • Burglar/Fire Alarm Systems Agent (BASA/FASA).
  • National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies:
    • Audio Systems.
    • Video Security Systems.
    • Fire Alarm Systems.

Fiber Optic Association (FOA) Certification.

There are also third-party companies providing preparation courses for the certification exams that the organizations mentioned above hold:

  • Fire Alarm Certification.
  • National Training Center.
  • Marcraft.

Salaries and Major Employers

The salary examples listed below are from the July 2016 data.

They represent what type of salaries the properly credentialed low voltage electricians can make.

These examples are solely illustrative and don’t represent specific job offers or assurance of the level of pay or employment.

  • Communications Technician with IES in Irvine, California: $37,440.
  • Low Voltage Technician with Outsource in San Jose, California: $62,400 minimum.
  • Low Voltage Electrician with Urban Alarm in Washington DC: $47,923.
  • Low Voltage Technician with South Bay Communications in San Jose, California: $31,200 – $62,400.
  • Low Voltage Service Technician in Atlanta, Georgia: $45,760 – $62,400.

The major employers of low voltage electricians in the metropolitan job markets include:

San Francisco

  • Outsource.
  • Mobile Tech Inc.
  • Amazon.
  • MGA Employee Services Inc.
  • IES Communications.

Philadelphia

  • L-3 Communications.
  • Siemens.
  • Automated Digital Homes.
  • Armstrong Group of Companies.
  • VC Corp.

Atlanta

  • American Systems.
  • Atlantic Workforce.
  • Cana Communications.
  • TEKSystems.
  • Videojet Technologies.

Chicago

  • Pangea Real Estate.
  • MAC Property Management.
  • Prime Communications.
  • Spencer Technologies.
  • Toshiba.

Dallas-Fort Worth

  • Facility Solutions Group.
  • Archon Inc.
  • Prime Communications Inc.
  • City of Fort Worth.
  • National Switchgear.

Licensing Requirements By State

The following information is the summary provided by the NECA.

It demonstrates the licensing requirements for different types of low voltage technicians by state.

In the states that don’t provide a low-voltage electrician license, in particular, electricians may have to obtain a residential or another type of license and/or meet local requirements of the jurisdiction.

Alabama

  • Locksmiths.
  • General low voltage systems.

Alaska

  • Fire and security alarms.
  • Communications systems.

Arizona

  • Fire alarms.
  • Communication systems.

Arkansas

Security alarm systems.

California

  • Security alarm systems.
  • General low voltage systems.

Colorado

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Connecticut

General low voltage systems, specifically related to security systems.

Delaware

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Florida

  • Security alarm systems.
  • General low voltage systems.
  • Fire and security alarm systems.

Georgia

General low voltage systems.

Hawaii

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Idaho

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Illinois

Fire and security alarm systems.

Indiana

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Iowa

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Kansas

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Kentucky

Fire and security alarm systems.

Louisiana

  • CCTV security systems.
  • Fire alarm systems.
  • Security alarm systems.

Maine

  • General low energy electronics.
  • Fire alarm systems.
  • Low voltage landscape lighting.

Maryland

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Massachusetts

  • Security alarm systems.
  • Fire alarm systems.

Michigan

Fire and security alarm systems.

Minnesota

Low voltage technology systems.

Mississippi

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Missouri

Fire and security alarm systems.

Montana

All types of alarm systems (security and fire).

Nebraska

Fire alarm systems.

Nevada

  • Photovoltaic systems.
  • Fire alarm systems.
  • General low voltage systems.

New Hampshire

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

New Jersey

  • Fire alarm systems.
  • Security alarm systems.

New Mexico

  • Fire and security systems.
  • Telephone systems.

New York

  • Fire alarm systems.
  • Security alarm systems.

North Carolina

General low voltage systems.

North Dakota

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Ohio

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Oklahoma

  • Fire alarm systems.
  • Security alarm systems.
  • Alarm company systems.

Oregon

General low voltage systems.

Pennsylvania

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Rhode Island

  • General telecommunication systems.
  • General alarm systems.

South Carolina

  • Security alarm systems.
  • Security and fire alarm systems.

South Dakota

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Tennessee

  • General low voltage systems, including:
    • Fire alarm systems.
    • Security systems.
    • Intercom systems.
    • Sound systems.
    • Telephone line systems and telecommunications cables.

Texas

  • Security alarm systems.
  • Fire alarm systems.

Utah

Security alarm systems.

Vermont

  • Commercial fire alarm systems.
  • Residential fire alarm systems.

Virginia

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Washington

Telecommunication systems.

West Virginia

Fire and security alarm systems.

Wisconsin

No specific low-voltage electrician state license.

Wyoming

General low voltage systems.

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