Licensed vs. Unlicensed: Why Hiring an Electrical Contractor Matters

Electrician, Hiring an Electrician

If you are facing an electrical project at your home or commercial facility, the first question that comes to mind is whether you should hire a licensed or an unlicensed electrical contractor. While the obvious choice would be to go with a licensed service provider, who is likely to provide a reliable job with accountability, there may be multiple factors prompting you to go the DIY route or hire an unlicensed contractor.

licensed electrician ontario

At times, costs may be a concern, while in some cases, you may want to get the task done urgently, and hiring a readily available, albeit unlicensed, contractor may seem a more viable option. In reality, hiring an unlicensed electrical contractor is not only illegal and unlawful but can also cause electrical hazards and other potential dangers and may also create other problems for you. This post explores the significant differences between licensed and unlicensed electrical contractors and delves into why hiring a licensed professional is always the better choice.

Becoming a Licensed Electrical Contractor in Canada

In most provinces in Canada, a prospective electrician requires a high school diploma. However, if we consider the industrial electrical sector, many apprenticeship programs require the candidates to have education till at least grade 12 with physics and alternate math credits.

They must also complete a five-year apprenticeship program that includes in-school training and practical experience. For instance, according to the Registrar of Skilled Trade Ontario, the mandated apprenticeship training hours for electricians are around 9000, which roughly makes five years.

Of these total hours, 840 are for in-school training, while the remaining are for on-the-job training. If the prospective electrician has prior trade or academic experience, the number of required hours can be reduced. At the end of the exam, the candidates are required to pass the final certificate of qualification exam, following which they get trade certification from the relevant regulatory body. Furthermore, a licensed electrician must then work for an additional three years under a licensed electrical contractor to gain more experience and knowledge; prior to being eligible to become a master electrician and open an electrical contracting business. In Ontario, for instance, the Electrical Safety Authority issues and monitors licenses for electrical contractors.

Licensed vs Unlicensed Electrical Contractors: The differences

electrical repairs

You may not think much of it, but when it comes to comparing licensed and unlicensed electrical contractors, besides the obvious difference in license possession, they differ in multiple aspects. Some of these are mentioned here:

Qualification difference

Unlike unlicensed electricians, licensed electricians complete their respective training programs and pass the requisite exam to demonstrate their know-how of the electrical systems, classifications, safety protocols and practices. An unlicensed electrician or contractor will need formal training and a comprehensive understanding of the latest electrical and workplace safety regulations and codes to be proficient at what they do.


The work of a licensed electrician speaks volumes about their experience and the level of quality they are used to delivering. It is because they are required to demonstrate and prove their aptitude during their training. On the other hand, unlicensed electricians demonstrate a different expertise level depending on their prior experience or learning.

Safety assurance

The training programs for licensed electricians comprise an extensive education on safety protocols and procedures and the relevant industry standards. It is because these licensed individuals are required to adopt all requisite safety measures and ensure they perform the work in a safe manner. As for the unlicensed electricians, safe to say their safety benchmarks and perceptions may vary widely as they usually receive different kinds of training in different settings and may not be aware of all potential hazards and the measures they may need to take in case of any issue.

Legal compliance

While a licensed electrical contractor is to comply with all the requisite rules and applicable laws, unlicensed electricians may require some awareness beforehand or may decide not to comply from the get-go. Furthermore, electrical contractors are required to obtain electrical wiring permits, have inspections performed by government officials, and issue customers a liability certificate of compliance from the Electrical Safety Authority.

Moreover, in case of a mishap during electrical work, the homeowner will be liable if the work is being performed by an unlicensed contractor. However licensed contractors are heavily insured and are responsible for any mishap or damage to property or person, caused during work.

Licensed electrical contractor over unlicensed electricians

There is always the temptation to cut corners by attempting a DIY or hiring an unlicensed professional at a comparatively lower cost. However, when it comes to electrical work, hiring a licensed professional is always the better choice.

While licensed electrical contractors meet the required standards and have the authorization to conduct electrical work competently and safely, the same cannot be said for unlicensed ones. If you are contemplating hiring an electrical contractor for work, here are some important reasons why opting for a licensed contractor is the better choice.

Ensuring Compliance

Electrical work must be done in compliance with the local building regulations and electrical codes. A licensed electrical contractor will know all about the regulations and codes and ensure their work complies with all the requisitions. This ensures that the work done at your place is according to the compliance codes, there are no violations, and you can avoid potential penalties or fines due to non-compliance.

Insurance for work

Whether residential or commercial electrical work, a licensed electrical contractor must be insured to perform their work. If working at a residential facility, their insurance policy will provide coverage for you, your home, the workers and any individual using the electrical equipment or systems.

Another noteworthy point is that insurance companies providing coverage for residential or commercial facilities usually stipulate that the electrical work must be done by a licensed professional. In cases of damage due to work done by an unlicensed professional, will make the insurance claim invalid, and you will be responsible for all the repairs and held accountable in case someone is injured.

Verified experience

Licensed electrical contractors, particularly those associated with a reliable and renowned electrical service provider, usually have years of experience working in the field, catering to different kinds of electrical repair work. They can effortlessly diagnose and fix faults, and also ensure flawless installation of new equipment without causing any mistakes or overloading the circuit.

Besides mitigating the risk of errors, their experience also allows licensed professionals to help in saving costs. They can plan out electrical system designs efficiently to ensure cost optimization, so you reap the benefits of reduced expenses.

Hence, even if you are thinking of attempting a DIY as a weekend project or engaging the services of an unlicensed electrician, consider the long-term cost impact and the risk you assume by going the DIY route or hiring an unlicensed service provider. While you will be paying more for a licensed service provider, the end result will be worth it as they will get it right the first time.

Quality of work

As suggested earlier, to obtain a master electrician’s license for operating as a certified professional, individuals must pass an assessment after receiving the requisite training. An electrical contractor with a valid license, having undergone rigorous training and gained substantial experience, will ensure high-quality work and adequate knowledge about safety standards to comply. Since safety regulations are continually updated and improved upon, it is important to hire a certified professional who will deliver work according to standardized guidelines, and it will be scrutinized by the regulatory authority.

On the other hand, a qualified electrician lacking in experience may deliver shoddy work due to a lack of knowledge regarding the latest safety standards and may put theirs’ and the safety of others at risk.

Hiring an experienced professional with an updated knowledge of safety standards and repair protocols gives you peace of mind and the assurance they will deliver quality work and assume responsibility for the services provided.

Quality of materials

Licensed and certified electrical contractors use supplies and components sourced from trusted wholesalers. This is an important consideration as the materials or components used must be in compliance with the local standards and requirements.

The same cannot be claimed for an unlicensed electrician as there is no guarantee of the products they use. If they use a sub-standard component or material, it may not last long and may likely create more problems in the electrical system.

Accountability and Warranty for Work

The majority of licensed electrical contractors offer a guarantee for their services, providing a warranty for any issues or problems arising due to their work. As a client, all you need to do is maintain work records and keep the invoices, and the contractors will provide coverage for any problems or defective products installed by them for a minimum of 1 year.

Hiring the Right Electrical Contractor

As you can see from the above arguments, it is always better to work with a licensed electrical contractor, and whenever you are in need of such a service, ensure to check that their license is valid, among other things, beforehand. This way, you will be content with the knowledge that your electrical system is in good hands.

Now that you understand the significance of hiring a licensed electrician, you must also ensure to select the right service provider for your job. Electrical Elite Inc. is a team of certified electricians who cater to the electrical repair, inspection, and maintenance requirements of industrial, commercial, and residential facilities.

We can keep your home or business electrical system in perfect working order and protect it from potential problems. Our licensed electricians have the skills and experience and are available to take care of your electrical repairs, installations, or maintenance needs and can help make your electrical system safe and efficient.