The National Electric Code (NEC) is a book on electrical designs, installations and inspections that's published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It serves as the closest thing that the United States has to a unified national electric code. States and municipalities are free to amend it as they like, but most states that have electrician certification tests base their exams on this book. Therefore, if you're going to sit to take an electrician certification exam, you should learn how to use the NEC. When studying the NEC, make sure you're using the version that your test will be based on.
Not All States Use the Most Recent NEC
The NFPA updates the NEC every few years. The Electrical Code Coalition (ECC) lists the most recent three editions: 2014, 2011 and 2008.
As the NFPA claims, the NEC is used in every state -- but not every state has adopted the most recent update of the NEC. The ECC's map shows which states have adopted which versions of the NEC:
- 25 states use the 2014 edition of the NEC
- 15 states use the 2011 edition of the NEC
- 7 states use the 2008 edition of the NEC
- 3 states don't have a statewide adoption of a specific edition of the NEC
The three states that don't have a statewide standard, Arizona, Missouri and Mississippi, let local governments decide which edition to use. For example, in Arizona, municipalities are free to adopt any version of the NEC published between 1990 and 2014.
Study the Edition That Your State Uses
If you study the wrong version of the NEC, you may not be able to properly answer some questions on your electrician certification exam. To find out which version you should base your answers on, you can either call your state's licensing agency or check with your electrician school.
Once you have secured a copy of the correct edition of the NEC, be sure to study it thoroughly. Not only should you be familiar with the general content of the code book, but you should also be able to navigate its table of contents, index, chapters and subsections easily. This will help you study for the exam, as you will be able to look up answers to practice questions quickly.
You'll need to purchase and familiarize yourself with the NEC before sitting for an electrician certification exam. Make sure you obtain the edition of the NEC that your state has adopted, though. Otherwise, you may be studying the wrong material.
For more information on becoming an electrician, contact a school like the HVAC Technical Institute.