Electricians are skilled tradespeople who install, maintain and repair electrical equipment, circuits, machinery and wiring. They mainly work in buildings, such as homes, businesses and factories, though through specialisation may work on aeroplanes, ships and other mobile platforms, as well as data and cable lines.
Specialisations include residential electricians, industrial electricians, commercial electricians, maintenance electricians and electrotechnical panel builders.
Duties and responsibilities
- Use blueprints and technical diagrams to interpret electrical information
- Install electrical wiring and equipment
- Inspect electrical components such as circuit breakers and transformers
- Use a variety of testing devices to identify problems with electrical wiring and equipment
- Repair or replace electrical wiring, parts and equipment
- Direct or train workers to install, maintain or repair wiring and equipment
- Provide preliminary sketches and quotes for materials and services
- Perform business management tasks such as writing reports and ordering supplies
- Keep records of any problems discovered
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights and weekends occasionally
Electricians mainly work indoors, though – depending on their specialisation and the particular job – may also work outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions. They sometimes also must climb to dizzying heights to carry out their work.
The work of electricians can be dangerous, with common injuries including electrical shocks, falls and burns. Some accidents can be fatal, though risks can often be negated by wearing protective clothing and safety glasses.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Most electricians learn their trade through an apprenticeship programme, which combines paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction and typically takes four to five years to complete. If you’ve received relevant training in the military or construction industry, however, you may qualify for a shortened apprenticeship.
Most states require electricians to be licensed and to pass a test with questions related to local, state and national electrical codes. Licensing requirements vary by state, though you will generally need to complete continuing education courses to maintain your licence.
You may also be required to have a driver’s licence.
As a qualified electrician, you could become a master electrician or progress to a supervisor or project management role. You could also set up your own business, move into consultancy work or go on to train aspiring electricians. Highly skilled electricians may also progress to an engineering technician role.