What Does an Electrician Do?

Hot Tub Electrician specializes in installing, repairing, and maintaining electrical systems. They use hand and power tools for wiring, circuits, outlets, switches, and lighting fixtures. Some electricians are construction electricians and work in buildings that are under construction, while others are service electricians who respond to calls for repairs.


To become an electrician, you need a high school diploma and an apprenticeship program that includes theory instructions and intensive on-the-job practical work. You may also pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical technology.

An electrician needs to be skilled in a variety of academic disciplines. Math and science are important for measuring voltage and physical components, while reading technical documents is essential for understanding blueprints and standards equations. Strong critical thinking skills are required for analyzing test results, diagnosing equipment and determining the best way to complete work in a safe manner.

In addition to the basic training provided in an apprenticeship, some electricians attend trade school and earn a certificate or Associate of Applied Science degree in electrical technology. These programs can be a good option for aspiring electricians because they provide hands-on learning experience and reduce the number of years needed to meet licensure requirements through an apprenticeship.

The most common route for becoming an electrician is through a four or five-year apprenticeship program that provides on-the-job training, classroom instruction and mentoring by experienced electricians. Most apprentices are paid a salary while they train, which helps them to make ends meet while they learn their trade. Apprenticeship programs are offered through local union chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and through privately run trade schools.

A high school diploma is typically required for entering an apprenticeship. Some vocational schools offer career diplomas and Associate of Applied Science degrees in electrical technology that can help students get an edge over other applicants when applying for jobs. Vocational schools also offer certificate programs that are a fast-track to an apprenticeship and can be a cost-effective alternative to earning a bachelor’s degree.

Some electricians enter an apprenticeship directly after finishing trade school or earning a certificate, while others start out as a helper and then transition into an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship lasts for about four or five years and includes classroom instruction in topics like electrical theory, on-the-job safety, how to read blueprints and follow standards. Electricians are also trained on the job through training sessions conducted by their employers and through ongoing training from product manufacturers.

Performing work as an electrician can be physically demanding. This is because the work requires manual dexterity to hold and use tools such as drills, pliers, wire strippers, saws and hand-held power tools. Physical stamina and strength are also important because of the need to move around construction sites, lift heavy objects and stand for long periods of time.

Licensing Requirements

In most states, you must obtain a license to work as an electrician. Individual state requirements vary, but generally speaking you must complete a trade school program, pass a series of exams, and undergo a background check to be eligible to apply for a license. Some states also require you to complete continuing education courses to keep your license current.

Many aspiring electricians begin their careers with an apprenticeship. These programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. The length of an apprenticeship varies, but most last four years or 10,000 hours. The program may be union or non-union, and you’ll likely need to join the local chapter of a trade organization like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in order to take part in one.

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship, you’ll need to take a written and practical exam to receive your journeyman electrician license. The exam details vary by municipality, but most include questions based on the National Electrical Code and other industry safety protocols. In NYC, you must register as a business entity before taking your exam and provide proof that your company carries general liability, disability, and workers’ compensation insurance.

After passing your journeyman license exam, you’ll be eligible to become a master electrician. In order to become a master, you must have 8,000 hours of experience as a licensed journeyman, and some jurisdictions allow up to 2,000 of those hours to be substituted with corresponding coursework. Additionally, you must have at least two years of experience working as a specialty journeyman in commercial, industrial or residential construction.

Once you become a master electrician, you’ll be eligible to earn additional credentials that grant you additional responsibilities and job opportunities. For example, in some Canadian provinces, a master electrician can apply to become a field safety representative and pull permits for electrical work.

Once you’ve obtained your license, you’ll need to maintain it by completing continuing education coursework and paying your licensing fees. Continuing education courses typically last between 4 and 8 hours, and you’ll need to submit proof of completion to your local licensing authority in order to keep your license current.

Work Environment

Electricians install, repair and maintain electrical wiring, equipment and fixtures in a variety of settings. They are often employed by contractors or in-house by large corporations, although some work independently as self-employed electricians. This is one of the few skilled trades careers that can be entered with a high school diploma and on-the-job training, typically involving a four- or five-year apprenticeship program.

An electrician’s daily duties include reading blueprints to determine the location of circuits, outlets and other equipment. They also use testing devices to diagnose problems with electrical systems or components and recommend repairs. They may need to climb ladders or other structures to access difficult areas.

Some types of electricians specialize in specific fields, such as instrumentation, commercial, industrial, fire alarm or solar panel installation. Other types of electricians, such as linemen, work on overhead power lines hundreds or thousands of feet in the air. These workers must undergo extensive safety training and certifications before being allowed to work on these dangerous, high-voltage lines.

Electricians are usually required to wear heavy duty gloves, insulated shoes and hard hats. Some also wear face masks and goggles to protect their eyes from flying debris. They often work in confined spaces where they are required to bend, twist and turn their bodies continuously for long periods of time. In addition to these physical demands, they are required to operate a variety of power tools and may need to dig trenches or drive company trucks between jobs.

Working as an electrician can be rewarding, but it is not for everyone. Many electricians are on call when something goes wrong at a power plant or other utility and must travel between sites. This can add to their overall stress level, especially if they do not enjoy frequent traveling or the challenge of meeting strict deadlines.

If you like putting things together and are a good problem solver, this is a great career for you. It can be lucrative and fulfilling, especially if you have the proper training and experience. The work environment is varied and challenging, and it can be a great stepping stone to a permanent job.

Job Duties

A qualified electrician can install, repair, and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, factories, and public spaces and thoroughfares. They also ensure that all wiring meets governmental standards and codes. Job duties include diagnosing problems using sketches and blueprints, preparing power systems and electrical panels for installations, ensuring safety with the use of various hand and power tools, interpreting and analyzing data from a range of testing devices, and planning the layout and installation of electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures based on specifications and building or code requirements. Some electricians also train and supervise other workers.

In addition to basic job duties, some electricians are responsible for liaising with clients directly to understand project needs and provide estimates. They also need to have good comprehension skills to read and interpret technical documents like memos, blueprints, and schematics. They may also be required to climb ladders and work in confined spaces or on scaffolding. Finally, some electrical contractors need to complete administrative tasks such as managing records, preparing invoices, and ordering supplies and materials.

Electricians can choose to work for electrical companies, independent electrical contractors, or as part of a larger construction team. Those who work for themselves can usually choose their own hours, although they will need to meet deadlines and be willing to travel to job sites. Other qualifications include excellent color vision (to identify wires by their colors), physical fitness, and the ability to work alone or on a team.

Some of the most skilled and experienced electricians work on the military’s naval ships and submarines, where they need to operate advanced systems that provide power to weapons, radar, lights, and machinery. These electricians typically need years of apprenticeship job training to learn the trade. They are often required to pass an aptitude test and undergo extensive on-the-job training with senior electricians before they can work on their own. Some naval electricians work in conjunction with maintenance supervisors to manage and perform repairs on large, complex industrial equipment. Other sailors are assigned to specialized areas such as security or power generation.