How to Become an Electrician

“Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories..

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams
  • Install and maintain wiring, control, and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems using a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using handtools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electrical Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical power, communications, lighting, and control system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. These systems power the lights, appliances, and equipment that make people’s lives and jobs easier and more comfortable.

Installing electrical systems in newly constructed buildings is often less complicated than maintaining equipment in existing buildings because electrical wiring is more easily accessible during construction. Maintaining equipment and systems involves identifying problems and repairing broken equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Maintenance work may include fixing or replacing parts, light fixtures, control systems, motors, and other types of electrical equipment.

Electricians read blueprints, which include technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of handtools and power tools, such as conduit benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, thermal scanners, and cable testers to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work alone, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems for new construction. Some electricians may also consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. Electricians employed by large companies are likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.”¹

“Most electricians learn through an apprenticeship, but some start out by attending a technical school. Most states require electricians to be licensed. For more information, contact your local or state electrical licensing board.”¹


Disclaimer: Compensation varies and may be impacted by an electrician’s working environment, geographic location, years of experience, and/or other factors.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Data

“The median annual wage for electricians was $55,190 in May 2018. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $94,620.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for electricians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

  • Government……………………………………………………………………………… $62,110
  • Manufacturing………………………………………………………………………….. $58,990
  • Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors ……. $53,450
  • Employment services………………………………………………………………… $48,500″

Apprentices receive less pay than fully trained electricians, but their pay increases as they learn to do more.

Almost all electricians work full time. Work schedules may include evenings and weekends and may vary during times of inclement weather. During scheduled maintenance or on construction sites, electricians should expect to work overtime.

Self-employed electricians often work in residential construction and may be able to set their own schedule.¹

Job Outlook

“Employment of electricians is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Increases in construction spending and demand for alternative energy sources will drive demand for electricians.

Alternative power generation, such as solar and wind, is an emerging field that should require more electricians for installation. Increasingly, electricians will be needed to link these alternative power sources to homes and power grids over the coming decade. Employment growth stemming from these sources, however, will largely depend on government policy.”¹

Work Environment

“Electricians held about 715,400 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of electricians were as follows:

Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors 66%
Manufacturing 7%
Self-employed workers 6%
Government 3%
Employment services 3%

Electricians work indoors and outdoors at homes, businesses, factories, and construction sites. Because electricians must travel to different worksites, local or long-distance commuting is often required.

On the jobsite, they occasionally work in cramped spaces. The long periods of standing and kneeling can be tiring. Electricians may be exposed to dirt, dust, debris, or fumes. Those working outside may be exposed to hot or cold temperatures and inclement weather. Those who work in factories are often subject to noisy machinery.

Electricians may be required to work at great heights, such as when working on construction sites, inside buildings, or on renewable energy projects.

Many electricians work alone, but sometimes they collaborate with others. Electricians employed by large companies are likely to work as part of a crew, directing helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.”¹

¹Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Electricians,
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