Electrician Job Description

Duties, Earnings, Outlook, and Training

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An electrician installs wiring, fuses, and other electrical components in homes, businesses, and factories. He or she also maintains that equipment. In addition to working with high voltage wiring, many electricians install and maintain voice, data, and video wiring. An electrician can specialize in either maintenance or construction but many work in both areas.

Quick Facts

  • This occupation employs almost 667,000 people (2016).
  • Electricians work for electrical contractors. Some are self-employed.
  • They may work indoors in residential and commercial buildings or outdoors on construction sites.
  • Electricians typically work full time and may work overtime hours as needed. They sometimes have to work evenings and weekends.
  • The job outlook for this occupation is good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it will grow about as fast as the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.

Job Duties

Employers specified the following duties in job announcements on Indeed.com:

  • "Diagnose electrical problems by studying diagrams, manuals, and specifications, troubleshooting systems and conducting tests"
  • "Repair electrical problems by replacing faulty parts and components"
  • "Plan layout and installation of electrical wiring, equipment and fixtures, based on job specifications"
  • "Install feeder and branch conduit and wiring"
  • "Discuss solutions with homeowner"
  • "Comply with all safety standards and regulations"

The Downside of Being an Electrician

Working in this occupation can be uncomfortable and, at times, dangerous. Electricians work in cramped spaces and spend a lot of time standing or kneeling.

They are subject to minor injuries such as burns, shocks, and falls.

Educational Requirements

If you want to become an electrician enroll in an apprenticeship program that combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced electricians. You will need a high school diploma or a GED, and must be at least 18 years old. Electrician apprenticeship programs generally last four years and include 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2000 hours of on-the-job training each year.

Most states and municipalities require electricians to be licensed. You will have to pass an exam that tests knowledge of electrical theory, the National Electrical Code, and local electrical and building codes.

What Physical Abilities and Soft Skills Do Electricians Need?

An electrician must have good manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination. Physical fitness and a good sense of balance are also required. Because an electrician must be able to identify wires by color, good color vision is necessary.

In addition to those physical abilities, training, and a license, there are also certain soft skills, or personal qualities, you need to succeed in this occupation. Strong troubleshooting skills will allow you to figure out the cause of problems and the best way to fix them.

Critical thinking skills will also help with this endeavor, since they let you evaluate the pros and cons of possible solutions.

Advancement Opportunities for Electricians

An experienced electrician has many opportunities for advancement. He or she can become a supervisor. One who works in construction can become a project manager. Some electricians opt to go into business for themselves. An electrician can also become an electrical inspector for a municipality.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

Here are some requirements from actual job announcements found on Indeed.com:

  • "Able to work in a team environment"
  • "High standard of integrity and professionalism"
  • "Must be able to follow verbal and written directives"
  • "Physically able to lift heavy objects as necessary"
  • "Must be available to work after hours"
  • "Work with limited supervision"

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

Find out if this career is right for you. If you have the following interestspersonality type, and work-related values, being an electrician may be a good fit:

Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Electrician? Take This Quiz

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Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online (visited April 11, 2018).