Electricians fit and repair electrical circuits and wiring systems. They also install and maintain electrical equipment and machinery. This work can be performed indoors as well as outdoors, in nearly every type of facility.
An electrician typically does the following:
- Installs and repairs electrical wiring, systems, and fixtures in buildings.
- Installs conduits and pipes to house electrical wires and cables.
- Ensures piping complies with electrical codes.
- Installs circuit breakers and other electrical hardware and connects wiring to them.
- Connects electrical systems to powerlines to provide electricity to the building.
- Tests electrical systems to ensure proper installation and operation.
- Inspects electrical systems to determine whether repairs are needed.
- Replaces conduit and wiring as needed.
- Replaces circuit breakers as needed.
- Performs other related duties as assigned.
The following job titles also refer to electrician:
electrical maintenance technician
electrical maintenance worker
electrical systems installer
electrical services installer
On the jobsite, electricians 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.
Injuries and Illnesses
Working with electricity is dangerous. Electricians must take precautions to avoid getting hurt. Although accidents are potentially fatal, common injuries include electrical shocks, falls, burns, and other minor injuries.
To reduce these risks, workers must wear protective clothing and safety glasses. Electricians who are subject to loud noises, such as those in factories, must wear hearing protection.
Almost all electricians work full time. Work schedules may include evenings and weekends. Overtime is common.
Self-employed electricians often work in residential construction and may be able to set their own schedule.
A high school diploma is generally required to work as an electrician. Some electricians start out by attending a technical school. Many technical schools offer programs related to circuitry, safety practices, and basic electrical information. Graduates of these programs usually receive credit toward their apprenticeship.
Most electricians learn their trade in a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship program. Workers who gained electrical experience in the military or in the construction industry may qualify for a shortened apprenticeship based on their experience and testing.
Many states or countries require electricians to pass a test and be licensed. Requirements vary by state or country.
A driver’s license may be required in some cases.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Electrician is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Electrician career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to electrician.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of electrician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of electrician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of electrician.
- Building systems monitoring technology: Computer-based control systems that monitor mechanical and electrical equipment in a building such as HVAC, security and lighting systems.
- Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
- Electrical testing methods: Test procedures performed on electrical equipment and machinery in order to check the performance and quality of the electrical equipment and their adherence to specifications. During these tests electrical properties, such as voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, and inductance, are measured using electrical measuring equipment, such as multimeters, oscilloscopes, and voltmeters.
- Electrical wiring plans: Pictorial representation of an electrical circuit. It shows the components of the circuit as simplified shapes, and the power and signal connections between the devices. It gives information about the relative position and arrangement of devices and terminals on the devices, to help in building or servicing the device. A wiring diagram is often used to troubleshoot problems and to make sure that all the connections have been made and that everything is present.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of electrician.
- Resolve equipment malfunctions: Identify, report and repair equipment damage and malfunctions; communicate with field representatives and manufacturers to obtain repair and replacement components.
- Inspect electrical supplies: Check electrical supplies for damage, moisture, loss or other problems.
- Maintain electrical equipment: Test electrical equipment for malfunctions. Take safety measures, company guidelines, and legislation concerning electrical equipment into account. Clean, repair and replace parts and connections as required.
- Test electrical equipment: Test electrical systems, machines, and components and check electrical properties, such as voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, and inductance, using electrical testing and measuring equipment, such as a multimeter. Gather and analyse data. Monitor and evaluate system performance and take action if needed.
- Splice cable: Join and weave electric and communications cable and trunk lines together.
- Work in a construction team: Work as part of a team in a construction project. Communicate efficiently, sharing information with team members and reporting to supervisors. Follow instructions and adapt to changes in a flexible manner.
- Install electrical and electronic equipment: Install equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work, or equipment to generate, transfer or measure such currents and fields. This equipment includes switchboards, electric motors, generators or direct current systems.
- Install electricity sockets: Install electricity sockets into walls or sub-floor compartments. Isolate all electric cables in the socket to prevent accidents.
- Bind wire: Bind cables or wire together using cable ties, conduit, cable lacing, sleeves, spot ties, cable clamps, or straps.
- Follow health and safety procedures in construction: Apply the relevant health and safety procedures in construction in order to prevent accidents, pollution and other risks.
- Use precision tools: Use electronic, mechanical, electric, or optical precision tools for precision work.
- Use measurement instruments: Use different measurement instruments depending on the property to be measured. Utilise various instruments to measure length, area, volume, speed, energy, force, and others.
- React to events in time-critical environments: Monitor the situation around you and anticipate. Be ready to take quick and appropriate action in case of unexpected events.
- Install electric switches: Prepare wires for installation in a switch. Wire the switch. Install it securely in the right location.
- Use safety equipment in construction: Use elements of protective clothing such as steel-tipped shoes, and gear such as protective goggles, in order to minimise risk of accidents in construction and to mitigate any injury if an accident does occur.
- Install lightning protection system: Fix the electrodes deep in the ground, fasten the metal conductors such as copper cables to the walls, and install the lightning conductor on the roof.
- Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of electrician. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Electromechanics: The engineering processes that combine electrical and mechanical engineering in the application of electromechanics in devices that need electricity to create mechanical movement or devices that create electricity by mechanical movement.
- Electrical wire accessories: Electrical wire and cable products and accessories, such as electrical connectors, splices, and wire insulation.
- Energy performance of buildings: Factors that contribute to lower energy consumption of buildings. Building and renovation techniques used to achieve this. Legislation and procedures regarding energy performance of buildings.
- Control systems: Devices or a set of devices that command and manage the performance and behaviour of other equipment and systems. This includes Industrial control systems (ICS) which are used for industrial production and manufacturing.
- Electronics: The functioning of electronic circuit boards, processors, chips, and computer hardware and software, including programming and applications. Apply this knowledge to ensure electronic equipment runs smoothly.
- Solar panel mounting systems: Different ways of setting up solar panels, such as pole mounting, where the panels are fixed to a surface, ballasted mounting, where weights are used to keep the panels in place, and solar tracking, where panels are mounted on a moving surface in order to follow the sun through the sky for optimal insolation.
- Electrical wiring diagrams: The visual schematic representation of an electrical circuit, its components, and the connections between these components.
- Automation technology: Set of technologies that make a process, system, or apparatus operate automatically through the use of control systems.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of electrician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Answer requests for quotation: Make up prices and documents for the products that customers may purchase.
- Solder electronics: Operate and use soldering tools and soldering iron, which supply high temperatures to melt the solder and to join electronic components.
- Measure electrical characteristics: Measure voltage, current, resistance or other electrical characteristics by using electrical measuring equipment such as multimeters, voltmeters, and ammeters.
- Use sander: Use different types of drywall sanders, automatic or manual, handheld or on an extension, to sand surfaces to a smooth finish or to rough them up for better adhesion.
- Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
- Assemble electrical components: Assemble switches, electrical controls, circuit boards and other electrical components by using hand and soldering equipment.
- Use diagnostic tools for electronic repairs: Use diagnostic equipment to measure current, resistance and voltage. Handle sophisticated multimeters to measure inductance, capacitance and current transistor gain.
- Assemble electronic units: Assemble and maintain electronic components and electronic circuits.
- Inspect construction supplies: Check construction supplies for damage, moisture, loss or other problems before using the material.
- Use specialised tools in electric repairs: Use of a variety of specialised tools, instruments and machines, such as presses, drills and grinders; employ them to carry out repairs in a safety manner.
- Calculate needs for construction supplies: Take measurements on site and estimate the amount of materials required for the construction or restoration project.
- Read standard blueprints: Read and comprehend standard blueprints, machine, and process drawings.
- Install circuit breakers: Install electrical switches designed to switch off automatically in case of an overload or short-circuit. Organise circuit breakers in the panel logically. Make sure no foreign objects are introduced into the panel. Use only circuit breakers approved for the panel, usually the same manufacturer.
- Replace defect components: Remove defective parts and replace them with functioning components.
- Strip wire: Strip the wire ends using wire strippers to ensure proper connections.
- Order construction supplies: Order required materials for the construction project, taking care to purchase the most suitable material for a good price.
- Process incoming construction supplies: Receive incoming construction supplies, handle the transaction and enter the supplies into any internal administration system.
- Repair wiring: Find faults in wires or cables by using specialised equipment and repair these faults depending on type of wiring.
- Maintain electronic equipment: Check and repair electronic equipment. Detect malfunction, locate faults and take measures to prevent damage.
- Cut wall chases: Cut a narrow channel in a wall or other partition in order to run cables through it. Cut the channel straight and without causing unnecessary damage. Be sure to avoid existent wires. Lead the cables through the chase and fill it up with the appropriate material.
- Write inspection reports: Write the results and conclusions of the inspection in a clear and intelligible way. Log the inspection’s processes such as contact, outcome, and steps taken.
- Program firmware: Program permanent software with a read-only memory (ROM) on a hardware device, such as an integrated circuit.
- Write records for repairs: Write records of the repairs and maintenance interventions undertaken, of parts and materials used, and other repair facts.
ISCO group and title
7411 – Building and related electricians
- Electrician – ESCO
- Electricians : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Electrician – SHRM
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