What Do Electricians Do?

Electricians install and maintain the components that bring electricity into residences and businesses. They must have thorough knowledge of electrical theory, code requirements, safety practices, and specialized skills, such as soldering and blueprint reading. Becoming an electrician requires some formal training through an apprenticeship or a vocational school program. Electricians must also be licensed. Schools offering Electrician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Electricity is brought to businesses, factories, and residences through a complex system of wires, fuses, and other components. An electrician is responsible for installing and maintaining these systems. Job responsibilities include:

  • Reading blueprints to determine the location of outlets, circuits, panel boards, and other equipment
  • Following all state, local, and national electrical codes
  • Use tools, such as conduit benders and wire strippers, to connect wires
  • Install new wiring and outlets
  • Upgrade existing wiring
  • Test electrical circuitry using multimeters
  • Install lighting and electrical appliances

Specialties

Most electricians specialize in either new construction or repair. An electrician working in new construction installs new wiring systems, conduit, outlets, and circuit breakers. Electricians working in repair often replace old wiring, replace fuse boxes with circuit breakers, and install lighting fixtures. Some electricians specialize in installing other low-voltage wiring systems, such as those used for computer or home-security systems. Electricians may also install coaxial or fiber optic cable used for telecommunication equipment. Factory electricians work on more complex systems, including generators and industrial robots.

Work Environment

Electricians work in a variety of settings, from factories, construction sites, and large buildings to residential properties or out-of-doors. The work is often physical and requires a lot of bending, lifting, and kneeling. Electricians must always follow safety regulations closely to avoid the risk of electrical shock. While most electricians work a 40-hour week, many work odd hours during evenings and weekends.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

The employment of electricians is projected to increase by about 20% between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). The same government body reported in May 2012 that the average salary earned by electricians was $53,030 a year, noting that those employed by business, computer, and management training services and schools earned the most, averaging $81,800 per year in 2012.

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