Electricians are in charge of installing the wirings and systems that provide electrical power to any building or facility. Being an Electrician involves a great deal of problem-solving, since these professionals often need to test existing systems to identify and fix any abnormality—a process more commonly known as “troubleshooting.”
An Electrician’s job is very demanding and it requires manual physical manipulation of electrical wiring, cabling conduit and, in some cases, even telephone wire. Depending on their skills and knowledge, some Electricians may even repair engines, transformers, generators, and electronic controllers.
Electricians usually work as freelancers, either being employed on a project-basis by different construction companies or securing these contracts themselves when having their own company. The latter implies a lot of self-promotion and might also lead them to carry out more clerical tasks.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Electricians are required to complete.
- Determining and calculating requirements after studying the necessary layouts and any applicable regulations.
- Installing several types of electrical systems, always adhering to safety regulations and ensuring efficient energy consumption and distribution:
- Setting up lighting systems with all their necessary components (e.g. switches, breakers, and sensors), as well as providing regular maintenance;
- installing, inspecting, and replacing or repairing generators and alternators;
- arranging wire systems in order to complete the necessary circuitries;
- performing tests on wires and electrical circuits to verify their conductivity and functionality; and
- installing electric outlets in order to connect electrical appliances, taking standardized voltage levels in consideration.
- Identifying electrical problems through the use of the adequate equipment and replacing the necessary wires and devices if necessary:
- Applying the required troubleshooting processes, from establishing whether equipment is plugged in or not, to looking at computerized diagnostics in order to locate the problem and its nature;
- avoiding dangerous situations by adjusting wirings and connections that were not properly installed; and
- reporting any broken or malfunctioning system and suggesting ways to repair or replace them.
- Ensuring the effective and safe functioning of electrical and electronical equipment:
- Using specific tools (e.g. voltmeters and ammeters) to carry out tests on continuity, current, voltage, and resistance of electrical and electronic equipment;
- guaranteeing that all electrical devices, systems, electrical wiring, and tools meet the safety, compatibility, and construction requirements, and replacing them when necessary (e.g. failure to meet the established codes, defects, and unrepairable damage);
- inspecting and maintaining old wiring and any stripped cable in order to prevent any accident or breakdown of systems;
- making sure all maintenance operations comply with applicable regulations and standards, including the National Electric Code;
- making the recommendation to stop using an equipment if its continued operation could be potentially dangerous; and
- keeping track of all maintenance work and drafting reports when necessary.
- Assisting the Construction Manager in the coordination of on-site activities:
- Overseeing the installation and repair of broken equipment or damaged wires; and
- ordering missing supplies and equipment, when required.
- Preparing estimates, tenders, and invoices:
- Analyzing, collecting, calculating, and comparing data.
- Installing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing a wide range of electrical equipment.
- Preventing hazardous situations from happening by conducting maintenance tests and reporting and resolving any design or installation issues.
The average Electrician salary in USA is $49,832 per year or $26 per hour. This is around 1.7 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $35,000 while most experienced workers make up to $70,000. These results are based on 4,073 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Interpersonal, communication, and customer service skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with clients and colleagues, using a non-technical language as required;
- being able to work cohesively as part of a team, interacting with production crews to coordinate repairs to their equipment; and
- being able to use technical language in order to liaise with manufacturers and report malfunctioning equipment in an efficient and precise manner.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to organize their time efficiently while managing a high volume of work;
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment; and
- being able to work well under pressure, individually or as part of a team.
- Analytical skills and problem-solving skills:
- Approaching tasks in a reliable and resourceful manner; and
- troubleshooting and providing an alternative solution when encountering malfunctions in equipment.
- High degree of initiative and self-supervision:
- Displaying willingness to learn new skills;
- making sure that all operations comply with safety requirements;
- gathering information from pre-maintenance work orders to determine the location and the kind of work to be done; and
- using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems.
- Continual focus on safety, cost control, and client satisfaction:
- Wearing hearing protection to protect workers from excessive noise, especially when working in factories around noisy machinery; and
- wearing anti-dust respirator masks, steel-toed work boots, helmets, glasses, and ear protection, as well as any other safety equipment.
- Manual dexterity, motor coordination, and physical strength:
- Displaying good hand skills with a high regard for neat workmanship;
- being able to move around construction sites and to lift or carry objects weighing up to 40 pounds; and
- being able to climb ladders and being comfortable working at heights.
Electricians can develop all the necessary skills to perform their daily tasks by attending a vocational school where they will be trained on safety practices, circuitry, and wirings. The National Electrical Contractors Association offers training programs through the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.
All Electricians start off as Apprentice Electricians, working one (1) to four (4) years in an industrial or commercial setting. This allows them to get experience in the field through on-the-job training. Enrollment in apprenticeship programs can be facilitated by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), a well-established union in charge of defending the rights of Electricians and promoting their line of work.
Requirements may vary from state to state. Most employers require their Electricians to be licensed and additional certifications are usually preferred, including, but not limited to, the following:
- First Aid & CPR Training; and
- Construction Safety Training System (CSTS).
Electricians also need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the National Electrical Code, health and safety standards, as well as piping and instrumentation diagrams/drawings (P&IDs).
Finally, Electricians must be able to work flexible schedules, including weekends, as well as to stand for an eight-hour long shift. They also need a valid driver’s license and a good driving record, as well as a reliable mean of transportation, in order to get themselves and their tools to job sites within their designated area.