What Does an Electrician Do?

Electricians prepare, assemble, install, test, and troubleshoot electrical wiring and related equipment. They are employed by electrical contractors and building maintenance departments or are self-employed.


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Electricians install, repair, and maintain electrical wiring and equipment in residential homes, commercial buildings, and industrial sites. They read blueprints and electrical diagrams to understand the layout of a job site, determine the materials and tools needed for each task, and complete installations according to codes and safety standards. Electricians also collaborate with construction professionals and engineering teams to ensure that electrical systems integrate smoothly with other building components.

As an electrician, you may be responsible for installing lighting, power outlets, conduits, cable trays, ladder racks, and circuit breakers. Other responsibilities include connecting wires to circuit breakers, transformers, and other components and testing electrical systems using ohmmeters, voltmeters, and harmonics testers. You may also need to dig trenches to lay conduit, and you should be comfortable with working in confined spaces, such as crawl spaces, attics, or behind walls.

Some electricians work independently as freelancers, while others are employed by electrical contractors or other businesses that specialize in the installation and maintenance of electrical systems. You can also choose to specialise in certain aspects of the industry, such as solar power or refrigeration, which allows you to focus on a specific aspect of the job and increase your earning potential.

Specialising can also help you gain employment in areas with higher demand or greater opportunities for growth, so it’s a great idea to speak to your NECA education and careers advisor about the different options available to you.

Regardless of their job title or area of specialisation, all electricians are required to have a high school diploma or equivalent and to obtain a valid electrical contractor’s license before they begin work. They are also usually required to undergo on-the-job training and work with more experienced electricians before they can start working on their own. Many electricians also undertake further vocational training courses to upgrade their skills and qualifications and remain up-to-date with changes in the industry. Electricians are often required to travel between jobs, and they may be exposed to hazardous conditions such as sweltering temperatures or noisy environments. In addition, they are often required to lift heavy objects and spend prolonged periods of time standing, kneeling, or climbing ladders in cramped positions.


Electrical systems are complex and can be dangerous to work with. A professional electrician has the skills and tools to troubleshoot problems and make repairs safely and efficiently. Electricians can also install electrical wiring, light fixtures, and other equipment in homes, businesses, and industrial settings. They often work with blueprints and electrical diagrams to understand the layout of a building’s electrical system and determine what materials are needed for a project.

During the repair process, an electrician will isolate the component or fixture that isn’t working properly. They will remove the faulty item and then examine the rest of the system to see if other components are functioning correctly. They may use diagnostic tools to test circuits and measure voltage levels to find the source of a problem. If they’re unable to identify the problem, they’ll continue to inspect and test the remainder of the system until they find the source of the issue.

In some cases, an electrician may be able to replace the broken component or fixture with a new one that’s similar in function to the original. They’ll then install the new component or fixture into the system and ensure it works properly. If the new fixture doesn’t seem to be functioning correctly, they’ll repeat the troubleshooting steps until they locate the cause of the problem and correct it.

A quality repair job by an electrician can save homeowners and business owners from costly expenses down the road. Trying to fix electrical issues yourself or hiring an unlicensed contractor could lead to costly damages and even hazardous situations. By looking for a qualified electrician with insurance and a surety bond, you can rest assured that the job will be completed correctly and professionally. This is especially important if the job involves working with electricity, which can be very dangerous. For instance, a faulty outlet or switch might not be a serious problem, but if it leads to a power outage or fire, it’s a big deal that needs to be addressed immediately. Using the right tools and following proper safety procedures will help to ensure that you get the best possible results from your electrician.


Electricians are responsible for the inspection, testing and maintenance of electrical systems and components to ensure that they continue to function properly. This may include the repair and replacement of outdated equipment or systems. Maintenance electricians also perform routine electrical safety checks to prevent fire hazards and other dangerous situations.

A high school diploma or equivalent is a basic educational requirement for those interested in becoming a maintenance electrician. However, completing a vocational training program or apprenticeship is also important to learn the skills and hands-on experience necessary to become licensed. In New York, an electrician must be licensed to work on residential and commercial electrical systems. Licensing requirements vary by state, but typically include a high school diploma or equivalent and completion of an approved apprenticeship program or equivalent on-the-job training.

One of the most common maintenance tasks that electricians perform is testing circuit breakers to ensure that they are functioning properly. These safety devices are essential for preventing electrical overload and electrical fires by interrupting the flow of electricity when they sense a problem. If a circuit breaker is faulty, it can lead to serious injuries or property damage, so testing and repairing them are an important part of electrical maintenance.

Another important maintenance task that electricians perform is inspecting outlets and switches for signs of wear and tear. Dirty and dusty outlets or switches can cause problems with electrical systems by reducing their capacity to carry a current or by increasing the risk of fires and other dangerous situations. Cleaning these devices regularly with a lint-free cloth can help reduce the risk of damage and improve their performance.

In addition to inspecting outlets and switches, maintenance electricians are also responsible for testing and calibrating various equipment. This includes testing and adjusting the calibration of equipment such as thermostats, gas leak detectors and oxygen analyzers. They are also responsible for ensuring that all documentation is complete and accurate.

Other maintenance tasks that electricians perform include identifying exposed wires and repairing them. Exposed wiring can be a significant fire hazard and can cause serious injury to children or pets, so identifying and repairing these areas is an important safety measure. Finally, electricians are also responsible for ensuring that all electrical safety devices, such as GFCIs and AFCIs, are working properly. These safety devices are vital to preventing electrical fires, electrocution and shocks.


When an electrical system has a problem, such as a burned out outlet or blown fuse, electricians use their troubleshooting skills to find and fix the problem. This is a critical component of their job, and it requires them to follow a process that includes observing the problem, testing, and eliminating possible causes until they find the one that explains the malfunction.

Before starting the troubleshooting process, electricians make sure that power to the affected equipment is off. This prevents them from getting shocked while working on the circuit or appliance. Next, they carefully observe the malfunctioning equipment for obvious signs of damage. For example, worn or chafed wires, loose sockets, and overheated plugs are all indicators of electrical problems.

If there are no obvious issues, electricians may consult the technical documentation for the fixture or appliance. This will include diagrams that show what perfectly functioning parts look like, so they can compare them to the faulty pieces. It will also contain information about how the components should function together. This will help the electrician to determine if the problem stems from the circuit board or another component in the device.

After examining the electrical device, the electrician will list all of the possible reasons that it could be having trouble. This can be done by comparing the results of each test to what the technical documentation describes as normal operating parameters. Those that are out of range will be the probable causes of the malfunction.

If the electrician is still unable to identify the cause of the malfunction, they may ask a coworker for advice or seek out a second opinion from another qualified electrician. This will ensure that they have the proper tools and expertise to repair the problem correctly.

Some electrical problems are caused by outdated or inadequate systems. When this happens, an electrician can recommend upgrades to better meet current safety standards and handle increased electrical loads. They can also repair or replace outlets, switches, and other electrical components to resolve the issue. Lastly, they can advise clients on how to protect their systems against future problems.