What Does An Electrician Do?
EVER WONDER WHAT EXACTLY AN ELECTRICIAN DOES? FIND OUT HOW TO BECOME AN ELECTRICIAN AND LEARN MORE ABOUT THEIR DAY-TO-DAY JOB DUTIES.
August 16, 2020
There are many different careers in the trades that are ideal for those who prefer working with their hands over a desk job. You can enter the construction field and become a carpenter. You can take your knowledge of cars and become a mechanic. You can even transform your ability to fix that tricky toilet in your bathroom into a career as a plumber.
For those interested in becoming an electrician, there are many reasons why an electrical career can be rewarding. While the job does require manual labor, an electrical career is less labor intensive compared to other construction trades, and electricians have great potential for career advancement.
If you remain unfamiliar with the specific job duties that an electrician has, you might be hesitant to start your journey to a career in the trades. Read on to learn if pursuing an electrical career is the right decision for you.
Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical systems in residential and commercial spaces.
Electricians generally focus on either construction or maintenance, although many do both. The amount of work and the amount of responsibility you are assigned as an electrician depends on your job title and level of expertise. Electrician apprentices/trainees are considered beginner electricians, who work under the guidance of journeyman electricians. Apprentices and trainees do very basic work that allows them to gain practical experience. Expect to do your fair share of manual labor while you learn the ins and outs of the trade.
Once you have completed an approved training program, attained the minimum amount of work experience, and passed the state test, you can become a journeyman electrician. Journeyman electricians have more experience and technical knowledge, and are allowed to work on their own on the jobsite—though they still have to work under someone with a C-10 contractor’s license.
Electricians who work in new construction generally specialize in either installing electrical infrastructure in commercial buildings, or homes. Electricians specializing in maintenance fix and upgrade existing electrical systems and repair electrical equipment. Electricians are held to strict safety standards, which is why electricians must endure training and secure certifications before stepping into the career.
A big part of the job includes reading blueprints, which are technical specifications and/or diagrams that show the location of circuits, outlets, panel boards, and other equipment. After determining the scope of the job, including where the wires will be installed, electricians begin the process of installing and connecting wires at the appropriate places. Electrical wires are often connected to breakers, transformers, and outlets.
To install electrical wiring, electricians use hand tools such as screwdrivers, conduit benders, hacksaws, knives, pliers, and wire strippers. Power tools like drills and saws are also used on the job site. Once wires are installed in the place, the work turns to testing the wires for functionality and safety. Depending on the job type, a variety of tools might be used to test the wire, including voltmeters, harmonics testers, amp meters, among other testing equipment.
Maintenance electricians repair or replace electric and electronic equipment when it breaks. They may replace items such as circuit breakers, fuses, switches, electrical and electronic components, or wire. They may also be tasked with periodically inspecting equipment to ensure that electrical components and systems operate properly. Maintenance electricians utilize the same equipment that construction electricians do.
Electricians work both indoors and outdoors at construction sites, businesses, and homes.
As previously mentioned, becoming an electrician means that your daily work will require manual labor, as is the case with nearly every trade profession. But that does not mean the work is overly strenuous—electricians generally perform labor that is less strenuous than what is common with most other trades, and takes less of a toll on the body.
Common physical labor includes bending at the waist, lifting heavy objects, and standing or kneeling for prolonged periods. Considering that every job is different, some days at work might require more strenuous labor than others.
Most electricians work a standard 40-hour workweek, but like many other careers, overtime is sometimes necessary (overtime is common, maybe not every week but often every month, more in the summer months typically). Those who do maintenance work may work nights and/or weekends, depending if they are on call workers or not. Periodic overtime might be required for those working during scheduled maintenance. And if you’re a night owl, you might be in luck. Some companies operate 24 hours a day, so you could wind up working nights.
To become a certified electrician, you must complete classroom and lab training.
You can become an electrician apprentice/trainee by attending a trade school, where you will get hands-on experience in a lab setting and related learning in the classroom. At Independant Training & Apprenticeship Program (I-TAP), our curriculum is geared toward ensuring you have the knowledge and skills required to be successful as you start your career, and eventually become a journeyman electrician.
Some of our coursework takes place in the lab, where you gain practical experience with live wires, hand tools, and power tools. This training is vital, as it prepares you for the actual work you will do once you become an electrician. Lab work also ensures that you understand proper safety precautions while working, for both yourself and those around you.
Classroom work supplements your hands-on training. You will learn electrical theory, blueprint reading, math, code requirements, and additional safety information.
An electrical career is filled with many possibilities. As you work your way from apprentice/trainee to journeyman to project manager (if you wish to do so), you will learn a lot, and likely see your pay increase a lot as well. But before you can start your electrical career, you first must attend trade school and earn your state certifications. If you want to become an electrician, contact I-TAP today!
Ready to learn a skilled trade and work on some of the most exciting commercial construction projects in California and beyond?
I-TAP is an electrical apprenticeship program that helps you find your passion, grow your skills, and place you in the perfect electrician job.