What Does an Electrical Contractor Do? A Definitive Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

For those who enjoy working with their hands and solving technical challenges, a career as an electrical contractor may be an excellent option. Electrical contractors have an important job that involves installing and repairing electrical machinery that provides power to residences and businesses. However, before committing to a career in this position, it is important to understand what an electrical contractor is and how to become one. In this article, we define what does an electrical contractor do, compare this role to the job of an electrician and describe the steps for becoming an electrical contractor.

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What is an electrical contractor?

An electrical contractor is a licensed professional who works with electrical equipment to power various establishments. They work in diverse settings that can include residential, commercial and industrial facilities. The responsibilities of a contractor can vary by their area of speciality, their employer and the specifications of each job. Besides performing maintenance and repair tasks, a licensed electrical contractor may be qualified to hire other electricians to work for them or their electrical firm.

What does an electrical contractor do?

Electrical contractors perform a variety of tasks related to installing and maintaining electrical equipment, along with completing administrative duties and delivering high-quality customer service. Some administrative and customer service tasks include consulting with clients, scheduling appointments and managing paperwork. A contractor's maintenance work often involves inspecting equipment, replacing or repairing ageing parts and restoring function to electrical systems. Contractors work with power tools, move heavy equipment, install wiring and may work in various settings such as personal homes, construction sites or commercial buildings.

What is the difference between an electrician and an electrical contractor?

Some businesses or individuals may use the terms electrician and electrical contractor interchangeably, but others may distinguish between these positions. In general, an electrician is an individual who performs electrical maintenance and repair tasks, while an electrical contractor is a licensed professional or business that hires electricians to work for them. However, most individual electrical contractors have the experience and education to work as electricians, along with additional licensure that allows them to own a buisness and hire other electrical professionals.

How much do electrical contractors make?

The average salary for electrical contractors is ₹ 4,07,215 per year. However, the average salary can vary by your location, level of experience and education. For example, an electrical contractor who owns a private firm may earn a different salary than an electrical contractor who works for the government.

What is the work environment of an electrical contractor like?

Electrical contractors may work in diverse settings under various conditions. Depending on their area of speciality, some electrical contractors may work in private residences while others may work for commercial buildings or even the government. Some contractors may work on construction sites around heavy machinery. When performing maintenance work, contractors may work in physically challenging conditions, such as in small spaces or outside. They may spend many hours of their day on their feet or kneeling to complete their jobs. Other times, contractors may work in an office setting when consulting with clients or working on administrative tasks.

How to become an electrical contractor

Here are the steps for becoming an electrical contractor:

1. Complete an apprenticeship or vocational programme

The first step to becoming an electrical contractor is to complete training as an electrician. Electricians may not need a college diploma if they have earned sufficient experience through the completion of an apprenticeship under an experienced electrician. However, enrolling in a vocational training programme or completing a college degree in a related field like electrical engineering can be a great way to gain knowledge and develop skills for this career.

Most electrical contractors start their careers as electricians. It is important for electrical contractors to have the skills and knowledge to be effective electricians so they can make good hiring decisions and oversee the work of their employees.

2. Gain experience

After completing your electrician training, you can continue to develop your abilities and your reputation in the electrical industry by gaining work experience. Though some electricians work independently, others may prefer to work under the supervision of an electrical contractor. Working for a contractor might help you grow your professional skills while working under the direction of someone experienced in the field. If your goal is to become a contractor, then you might choose to work with contractors to gain more insight into the position and the pathway to becoming a contractor. A contractor may work with you as a mentor to help you work toward your career goals.

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3. Apply for licensure

Once you have gained some experience working in your field, you may apply for licensure as an electrical contractor. Unlike electricians, contractors need licensure to show that they have the skills to manage an electrical business. The requirements for licensure for electrical engineers vary by state. Therefore, it is important to research the credentials required in the state in which you plan to work. Most states require candidates to show proof of identity, provide copies of their educational qualifications and have evidence of work experience in the field.

What skills do electrical contractors use?

Electrical contractors use a combination of hard and soft skills to excel in their job. Here are some skills that contractors use:

Technical knowledge

Electrical contractors should have the technical knowledge to work safely with electrical equipment. They use their technical knowledge to design electrical plans and use specialised tools to work with complex devices. Electrical workers have an important responsibility to ensure the safety of themselves, their coworkers and those who live and work in the facilities that they serve.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to gather information, assess challenges and solve complex problems. Electrical contractors use critical thinking skills to evaluate electrical issues and develop strategies to intervene safely. Contractors use critical thinking to create plans to wire new buildings, identify the source of electrical problems and find solutions to restore power.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is another essential skill for electrical contractors. Contractors may work with dangerous equipment like power tools and electrical devices. To stay safe on the job, they may use their attention to detail to notice hazards, ensure they use equipment properly and avoid dangerous situations. Additionally, contractors may use attention to detail when planning complex electrical projects like designing the wiring for a large building. They observe their work for accuracy to make sure they complete projects to their client's specifications.

Communication

Electrical contractors may use verbal and written communication skills when working with others or consulting with clients. While some contractors complete jobs independently, there may be times when they work as part of a team to complete larger electrical projects. Contractors who hire other electricians to work for them may use communication skills to express their expectations, assign jobs and provide feedback. When consulting with clients, contractors might use listening skills to understand the client's request. They may also use written communication skills to correspond with others over email and keep records of completed jobs.

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Computer skills

Electrical contractors might use the computer to perform some of their work. They may use computer-aided design software (CAD) to plan projects and create visual representations or maps for their work. Some projects may include installing computer hardware as part of an electrical system, so contractors may have some knowledge of working with computer parts. Contractors may also use computers as part of their administrative responsibilities. They may manage employee payroll, track expenses, maintain administrative databases and correspond with clients or employees through electronic messaging.

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Organisation

Effective organisational skills are important in almost every industry, and electrical contractors may use their organisational abilities to manage their time, prioritise tasks and maintain their tools. For example, a contractor may schedule many jobs in a week with different clients. They might use organisational strategies like keeping a calendar to remember their appointments and track their projects. If an emergency arises, electrical contractors may use their organisational skills to reschedule other appointments so they can respond effectively to the situation.

Electrical contractors may also work with many tools. Keeping their equipment organised and well-maintained can help them find the tools they need for a job. By caring for their equipment, contractors may keep their tools in working order, which can reduce costs and save time on repairing or replacing materials.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing.

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