What Does An Electrician Do? (Plus How To Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 November 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.

Electricians are responsible for installing new electrical circuits, testing, fitting, repairing and rewiring existing circuits. It is generally considered a demanding career and comes with certain dangers and risks. If you want to become an electrician, learning more about the job, the average salary and responsibilities may help. In this article, we will discuss what does an electrician do, find out how to become one, explore the difference between an electrician and an electrical contractor and learn about their average salary.

What does an electrician do?

An electrician is responsible for all kinds of electrical work like fitting, rewiring, repairing, testing, installing and maintaining electrical systems and components. It is a highly skilled job and requires hands-on experience in the field. Most electricians begin their careers through apprenticeship, but many choose to get a formal education in the field to be eligible for employment by reputed companies. Generally, electricians work at businesses, residential properties, commercial projects and construction sites. Most commonly, electricians work for electrical contractors or as their in-house electricians in businesses.

Some job responsibilities of an electrician may include:

  • installing and repairing circuits, systems and wiring

  • connecting electrical systems to power lines that provide electricity to establishments

  • testing electrical systems to ensure proper installation

  • executing electric wiring plans according to electrical blueprints

  • installing safety and distribution components

  • conducting preventive maintenance to prevent the breakdown of old wiring and systems

  • troubleshooting to identify the root cause of malfunctions and correcting the damaged units or faulty wiring

How to become an electrician

Here are steps that you can follow to become an electrician:

1. Work as an apprentice

Many electricians begin by working as apprentices with experienced electricians and gaining practical experience in the field. Within six months to a year, you can learn the basics and operations of electrical components and systems. You can then start taking up small projects on your own. Note that the scope of work may be limited for electricians with no experience or professional qualifications.

2. Become a certified professional

Most organisations prefer electricians who have formal professional degrees over those with only informal experience. Enrol in the ITI electrician course, a two-year-long diploma course to become a professional certified electrician. Candidates between 16 and 28 years of age, who have passed class 10th, are eligible to join this professional course. After getting a certification from an ITI as an electrician, you can apply for suitable jobs in the private and government sector.

Related: What Is Vocational Education? (With Definition And Types)

3. Apply to jobs

After the ITI course, you have to appear at an All India Trade Test conducted by the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT). The NCVT assists students with job placement. Alternatively, you can look for jobs on different job websites and platforms. There is a high demand for qualified and skilled electricians in different sectors like hospitals, railways, telecom and airports. You can also choose to work for electrical contractors or take up work assignments on your own and be self-employed. As you gain experience, you can become an electrical contractor and apply for projects for large corporations.

4. Become a contractor

With experience and high-quality results, electricians can get land well-paying and long-term project contracts. Once you gain enough experience, you can start your own business hire a team of electricians and take up larger electrical contracts for big public and private corporations.

Related: What Does An Electrical Contractor Do? A Definitive Guide

Skills required to become an electrician

An electrician's job is highly skilled, which is why it is important for electricians to learn through practice. Having certain skills is more important than having qualifications. The skills required by electricians to succeed are as follows:

  • ability to read blueprints and interpret technical diagrams

  • hand-eye coordination, sense of balance, physical fitness and attention to detail

  • normal colour vision as they often need to identify different colours of wires

  • ability to work independently and as a part of a team

  • ability to follow instructions properly

  • problem-solving, troubleshooting and analytical skills

  • ability to use power tools and hand tools to perform the job

  • up-to-date knowledge of electrical systems and the industry

  • interpersonal skills

  • administrative skills as they may need to fill up paperwork for each project

  • ability to handle power tools needed for electrical work

Different types of electricians

Electricians work in many industries and there are different types of jobs they can take up, like becoming a wireman, welder, technician and supervisor. Each of these jobs requires different skills and specialisation. The different types of electricians based on specialisation are:

1. Residential electrician

Residential electricians are the most common type of electricians. They are responsible for installing, maintaining, troubleshooting electrical systems in residential systems like stand-alone houses and residential buildings. Most commonly, residential electricians learn through apprenticeship. If they have a formal degree, the possibility of getting larger projects and contracts increases. Along with electrical wiring, these electricians may be responsible for CCTV camera installations, phone wirings, power backups, security systems and air conditioning systems.

2. Commercial electrician

While residential electricians work in residential buildings, commercial electricians specialise in commercial buildings like office buildings, malls and hotels. They are responsible for installing, maintaining and upgrading the electric systems within these establishments. Often, commercial electricians report to facility managers and may work as a part of a large team.

3. Industrial electrician

These electricians work in power plants, factories, mills and mines. They are responsible for the installation, maintenance and upgrade of different machines found in manufacturing units. Industrial electricians require specialised knowledge of different types of machines, and they can get it only through formal degrees. They also need to have apprenticeship experience before they can start working directly on machinery.

4. Auto electrician

Auto electricians deal with the electric systems and components within automotive vehicles. They take care of the proper functioning of lamps, radios, heating systems, batteries, air conditioning and wiring within vehicles. Along with maintaining these systems, they are responsible for installing, wiring, troubleshooting and diagnosing problems within the wiring of motor vehicles. For this, it is important for auto electricians to be experts in motor engines and have hands-on experience wiring, installing, maintaining and upgrading electric circuits.

5. Maintenance electrician

These electricians are responsible for the maintenance of existing electrical systems and components. They perform preventive maintenance to ensure that all circuits and components are functioning properly. In case of breakdowns and malfunctions, maintenance electricians troubleshoot and diagnose the problems. Maintenance electricians may work at private companies and government institutes on a contractual basis and be available during operational working hours.

How is an electrician different from an electrical contractor?

An electrician is an individual who trains and gets a license to work with electrical systems, circuits and appliances, whereas an electrical contractor is a person who employs electricians to work for them. Electricians work directly on the tasks in a project, while an electrical contractor is a businessperson who oversees the execution of the project. An electrical contractor may have been an electrician in the past and gained experience and license to become a contractor. Electricians can choose to be self-employed, work for organisations or work for electrical contractors.

How much do electricians earn?

The average salary of electricians is ₹14,026 per month. The earning potential also depends on the location of employment. For example, the average salary of electricians in Jaipur, Rajasthan is ₹19,866 per month, among the highest in the entire country.

Those who begin their careers as electricians through apprenticeship may find it difficult to land large projects at the beginning of their careers. Their earnings may be lower than that of electricians who have a license to practice and prior experience. However, since electricians are essential to almost every industry, their earning potential is high.

Related: Salary Negotiation Tips And Examples

Job opportunities for electricians

The scope of opportunities for electricians is vast and they can find jobs in many private and government sector companies. Electricians who are professionally certified and have previous work experience may find it easier to secure work in renowned companies. Electricians who have learned through an apprenticeship usually find small projects to work on. A qualified electrician can also find job opportunities outside the country and get paid for large contracts.

Many international countries prefer hiring electricians from the Indian subcontinent due to the low cost of labour and the availability of highly skilled professionals. Alternatively, electricians can start their own business by becoming contractors and managing projects while their team of electricians executes the projects.

Salary figures show data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing the article. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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