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What does an Electrician do?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

An electrician specializes in the installation, operation, repair, and maintenance of electrical systems. These systems include wiring, circuit boards, and electronics. This profession is incredibly varied, and in some parts of the world it can pay very well, due to the three to five year training period required for an electrician to be successful. Consumers interact with the work of electricians every day in communities with electricity, and many people have a preferred electrician for electrical repair around homes and businesses.

Some people like to distinguish between an electrician and a lineman, depending on regional nomenclature. In this sense, an electrician works on internal wiring in homes and other buildings, while a lineman works on outside electrical lines and in power generation facilities. Due to the much higher currents involved in this work, being a lineman can be very dangerous, especially when linemen are sent out to respond to downed power lines and other emergencies which can occur in inclement weather.

When a structure is built, an electrician is an important part of the building team. He or she installs conduit in the walls as they are built for the purpose of running electrical wiring, and if built in heating and cooling systems are being installed, an electrician will also install vents and piping for these systems. As the house is finished, the electrician installs electrical sockets for the purpose of plugging in electrical equipment and installing light bulbs. Specialized circuits may also be installed for equipment which drains power, such as stoves and heaters.

Electricians may also install complex electrical equipment, and they are familiar with the operation of electronics and the various tools of their trade, from breaker boxes to voltage meters. Maintenance and repair services are also offered by professional electricians, ranging from troubleshooting malfunctioning electric stoves to replacing aged wiring. Many electricians work as freelancers, carrying their equipment with them in vans or trucks and traveling to sites as needed.

Someone who wants to become an electrician should plan on going to trade school or serving a professional apprenticeship. During apprenticeship, he or she will learn about how to safely handle electricity and how to install electrical components. Training also includes familiarization with prevailing local codes, and a mentor may also offer training in dealing with various other professional trades in the capacity of an electrician. Once training is complete, a journeyman electrician can pursue professional certification or licensing, if required in his or her region.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Practical Adult Insights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon354743 — On Nov 11, 2013

Don't become an electrician and work in a factory. You work weekends and they call you for everything if you're not at work. If I had known this, I would never have become an electrician.

Remember, you should always do a diagnosis of the breakdown and tell the fitter what to do. or if no fitter is available, you will become a fitter and have to fix it. Think carefully as all electricians do standby.

By staceybeck01 — On Oct 24, 2013

I need to find a residential electrician and this is really good to know.

By anon330617 — On Apr 17, 2013

I have an interview coming up to be an electrician's apprentice. What are some questions that they might ask?

By anon301328 — On Nov 03, 2012

I used to be a electrician a couple of years ago. It was very good pay and I met new friends along the way!

By anon276697 — On Jun 25, 2012

What is the personality of electricians that are out there?

Stereotypically, they're seen as men that drink, smoke and swear. Is this true?

By anon254011 — On Mar 12, 2012

@anon78337 (Post 9): Whatever is causing the breaker to trip has something to do with the fluor fixture. My own Step 1 would be to open up the fluor fixture, disconnect both black and white from the ballast, then try the fluor light switch. If there is no problem tripping then, do a continuity check on the ballast: white to ground, black to ground, and white and black with each other. If you get any continuity readings showing close to "shorted" on your meter, the ballast is the problem. My guess is is that you've got a bad ballast.

By anon177541 — On May 18, 2011

I want to be an electrician, but I hate math. Is that okay?

By anon116446 — On Oct 06, 2010

I'm on my fourth day of an electrician apprenticeship and i love it.

By PATtesters — On Aug 30, 2010

The wiring system of different projects is not same and accordingly only experts on related fields can deal with them. You must inquire very briefly about the expertise of the electrician before you give the person the job.

By anon80540 — On Apr 27, 2010

how much does an electrician make and is it good for someone that loves math?

By anon78337 — On Apr 18, 2010

My kitchen breaker continues to trip. This is a 30/15 amp 120/240 v 1-2P 30 2 1P 15 triplex Cutler Hammer Breaker. I have replaced the breaker, light switch and tested (by trial and error)shutting off all light switches to determine the fault.

It appears the (fluorescent) light switch (which I replaced with a new one) continues to trip the breaker when I turn it on and all other kitchen light shut off as the breaker trips. The only circuit affected is the light circuit. Other kitchen lights can remain on until I turn on the fluorescent light switch then the breaker trips shutting off all kitchen lights.

Could there be a problem with a fluorescent light ballast that is causing this to happen?

By anon69327 — On Mar 07, 2010

i'm with the guy before me; it pays extremely well and there is always something new to be done.

By anon51956 — On Nov 10, 2009

Is this job good for me? I really need to know because i will be taking it in the future.

By anon49259 — On Oct 19, 2009

good pay.

By anon23051 — On Dec 15, 2008

why would you like to be an electrician?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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