An electrician is a tradesman
This article is about the skilled manual worker meaning of the term; for other uses see Tradesperson .A tradesman is a skilled manual worker in a particular trade or craft. Economically and socially, a tradesman's status is considered between a laborer and a professional, with a high degree of both...

 specializing in electrical wiring
Electrical wiring
Electrical wiring in general refers to insulated conductors used to carry electricity, and associated devices. This article describes general aspects of electrical wiring as used to provide power in buildings and structures, commonly referred to as building wiring. This article is intended to...

 of buildings, stationary machines and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also specialize in wiring ships, airplanes and other mobile platforms. In the film industry
Film industry
The film industry consists of the technological and commercial institutions of filmmaking: i.e. film production companies, film studios, cinematography, film production, screenwriting, pre-production, post production, film festivals, distribution; and actors, film directors and other film crew...

 and on a television crew
Television crew
Television crew positions are derived from those of film crew, but with several differences.-Pre-production:-Casting Director:-Costume designer:-Director:* Associate Director -Location Manager:-Make-up artist:...

 the Electrician is referred to as a Gaffer
Gaffer (filmmaking)
A gaffer in the motion picture industry and on a television crew is an electrician that can be head of the electrical department, responsible for the execution of the lighting plan for a production. Gaffer, outside of the motion picture industry, is a traditional British English word for an older...

"Electrician" and "electrical contractor
Electrical contractor
An electrical contractor is a business person or firm that performs specialized construction work related to the design, installation, and maintenance of electrical systems—a $130 billion industry in the United States....

" are related terms. An electrician is an individual tradesperson; an electrical contractor is a business that employs electricians to design, install, and maintain electrical systems. In most of the United States, separate licensing requirements exist for electricians and electrical contractors. Electricians are typically not allowed to perform work for the public unless under the employment of an electrical contractor.


In the United States, electricians are sometimes referred to as Inside Wiremen as opposed to Outside Linemen, who work on electric utility company distribution
Electricity distribution
File:Electricity grid simple- North America.svg|thumb|380px|right|Simplified diagram of AC electricity distribution from generation stations to consumers...

 systems at higher voltages. Electrical contracting is divided into four areas: commercial, residential, light industrial, and industrial wiring. Service electricians have considerable skills troubleshooting wiring problems, wiring, and making repairs. Construction electricians focus on the actual wiring of buildings and may have few skills troubleshooting wiring problems. Other specialty areas are marine electricians, research electricians and hospital electricians. "Electrician" is also used as the name of a role in stagecraft
Stagecraft is a generic term referring to the technical aspects of theatrical, film, and video production. It includes, but is not limited to, constructing and rigging scenery, hanging and focusing of lighting, design and procurement of costumes, makeup, procurement of props, stage management, and...

, where electricians are tasked primarily with hanging, focusing, and operating stage lighting
Stage lighting
Modern stage lighting is a flexible tool in the production of theatre, dance, opera and other performance arts. Several different types of stage lighting instruments are used in the pursuit of the various principles or goals of lighting. Stage lighting has grown considerably in recent years...

. In this context, the Master Electrician
Master electrician
The Master Electrician in a theatre is responsible for implementing the lighting design for a production drawn up by the Lighting designer. This involves overseeing the preparation, hanging, connection and focusing of stage lighting fixtures.This can be done on a show by show basis, or as a...

 is the show's chief electrician. Although theater electricians
Electrician (theater)
In theatre, the term Electrician is generally applied to those that work with the various aspects of lighting. Some of the positions among Electricians include the Lighting Supervisor, Master Electrician, Deck Electrician, Light Board Operator, Moving Light Programmer, Followspot Operator, as well...

 routinely perform electrical work on stage lighting instruments and equipment, they are not part of the electrical trade and have a different set of skills and qualifications from the electricians that work on building wiring.

Training and regulation of trade

In most countries, the job of an electrician is a regulated trade for safety reasons due to the many hazards
Electric shock
Electric Shock of a body with any source of electricity that causes a sufficient current through the skin, muscles or hair. Typically, the expression is used to denote an unwanted exposure to electricity, hence the effects are considered undesirable....

 of working with electricity, requiring testing, registration, or licensing. Licensing of electricians is controlled through government and/or professional societies.

United States

In the US, licensing requirements for construction work are controlled by local building officials. Typically, certain types of electrical work are only permitted
Construction permit
A construction permit or building permit is a permit required in most jurisdictions for new construction, or adding on to pre-existing structures, and in some cases for major renovations. Generally, the new construction must be inspected during construction and after completion to ensure compliance...

 to be performed by a Journeyman or Master electrician. The requirements for becoming a journeyman or master electrician, and the types of work they are permitted to do, vary between individual states; however, there are often interstate reciprocity agreements. Not all states offer a statewide journeyman or master electrician license, and the license may be limited to the county or city level.

Before electricians are allowed to work without supervision, they are usually required to serve an apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

 lasting from 3 to 5 years under the general supervision of a Master Electrician and usually the direct supervision of a Journeyman
A journeyman is someone who completed an apprenticeship and was fully educated in a trade or craft, but not yet a master. To become a master, a journeyman had to submit a master work piece to a guild for evaluation and be admitted to the guild as a master....

 Electrician. Schooling in electrical theory and electrical building codes are required to complete the apprenticeship program. Many apprenticeship programs provide a salary to the apprentice during training. A Journeyman electrician is a well rounded craftsman
An artisan is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewellery, household items, and tools...

 who has met the experience requirements for on the job training (usually 4080 to 6120 hrs) and classroom hours (about 144 hrs.), they may also have a two year relevant degree and another two to three years apprenticeship training and have passed a licensing exam for their jurisdiction, be it state, county or city. They are trained in all phases of electrical construction installation in various building styles (residential, commercial, industrial, basic electronics) and maintenance of equipment after installation. All of their time is well documented under the jurisdiction of the state government in order for their time to be credited. A Journeyman is usually permitted to perform all types of electrical work except the design of electrical systems, although in some jurisdictions a Journeyman may design systems within certain limits. By contrast, a residential electrician is only permitted to work on residential projects with limitations (for example under 4 stories), and apprenticeship is typically four to five years. In certain states like Michigan, to go on to be a Master Electrician and then an electrical contractor, a journeyman has to work another two years past his passing of the extensive exam given and then apply to take the Master's exam which is another very rigid exam. Then they can apply for an electrical contractors license according to the guidelines of that government.

United Kingdom

The electrical trade is currently mainly governed by the JIB (joint industry board), who require City and guilds
City and Guilds of London Institute
The City and Guilds of London Institute is a leading United Kingdom vocational education organisation. City & Guilds offers more than 500 qualifications over the whole range of industry sectors through 8500 colleges and training providers in 81 countries worldwide...

 2330 Levels 2 and 3, City and Guilds National Vocational Qualification
National Vocational Qualification
National Vocational Qualifications are work based awards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that are achieved through assessment and training. In Scotland they are known as Scottish Vocational Qualification ....

 Level 2 and 3, and a completion of a recognised apprenticeship or suitable practical training, to qualify as an Installation Electrician. There are many other different disciplines within the same industry such as Data Electrician, Highways Electrician, Panel Wirer and more. Working within a company that permits electrical work without the approved grading does not make the worker qualified.


In most Canadian jurisdictions, a supply authority will not connect power to a new building unless a licensed electrician has applied for the electrical permit (some provinces allow a homeowner to obtain his or her own electrical permit). Similarly to the United States, training of electricians follows an apprenticeship model, taking four or five years to progress to fully qualified journeyman level. Typical apprenticeship programs emphasize hands-on work under the supervision of journeymen, but also include a substantial component of classroom training and testing. Training and licensing of electricians is regulated by each province, but many provinces recognize qualifications received in others. The red seal program allows qualified electricians to practice their trade in other provinces without having to write additional examinations.

Restricted electrical licenses are also issued for specializations such as motor winder, appliance repair, audio/visual installation, HVAC
HVAC refers to technology of indoor or automotive environmental comfort. HVAC system design is a major subdiscipline of mechanical engineering, based on the principles of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer...

 installation, and similar jobs.


An Electrician's License entitles the holder to carry out all types of electrical installation work in Australia without supervision. However, to contract, or offer to contract, to carry out electrical installation work, a licensed electrician must also be registered as an electrical contractor.
Australian residents require the service of a local electrician for a range of works including Air Conditioning, Data, and structured cabling systems, Home Automation & Theatre, LAN
Län and lääni refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010....

WAN may refer to:* Wide area network * World Association of Newspapers* Wanborough railway station in England, which has the station code WAN...

 and VPN data solutions, Light fittings and Installation, Phone points, Power points, Safety inspections and reports, Safety switches, Smoke alarm installation, inspection and certification and Testing and tagging of electrical appliances..

Electrical licensing in Australia is regulated by the individual states. In Western Australia the Department of Commerce tracks licensee's and allows the public to search for individually named/licensed Electricians.

Currently in Victoria the apprenticeship last for four years, during three of those years the apprentice attends trade school in either a block release of one week each month or one day each week. At the end of the apprenticeship the apprentice is required to pass three examinations, one of which is theory based with the other two practically based. Upon successful completion of these exams, providing all other components of the apprenticeship are satisfactory, the apprentice is granted an A Class licence on application to Energy Safe Victoria (ESV).

An A Class electrician may perform work unsupervised but is unable to work for profit or gain without having the further qualifications necessary to become a Registered Electrical Contractor (REC) or being in the employment of a person holding REC status. However, some exemptions do exist.

In most cases a certificate of electrical safety must be submitted to the relevant body after any electrical works are performed.


The electrician's trade requires use of a range of hand and power tools and instruments. Usually an electrician will have a personal set of hand tools and general-purpose test instruments, with the more costly power tools or instruments provided by the employer or business.

Some of the more common tools are:
  • Pipe and tube bender
  • GS38 voltage indicators
  • Lineman's pliers
    Lineman's pliers
    Lineman's pliers , also called combination pliers are a type of pliers used by electricians and other tradesmen primarily for gripping, twisting, bending and cutting wire and cable. Linemen's pliers owe their effectiveness to their plier design, which multiplies force through leverage...

    : Heavy-duty pliers for general use in cutting, bending, crimping and pulling wire.
  • Diagonal pliers
    Diagonal pliers
    Diagonal pliers are pliers intended for the cutting of wire . They are sometimes called side cutting pliers or side cutters, although these terms are shared by other pliers designs, such as lineman's pliers, and may lead to confusion...

     (also known as side cutters or Dikes): Pliers consisting of cutting blades for use on smaller gauge wires, but sometimes also used as a gripping tool for removal of nails and staples.
  • Needle-nose pliers
    Needle-nose pliers
    Needle-nose pliers are both cutting and gripping pliers used by electricians and other tradesmen to bend, re-position and cut wire...

    : Pliers with a long, tapered gripping nose of various size, with or without cutters, generally smaller and for finer work (including very small tools used in electronics
    Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

  • Wire strippers: Plier-like tool available in many sizes and designs featuring special blades to cut and strip wire insulation while leaving the conductor wire intact and without nicks. Some wire strippers include cable strippers among their multiple functions, for removing the outer cable jacket.
  • Cable cutters: Highly leveraged pliers for cutting larger cable.
  • Rotosplit
    Roto-Split is a highly-specialized tool invented by Lucifer C Ducret, the founder of It is used in stripping the casing from metallic-clad electrical power cable...

    : A brand-name tool designed to assist in breaking the spiral jacket of metallic-jacketed cable (MC cable
    MC Cable
    MC Cable is a cable television company for the Principality of Monaco and is owned by Monaco Telecom.Offers 200 French and foreign TV and radio channels ....

  • Multimeter
    A multimeter or a multitester, also known as a VOM , is an electronic measuring instrument that combines several measurement functions in one unit. A typical multimeter may include features such as the ability to measure voltage, current and resistance...

    : A battery-powered instrument for electrical testing and troubleshooting; common features include the ability to measure and display voltage
    Voltage, otherwise known as electrical potential difference or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points — or the difference in electric potential energy per unit charge between two points...

    , resistance
    Electrical resistance
    The electrical resistance of an electrical element is the opposition to the passage of an electric current through that element; the inverse quantity is electrical conductance, the ease at which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the mechanical...

    , and current
    Electric current
    Electric current is a flow of electric charge through a medium.This charge is typically carried by moving electrons in a conductor such as wire...

     with other types of measurements included depending on the make and model. Are available in digital or analogue.
  • Step-bit: A metal-cutting drill bit with stepped-diameter cutting edges, generally at 1/8-inch intervals, for conveniently drilling holes to specification in stamped/rolled metal up to about 1/16" thick; for example, to create custom knock-outs in a breaker panel or junction box
    Junction box
    An electrical junction box is a container for electrical connections, usually intended to conceal them from sight and meter tampering. A small metal or plastic junction box may form part of an electrical conduit wiring system in a building, or may be buried in the plaster of a wall, concealed...

  • Cord, rope and/or fish tape
    Fish tape
    A fish tape is a tool used by electricians to route new wiring through walls and electrical conduit....

    . Used to 'fish' cables and wires into and out of cavities. The fishing tool is pushed, dropped, or shot into the installed raceway, stud-bay or joist-bay of a finished wall or in a floor or ceiling. Then the wire or cable is attached and pulled back.
  • Crimping tools: Used to apply terminals or splices. These may be hand or hydraulic powered. Some hand tools have ratchets to insure proper pressure. Hydraulic units achieve cold welding
    Cold welding
    Cold or contact welding is a solid-state welding process in which joining takes place without fusion/heating at the interface of the two parts to be welded. Unlike in the fusion-welding processes, no liquid or molten phase is present in the joint....

    , even for aluminum "locomotive" [many fine strands] cable.
  • Insulation Resistance Tester: Commonly referred to as a Megger. Insulation testers apply several hundred to several thousand volts to cables and equipment to determine the insulation resistance value of the item being tested. Modern insulation resistance testers often have a ohm meter function available and are often included as a function of a multimeter.
  • Knockout punch
    Knockout punch
    A knockout punch, also known as a chassis punch or a Q-max, is a hand tool used to punch a hole through sheet metal. It is a very simple tool that consists of a punch, die, and screw. They are three different drive systems: manual, ratchet, and hydraulic drives.-Operation:First a pilot hole is...

    : For punching holes into sheet metal to run wires or conduit.
  • Other general-use tools with applications in electric power wiring include screwdriver
    A screwdriver is a tool for driving screws and often rotating other machine elements with the mating drive system. The screwdriver is made up of a head or tip, which engages with a screw, a mechanism to apply torque by rotating the tip, and some way to position and support the screwdriver...

    s, hammer
    A hammer is a tool meant to deliver an impact to an object. The most common uses are for driving nails, fitting parts, forging metal and breaking up objects. Hammers are often designed for a specific purpose, and vary widely in their shape and structure. The usual features are a handle and a head,...

    s, reciprocating saw
    Reciprocating saw
    A reciprocating saw is a type of saw in which the cutting action is achieved through a push and pull reciprocating motion of the blade.The term reciprocating saw is commonly assigned to a type of saw used in construction and demolition work...

    s, drywall saws, metal punches, flashlight
    A flashlight is a hand-held electric-powered light source. Usually the light source is a small incandescent lightbulb or light-emitting diode...

    s, chisel
    A chisel is a tool with a characteristically shaped cutting edge of blade on its end, for carving or cutting a hard material such as wood, stone, or metal. The handle and blade of some types of chisel are made of metal or wood with a sharp edge in it.In use, the chisel is forced into the material...

    s, adjustable slip-joint pliers and drill
    A drill or drill motor is a tool fitted with a cutting tool attachment or driving tool attachment, usually a drill bit or driver bit, used for drilling holes in various materials or fastening various materials together with the use of fasteners. The attachment is gripped by a chuck at one end of...

  • Test light
    Test light
    A test light, test lamp, voltage tester, or mains tester is a very simple piece of electronic test equipment used to determine the presence or absence of an electric voltage in a piece of equipment under test.-Two-contact test lights :...

  • Ground Fault Indicator Tester


In addition to the workplace hazards generally faced by industrial workers, electricians are also particularly exposed to injury by electricity. An electrician may experience electric shock
Electric shock
Electric Shock of a body with any source of electricity that causes a sufficient current through the skin, muscles or hair. Typically, the expression is used to denote an unwanted exposure to electricity, hence the effects are considered undesirable....

 due to direct contact with energized circuit conductors or due to stray voltage
Stray voltage
Stray voltage describes the occurrence of electrical potential between two objects that ideally should not have any voltage difference between them. Small voltages are often measured between two grounded objects in distant locations, due to normal current flow in the power system...

 caused by faults in a system. An electric arc
Electric arc
An electric arc is an electrical breakdown of a gas which produces an ongoing plasma discharge, resulting from a current flowing through normally nonconductive media such as air. A synonym is arc discharge. An arc discharge is characterized by a lower voltage than a glow discharge, and relies on...

 exposes eyes and skin to hazardous amounts of heat and light. Faulty switchgear may cause an arc flash
Arc flash
An arc flash is a type of electrical explosion that results from a low impedance connection to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system.-Definition:...

 incident with a resultant blast. Electricians are trained to work safely and take many measures to minimize the danger of injury. Lockout and tagout procedures are used to make sure that circuits are proven to be de-energized before work is done. Limits of approach to energized equipment protect against arc flash
Arc flash
An arc flash is a type of electrical explosion that results from a low impedance connection to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system.-Definition:...

 exposure; specially designed flash-resistant clothing provides additional protection; grounding (earthing) clamps and chains are used on line conductors to provide a visible assurance that a conductor is de-energized. Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garment or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury by blunt impacts, electrical hazards, heat, chemicals, and infection, for job-related occupational safety and health purposes, and in...

 provides electrical insulation as well as protection from mechanical impact; gloves have insulating rubber liners, and work boots and hard hats are specially rated to provide protection from shock. If a system cannot be de-energized, insulated tools and special live-line training
Live-line working
In electrical engineering, live-line working is the maintenance of electrical equipment, often operating at high voltage, while the equipment is energised. The first techniques for live-line working were developed in the early years of the 20th century, and both equipment and work methods were...

 are used; even high-voltage transmission lines can be repaired while energized, when necessary.

Electricians had the highest rate of fatalties by electrocution, accounting for 34% of the total electrocutions of construction trades workers in the United States between 1992-2003.

Trade organizations

In North America, electricians are represented by several unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is a labor union which represents workers in the electrical industry in the United States, Canada, Panama and several Caribbean island nations; particularly electricians, or Inside Wiremen, in the construction industry and linemen and other...

; the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is an AFL-CIO/CLC trade union representing approx. 646,933 workers as of 2006 in more than 200 industries.-Formation and early history:...

; United Auto Workers
United Auto Workers
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, better known as the United Auto Workers , is a labor union which represents workers in the United States and Puerto Rico, and formerly in Canada. Founded as part of the Congress of Industrial...

; and the United Steelworkers
United Steelworkers
The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union is the largest industrial labor union in North America, with 705,000 members. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, U.S., the United Steelworkers represents workers in the United...

Many merit-shop training and apprenticeship programs also exist, including those offered by such as trade associations as Associated Builders and Contractors, National Electrical Contractors Association
National Electrical Contractors Association
The National Electrical Contractors Association, or NECA, is a trade association in the United States that represents the $130 billion/year electrical contracting industry. NECA supports the businesses that bring power, light, and communication technology to buildings and communities...

 http://www.necanet.org, and Independent Electrical Contractors
Independent Electrical Contractors
The Independent Electrical Contractors, Inc. is a national trade association for merit shop electrical and systems contractors. IEC’s mission is to develop and foster a stronger economy through the level of quality and services its members provide to the industry.IEC believes that drawing from the...

. These organizations provide comprehensive training, in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor regulations.

In Australia, electricians can choose to be represented by the Electrical Trade Union (ETU). Electrical Contractors can be represented by Master Electricians Australia or the National Electrical & Communications Association.

In the U.K., electricians are represented by several unions including Unite the Union
Unite the Union
Unite – the Union, known as Unite, is a British and Irish trade union, formed on 1 May 2007, by the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union...

In the Rep. of Ireland there are two self regulation/self certification bodies RECI Register of Electrical Contractors of Ireland and ECSSA.

See also

  • Electrician (theater)
    Electrician (theater)
    In theatre, the term Electrician is generally applied to those that work with the various aspects of lighting. Some of the positions among Electricians include the Lighting Supervisor, Master Electrician, Deck Electrician, Light Board Operator, Moving Light Programmer, Followspot Operator, as well...

  • Electricity
    Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
    The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is a labor union which represents workers in the electrical industry in the United States, Canada, Panama and several Caribbean island nations; particularly electricians, or Inside Wiremen, in the construction industry and linemen and other...

  • Lineman (occupation)

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.