What Types of Electricians Are There?
An electrician is a skilled tradesperson working in the construction industry who specializes in the design, installation, maintenance, and repair of power systems - and the need for these skilled workers is only growing in the US.
In fact, the expected growth of electrical workers is 10% by 2028.
Electricians work in a wide range of professional sectors like residential, office building maintenance, as well as commercial/industrial and residential construction.
This article will give you an in depth understanding of the different types of electricians:
Types of electricians can be broken down into several broad categories - however, there are two primary categories into which most electricians fall:
- Linemen (Outside Electricians)) – Also called line electrical workers, these electricians work outdoors installing electric utility transmission and distribution systems at higher voltages. They ensure the electricity produced at power plants move to substations - and are equipped to manage high-voltage lines across the residential, commercial, and industrial facilities.
- Wiremen (Inside Electricians) – Wiremen are electricians who work with the lower voltages found inside buildings and structures. Wiremen install, maintain, and repair electrical systems that provide residential, commercial, and industrial buildings with reliable power. Residential systems, such as solar panel installation, would fall under this category.
Types of Electricians by Certification Levels
There are three levels of certification levels for electrical workers - these are Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Electrician.
The first step to becoming an electrician is going through an apprenticeship program.
This requires a high school diploma (or equivalent) to apply, in most states. Generally, an apprentice would take several hundred classroom hours, before joining a commercial electrician group.
After about three to six years, you can apply for an apprenticeship under a licensed electrician.
Once you complete your apprenticeship program, and fulfill all requirements, you can then take the test to become a journeyman electrician where you will receive your license from the local, state, or federal licensing group.
A certification enables you to work without supervision and gives you the credentials to train new apprentices.
Master Electrician is the highest level of electrical certification, with requirements varying from state to state.
The main standard for most states is around 4,000 hours of electric work as a Journeyman, followed by a licensing exam to display in-depth knowledge of the National Electrical Code.
Lastly, Master electricians work on the most complex commercial and industrial projects, and have the experience to train Journeymen electricians to do the same.
What Different Types of Electricians Are There Based on Specialization?
Within the two primary categories of electricians, there are many different electrician fields. Different electrician jobs will also require unique skills and certifications. These fields include:
An industrial electrician is tasked with installing, troubleshooting, and repairing electrical equipment within power plants, processing plants, factories, and mines.
These types of electricians work with manufacturing systems and large, complex machinery - with some technicians focusing on security and lighting systems.
As an industrial electrician, you would report to maintenance supervisors or facility managers. In most cases, you are required to have some years of apprenticeship job training under your belt prior to working in this field.
A commercial electrician specializes in installing, repairing. and maintaining electrical systems - with most operating in commercial buildings like offices and other workplaces.
As a commercial electrician, you might also be called upon to assist in designing and planning electrical systems during the construction of new buildings. If you’re the type of person to take on additional challenges, this would be ideal for you - the job frequently includes having to navigate public safety concerns and local electrical codes.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you can also venture out as an independent electrical contractor and go on to start your own business, hiring additional electricians underneath you.
A residential electrician is the most common type of electrician. They are typically responsible for installing, troubleshooting, maintaining, and upgrading electrical systems - this includes equipment in residential settings like homes, apartments, and condominiums.
As a residential electrician, you’ll install and repair security systems, air conditioning units, and other household appliances.
Job training combines apprenticeship with formal classroom instruction, under the supervision of a Journeyman or Master electrician. You’ll also need to pass state-level testing, following the completion of your apprenticeship program.
Like commercial electricians, many types of electrical jobs include working for a building contractor or managing a small business independently.
Maintenance electricians are a vital part of industrial, commercial, and residential sectors. As a maintenance electrician, you are tasked with maintaining, repairing, and upgrading existing electrical equipment.
Other maintenance responsibilities include testing, troubleshooting, and diagnosing problems with equipment.
To work as a maintenance electrician, you would also need a formal apprenticeship, with on-the-job technical training, followed by an electrician license.
An auto electrician specializes in cars and other automotive vehicles, and are responsible for the electrical systems within these vehicles that are vital for their safe operation.
To be an auto electrician, you would need an in-depth understanding of vehicle diagnostics, allowing the proper inspection of drivetrain systems using performance electronics. Technicians also use these devices for official motor vehicle certification.
Job Training, Licensing, Safety and Pay
In the United States electrician licenses are issued at the state level, with all states recognizing the three types of certifications. It’s important to know that licensing requirements may vary state-by-state. You can check out the requirements for your state here.
Safety and Working Conditions
Electricians can be exposed to injury and must take precautions through safety training like OSHA. Electricians are also required to receive on-the-job training on work safety, with employers taking the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of injury. These can include:
- Lockout and tag-out procedures
- Limits of approach
- Use of appropriate tools
- Use of personal protective gear
Electric work conditions will vary depending on the specialization and can be physically demanding, often involving lifting supplies and tools while climbing ladders.
Some electricians must climb scaffolding, as well as bend and kneel frequently to make connections in cramped locations. Depending on your specialty, prepare to spend most of your days in dirty and loud work sites.
How Much Do Electricians Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians had a median annual salary of $55,190 in 2018. This included a mean hourly wage of $28.50. The best-paid 25% made $472,780 while the lowest-paid 255 made $41,260. The best states based on types of electricians and their salaries are New York, Alaska, Illinois, and Hawaii.
The best-paying metropolitan areas in the US are San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and San Jose. Industries with the highest wages for electricians are natural gas and real estate.
The employment outlook for electricians in the US is positive, with many opportunities for different electrician jobs across top industries. Pursuing a career as an electrician is a recommendable choice for many with specialization options, room for advancement, and great pay.
Working With an Electrician Staffing Agency
Whether you’re an apprentice, journeyman or master electrician, there are a host of benefits in working with an electrician staffing agency like Elite Force - from great pay and benefits, to consistent work opportunities, no matter where you are in the US. Contact us today to get started.