what is an electrician?

An electrician is a skilled craftsman who works on electrical wiring for buildings and other structures. For safety reasons, it's essential to prevent risks with electrical wiring and components. A poor wiring system is hazardous and eventually leads to an injury or a fire. This position requires you to know safety measures, have solid maths and mechanical skills, and understand electrical tools and materials.

An electrician usually trains for at least four years in an apprenticeship, which is the first level for electricians. The higher levels are journeyman and master electrician. An apprentice electrician works under the supervision of an experienced electrician and has an apprenticeship licence to work on electrical components.

A journeyman has completed their apprenticeship, and the local government recognises them as competent electrical professionals who can work unsupervised. The most advanced electricians become master electricians. They have several years of experience working in the trade and perform supervisory roles.

Apprentices complete hundreds of hours of training to reach higher levels as electricians. The extensive training is due to the safety risks associated with electrical work. Since the electrician's and others' safety is at stake, the training is rigorous. You would usually work as an apprentice for three to six years under the general supervision of a master electrician and the direct supervision of a journeyman electrician.

You will have steady work as an electrician to install, maintain and repair electrical wiring for commercial, industrial and residential buildings. In addition, some electricians continue to study and work on sub-speciality electrical systems, such as ships, aeroplanes and other mobile structures.

Data and computing are growing technologies, and electricians also find work on data and cable lines. There are frequent job openings due to the growth in construction and vacancies resulting from retirement, etc.

Would working as an electrician suit your aptitude for mechanics and knowledge of electrical components? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an electrician role.

electrician jobs

average salary of an electrician

According to National Careers, an entry-level electrician receives a salary of £18,000 annually while an experienced electrician earns over £42,000 per year. The salary range varies depending on your chosen speciality. For instance, if you specialise in repairing and fixing motor vehicles, your earnings range from £17,000 to £37,000 annually.

factors that affect an electrician's pay

An electrician's salary usually depends on their experience level. For instance, an apprentice's salary is considerably less than that of a journeyman or master electrician, but so are the risks. The master electrician and the journeyman determine the pay the apprentice will receive when making the contract.

The nature of electrical work is hazardous. Specific jobs require different levels of precision compared to others, and there is no room for error. A higher difficulty level usually results in a higher payment due to higher risks.

Some industry sectors also pay electricians more due to the complexity of their work. For instance, electricians working in manufacturing industries repairing motors and transformers are likely to earn more than installation electricians.

female operating machinery
female operating machinery

types of electricians

An electrician goes through an apprenticeship, followed by journeyman and master electrician roles. You'll choose one of these five specialisms in the field:

  • installation electrician: as an installation electrician, you install and lay down wiring fixtures and equipment. You install wires to commercial buildings and residences and connect them to transformers and breakers. You also make sure the connections are safe.
  • lineman: a lineman works on power lines, both overhead and underground. Your job is to repair and install electrical lines. You also check meters to ensure they work properly.
  • automotive electrician or auto electrician: your job involves wiring ignition systems, heating and air conditioning systems and anti-lock breaks to ensure they work properly.
  • industrial electrician: you ensure electrical components in a manufacturing company function properly. You perform installation and maintenance duties.
  • maintenance electrician: you focus on keeping electrical systems up to standard in commercial, residential and industrial settings. You test voltages and repair faulty wiring.


working as an electrician

Most people know the basics of working as an electrician. However, some don't know that it is a physically demanding job. If you're looking for a career to keep yourself busy and are willing to put in some hard work, this is a good fit.



education and skills

Some of the ways of becoming an electrician include:

  • college: pursuing a college course equips you with practical skills and technical knowledge for the role. You can pursue a diploma course like a Level 2 Diploma in electrical installation or a T Level in building services engineering.
  • apprenticeship: through apprenticeship programmes, you gain training and experience with a journeyman and master electrician. An apprentice should accumulate several hundred hours of on-the-job experience before becoming a journeyman. Contractors and business owners prefer experienced electricians. 
  • work experience: when you have post-secondary qualifications, you need to improve your experience levels to succeed in the role. Internships and vocational programmes give you relevant experience.

skills and competencies

You need the following qualities to succeed in an electrician role:

  • technical electrician skills: as an electrician, you need technical skills to complete your work. Apart from safety knowledge, electricians should have standard skills in installing cables, using power tools and repairing equipment.
  • teamwork skills: as an electrician, you need teamwork skills like communication and patience. People skills help you collaborate with others during a project. You can provide clear instructions and listen to constructive feedback from other team members.
  • problem-solving skills: as an electrician, you face multiple challenges that should be resolved promptly. You need problem-solving skills to rectify the problems and avoid further issues.
  • physical skills: as an electrician, you need physical skills to lift heavy weights, climb ladders and scaffolding or stand for an extended period. Physical fitness reduces the chances of injury. Good vision is also crucial due to the colour-coded nature of electrical wiring.
male wearing protective eyewear and ear plugs
male wearing protective eyewear and ear plugs


FAQs about working as an electrician

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