What Does an Electrician Do?

Electricians are pivotal to the construction, maintenance, and repair of our modern world’s electrical infrastructure. They ensure that homes, businesses, and industries are powered safely and efficiently. This guide by AB Electrical & Communications delves into the multifaceted role of electricians, outlining their key responsibilities, the skills required, and the impact they have on our daily lives.

The Role and Job Responsibilities of Electricians

Electricians are skilled professionals responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems in a variety of settings, including residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Their work ensures that electrical installations are safe, efficient, and comply with regulatory standards. Key responsibilities include:

  • Installation: Electricians install wiring, lighting, and control systems in new constructions and renovations. They follow blueprints and adhere to building codes and standards to set up electrical systems that power homes, buildings, and machinery.
  • Maintenance and Inspection: Regular maintenance and inspection of electrical systems are crucial to prevent potential hazards. Electricians perform routine checks to ensure electrical components function correctly and safely, identifying and rectifying faults or wear and tear before they lead to problems.
  • Repair: When electrical issues arise, electricians are called upon to diagnose and repair faults in wiring, fixtures, and electrical appliances. This involves troubleshooting to identify the root cause of a problem and applying the necessary fixes to restore electrical functionality and safety.

Skills and Qualifications of an Electrician

Becoming an electrician requires a combination of education, training, and practical skills. Essential qualifications and skills include:

  • Educational Background: Most electricians start with a high school diploma or equivalent, followed by technical training in electrical theory, safety practices, and building codes, often obtained through vocational schools or community colleges.
  • Apprenticeship: A significant part of an electrician’s training is completed during an apprenticeship. This hands-on experience, lasting four to five years, combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction, allowing aspiring electricians to learn under the mentorship of experienced professionals.
  • Licensing: Electricians must obtain a license to work independently, which requires passing an exam that tests their knowledge of electrical theory, local codes, and regulations.
  • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Electricians must be able to quickly and accurately diagnose electrical problems, which requires strong analytical skills and innovative thinking.
  • Physical Dexterity and Safety Awareness: The job demands physical stamina, good hand-eye coordination, and a high degree of attention to safety protocols to work in various environments and heights, often in close proximity to live electrical wires.

The Different Types of Electricians

The electrical trade offers various specialisations, catering to different interests and skill sets. Electricians may choose to focus on residential, commercial, or industrial sectors, each with unique demands and work environments.

Residential Electricians

Residential electricians provide a range of services aimed at ensuring the safety, functionality, and comfort of homes. Their services include:

  • Electrical Installations: Installing complete electrical systems for new homes or during major renovations. This includes wiring, outlets, switches, and the electrical panel.
  • Upgrades and Replacements: Updating old wiring and electrical panels to meet current safety standards and accommodate modern electrical loads.
  • Lighting Design and Installation: Creating and implementing lighting designs that enhance the aesthetics and functionality of home spaces, including indoor and outdoor lighting.
  • Inspections and Code Compliance: Conducting thorough inspections of existing electrical systems to identify any code violations or safety hazards and performing necessary adjustments or repairs.
  • Emergency Repairs: Offering urgent repair services for issues like power outages, faulty wiring, or overloaded circuits to restore safety and functionality quickly.

Commercial Electricians

Commercial electricians specialise in services that keep businesses, offices, and public buildings operational, safe, and well-lit. Key services include:

  • System Installations and Upgrades: Installing electrical systems that meet the specific needs of commercial spaces, including energy-efficient lighting, power distribution systems, and backup generators.
  • Safety and Security Systems: Implementing and maintaining security systems, fire alarms, and surveillance cameras to protect commercial properties.
  • Data and Communication Lines: Setting up networks for telecommunications and data transmission, essential for today’s digital business operations.
  • Routine Maintenance: Conducting scheduled maintenance to prevent electrical problems and ensure all systems function efficiently and safely.
  • Energy Management and Conservation: Advising on and installing solutions for energy conservation and management, including automated controls and green energy systems.

Industrial Electricians

Industrial electricians focus on the more complex and high-powered needs of manufacturing and industrial facilities. Their services are critical for:

  • Machinery Installation and Maintenance: Installing, maintaining, and repairing the electrical components of industrial machinery to ensure continuous, efficient operation.
  • Process Control Systems: Implementing and servicing automated systems that control industrial processes, improving efficiency and safety.
  • High-Voltage Systems and Transformers: Working with high-voltage systems, including the installation and maintenance of transformers and distribution systems to safely distribute electrical power within industrial settings.
  • Electrical Safety Inspections: Performing detailed inspections and diagnostics to prevent equipment failure and ensure compliance with industrial safety standards.
  • Team Leadership and Project Management: Leading teams of electricians on large-scale industrial projects, managing timelines, and ensuring work is completed to high standards.

Career Path to Becoming an Electrician

Becoming an electrician involves a combination of education, hands-on training, and licensure. The journey typically starts with an apprenticeship, which is essential for gaining the experience needed to work independently as a licensed electrician.


Aspiring electricians usually begin their career path through an apprenticeship program, combining classroom instruction with on-the-job training. This period allows them to learn the intricacies of electrical work, from installing wiring systems to maintaining electrical components and equipment.


Upon completing their apprenticeship, electricians must obtain a license to perform electrical work independently. The licensing process varies by location but generally requires passing an exam that tests knowledge of electrical code, safety practices, and technical skills.

Career Advancement

After becoming a licensed electrician, many seek further specialisation or certification as a journeyman or master electrician, opening up more job opportunities and potentially leading to a higher average salary. Electricians may also choose to work as contractors, running their own businesses or leading a team of electricians on larger projects.

The Essential Tools and Equipment Used by Electricians

Electricians are equipped with a variety of tools and equipment that enable them to install, diagnose, repair, and maintain electrical systems and components effectively. These tools are essential for carrying out the wide range of electrical jobs electricians encounter daily:

  • Hand Tools: Pliers, wire strippers, screwdrivers, and cable cutters are fundamental for electricians to manipulate wiring and electrical components.
  • Power Tools: Drills and saws are used to create openings for wiring in walls and panels, while crimping tools help secure connections.
  • Testing and Measurement Instruments: Multimeters, clamp meters, and voltage testers are crucial for electricians to measure electrical values accurately and diagnose electrical problems in systems and equipment.
  • Safety Equipment: Electricians frequently wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, safety glasses, and hard hats, to protect against electrical shocks and other hazards. Insulated tools also play a key role in ensuring electricians can work safely with live electrical systems.

Continuous Learning and Certification in the Electrical Field

The electrical field is constantly evolving, with new technologies, materials, and regulations emerging regularly. For electricians, ongoing education and certification are vital to staying current with these changes and advancing their careers:

  • Continuing Education: Many electricians participate in continuing education courses to keep up with the latest electrical codes, safety standards, and technologies. This might include learning about renewable energy systems, smart home technology, or advances in electrical safety.
  • Certification Programs: Beyond the initial licensing, electricians can pursue additional certifications in specific areas, such as solar energy installation, electrical inspection, or industrial electrical work. These certifications can enhance an electrician’s qualifications and open up new opportunities for specialisation.
  • Advancing Through Ranks: Starting as an apprentice, electricians can advance to become journeyman electricians and eventually master electricians, each level offering greater responsibility, autonomy, and potential earnings. Achieving these ranks often requires additional exams and proven experience.

How to Start Your Career as an Electrician

For those interested in becoming electricians, the path involves several key steps:

  1. Education: Completing high school education, particularly with a focus on mathematics and sciences, provides a strong foundation. Further, vocational training or courses in electrical engineering can be highly beneficial.
  2. Apprenticeship: Finding an apprenticeship is the next step, offering hands-on training and on-the-job experience essential for developing the skills of a proficient electrician. This might involve working with a licensed electrician, electrical contractor, or joining a program through a local trade school or community college.
  3. Licensing: After completing an apprenticeship, aspiring electricians must pass a licensing exam. Requirements vary by state or territory but typically involve demonstrating knowledge of electrical theory, codes, and practical skills.
  4. Continuous Learning: The electrical field is ever-evolving, so ongoing education and possibly specialisation are important for career advancement and staying current with the latest technologies and regulations.

The Average Salary of an Electrician in Australia 

Entry-level electricians, often those who have recently completed their apprenticeship, can expect to start with salaries on the lower end of the spectrum, typically around AUD $50,000 to $60,000 per year. As electricians gain experience and enhance their skills, their earning potential increases. Mid-career electricians with a few years of experience can see their salaries rise to between AUD $70,000 and $90,000 annually. Highly experienced and skilled electricians, especially those who have moved into specialised roles or taken on supervisory positions, can command salaries in excess of AUD $100,000 per year.


Embarking on a career as an electrician offers more than just a job; it presents a path to a fulfilling, dynamic career that makes a tangible difference in the world. Electricians are at the heart of ensuring our communities remain safely powered, contributing significantly to both safety and development. From installing life-enhancing technologies in homes to enabling the functioning of critical industrial machinery, the work of an electrician is diverse, challenging, and crucial. With the right training, certification, and dedication to continuous learning, electricians can look forward to a rewarding career filled with opportunities for growth, specialisation, and making a positive impact on the environment and society.

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