What Does an Electrician Do?

Electricians can work independently or within a business. Electrician West Palm Beach offers a variety of short electrical specialization courses to help electricians gain specialized skills.


If you have multiple tasks that need to be completed, try to schedule them all for the same visit to avoid paying a call-out fee. This will also save on materials costs.

Electricians charge an hourly rate, which varies by state and region. You should always get multiple quotes before hiring an electrician to ensure you’re getting the best price and quality of work. The total cost of labor for small jobs such as changing a light switch, installing an outlet or circuit breaker, and other basic tasks typically starts at around $120 to $200 per hour.

You should never attempt to do electrical work yourself, even for the simplest projects. A bad job could result in electrocution, create a fire hazard or void your home insurance policy. If you are planning a large project, such as rewiring an entire house or adding ceiling fans, it’s best to hire a licensed professional so the work is done correctly and up to code.

Some simple projects, such as replacing a switch or adding an outlet, can be completed in a few hours by a skilled professional. More involved tasks such as wiring a hot tub or upgrading your main service panel may take a day or more to complete. You should also consider the costs of materials such as wire, switches and outlets when determining how much to budget for your project.

Most electricians will charge a higher rate for emergency callouts, which are calls that can’t be scheduled and may be due to burning smells, sparking from outlets or lights, flickering lights or tripping breakers. These rates typically start at $150 an hour and increase based on the level of urgency.

The higher rate for urgent work can often be avoided by scheduling your electrical jobs during business hours, when you’ll pay a lower hourly rate. For major upgrades like rewiring an entire home or adding ceiling fans, you should get estimates from several pros to compare prices and find the best deal. You can also ask for fixed quotes instead of an hourly rate to avoid paying more than necessary. By preparing before you hire an electrician, you can ensure that your project is completed on time and within budget.


Electricians need a variety of materials and equipment to get the job done. These include wires, electrical tape, tools and other safety equipment. They also need to invest in high-quality tools that will last and provide them with the functionality they need on the job.

The types of tools electricians need depend on the type of work they are doing. For example, electricians who install lighting fixtures will need a flashlight to light the area while they are working. They will also need a pair of gloves to protect their hands from the live wiring and cabling they are handling. Insulated gloves are a must, as they can help prevent shocks and burns. They also come in different sizes and levels of protection, ranging from class 00 protecting up to 500 AC to class 4 that protects up to 36,000 AC.

Other essential tools an electrician needs include pliers and wire cutters which can be used to cut cables and wires. They are often insulated to protect the electrician from electric shocks. Insulated pliers are available in a range of styles including diagonal-cutting pliers, straight-cutting pliers and needle-nose pliers. Wire cutters can be either manual or automatic, and are usually insulated to protect the electrician from electric shocks as well. They are often referred to as lineman’s pliers and can be found in a range of sizes, from standard blades up to heavy-duty versions for the most demanding jobs.

An electrician needs a tool bag with a variety of tools to carry to the job site. A tool bag will include items like a cable tie, screwdrivers and wrenches. It should also have items such as a utility knife, electrical tape and a ladder. A ladder is a common piece of equipment for an electrician and can be used to reach ceilings, attics or through walls. A ladder can be fitted with a fall arrest block to provide extra security while the electrician is working at heights.

Other important safety tools an electrician should have include a hammer, utility knife, shears, pliers and a tape measure. A hammer is a metal tool that can be used for various tasks such as nailing and cutting. A knife is a simple hand tool for cutting and scraping and can be used to cut wires or metal. A utility knife is a small hand tool for cutting and can be used to strip plastic insulation off wires without damaging the core wire inside.


Electricians often work in places that are far from their home base. It is not uncommon for electricians to travel 100 miles or more to complete a project. For this reason, they may charge higher rates for labor to account for the extra expense of travelling.

It is important for potential clients to discuss the issue of travel with the electrician in advance. Some will include it in their hourly rate, while others will charge a separate trip fee. This will give the client a clear idea of the total cost before the work begins.

The type of project will also affect the electrician’s rates. Simple projects, like replacing a ceiling fan or wiring a new outlet, will cost less than rewiring an entire electrical panel. Additionally, emergency calls can have much higher rates. This is because the electrician will need to travel further for the job and will be called out on a weekend or holiday, which increases their risk and stress levels.

As the demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, so does the need for skilled labor to install and repair charging stations. An electrician can expect to charge anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 to install a charger at a private residence.

A typical electrical journeyman will require a high school diploma or equivalent and extensive hands-on experience. They will then typically enroll in an apprenticeship program, which can last four or five years. During this time, they will learn the trade through on-the-job training and classroom instruction.

After completing their apprenticeship, electrical journeymen will likely seek out work with larger companies. They will have to pass a background check and drug test, as well as meet minimum requirements for pay. The salary for a journeyman electrician can be quite high and may include bonuses or incentives. Additionally, many journeymen can expect health insurance and retirement benefits. In addition, some traveling electricians are compensated for housing and food expenses while on the road. This helps them save money on living costs, which is especially helpful if they are away from their family for extended periods of time.

Emergency Calls

If you’re an electrician, emergency calls can mean that you are on-call for work and can be called to help your neighbors with electrical issues that require immediate attention. This kind of work can take you to your clients’ homes and businesses at all hours, and requires you to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. It can also involve climbing 100-foot ladders and working in crowded spaces, which can take their toll on the body.

Electricians must also follow strict building codes when installing or repairing items. The failure to do so can result in the need to redo the work at an additional cost to the client. Most electricians also carry liability insurance and a surety bond to cover damages from the consequences of their errors.

Many people try to DIY electrical repairs to save money, but this can be a dangerous proposition. Attempting to fix problems without the proper training can lead to personal injury, costly property damage, and even fires. Even if you’re a conscientious home owner who takes good care of your appliances, there may be times when it’s wise to call in a professional electrician for the safety of yourself and your loved ones.

Most electricians are trained through a combination of trade school and on-the-job learning. This can be done through an apprenticeship program that lasts four to five years, or through a vocational school that offers an associate’s degree in the field. Either way, the process is lengthy, and the skills needed to become a working electrician are not acquired easily.

As the world becomes more reliant on renewable energy sources, there’s likely to be an uptick in electrical jobs. The new systems that are being developed will need to connect to the grid, and will need the skill of electricians.

If you have a personable demeanor and enjoy helping others, becoming an electrician can be a rewarding career. It’s a great option for anyone who is looking to avoid the higher costs of college but wants to learn a skilled trade that will pay well.