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At a Glance

  • Often work in both construction and maintenance
  • Read and interpret blueprints
  • Kneel, crouch, and crawl when installing wires and cables
  • May work nights, weekends, or on-call
  • Most train through apprenticeship programs
  • Some train on the job
  • Most have a license

Career summary

Electricians install, test, and maintain electrical systems.

#match with 5626, no alt titles, nothing moved over, checked 3/14/19 lh

Electricians chose to work either in construction or maintenance. Many work in both. In general, construction electricians assemble and install electrical systems. Maintenance electricians maintain and repair systems.

Electricians may install fiber optic or coaxial cables for computers and telephones. They connect motors to electrical power. They may also install electronic controls for industrial equipment.

All electricians use tools such as:

When working on complex electronic devices, they may consult engineers or industrial machinery repairers. Some electricians have helpers. Electricians teach helpers how to complete tasks and supervise their work.

Construction electricians

Construction electricians read blueprints of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. Electricians use this information to plan how they will install the wiring.

When the wiring is finished, electricians test that all the circuits work properly. They follow the national electric code as well as state and local building codes when installing systems.

Maintenance electricians

Maintenance electricians keep electrical systems and equipment in good working order. They inspect equipment and fix any problems. They also check equipment for safety. They may install new electrical equipment.

When breakdowns occur, they work to find the problem and make the repair. They use equipment such as oscilloscopes to diagnose problems. They may change items such as circuit breakers, fuses, electrical components, or wire.

Related careers

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to electricians.

Common work activities

Electricians perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, electricians:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Electricians frequently:

It is important for electricians to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for electricians to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Electricians need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an electrician, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most electricians learn their skills through apprenticeship training programs. Union and non-union apprenticeship programs are available. Admission to apprenticeship programs is competitive. To apply for an apprenticeship, you must:

Apprenticeship programs usually consist of four years of on-the-job training. You are paid for the time you spend on the job. In addition, each year you receive at least 144 hours of classroom training.

To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities in your area, consult the US Department of Labor State Apprenticeship Information (external link) website.

You can prepare for an apprenticeship by taking courses at a professional-technical or two-year school. Courses in electronics, electricity, general math, and drafting prepare students to enter apprenticeship programs. However, these courses are not required to qualify for an apprenticeship.

On-the-job training

Some electricians receive informal on-the-job training from an experienced worker. Trainees usually begin as helpers. They learn to install conduit, connect wires, and test circuits. On-the-job training lasts several years.

Military training

Some branches of the military train people to be electricians. There are three different military occupations for electricians--building, power plant, and ship electricians. Training lasts from eight to 25 weeks, depending on your specialty. The longest training period is for ship electricians. Additional training occurs on the job.

If you receive this type of training in the military, you may earn credit for previous work experience when you enter a civilian apprenticeship program.

Washington apprenticeships

In Washington, entry-level electrician apprentices usually must:

For further information on apprenticeships in Washington, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Apprenticeship Program (external link)

PO Box 44530
Olympia, WA 98504-4530

#Checked info 3/22/10 & 3/27/12 & 3/4/14, 4/5/16, 3/26/18 cj.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements (external link). You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Most employers prefer to hire electricians who have been through a formal apprenticeship program. However, some employers will hire helpers and train them to be electricians.

Employers look for applicants who are in good health. They also look for employees who can work without much supervision.


Opportunities may be better for training as maintenance electricians in automated manufacturing plants. Generally, workers in a plant can bid to work in the maintenance area and, through on-the-job training, can learn electrician skills. A background in electronics is important for becoming a maintenance electrician. People and computer skills are helpful in this occupation. Become familiar with the National Electric Code. Working in the construction trades is a good way to learn about this occupation. Take algebra and other math classes.

Costs to workers

Workers may need to pay for their own tools. Those who belong to a union must pay dues and an initiation fee.


Electrician apprentices must have a training certificate and work under the supervision of a licensed electrician. Electricians must be certified by the Department of Labor and Industries. Requirements for the journey-level certificate of competency are:

To maintain their license, electricians must complete 24 hours of continuing education course work every three years. Licensed electricians who wish to specialize must complete 4,000 hours of work or have equivalent experience or training in the US military and pass a specialty examination.

The testing company charges a per-hour fee for the examination.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
Electrical Section (external link)

PO Box 44460
Olympia, WA 98504-4460

#added apprenticeship req, new url, removed fee info 1/27/20

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Electricians (SOC 47-2111)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $17.13 $22.77 $31.56 $42.65 $50.45
Monthly $2,969 $3,946 $5,469 $7,391 $8,743
Yearly $35,640 $47,370 $65,650 $88,700 $104,940
    Bellingham Hourly $15.98 $20.31 $27.59 $31.92 $39.89
Monthly $2,769 $3,520 $4,781 $5,532 $6,913
Yearly $33,253 $42,246 $57,380 $66,384 $82,976
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $19.61 $23.48 $28.02 $33.23 $36.88
Monthly $3,398 $4,069 $4,856 $5,759 $6,391
Yearly $40,788 $48,850 $58,270 $69,122 $76,703
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $19.20 $24.41 $30.01 $53.65 $61.79
Monthly $3,327 $4,230 $5,201 $9,298 $10,708
Yearly $39,921 $50,762 $62,422 $111,579 $128,506
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $19.72 $29.52 $41.69 $47.00 $50.19
Monthly $3,417 $5,116 $7,225 $8,145 $8,698
Yearly $41,005 $61,405 $86,716 $97,776 $104,399
    Longview Hourly $16.95 $19.00 $28.48 $36.92 $44.11
Monthly $2,937 $3,293 $4,936 $6,398 $7,644
Yearly $35,250 $39,522 $59,232 $76,796 $91,758
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $18.28 $22.79 $32.43 $44.44 $50.30
Monthly $3,168 $3,950 $5,620 $7,701 $8,717
Yearly $38,030 $47,407 $67,471 $92,430 $104,616
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $17.41 $24.56 $32.58 $43.45 $49.12
Monthly $3,017 $4,256 $5,646 $7,530 $8,512
Yearly $36,208 $51,081 $67,756 $90,391 $102,166
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $17.84 $23.97 $34.98 $46.19 $54.91
Monthly $3,092 $4,154 $6,062 $8,005 $9,516
Yearly $37,110 $49,847 $72,746 $96,073 $114,203
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $14.03 $20.48 $28.41 $35.93 $40.71
Monthly $2,431 $3,549 $4,923 $6,227 $7,055
Yearly $29,188 $42,590 $59,093 $74,739 $84,661
    Vancouver Hourly $18.84 $26.89 $35.93 $44.13 $49.19
Monthly $3,265 $4,660 $6,227 $7,648 $8,525
Yearly $39,184 $55,925 $74,747 $91,794 $102,307
    Walla Walla Hourly $15.94 $20.24 $27.46 $32.89 $38.30
Monthly $2,762 $3,508 $4,759 $5,700 $6,637
Yearly $33,162 $42,086 $57,120 $68,420 $79,670
    Wenatchee Hourly $16.27 $19.96 $30.81 $39.95 $52.74
Monthly $2,820 $3,459 $5,339 $6,923 $9,140
Yearly $33,829 $41,525 $64,080 $83,095 $109,708
    Yakima Hourly $18.46 $21.49 $25.70 $31.11 $36.79
Monthly $3,199 $3,724 $4,454 $5,391 $6,376
Yearly $38,385 $44,699 $53,460 $64,712 $76,516
United States Hourly $15.84 $19.84 $26.53 $34.99 $45.49
Monthly $2,745 $3,438 $4,598 $6,064 $7,883
Yearly $32,940 $41,260 $55,190 $72,780 $94,620

Wages vary by type of work. In general, electricians who work in the motor vehicle industry earn more than those who work in construction. Pay also varies with the area of the country, the employer, and the worker's experience. Apprentices start at about half the wage of skilled workers but receive raises as their skills improve.

Full-time electricians may receive benefits. Typical benefits include health insurance, sick leave, and paid vacation. Those who work for small companies may need to provide their own insurance. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Electricians (SOC 47-2111)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 22,103 14.9% 16.1% 3,301
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 840 14.5% 13.4% 125
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 477 20.3% 8.6% 78
    Benton and Franklin Counties 929 14.7% 15.0% 138
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 1,479 6.2% 11.9% 186
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 2,102 16.8% 15.2% 327
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 1,013 16.4% 14.1% 156
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 1,492 16.4% 14.6% 227
    King County 6,793 13.8% 19.6% 995
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 629 20.0% 13.8% 103
    Pierce County 2,154 17.5% 15.2% 335
    Snohomish County 2,355 16.1% 12.4% 358
    Spokane County 1,361 15.1% 13.9% 204
United States 715,400 10.4% 5.2% 94,600

National employment

Over half of all electricians work in the construction industry. Because the need for electrical services is widespread, jobs for electricians are found in all parts of the country and almost all industries.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will be strong. Electricians will be needed to install alternative energy sources such as wind and solar in homes and businesses. The increase of electronics in homes and offices also contributes to growth. 

Employment of electricians is sensitive to the state of the economy. Both construction electricians and motor vehicle electricians are affected by downturns in the economy. When construction and car buying decrease, these workers may work fewer hours or be laid off.

Many job openings will occur each year as current electricians retire or leave this occupation for other reasons.

Other resources

Electric League of the Pacific Northwest (external link)
PO Box 50633
Bellevue, WA 98015
Independent Electrical Contractors (external link)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (external link)
900 Seventh Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers (external link)
2701 Dryden Road
Dayton, OH 45439
National Association of Women in Construction (external link)
327 South Adams Street
Fort Worth, TX 76104
National Electrical Contractors Association (external link)
3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 1100
Bethesda, MD 20814
National Fire Protection Association (external link)
1 Batterymarch Park
Quincy, MA 02169
National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (external link)
5001 Howerton Way, Suite N
Bowie, MD 20715
North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU) (external link)
815 16th ST, NW, Suite 600
Washington, D.C. 20006
Puget Sound Chapter, NECA (external link)
16001 Aurora Ave N., Ste 200
Shoreline, WA 98133
Puget Sound Electrical Apprenticeship & Training Trust (external link)
550 SW 7th Street
Renton, WA 98057
Seattle City Light Apprenticeship Program (external link)
Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council (external link)
906 Columbia Street SW, Suite 107
Olympia, WA 98501


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational clusters