Residential Electrician

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Residential electricians have a great level of stability in their field.

With the boom in residential construction in major cities and suburbs, employment opportunities and pay rates increased.

The summer construction season is the busiest time for residential electricians.

But even outside the peak season, they continue to maintain, upgrade, and repair residential wiring in compliance with the housing codes.

In addition, they receive strong labor support from their unions and earn more competitive salaries than other trades.

Let’s learn what a residential electrician does and how you can become one below.

Role and Job Duties

With the licensing regulations varying by jurisdiction, there’s no universal residential electrician job description.

However, there is a general understanding of their duties and skills.

California, one of the states with specific residential electrician licensing, has established a well-defined scope of skills and knowledge required.

According to the Contractors State Licensing Board of California, the duties of residential electricians include:

  • Working with a maximum of 240 volts
  • Installing, constructing, or maintaining electrical systems in residential settings
  • Installing electrical apparatuses and equipment in a residence

Other specific responsibilities they perform include the installation of the following:

  • Power outlets and sockets according to local code (may specify safety features such as tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs))
  • Lighting fixtures, outside lighting, and closet lighting according to local code
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI or GFI) on breakers or outlets where water contact is common
  • Residential safety features and ground connections
  • Low voltage systems such as security surveillance systems (CCTV), security alarm systems, and fire alarm systems
  • Special circuits for appliances like water heaters, stoves, HVAC units, and pilot lights for gas appliances
  • Low-voltage voice, data, and video (VDV) cables and other electronic components to support the VDV systems’ connections

They can work in the following residential settings:

  • Single-family homes
  • Apartments and condos
  • Multi-family units
  • Hotels, motels, and vacation homes
  • Other dwellings considered as a residential type

To ensure they can deliver quality service to clients, their education and training will focus on…:

  • Maintenance and troubleshooting
  • Residential wiring
  • Fire and life safety
  • Underground conduit installation
  • Low voltage installations (in some jurisdictions, this falls under a separate licensing classification)
  • Finishing work and fixtures
  • Reading blueprints and schematics
  • Installing and wiring transformers
  • Residential electrician tools: multimeters, voltmeters, and ammeters
  • National Electrical Code (NEC)

Becoming a Residential Electrician

Every jurisdiction has a set of requirements and rules for residential electricians to earn their licenses.

But in some jurisdictions, they categorize residential electricians under the general electrician’s license.

To fully understand the licensing laws of your area, it’s best to check with the local licensing authority or union.

Despite the varying requirements of jurisdictions, the licensing process usually follows the same model.

Typically, it involves an apprentice-journeyman-master electrician progressing model.

  • Apprentice

Some jurisdictions require apprentices to register with the state or be licensed.

As an apprentice, you will undergo the following:

    • 500 to 1,000 hours of classroom instruction, covering electrical theory and safety protocols
    • 4,000 to 6,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training

Upon completion, you can move up to the journeyman level by completing the following:

    • Required hours of field experience as mandated by the jurisdiction
    • Successfully passing the journeyman licensure exam


  • Journeyman

Some jurisdictions allow journeymen to work independently in a team with a master electrician.

Others will consider you fully licensed, so there will be no need for supervision from a master electrician.

To move up to the master level, you need to complete the following:

    • Two to four years of field experience
    • Successfully passing the master electrician licensure exam


  • Master

Master electricians can work as team leaders or foremen supervising apprentices and journeymen.

You can also work more independently on the tasks within the residential scope.

If you want to bid for jobs, you will have to apply for a contractor’s license.

Salary Information

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the electrician’s average salary was $55,590.

For the top 10%, they can earn $88,130 annually.

The highest salaries for electricians, including the top 10%, were offered in the following states:

  • Alaska – $79,420 to $107,830
  • New York – $72,540 to $118,280
  • Hawaii – $70,610 to $98,080
  • Illinois – $69,830 to $97,580
  • New Jersey – $68,930 to $115,780

The following represents the salary data from the job ads of July 2016 to serve as your reference:

  • Journeyman Electrician with Randy’s Electric in Maple Grove, Minnesota – $62,400 to $104,400
  • Apprentice Electrician with Resource Management Inc in Murray, Utah – $27,040 to $35,360
  • Service Electrician with Ace in Orlando – $70,000 to $150,000
  • Electrician with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland – $54,537 to $63,690

Top Employers

According to the Department of Labor, the top employers of residential electricians are the following:

  • Local government agencies
  • Building equipment contractors
  • Employment services agencies

The following list contains the top employers in the major job markets in the U.S.:

  • Los Angeles Area
    • Los Angeles County
    • LU Electric
    • The Help Company
    • ReGreen Corporation
    • Bergelectric
  • Houston Area
    • Mr. Electric of Northwest Houston
    • Powers Energy Solutions
    • IES Residential
    • John Moore Svc.
    • Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Electrical
  • New York City Area
    • 1st Light Energy
    • Stacey Electric Service
    • Resource Options Inc.
    • OneButton Careers
    • MasTec Advanced Technologies
  • Chicago Area
    • Skilled Trades Services
    • Aire Serv.
    • MasTec Advanced Technologies
    • TITE Construction
    • AAA Electric
  • Philadelphia Area
    • MasTec Advanced Technologies
    • Mr. Electric
    • Direct Energy
    • Raynor Services
    • Education Corporation of America

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