Pathways in Construction: Electrical

Building Skills New York is continuing our semi-regular series highlighting the many different areas of specialization available within the construction industry. These positions require unique training and certifications and offer opportunities for career advancement. So far, we’ve highlighted plumbing, carpentry, and sprinkler fitting. This week, we’re focusing on electricians.

What does an electrician do?

Electricians assemble, wire, and install the electrical systems in every construction project – both residential and commercial. In New York State, electricians are also responsible for ensuring each building is in keeping with the latest energy conservation and electrical codes to keep emissions and cost down, and maintain overall safety.

Prospective electricians can work with either high-voltage or low-voltage installation and management, as well as inside or outside work. A low voltage electrician, day-to-day, might work with cable and television wiring, broadband internet, and security and fire systems. A high voltage electrician may focus more on troubleshooting power outages, powerlines and electrical towers, and large circuits and electrical systems.

Electricians will need specific tools to accomplish their tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Tape Measure
  • Level
  • Phillips-Head screwdriver
  • Large and small Flat-Head screwdriver
  • Wire stripper
  • Linesman Plier
  • Channellock Plier

What are the qualifications to be an electrician?

Electricians must be at least 21 years old and able to read and write in English. Unlike some of the other career paths we have discussed in previous weeks, the qualifications to be an electrician are a bit more in-depth. Before applying for an electrician position in New York City, for example, applicants must complete and electrical technology or mechanical engineering apprenticeship program or have graduated from an electrical engineering vocational school – amounting to a total of 5.5 years of work experience.

The minimum amount of experience to obtain a license is 7.5 years of electrical work experience, but as long as you are in possession of a general labor license, it is never too early to begin working with a licensed electrician above you.

What are the job benefits of electrical work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians earn a mean annual wage of $61,550 in New York City, with a median hourly wage of $27.36 per hour. Those who are trained to do this job are expected to become increasingly in demand, particularly as federal investment in infrastructure and broadband rolls out across the city and state. It is a particularly attractive option for anyone with a mathematical and methodical approach to construction, an interest in problem solving, and the ability to work with your hands.

For more information on a career in the electrical field or to learn more about how to get started in construction in general, please visit: