What Is a Residential Electrician? And How to Become One

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What Is a Residential Electrician?

Residential electricians are those specialists that can be sure in their professional stability despite the state of economy and job market.

Also, considering the housing boom all over the country in recent years, they can expect more working hours and higher payment rates.

Residential electricians are especially busy during the summer construction season.

Moreover, even during some calm periods, they are in great demand as residential wiring requires constant repair, maintenance, and upgrade especially considering the development of new technologies.

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It should be mentioned that residential electricians have great labor support, active unions, and strong fraternity.

Also, their salary is quite competitive and usually higher than in other trades.

Role and Job Duties

Licensing regulations and electrical code may vary from one state to another and, in some cases, even from jurisdiction to jurisdiction within a state.

As a result, there is no universal job description and requirements for these specialists.

Nevertheless, there are some basic standards, skills, and duties required in this field so there are some common rules and aspects.

California is one of the states that have rather specific requirements in this sphere.

In this state, there is a specific description of the knowledge and skills that any professional residential electrician should have.

According to the California Contractors State Licensing Board, the list of residential electricians’ responsibilities includes:

  • installing, constructing, or maintaining electrical systems in residential settings;
  • installing electrical apparatuses and equipment in a residence;
  • working with a maximum of 240 volts.

Usually, a residential setting is defined as:

  • single-family homes;
  • multi-family units;
  • apartments and condos;
  • hotels, motels, and vacation homes;
  • any other buildings that are considered to be residential.

During their training, residential electricians usually learn such aspects as:

  • finishing work and fixtures;
  • fire and life safety;
  • installing and wiring transformers;
  • low voltage installations (in some jurisdictions, this falls under a separate licensing classification);
  • maintenance and troubleshooting;
  • National Electrical Code (NEC);
  • residential wiring;
  • residential electrician tools: multimeters, voltmeters, and ammeters;
  • reading blueprints and schematics;
  • underground conduit installation.

In most cases, residential electricians perform various duties including installing some specific systems and equipment such as:

  • ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI or GFI) on breakers or outlets where water contact is common;
  • lighting fixtures, outside lighting, and closet lighting according to local code;
  • low voltage voice, data, and video (VDV) cables and other electronic components to support internet connections, landline phone connections, fax machine connections, entertainment system connections, and other VDV systems;
  • power outlets and sockets according to local code, which may specify safety features such as tamper-resistant receptacles (TRRs);
  • residential safety features and ground connections;
  • special circuits for appliances like water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, air conditioning units, heating units, and pilot lights for gas appliances;
  • security surveillance systems (CCTV), security alarm systems, and fire alarm systems.

Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Electrician Licensing Requirements

As we’ve mentioned before, every state and jurisdiction has its own requirements for residential electricians training and licensing.

In some cases, they can be even not separated from general electricians.

So, make sure to check the requirements and rules in your state and in your area in order to get a full understanding of all important aspects.

Usually, to get your license you need to address a state or municipal government agency also know as an ‘electrical trade licensing board’.

In some jurisdictions, the license may also be known as a ‘certification’.

Each state has its specific clock-hour requirements for working experience, education, and specific exam.

Nevertheless, there is a general progressive licensing process in most states that involves working as a trainee/apprentice, a journeyman, and a master electrician.

Apprentice/Trainee

In some states and jurisdictions, you need to have a license or a registration to work as an apprentice electrician.

During this period, you need to complete 500-1000 hours of classes, learn about safety protocols as well as electrical science.

The bulk of training also involves about 4000-6000 hours of practice and hands-on experience under the supervision of a licensed professional.

After completing it, you’ll be able to sit for the Journeyman Exam in your area.

As soon as the exam is completed successfully, you can obtain your journeyman license.

Journeyman

At this stage, you don’t need to work under direct supervision anymore.

In some states, you can be an independent member of a team that has master electricians.

Also, there are states where journeyman electricians can work absolutely independently.

After 2-3 years of working experience, you can enroll in a Master Electrician Exam in your area.

It will give you an opportunity to obtain your master electrician license.

Master

Being a licensed master electrician, you can work as a team leader of a foreman as well as supervise journeyman and apprentice electricians.

Also, you can work absolutely independently and perform a whole variety of related duties on your own.

In most states, you can bid jobs and work on your own if you are a licensed master electrician.

Just keep in mind that usually, you need to have a contractor’s license to bid jobs.

Residential Electrician Salaries

It is the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the US Department of Labor that is responsible for salary tracking and making statistics for all trades.

According to BLS, electricians have an average annual salary of about $55 590.

At the same time, experienced electricians withing the top 10% can earn up to $88 130 and more per year.

In the list of the states with the highest salary rate, there are:

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

Using data from job ads, specialists claim that residential electricians can earn about:

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

Employers of Residential Electricians Across the Country

The US Department of Labor claims that the best employment industries for residential electricians are:

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

Speaking of the top employers of residential electricians in major states of the country, they are named in the list below.

New York City Area

  • Stacey Electric Service
  • Resource Options Inc
  • OneButton Careers
  • MasTec Advanced Technologies
  • 1st Light Energy

Los Angeles Area

  • LU Electric
  • Los Angeles County
  • Bergelectric
  • ReGreen Corporation
  • The Help Company

Chicago Area

  • MasTec Advanced Technologies
  • Skilled Trades Services
  • AAA Electric
  • Aire Serv
  • TITE Construction

Houston Area

  • IES Residential
  • Mr. Electric of Northwest Houston
  • Abacus Plumbing, Air Conditioning, and Electrical
  • John Moore Svc
  • Powers Energy Solutions

Philadelphia Area

  • Mr. Electric
  • Raynor Services
  • Direct Energy
  • Education Corporation of America
  • MasTec Advanced Technologies

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