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What is an Electrical Contractor? Definition, Duties & Job Outlook


Posted on March 23rd, 2023

What is an Electrical Contractor? Definition, Duties & Job Outlook.

Electrical contractors bring highly specialized knowledge to the jobsite. Learn about electrical contractor salaries, skills, and training requirements.

What is an electrical contractor?

Electrical contractors are specialists who design and build electrical systems for the construction industry. They install wires, fixtures, conduits, and all other types of functional parts and equipment that provide electrical power to a project.

Once a project is complete, they may also provide repair and maintenance services. 

What’s the difference between an electrical contractor and an electrician?

Both electricians and electrical contractors perform work on electrical systems. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

Electrician typically refers to an individual worker who is focused on physical tasks. Electrical contractor describes an individual or a business. The term electrical contractor is used more frequently than electrician when the responsibilities include project designs and planning. 

Both electricians and electrical contractors are skilled professionals. If you are a general contractor who is planning a construction project, you’ll need to hire an electrical contractor who can design the electrical system from the ground up. If you are a home or business owner who needs electrical repairs or maintenance, you’re likely to call an electrician.

What does an electrical contractor do?

The tasks electrical contractors work on each day vary greatly.

Depending on the type and stage of a project, electrical contractors:

  • Design electrical systems

  • Purchase parts and equipment

  • Create blueprints

  • Perform installation

  • Troubleshoot existing systems

  • Repair systems

  • Perform testing and routine maintenance

  • Communicate with clients and project stakeholders

They may work on new or existing facilities, and they may work on both outdoor or indoor electrical systems. 

Becoming an electrical contractor

Becoming a successful electrical contractor takes time, training, and experience. 


If you want to be an electrical contractor, the first step is to work on developing the following skills. 

Attention to detail

All contractors need great attention to detail. 

Electrical contractors in particular work with strict regulations, complicated schematics, precise measurements, color-coded wires, and small parts and spaces. They have to observe procedures and follow instructions exactly to avoid safety and quality concerns. 


With the risk of shock and electrocution, electrical work is potentially dangerous. Electrical contractors need the ability to stay alert and aware to prevent serious injury to themselves and others.


From dealing with customers and clients to working closely alongside other specialty contractors and GCs, electrical contractors constantly put their communication skills to the test.

As an electrical contractor, you’ll need to be able to clearly communicate to provide good customer service and collaboration.

Fine motor skills

You’ll be working with intricate electrical systems as an electrical contractor. 

You need fine motor skills to be able to work with small parts in tight spaces. You’ll also need the strength and dexterity to operate tools like insulated pliers, wire strippers, and cable cutters.


Whether you’re designing, installing, or repairing an electrical system, you’ll be working with numbers every day and need a comprehensive understanding of basic to intermediate mathematics.

Even if you’re following a blueprint, in the field you'll occasionally need to quickly calculate measurements on the fly. Understanding the right processes and equations for doing so is vital to electrical contracting.

Training & education

Electrical contractors often receive on-the-job training as a part of an apprenticeship program. Many electricians and electrical contractors are hired with little to no experience. As long as they possess the skills outlined above and meet the basic requirements, they can search for an entry-level job opening at an electrical contracting business and apply.

However, many colleges and technical schools offer dedicated educational programs for aspiring electrical contractors that can give you an advantage or allow you to start out at a higher paying position. 

You may also be able to gain a new certification in a specific skill to help advance your career as an existing electrical contractor.

Search for an electrical school near you for more information. 

Licensing requirements

In the U.S., each state determines its licensing requirements for electrical contractors and electricians.

To obtain a license, you may need to pass an exam, pay a processing fee, and/or submit proof of certification. Some states issue different licenses based on level of experience.

Indeed has a guide to which states require licenses for electrical contractors. You can also contact your state’s individual licensing board.

If your state does require a license, you will likely need to renew it on a periodic basis.


The exact salary an electrical contractor will make depends on their level of experience and their location.

In October 2023, ZipRecruiter listed the average yearly salary for electrical contractors in the U.S. as $76,322, or $37/hour. In 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported the median salary for electricians as $60,240.

Indeed reported a range of salaries for electrical contractors as low as $26,862 per year and as high as $105,054.

Job outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job market for electricians is projected to grow 6% from 2022 to 2032. While this may seem like a small percentage, it’s higher than average compared to other jobs across the country. BLS predicts that an average of 73,500 electrician positions will open up each year.

There is currently a shortage of skilled labor in the construction industry. Becoming an electrical contractor offers job security and requires skills that will continue to provide value over the next decade—and likely beyond.

Benefits of electrical contractor software

With all the different concerns and responsibilities of electrical contractors, project progress can be difficult to manage. Using digital tools keeps you and your crew safer and more productive.

Raken’s electrical contractor software helps busy field crews collect and share progress updates with a tap. Our easy-to-use web and mobile app features:

  • Daily progress reporting - Ditch pen and paper for streamlined mobile reports shared in real time 

  • Time and material tracking - Closely monitor your resources

  • Automated production insights - Use digital dashboards to quickly measure performance against estimates

  • Safety and quality tools - Assign custom checklists and submit observations straight from the field

  • Photo and video capture - See the jobsite in picture perfect detail

Track time and materials, complete safety and quality checklists, submit observations, and more on mobile. Then, automatically publish it all in clean, clear PDF reports.

Raken makes field management for electrical contractors easy.

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