29 Tips to Become Residential Electrician

Residential electrician: This business is right for individuals who are good with their hands, have good people skills, are good at solving complex conceptual and mechanical problems, and can work in a variety of different environments. To own and operate an electrician business, you must also be a skilled electrician. Most business owners are master electricians who have studied for many years as an apprentice.

Read on: 15 Ways on How to Become a Commercial Electrician

Residential electrician

Residential electrician: BusinessHAB.com


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1. Get the Business background:

Electrician businesses focus primarily on servicing electrical systems in homes and businesses. Because it is a trade business, it is highly specialized. Furthermore, local and state governments typically restrict non-tradesmen from working on electrical systems. Due to these factors, skilled electricians are typically in high demand. We have put together this simple guide to starting your electrician business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.

See also: 9 Things to Know Before Choosing Your Electrician School

2. What is a residential electrician?

A residential electrician is a type of electrician who installs, repairs and updates electrical systems, light fixtures, wiring, power outlets and circuit boards in residential properties. For example, they may come to fix electrical components in apartment complexes, single-family homes, condos and townhomes.

3. Attend a trade school or vocational school.

The courses offered at trade and vocational schools provide important preparation for entering an electrician apprenticeship program.

  • You’ll learn about electrical theory, circuitry, mathematics, wiring, motor controls and other knowledge important to the trade.
  • Consider taking electrical engineering courses online as an alternative to taking them at a local college or university.
  • Some electrician programs include an apprenticeship program. You will have to complete an apprenticeship program in order to get certified, so a combined coursework/apprenticeship program might be a convenient option.

Read on: How to Open Trade Schools for Carpentry Training

4. Have an aptitude for electrical work.

 Electricians are adept at diagnosing problems and using good judgement and the right techniques to solve them. Electricians have the following traits:

  • They are detail-oriented. Electricians know that glossing over details in a wiring project could at best result in non-functioning wiring, and at worst create a dangerous situation.
  • They have strong manual dexterity. Electricians work with small tools and parts that must be handled with care and precision. They often have to climb ladders or enter crawl spaces to perform their jobs.
  • They are flexible. Electricians are comfortable working at many different sites, under a variety of conditions. They are able to effectively communicate with managers and members of construction teams.

Residential electrician

5. Understand what the job entails.

 Electricians work in a variety of settings, including homes, businesses, schools, hospitals – any type of facility that needs electricity to function. Electricians may find themselves working in extremes of heat and cold, indoors and out any time of year. Electricians may also perform electrical work on trains, airplanes, ships and vehicles. Electricians’ work includes the following:

  • Reading blueprints, or technical diagrams of a work site’s electrical wiring.
  • Connecting wires, circuit breakers, and outlets, and replacing or adding wires, circuit breakers, connections, and fuses.
  • Using specialized equipment, including oscilloscopes, ammeters, ohmmeters and voltmeters, to perform their work.
  • Working as part of a team in coordination with the construction project manager, homeowner, or building manager of a work site.
  • Knowing and following building codes and regulations to ensure buildings are wired safely.

6. What happens during a typical day at an electrician business?

Day-to-day activities of an electrician include repairing or replacing electrical systems, including main systems, fuse and breaker box panels, running electrical wiring, repairing and maintaining electrical wiring, transformers, and related systems. Electricians also spend a fair amount of their time on a job troubleshooting electrical problems.

Because wiring in a home or business is often hidden behind walls, electricians need to know how to diagnose what might be wrong with a system before fixing it. They may not have the luxury of taking down all the walls in a building to solve the problem, either.

Residential electrician

7. What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful electrician business?

Becoming an electrician is the first step in starting an electrician business. There are two paths to do this: apprenticeship and college.

An apprenticeship is a long-term training program, typically run by a professional organization or a business. There are three types:

  • Unionized apprenticeships, which are usually run by a group called the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
  • Non-unionized apprenticeships, such as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC).
  • Local apprenticeships, which are offered by the federal government.

During your apprenticeship, you will learn everything you need to know to become a professional electrician. This includes knowledge of electrician-specific tools, techniques, and methods. A further advantage of an apprenticeship is that it gives you the benefit of on-the-job training (OJT). You also get classroom instruction, and and the opportunity to study under a master electrician. In total, apprenticeship can last up to 5-6 years.

See also: 35 Business Ideas for Electrical Engineers

Residential electrician

The major drawback on choosing the apprenticeship route is that competition is fierce. It’s very difficult to get an apprenticeship, which is why many people opt for formal schooling at a community college or university. All you need is a high school diploma or a GED to apply.

Either route you take, you start as a journeyman and progress to a master electrician.

General skills that are valuable to an electrician include strong problem-solving skills, strong conceptual skills, communication skills, the ability to work in harsh and unpredictable environments, and strong spacial and mathematical skills.

8. Plan your business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns.

9. Know the costs involved

The costs for starting an electrician business vary, but generally include licensing, insurance, fees for union dues, overhead and equipment costs, and rent for office space. In general, many startup companies spend at least $5,000 to get started. These costs do not include schooling or apprenticeship, which can range anywhere from $3,000 to upwards of $20,000, depending on whether you choose to attend a community college, a technical school, or a private university.

10. What is the growth potential for an electrician business?

Most electrician businesses are run as owner/operator businesses. However, you can take on an apprentice or work with many different partners and establish a higher-volume business. Some electrician businesses are also run as franchise operations. If you go this route, you should be prepared to pay a substantial amount of money upfront. However, franchises do offer several great benefits, such as an established brand name, protected service territories, and ongoing marketing support.

11. Get an idea about the ongoing expenses

Ongoing expenses of running an electrician business are minimal. Most businesses must cover the cost of rent, licensing, and insurance. License renewal can cost up to $200 – $300 per year, depending on your state. You should budget $1,500 – $2,000 for annual insurance premiums. Rent costs will vary dramatically depending on your location. Price per square foot of office space can range anywhere from $1.50 – $6.00 or more. The best way to cut down costs would be to work from home or share office space with other small business owners.

Residential electrician

12. Know the target market

Electricians make money by charging customers for their services. They may charge on an hourly basis, or they may request a flat fee for services.

13. How does an electrician business make money?

Preferred client types for this business are commercial accounts. However, residential customers can also be an ongoing source of income, provided that the business can service a rotating base of clients. This could involve contracting with a Homeowners Association, or some other organized community, to service residential customers.

14. How much can you charge customers?

Electricians may charge a wide range of fees, depending on their level of skill, the average local rates, and the type of work involved. However, most will charge between $40 and $100 per hour, with master electricians charging $100 to $150 per hour or more.

Read on: The Best Electrical Companies in Your Area – A Comprehensive List

15. How much profit can an electrician business make?

Profit for an established electrician business ranges from between 1.5% to 2.0%, depending on the size of the company. Larger companies have lower margins, while smaller companies tend to have higher margins.

Residential electrician

16. Know how to make your business more profitable

Expanding your team with some entry-level electrician helpers to take care of simpler jobs can help you increase your overall efficiency and take on more jobs. Adding additional, ancillary services, might also help. For example, consider partnering with a professional plumber and carpenter to take on larger jobs.

17. Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

18. Get State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Most states require electricians to pass an exam and receive certification before working as an electrical contractor or journeyman electrician.

19. Get certified.

Choose from a variety of specialized certifications to enhance your career. Certifications vary by state and will help you pursue work as an electrical administrator, a telecommunications contractor, or a specialist in an area like instrumentation.

  • Conduct research to determine what certificates may be beneficial to your career as an electrician.
  • To obtain certification, you will have to demonstrate experience and proficiency in the area you choose by taking an examination.

    Read on: Top Electrical Business Cards

Residential electrician

20. Have some Service Agreement

Electrician businesses should consider requiring clients to sign a service agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership.

21. Know how to promote & market your business

If you buy into a franchise, a lot of the marketing is done for you. All you need to do is put up the capital. If you are starting your own brand, then you’ll want to focus on what works in this industry. Referral marketing will likely be the largest source of new clients. You can also hand out business cards and send direct mail promotions to develop a strong customer base.

22. Know how to keep customers coming back

Electricians who outperform their peers are ones who progress from journeyman to master-level. Specialization can help, as can joining a union, since you have more negotiating power when it comes to setting wages and fees. Buying into a franchise may also help, since you can leverage the existing infrastructure and brand recognition, charging clients more than if you had to first prove yourself with your own brand.

23. Find a business mentor

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Residential electrician

24. Set up your business phone system

Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.

25. Get some insider tips for the business

To get into this business quickly, consider buying into a franchise after completing formal schooling. This will cut down on the learning curve since you won’t have to worry about marketing, branding, and overhead. The downside, of course, is franchises tend to cost more money up front than if you were to start from scratch.

26. Learn on how and when to build a team

Many electrician businesses never outgrow the owner. However, there’s no reason to stay a small business. Hire more electricians as you can afford them. The theoretical upper limit in terms of revenue and size is unlimited.

Residential electrician

27. Learn from other business owners

Talk to electricians. If you’re serious about becoming a licensed technician, contact electricians in your area and set up informational interviews.

  • Ask if you can shadow them or help out on a project to experience a day in the life of a technician.
  • Seek a master or licensed electrician willing to take you on as a longer-term helper. This will give you the opportunity to gain some knowledge and experience in the field.
  • Ask for recommendations on trade schools and certification programs in your area.

28. Know their Work environments

Residential electricians often work on construction sites to install wiring systems and electrical components for new homes or apartments. However, they also perform electrical work in well-established homes that have families or individuals living in them. Because of this, residential electricians need to make sure they respect the homeowners and the homeowners’ personal property as they complete installations and repairs.

29. Get the Job responsibilities

Due to differences in their work environments and areas of specialty, residential electricians  have differing job responsibilities. Here are some examples:

Working with different voltages: One way that residential electricians and commercial electricians vary in their job responsibilities is the size of the voltage systems they install, repair or maintain. Residential electricians typically work with high voltage systems between 120 volts and 240 volts that supply homes with electrical power.

Working with different wiring systems: residential electricians work with much smaller wiring systems with plastic sheathing, and these wiring systems fit into crawl spaces, out of view of homeowners.

Working with different quality systems: Residential electricians and commercial electricians may have different policies to adhere to when it comes to providing safe, quality electrical services. For example, commercial electricians often need to establish backup power sources for important commercial buildings like hospitals, law enforcement facilities, medical laboratories and grocery stores.

Residential electrician


Technically, you cannot work as both a commercial electrician and a residential electrician at the same time. However, if you have previous experience and education in both areas, you could market yourself as a contract electrician to work on both commercial and residential building projects.

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