Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical systems and equipment.
Qualified electricians usually earn
$23-$32 per hour
Source: Master Electricians, 2017.
Pay for electricians varies, depending on skills and experience.
- Apprentice electricians may start out on the training minimum wage. Pay increases as they pick up skills or complete unit standards.
- At the end of their four-year apprenticeship, electricians can expect to earn about $23 an hour.
- Qualified electricians usually earn $25 to $32 an hour.
- Experienced electricians working in specialist fields or running their own business can earn $80,000 to $100,000 a year or more, but for those who are self-employed, income depends on the success of their business.
Electricians may be supplied with work vehicles.
Source: Master Electricians, '2016-17 Wage and Salary Survey', 2017.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Electricians may do some or all of the following:
- interpret wiring diagrams and floor plans
- install electrical wiring and equipment
- repair and replace electrical wiring, parts and equipment
- safety-test electrical work
- keep records of problems they find and work they do
- prepare quotes.
Self-employed electricians also run their own business.
Skills and knowledge
Electricians need to have knowledge of:
- electrical theory, laws, codes, and standards of practice
- how to install electrical wiring and fixtures
- wiring diagrams and floor plans
- basic maths and physics
- safety procedures and first aid.
Self-employed electricians must also have business skills.
- usually work regular business hours, but may work weekends and be on call
- work at building sites, existing buildings, power stations and substations
- sometimes work at heights or in small enclosed areas, and in conditions that may be noisy, dirty, dusty, and hazardous
- travel to local work sites.
What's the job really like?
To dream a possible dream and make it come true – starting while still at school
Nicholas Reardon knew what he wanted to be when he left school, so he did everything he could to make his dream a reality. "I did maths, physics and electronics, and went on a workplace first aid course."
On finishing school, Nicholas started an apprenticeship to become a registered electrician. "I teamed up with a good person on my first day and he basically taught me everything. He was a great teacher because he introduced me to skills and knowledge that I have now extended on.
"I started the job with an open mind and tried hard to learn, and that has helped me go far."
Even dream jobs have a downside
Nicholas' advice for electricians starting out is to take the good with the bad. "Not every day is going to be great or a pleasure. You have to do the bad jobs or the not-so-admired jobs, but stick to it because every bit of knowledge you gain makes you a better electrician."
Courtney talks about life as an electrician - 1.05 mins. (Video courtesy of Got a Trade? Got it Made!)
You don’t need to go to university to get qualified, you can get qualified and paid and have a job all set for you from the start, rather than having the uncertainty of going and studying and not knowing where it’s actually going to take you and if you can get a job with it.
I would recommend it to other girls. I was really worried at the start about being a girl with the tools and stuff, but anyone can learn, it’s just practice. It’s cool working on site, you get to joke and work as tradies all seem to have a good sense of humour and stuff.
I love my job, I’m doing new things every day and learning something new every day. When I look back at my decision I’m proud of myself and I think it’s one of the best ones I’ve made.
My name is Courtney, I’m 22, I’ve got a trade and I’ve got it made.
To become an electrician you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a National Certificate in Electrical Engineering – Electrician for Registration (Level 4).
Most employers also prefer that you:
- have a driver's licence
- pass a drug test
- pass a medical test.
You also need to be registered with the Electrical Workers Registration Board.
The Skills Organisation oversees electrical apprenticeships.
ATT and The Electrical Training Company (ETCO) employ, train and place electrical apprentices. ETCO works with students from selected schools.
- Skills website - information on electrician apprenticeships
- ATT website - information on applying for an apprenticeship
- ETCO website - information on electrical apprenticeships
Level 1 NCEA in maths, construction and mechanical technologies, English and science – preferably physics – is usually required to enter an apprenticeship.
Year 11 to 13 students can also gain industry experience through programmes such as Gateway.
They can also participate in Bright Sparks, which organises competitions, support and NCEA-approved training for students who are interested in electronics and robotics.
These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but don't reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.
- Skills website - information on the Gateway programme and other options for school students
- Bright Sparks website - join the ASB Bright Sparks club
Electricians need to be:
- accurate and methodical
- practical and logical
- good communicators
- able to work well independently or in a team
- good at problem-solving.
Electricians need to be fit, healthy and strong, as the work involves climbing and lifting.
They also need to be comfortable working in confined spaces and at heights, as they may need to crawl through small spaces under buildings and above ceilings.
Electricians need to be registered with the Electrical Workers Registration Board. To apply for registration you need to:
- have a National Certificate in Electrical Engineering
- pass an electrical regulations exam.
To do most types of electrical work you also need to hold a current practising licence covering electrical safety, CPR and first aid.
Find out more about training
- 0800 187 878 - www.att.org.nz
- The Electrical Training Company (ETCO)
- 0800 275 3826 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.etco.co.nz
- The Skills Organisation
- 0508 754 557 - email@example.com - www.skills.org.nz
Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
Construction boom and new technology drive demand for electricians
Demand for qualified electricians is good due to:
- a construction boom that is predicted to extend until at least the end of 2020
- the post-earthquake rebuild of Christchurch
- building work needed to upgrade leaky homes and earthquake-prone buildings
- increasing demand for electricians to install solar or wind-powered systems or to wire smart houses, which are controlled remotely.
Although over 13,000 electricians work in New Zealand, there aren't enough to meet demand, and not enough apprentices are being trained.
As a result, electrician appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled electricians from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Approach employers before starting a qualification
Although the Gateway programme and pre-trade courses can lead to apprenticeships, they don't guarantee an apprenticeship or employment.
Some employers prefer to train candidates themselves, so it's a good idea to approach local employers before enrolling in a course.
Showing you're keen and motivated will help your chances of getting an apprenticeship.
Adaptability increases chances of getting constant work
Electricians usually specialise in domestic, commercial or industrial work. A downturn in the economy can reduce demand for commercial and domestic electricians, so those who are able to shift from one speciality to another have an advantage.
Most electricians work for small businesses
Most electricians work for electrical contracting businesses, and 20% are self-employed.
Industrial and specialist electricians work for businesses in a wide range of areas, including:
- the dairy industry
- boat building
- the petrochemical industry (oil rigs and refineries)
- electricity supply and manufacturing.
- Electrical Workers Registration Board website, accessed September 2017, (www.ewrb.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long Term Skill Shortage List', 19 February 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Future Demand for Construction Workers', July 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Simpson, N, chief executive officer, Master Electricians, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, September 2017.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Electricians may progress to become:
- consultants at building construction companies or engineering firms
- business owners.
They may also become electrical inspectors by doing further training and passing an exam.
- Electrical Workers Registration Board website - information on how to become an electrical inspector
Electricians usually specialise in low-voltage or high-voltage work.
Low-voltage work involves installing, maintaining and repairing electrical wiring. Within this field, electricians may further specialise in domestic (house), commercial (new buildings and shop fittings) or industrial (factory) work.
High-voltage work involves installing, maintaining and repairing electrical wiring and electrical equipment in power stations, substations and other sites. (This work is done by electrical fitters.)
Last updated 5 April 2019