The Work of an Electrical Contractor

Electrical contracts are used to hire a professional to design, install, and maintain electrical components and systems. Electrical contracting is a main aspect of the construction industry, representing a multimillion dollar industry in and of itself. 

Types of electrical contractors include the following:

  • Line or outside contractors work on high-voltage power lines located outdoors. They make sure that generated electricity is safely transmitted through these lines and systems before it arrives in homes and businesses to provide power. They also make sure that the connections between the sources of energy (power plants and stations) and the homes and businesses they power are working correctly and efficiently.
  • Inside contractors specialize in the design, installation, and maintenance of electric systems for residential, industrial, and commercial buildings.
  • Voice, data, video, or integrated buildings systems contractors are responsible for low-voltage installations, such as those for climate control systems, back-up power, energy-efficient lighting, wireless networks, fiber optics, telecommunications, and security systems.

When hiring an electrical contractor for your home or business, you should enter into a contract that details the project's start and end date, scope of work, fees, and other terms of the agreement. This legally binding document will be referenced if disputes arise. You should always have an electrical services agreement contract in place if you are hiring an electrical contractor to provide services for your home or business or if you are an electrician contracting out your services.

Some electrical projects require several contractors, sometimes including an electrician who serves as supervisor or project manager for large-scale work. This individual also defines the role of each team member and ensures that the project is completed within the budget and agreed-upon timeframe. He or she also creates and submits reports and other required paperwork.

The estimator is responsible for creating a quote for the project and making sure the project adheres to the established budget. In addition to experienced electricians, apprentices may assist with the work as part of their training.

Becoming an Electrical Contractor

The training to become an electrician involves several years of an apprenticeship, after which you are eligible to obtain a license. This process varies from state to state. Most apprenticeships last four years and include at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training in addition to classroom learning. These courses cover mathematics and electrical theory in great detail. Most apprentices are paid for their training. 

Building the Foundation for Your Business

After you finish your required apprenticeship, you must follow the procedure to become licensed in your state. If you are starting a business in partnership with other electricians, you must make sure that each member has the appropriate license for his or her designation (resident wireman, journeyman, or master electrician). You will also need to obtain and have proof of adequate liability insurance for both you and your employees.

Seeking Projects

As you begin to offer your electrician services, you should consider specializing in either commercial or residential services. Network with important contacts depending on your niche, such as project managers for commercial construction projects, industrial buildings, or new housing developments. Request that you be added to their electrical work bidding list and inquire about who else is on the list so you can get to know your market competitors. You should also join local associations for electrical contractors, which allow you to network with larger companies who hire subcontractors. You can also bid as a contractor or subcontractor on government projects.

Setting Prices

When setting prices for your electrical services, you may be tempted to undercut the prices of your competitors. However, this low price may keep you from getting jobs if it is seen as a sign of inexperience or inferior quality of work. Conduct a market analysis of competing companies to find out how much they charge for their services and whether they bill on a project or hourly basis. Your fee should cover the costs of both travel and supplies in addition to your labor.

Writing Electrical Contracts

When developing a contract for your business, thoroughly define the scope of work either in a narrative or as a bulleted list.

If you need help with electrical contracts, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.