This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical systems and equipment.
Electricians with one to five years' experience usually earn
$42K-$60K per year
Electricians with six or more years’ experience usually earn
$63K-$70K per year
Source: Electrical Contractors Association of New Zealand, 2015.
Current job prospects
Pay for electricians varies, but most earn between $42,000 and $70,000 a year.
- Apprentice electricians may start out on the minimum training rate. 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 $42,000 a year.
- In their first two years after completing their apprenticeship, electricians usually earn $52,000 to $54,000.
- With three to five years' experience, electricians usually earn $55,000 to $60,000.
- With six or more years' experience, electricians usually earn $63,000 to $70,000.
- Experienced electricians working in specialist fields or running their own business can earn $80,000 to $100,000 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: Electrical Contractors Association of New Zealand, 'Master Electricians 2015 Wage and Salary Survey', 2015.
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about minimum pay rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Electricians may do some or all of the following:
- study and interpret wiring diagrams and floor plans
- install electrical wiring and equipment
- repair or replace electrical wiring, parts and equipment
- test electrical work for safety
- keep records of problems they find and work they do
- prepare quotes and record the work they do.
Self-employed electricians also run their own businesses.
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 in a variety of places including building sites, existing buildings, power stations and substations
- sometimes work at height or in small enclosed areas, and in conditions which may be noisy, dirty, dusty, and/or hazardous
- may travel locally or nationally to 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!)
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) or a National Certificate in Electricity Supply – Electrician (Level 4)
- be registered with the Electrical Workers Registration Board and have a current practising licence.
Most employers also prefer that you:
- have a driver's licence
- pass a drug test
- pass a medical test.
The Skills Organisation and Connexis oversee electrical apprenticeships.
ATT and the The Electrical Training Company (ETCO) employ, train and place electrical apprentices. ETCO works with students from selected schools.
- The Skills Organisation website - information on electrician apprenticeships
- Connexis website - information on electrical apprenticeships
- ATT website - information on applying for an apprenticeship
- ETCO website - information on electrical apprenticeships
Level 1 NCEA in maths, English and science, preferably physics, is usually required to enter an apprenticeship.
While you are still at school, you can gain experience through:
- Gateway – a programme of work experience for Year 11 to 13 students
- Bright Sparks – organises competitions, support and discounts for those interested in electronics and robotics.
- Connexis website - information on the Gateway programme
- Tertiary Education Commission website - information on the Gateway programme
- The Skills Organisation - information on the Bright Sparks programme
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.
Interested in exploring this job further?
Careers New Zealand is working with the New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB) to investigate the demand for a matchmaking scheme to help secondary school students easily explore jobs in the construction sector. To help us understand the demand for this proposed scheme, please take part in the two-minute survey.
Find out more about training
- 0800 187 878 - www.att.org.nz
- 0800 437 486 - www.connexis.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, including the Christchurch rebuild, which is predicted to extend until at least the end of 2017
- the extra 22,000 houses that are needed over the next 10 years in Auckland, which will generate work for electricians
- increasing demand for electricians to install solar or wind-powered systems or to wire smart houses, which are controlled remotely.
However, the number of electricians is insufficient 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 training
Although the Gateway programme and pre-trade courses can lead to apprenticeships, some employers prefer to train candidates themselves. Because of this, it's a good idea to talk with local employers before enrolling in a course.
Adaptability increases the 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.
- BRANZ and Pacifecon, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 3', July 2015, (www.branz.co.nz).
- Electrical Workers Registration Board website, accessed April 2016, (www.ewrb.govt.nz).
- Hays, 'Trades and Labour: January-March 2016', 15 January 2016, (www.hays.co.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long-term Skill Shortage List', accessed March 2016, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Simpson, N, chief executive officer, Electrical Contractors Association of New Zealand (ECANZ), Careers New Zealand interview, March 2016.
Progression and specialisations
Electricians may progress to become:
- consultants at building construction companies or engineering firms
- owners of their own businesses.
They may also do further training and pass an exam to become an electrical inspector.
- Electrical Workers Registration Board website - information on how to become an electrical inspector
Electricians usually specialise in one of these areas:
- low-voltage work – installing, maintaining and repairing electrical wiring in domestic buildings (houses), commercial buildings (new buildings and/or shop fittings) or industrial buildings (factories)
- high-voltage work – 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 11 July 2017