The modern world runs on electricity. Altogether, this industry is worth more than $130 billion, employing over 650,000 electrical workers nationwide that keep it flowing to our homes and businesses every year.
There are many different jobs within the electrical industry. Whether you’re an electrical contractor or a lineman, new apprentice, or experienced journeyman, the world owes you thanks for the work you do that makes modern conveniences possible.
We appreciate the fact that electrical workers provide us electricity, but we should also appreciate the dangers of your job. Electrical workers face many hazards, including electrocution, arc-flash burns, cuts, and falls. MCR Safety understands the risks you take every day, and we are committed to keeping electrical contractors and linemen safe with specially designed personal protective equipment that allows you to do your job safely but comfortably.
Below, we highlight these important electrical workers and share some of the safety resources we have compiled to support them.
Electrical Contractors: What They Do and How to Become One
Electrical contractors work as either individual electricians or for companies that provide electrical installation, maintenance, and repair services. Some electricians specialize in residential services while others specialize in commercial or do both. In any case, electricians are vital in keeping our modern life running smoothly.
What they do
In general, an electrical contractor’s job is to design, install, and maintain electrical and communication systems. Some electrical contractors work as linemen, working with high-voltage transmission and distribution lines such as those coming from power plants. Others work on electrical and cabling design, installation, and maintenance inside buildings and homes. Still, others perform electrical work associated with integrations such as back-up power, security systems, fiber optics, telecommunications, and more.
How to become an electrical contractor
So, what does it take to become an electrical contractor? Generally speaking, you must hold a master electrician’s license and follow certain laws and regulations to qualify for an electrical contractor’s license. Here are the standard steps to becoming a master electrician:
- Complete an electrical apprenticeship of between 500 and 1,000 classroom hours and 8,000 and 10,000 hours of supervised fieldwork.
- Meet state requirements for becoming a journeyman electrician. This license often requires meeting the minimum theory and training hours as well as passing a written exam.
- Qualify to earn a master electrician’s license by practicing as a journeyman electrician for about 4,000 hours.
It is important to note that a master electrician’s license is a professional license. To work as an electrical contractor, you also must apply for an electrical contractor’s license, which is a business license. This license comes with requirements as established by your state.
Steps to Become an Electrical Contractor
Can a General Contractor Do Electrical Work?
What is the difference between an electrical contractor and a general contractor? What can general contractors do? The term “general contractor” is often used, well, generally. It has become a catch-all phrase for any contractor who works on buildings, but that description isn’t accurate.
There are three classifications of general contractors, and each can do different things.
- General Contractor Type A can perform large building projects that require engineering knowledge, like skyscrapers and bridges.
- General Contractor Type B can do general construction for commercial and residential dwellings, including building a house, home additions, and renovations.
- Finally, General Contractor Type C is a contractor with a specialized role. They may specialize in HVAC, elevators, or electricity, for example.
Technically, some general contractors can do electrical work, but most can’t. Contractors who want to do electrical work need to pursue their electrician’s license first.
Someone who has not been trained and licensed should not attempt electrical work. They may not have the knowledge, skill, tools, or protective gear necessary to do the job safely.
Youtube video on general contractors
Commercial and Industrial Electrical Contractors: What’s the Difference?
As we’ve mentioned, different kinds of electricians perform different kinds of electrical work. Two types of electricians are commercial electricians and industrial electricians. Here is a quick breakdown of each one’s responsibilities:
- Commercial electricians handle the big job of installing and maintaining electrical systems in commercial buildings like stores and offices. They usually work for a private company.
Commercial Building Systems
- Industrial electricians also do large projects, but in industrial settings like factories and plants. They install, maintain, and repair electrical equipment, computer systems, security systems, lighting, and more.
Both types of electrical workers require proper PPE to keep them safe. Wearing specially designed FR gloves, FR vests, dielectric safety glasses, and FR clothing is necessary to prevent burns and cuts when working with electrical components.
Top 50 Electrical Contractors
Are you curious to know more about the top electrical contractors? Before we move on to discussing lineman, check out EC&M’s 2019 Top 50 electrical contractors. Electrical Construction and Maintenance Magazine highlights how the electrical industry is growing and business is strong.
The Differences Between Lineman and Electrical Contractor Jobs
Another type of electrician is a lineman. Although both linemen and electrical contractors require similar education and licensing, their job duties are very different. Here are some important distinctions:
- Linemen are electricians who work mostly outside. They work on the power lines and cables that run between power stations and the buildings they serve.
- Linemen install and repair power lines and utility pole transformers. They also perform tests to make sure power lines are working properly.
- Because many power lines run along tall poles, linemen must use cherry pickers and climb the poles to do their work.
Utility worker climbing poles. Check out that triple-vented Summit Breeze® technology at work!
Like electrical contractors, linemen also need PPE designed for working outside to protect them from the sun, cold, wind, and rain.
The Differences Between Being an Apprentice and a Journeyman Lineman
Just as there are different types of electrical jobs, there are different levels of electricians and linemen as well. Here are the differences between being an apprentice and achieving status as a journeyman:
- Apprentice linemen are linemen in training. They enter apprenticeships through labor unions, trade associations, or independent employers to learn electrician skills firsthand, on the job, while being paid for their work.
- A journeyman lineman is an expert who has completed an apprenticeship and is out of training. Journeymen can work without supervision and often provide supervision and training to apprentices. A journeyman has a Department of Labor-issued certificate and carries a journeyman card.
Looking for a Lineman Job?
Job searches for any position are tough. For those looking for lineman jobs, we recommend the following:
- Reach out to your local labor union or trade association.
- Many linemen work for local power plants. Networking with others in the field is a great place to start in a job search.
For many job seekers, finding a job begins with an online search. Here, we’ve put all of your top lineman job searching resources in one spot:
Glassdoor Lineman Jobs - currently available on Glassdoor.
o Apprentice jobs
o Journeyman jobs
Indeed Lineman Jobs – currently available on Indeed.
o Apprentice jobs
o Journeyman jobs
LinkedIn Lineman Jobs - currently available on LinkedIn.
Trusted Electrical Contractor Magazines
Are you still looking for more information on electrical contractors and linemen? If you want current information about the electrical industry, you can keep up-to-date by reading the latest trade magazines like Electrical Contractor Magazine and Electrical Construction & Maintenance Magazine.
Both magazines feature articles, information, and advertising pertinent to electrical contractors. You can learn more about safety on the job, following codes and standards, running a business as an independent contractor, and more.
National Electrical Contractors Association
Independent Electrical Contractors
MCR Safety Electrical Resources
At MCR Safety, we recognize the importance of getting information to the wearers of our PPE. This is why we’ve created a number of online resources for electrical workers:
• Electrician Page – Here we highlight hazards, PPE, and much more.
• Electric ARC Info – We break down everything you need to know about NFPA 70 and electric arc performance.
• 70E Breathable FR Clothing – Electrical workers and utility linemen have access to the market’s only triple-vented FR clothing.
Remember, many of the electrical distributors we’ve identified above have access to MCR Safety products. Even if they don’t have what you’re looking for in stock, they have the ability to place orders with us and have the product drop-shipped directly to you.
Our MU3624FR gloves are made with Nomex®, an inherent FR material known for being extremely comfortable and an excellent option for electrical workers.
Please leave us a comment if you’re having difficulty finding a particular MCR Safety product.
MCR Safety FR Clothing – Triple-Vented
To give linemen and electricians the breathability they need, MCR uses patented Summit Breeze® technology in our FR clothing. What’s special about this FR technology? Its mesh venting is incorporated onto the back and under the arms, allowing body heat to escape where it builds up the most.
Summit Breeze® technology provides better heat stress management for those working in a hot environment, those who are performing labor-intensive tasks, or a combination of the two. When working in an environment prone to heat stress, vented openings can be a lifesaver. MCR Safety is the only manufacturer providing FR clothing with three total FR mesh vent openings, allowing for exceptional airflow.
Summit Breeze® Technology
Sometimes it’s tempting to choose the cheapest clothing option and save a buck, but you risk putting yourself in danger when you do not select workwear that is both flame-resistant and designed to keep you cool and comfortable. The least-expensive garment that meets the minimum requirements of the standard may not be the best value in the long run.
5.5 oz. FR Workshirt powered by Summit Breeze®
Triple-Vented, Lightweight, and Durable with Ripstop Inherent Blend
Summit Breeze FR Work shirts
In addition to offering triple vents, MCR Safety utilizes comfortable moisture-wicking work fabrics that are lightweight without being clingy. At just 5.5 oz., our ripstop inherent blend material is one of the lightest-weight Category 2 fabrics available on the FR clothing market. Combined with Summit Breeze® triple-vent technology, our workshirts are breathable, moisture-wicking, and extremely durable.
You’ll find triple vents on all MCR Safety FR clothing powered by Summit Breeze® technology. MCR Safety is the only FR clothing manufacturer offering patented triple vents.
Breathable FR fabrics protect you from the heat of an arc flash or fire while allowing your body’s heat to escape. Moisture-wicking fabrics catch and dissipate your sweat so it isn’t dripping down your body. Check out our selection of FR clothing and choose from our variety of double-stitched ripstop shirts and triple-stitched ripstop coveralls for PPE that can stand up to any work hazard, whether that’s actual flames or working around the abrasive objects found on any industrial worksite.
Our Summit Breeze collection includes more than FR shirts. We offer FR coveralls and in a variety of materials and weights. Our next section will show you how to access all Summit Breeze FR clothing protection!
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MCR Safety’s FR Clothing Resources
MCR Safety believes in offering high-quality products that provide superior protection. In addition to that, we are passionate about making sure you’re informed when making crucial PPE decisions. That is why we offer electrical workers links to numerous resources to stay up-to-date on all relevant PPE, standards, hazards, and much more.
Here are all the resources we’ve assembled to help you find the most appropriate FR clothing:
Summit Breeze® PDF on the left side; FR Online Catalog on the right side.
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Keeping Electrical Workers Safe on the Job
Electricians, linemen, electrical contractors—all of these jobs play an important part in modern society. That’s why MCR Safety provides top-rated PPE for tradespeople in the electrical industry. We want you to be safe and comfortable while you provide your services that power modern conveniences for the rest of us.
We are committed to protecting people and can provide all the safety equipment you need.
For those who want an immediate trial of our new lineup of FR clothing with Summit Breeze® technology, we will pay the shipping to get your initial order sent! To learn more about this offer, click here.
For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on the shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. It’s all part of our commitment to protect people.
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We welcome any comments, feedback, or suggestions for how we can best protect people at work.
For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it's on the shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there to provide solutions to workplace hazards. It's all part of our commitment to protect people.
No matter your industry, we have the personal protective equipment you need.
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.