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The Difference Between An Electrician and a General Contractor?

When it comes to performing home improvement projects, it can be hard to know who is responsible for what. Do you hire an electrician or a general contractor? It’s important to understand the difference between an electrician and a general contractor in order to determine who is best suited for your project. An electrician is specifically trained to work with wiring, outlets, and other electrical components while a general contractor may have more diverse knowledge and experience when it comes to home improvement projects.

What’s the Difference in Work Between an Electrician and a Contractor

An Electrician and a General Contractor are both professionals who can handle a range of different building requirements, but there is a difference.

The main difference between an electrician and a general contractor is that the former is a business person, while the latter is a firm specializing in construction. Both professionals have learned their trades formally—through apprenticeships, trade school or community college classes, or a combination of these.

Building Requirements

An electrician can perform electrical work on a home or commercial building, while a general contractor can be hired to complete various tasks for projects, including plumbing and construction. An electrician can work on large projects, while a GC might be more suited to smaller jobs that don’t need permits and can be completed in less time.

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A licensed electrician is a certified professional who holds the expertise to carry out complex electrical installation and repair projects. The qualifications for these professionals vary by state, but typically include experience in the field and passing a licensing exam.

In addition to having the right credentials, an electrician needs to be insured, both for their business and in the event of an accident. An electrician should also register with the local government and abide by any specific rules and regulations.

Many states require electrical contractors to obtain a license before performing electrical work on-site. This license may be issued to individuals or businesses depending on the state. The state may also require electrical contractor licenses to be renewed on an annual basis.

Electricians who are not licensed to work in a particular state may be subject to penalties. This can be a costly situation for an electrical contractor, and can even affect their ability to work in other states.

Several state and national certifications are available for electricians, including the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) Certified Professional Electrician (CPE) distinction, certification through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), among dozens of others.

For more information on the requirements for an electrician license, you should contact your local government or a professional organization that can provide a list of local laws and regulations. Some states have reciprocity agreements with other jurisdictions, so that an electrician’s license from one state is valid in another.

In Chicago, for example both general and electrical contractors must be registered and be able to prove that they are properly insured. In addition, they must have proof of their home address and employment history.

In general, you will want to hire a licensed electrician for any particularly complex project. An electrician is more suited to work on large projects, such as kitchen remodels or multi-part home renovations.

Electrical Requirements

An Electrician works with electrical systems and circuits. They test equipment, repair problems and ensure that their clients’ properties are safe and functioning as intended. Their skills range from basic knowledge of electrical wiring to advanced knowledge of complex electrical systems.

Typically, electricians work in residential and commercial buildings. They are also involved with large-scale industrial and utility projects.

Many states require electricians to obtain a license before they can start working on a job site. A local government or the state electrical board may issue this licensing. In some cases, licensing is based on your level of education or experience.

Most states offer apprentice, journeyman and master licensures, and all of them require a significant amount of on-the-job training before you can begin to take on work. Some apprenticeship programs also include classroom instruction.

In some areas, electricians also need to obtain a business license, usually in addition to an electrical contracting license. This license shows that you comply with local safety guidelines and tax laws and that you are trustworthy to your customers.

The licensing requirements for an electrician vary by state, but in most cases they involve completing an apprenticeship and passing a trade exam. You can complete an apprenticeship under the supervision of a licensed master electrician or you can do so without supervision by gaining work experience as a journeyman under the supervision of a general contractor.

Some states offer a reciprocity program that allows an electrician from one state to work in another with fewer or no additional licensing requirements. However, not every state offers this option, so you should check with the conditions where you intend to work to ensure that there are no restrictions on your electrical work.

To become an electrician, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent and the ability to read and understand technical documents. Having an excellent working knowledge of math and physics is also essential.

Depending on the nature of your electrical project, you may need to know how much voltage is permitted and be able to handle a variety of tools. An electrician should be your best bet if your job involves a lot of high-voltage work.

Design Requirements

An electrician is responsible for designing electrical systems to meet the needs of a project. They ensure the system is safe, efficient, and meets all codes and regulations. They also design the system to be durable and stand up to the rigors of everyday use.

The electrical design process begins with a site survey and a pre-design review that analyzes the existing building conditions and potential effects of the proposed electrical installation. This includes determining the total load for the facility, major loads/equipment power requirements, and equipment layouts to be used.

Once this information is analyzed and reviewed, the team prepares electrical plans. These plans must comply with NFPA 70 and other codes that provide rules and regulations to protect life and property.

During the design development (DD) phase, the electrical team continues to develop the electrical plans. This includes coordinating the electrical layouts of interior and exterior lighting, security/surveillance systems, audio/video equipment, spas, pool pumps, kitchen equipment, electrical rooms, employee break rooms, etc.

This DD coordination should be done with the architect and other design professionals. This helps avoid the need for changes to the construction documents (CD) phase and ensure the owner is a part of the design process.

As a design professional, the electrician should communicate with the architect to develop preliminary back-of-house lighting layouts. This includes a rough photometric calculation to indicate preliminary compliance with emergency lighting footcandle requirements along the path of egress (1 fc is average).

Once the preliminary lighting plans have been developed, the electrician should communicate with the architect to finalize the lighting plan and the corresponding electrical plans. These should include all normal and emergency lighting fixtures, dimmer switches, control boxes, and wiring.

At this time, the electrician should also discuss where to place the electrical service panel and distribution equipment with the architect. This should include main switchgear, generators, distribution boards, UPS equipment, and panel boards.

At this stage, the electrician should also provide preliminary electrical drawings and submit an updated coordination list requesting the information that needs to be obtained from the architect and other design professionals. The construction team will require this information for the electrical design phase and the DD package that will be sent to the architect.


An electrician is a licensed professional specializing in installing, repairing, and maintaining electrical systems. Electricians are trained to work safely on all projects and have the necessary experience to ensure your home’s electrical system is up to code.

General contractors are licensed to conduct construction work for residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. They are a great choice for homeowners who need help completing projects like home additions, remodeling, or building new structures.

A general contractor’s fee is typically 10 to 20 percent of the project cost. This includes their salary, any fees paid to subcontractors, and the materials and labor costs associated with your project.

The cost of hiring a general contractor also depends on the type of project you’re undertaking. Small jobs like a bathroom remodel or home addition usually doesn’t require a large investment, but larger-scale projects will likely have more material and labor costs associated with them.

It’s best to discuss the costs of your project with a general contractor so you can get an accurate quote before you hire them. A good contractor will provide you with an estimate or bid that considers all your project needs and goals.

Another important factor to consider is how long it will take them to complete your project. Often, a general contractor’s price is determined by the length of time they think it will take to finish the job.

If your project takes longer than expected, you can expect your contractor to charge you a daily rate. These rates cover the overhead costs of running a business, allowing them to make more money on each day spent working on your project.

peterborough locksmithsMany general contractors offer payment plans. Some will ask for a down payment upfront, and others will work with you to devise a plan that works for your budget as the project progresses.

A general contractor’s license is required to operate a business in most states, and their license number should be displayed on their business cards. You can verify a contractor’s license status by visiting the Contractors State License Board website.

In conclusion, electricians and general contractors are two distinct professions. An electrician specializes in electrical systems, while a general contractor oversees the construction process from start to finish. Electricians typically work indoors while general contractors often work outside and may have a team of workers. Electricians are licensed and must stay up-to-date on building codes, while general contractors must obtain permits for certain projects and oversee subcontractors.

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