A licensed electrician is a tradesman. Usually the training is a minimum of four years in an apprenticeship, but there can be extra years of training for highly certified electricians. This is especially true of master electricians, who take about two years after reaching journeyman status to achieve enough hours to become a master electrician. They also have to pass a difficult test in order to receive the master certificate.
A licensed electrician often has a specialty, such as restoration work or residential wiring. All of the special commercial wiring on things like plants, oil rigs, and commercial ovens also have their own type of certification. Depending on your building and wiring situation, you will need to call a different type of licensed electrician.
How do you find out who you need? Usually, you will want to have the wiring in question looked at by a building inspector at the minimum. It can be a good idea to have a contractor and another specialist like a building manager look at your project also. You will want to take out the building plans in question and do some research about what the finished project should be like. After you’ve had the building inspected and the scope of work is defined, you should call your electrician.
It is important to note that electricians often work with contractors. If you are intending to manage the project yourself, it can be a good idea to read up on the electrical and contracting terms that are relevant so that you can communicate with the electrician better. Usually this is what a contractor does, but you don’t have to use one all the time. There are times when an electrician can only come out with a contractor, however. This is often the case with commercial grade buildings or if there are many types of trade work going on over the course of the project, such as plumbing or roofing. Often a contractor is required to manage the necessary deliveries and the coming and going times of all parties involved.
If you suspect that you may need a contractor, it is a good idea to interview many people. Often, if you have an electrician or electrical company picked out already, you will need to find out what contractors they work with. People all have different working styles and professional rapport, so you will want to make sure that existing relationships are maintained when taking on a big project. Many times the result of mixing up contracting teams is lost paperwork and odd schedules, which are a huge hassle for everyone including the homeowner.
You can also work the other way and find a contractor you really like, then work with his specified electrical team. This gives you less hand in the finished project overall, but you will have to do less technical research to get the job done. Contractors are good at managing details and schedules, but they also know the necessary terminology already. Either way you work, make sure that you give plenty of interviews and have your building plans ready.