Tool List for Apprentice Electricians

Recommended Tools for Apprentice Electricians

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Some links contain affiliate links which means I may receive commission if you click a link and purchase a product.  These are all my own opinions - money will not sway me!

This article will share an Apprentice Tool List for Electricians.

These recommended tools for electricians applies to both Residential and Commercial apprentices!

What Are The Best Tools for Electricians?

The short answer is each company specializes in a certain tool.. so the secret is getting electrical hand tools that each company specializes in!

First, please start with my Apprentice Tool List video!

Listed below are my favorite electrical tools from my apprentice to journeyman years!

Apprentice Tool List Video for Electricians

Do I Need to Buy All Tools on an Apprentice Tool List?

Sometimes electrical companies hand out an Apprentice Tool List saying you “must” get those tools.. but there’s many tools you DO NOT need on that tool list!

Electrical Tools a Company Should Provide:

Typically a company provides heavy-duty power tools, ladders, pipe benders, and disposables like electrical tape, markers & pencils, batteries, safety glasses, viz-vest etc.

Electrical Tools Apprentice MUST Have:

Typically apprentices must have their own cordless drill and hand tools like pliers, screwdrivers, tape measure, etc..

But specialty expensive items a company usually provides!

Best Tape Measure for Electricians

Stanley FATMAX 16 Foot Tape Measure with Inches

Stanley FATMAX 16′ Tape Measure (33-716)

There’s LOTS to say about tape measures if you’re a Canadian electrician because both imperial (inches) and metric (centimeters) is used!

We mostly use inches, but the Canadian Electrical Code book sometimes mentions centimeters & meters.. so you need BOTH.

In reality, you can buy a cheap $5 tape measure, but I’ll explain why a Stanley FATMAX 16′ is the best tape measure for electricians.

A FATMAX can extend further than other brands without breaking! This helps so much with speed when measuring on ladders!

Now.. your apprentice tool list will often require a 25′ Tape Measure.. but they’re HEAVY to carry all day! I suggest BOTH a 16′ FATMAX (inches) and 30′ FATMAX (inches/centimeters)..

The 16′ tape with inches to for accurate measuring & it’s light.. and the 30′ tape for metric and rare cases where you need longer lengths.

Pro-Tip.. If you do a lot of ground work with sand.. get a cheap $5 tape measure.. otherwise you’ll destroy your FATMAX quickly

Should you buy a magnetic tape measure? They can be useful, but often get stuck on stuff.. because the FATMAX’s width allows for long distances, I don’t think the magnet is needed.

Be careful, Stanley FATMAX 16′ comes in various models:

  • 33-716 (Inches) – This is what I suggest.
  • 33-719 (Inches + Centimeters)

Then look for a 30′ Tape Measure with Inches & Centimeters (doesn’t have to be FATMAX).

Best Hammer for Electricians

Stapling wires with a hammer

16 Oz Hammer Curved Claw

Electricians are not carpenters, so we do not need a luxury hammer.

I do not know much about hammers, and won’t pretend to! But here’s what I enjoyed in a hammer for electricians.

First, I liked a light hammer. A 16 Oz was a great weight for hammering wire staples, and nails for wood. Also, its small size allowed me to get into tight spots where I had to staple wires with the side of the hammer!

Second, I liked the Curved Claw on the hammer. This allowed me to get a lot more leverage if I needed to remove a piece of wood.

Using the button below provides various 16 Oz Curve Clawed Hammers. My recommendation is to not over spend, and get one that’s light and think will be durable for the long-term. (Mine has a plastic / carbon fibre handle, which held up well since my apprentice years).

Best Impact Driver for Electricians

Impact Driver which is shorter, lighter, and drives screws in with a hammer-action.

Milwaukee FUEL Impact Driver for Electricians

For boxing, you will want an impact driver. If you read my How to Buy a Drill for Electricians you will learn Milwaukee is the best drill brand for electricians.

Now, why an Impact Driver for boxing vs a Regular Drill?

The short answer is an impact is lighter, battery life lasts longer, and it can drive long screws in better.

What’s the negative of an impact driver? They are LOUD, so wear ear plugs when using your impact driver for boxing in the roughing-in stage!

You will see I’ve linked to the Milwaukee Tool FUEL Combo, as you will need both a drill and impact driver as an electrician. (And it’s the best savings).

Best Screwdrivers for Electricians

Best Screwdriver Set for Electricians with Robertson, Phillips, and Flathead

Screwdriver Set for Electricians

When starting as an electrician, it’s wise to buy an electrician starter kit (the exact kit I started with) which provides you all your basic hand tools like screwdrivers, wirestrippers, a tape measure, pliers, etc..

But if you’re piecing together your electrician tools, both Greenlee and Klein Tools make awesome screwdrivers. I’d honestly say they are so similar in terms of quality and feeling. I’ve tried other brands like DeWalt and Milwaukee for hand tools, but they’ve always felt bulky or cheaper..

The required screwdrivers for electricians in Canada are:

  • Robertson (square) #6 (green), #8 (red), and #10 (black).
  • Phillips #1 and #2
  • Standard Flat Head 3/16″ and 5/16″

I think I enjoyed the Greenlee screwdrivers from my starter kit more than the Klein Tools screwdrivers.. but I’d give them both a 10/10.. either way you are getting a true electrician experience.

Best Beater Screwdriver for Electricians

Best Beater Screw Driver for Electricians to Hit Hard for Chiseling and Demolition

Demolition Beater Screwdriver

In the rough-in stage of boxing, if you’re in a concrete building where you pulled ENT (plastic tubing – Cor-Line), sometimes you need to hammer drill and chisel concrete to connect a coupling onto the plastic tubing.

In recent years companies have come out with specific Demolition Screwdrivers, which are meant to be hit hard, but I noticed they’re quite heavy to carry around..

I’d just purchase a cheap screwdriver, which I thought could take a beating, and used it strictly as my beater screwdriver. It was nice to have a big and small beater screw driver depending on how tight the working space was!

Don’t overspend.. as actual demolition screwdrivers are like $30… but a cheap beater screwdriver could be $9.99 and last your whole electrical career.. plus they are just as light as a normal screwdriver, so it’s not a burden to cary around!

Best Ear Plugs for Electricians

Howard Leight - Laser Lite - Best Ear Plugs for Electricians

Howard Leight Laser Lite Ear Plugs

Remember, some items are called disposables, which your company SHOULD be providing you, like these ear plugs! So why do I have these ear plugs listed here?

Ear plugs are very important if you’re roughing-in or bending EMT pipe, as it gets LOUD.

Even at the same electrical company, each job site is different, where sometimes they only have orange 3M ear plugs, and if the rough-in stage is going to last months, I find the 3M orange ear plugs hurt my ears for longer periods!

I realized how comfy these Howard Leight Laser Lite ear plugs are, and one day purchased a box to keep my tool bag stocked up!

If a jobsite had Laser Lite ear plugs, I’d grab a handful to stock up.. otherwise, I’d use my own until I move to a jobsite that had Laser Lites to stock up there!

Pro-Tip! – I’d use one pair of ear plugs a day, and keep the bag to store my ear plugs when going for break. This keeps the ear plugs clean for the day!

If your boss asks what ear plugs to buy for site, I’d suggest saying Howard Leight Laser Lites!

Tools for Drilling Holes

Electricians drill holes ALL THE TIME for wire. This section shares what apprentice electricians need for a drill, drill bits, and how to preserve the life of a drill, since it’s your most expensive tool on the apprentice tool list!

Use a company drill as much as possible when drilling holes. If a company drill is not available, then use your personal drill. (Also, your company should be providing auger drill bits!!)

Best Drill for Electricians

Milwaukee Heavy-Duty Hand Drill for Electricians

Milwaukee FUEL Cordless Drill

Electricians need a heavy-duty drill, otherwise you will burn out the motor from the many holes we make for wires and pipes.

A heavy-duty drill will consist of a brushless motor, metal chuck, and at least 5.0 Amp-Hour batteries for a very strong drill that should last you many years.

Remember, we are not using this drill for every hole in a building. If a company drill is not available, then we would use this type of drill for a couple holes to keep us busy on site. As soon as a company drill is available, use it to preserve the life of these expensive cordless drills!

Please read How to Buy a Drill for Electricians for more info, but Milwaukee Tool is the best electrician drill for these reasons:

  • A long 5-Year Warranty
  • Most electrical companies use Milwaukee
  • FUEL is their powerful drill and impact driver in this combo

Best Auger Drill Bit for Electricians

Auger Wood Drill Bit for Electrical Wires

Wood Auger Drill Bit

Drill bits are also a disposable that a company SHOULD provide. I includeed an auger drill bit here as it’s very important to see if you want to be an electrician.

An auger drill bit is unique because of its spiral design. It removes wood chips as you drill a hole, allowing an auger bit to very long without getting jammed!

Additionally, augers are quite strong and can chew through nails, although this will dull the bit, and is not recommended. (You can actually sharpen an auger bit!)

It’s important an auger bit is not too big, as it can be very hard on certain drills.. I think 9/16″ was a common size on site.. (let me know what your company uses!)

Best Spade Bit for Electricians

Spade Wood Bit for Drilling Hole for Electrical Wire

BOSCH Spade Drill Bit

If auger bits are used so much as electricians, then why am I showing a spade bit for drilling holes for wires? Well, auger bits are good for powering through holes to pull wire, and not caring of any damage to the wood.

A spade bit creates a very clean hole for an electrical task.. For example, if you need a hole in kitchen cabinets, a spade bit would be very handy here!

Additionally, because spade bits are sold in packs, it provides multiple drill bit sizes to make a very small hole for just 1 wire, or big holes for lots of wires!

NEVER hit nails with spade bits, as you’ll break the teeth (or dull it!)

I REALLY enjoyed spade bits as an electrician. They’re not overly heavy, and I stored them in a pencil case in my tool bag! I’d definitely recommend grabbing these if they’re on sale, the spade bits really came in handy.

Best Tools for Pulling Wire

Pulling wire is usually in the rough-in stage of electrical, otherwise you missed a wire and you’re having to fish wires behind a finished wall! Depending on the electrical company, you’ll see different tools for pulling wire. You do not need to buy these, but I will share them for education purposes.

Also be aware that Residential vs. Commercial electricians pull wire different. Residential electricians usually use NMD90 where the wires are in a cable. Commercial electricians often run EMT conduit pipe, and pull single conductors into the pipe (sets of wire).

Best Sidecutters for Electricians

Klein Tools J2000-48 Diagonal Side Cutting Pliers - Horizontal View

Klein Tools Side Cutters (J2000-48)

When pulling wire as an electrician, you also have to staple wires. Sometimes you screw up, so the best way to remove wire staples is with side cutters.

Now, the proper term for these are Diagonal Side-Cutting Pliers, but most electricians I’ve worked with call them sidecutters.

Why I liked the J2000-48 sidecutters is because of its angled head (allows for easy staple removal), the 2000 series is hardended steel (you can cut through screws.. but I prefered pliers for this), and the J gives the journeyman series grips (a bit comfier).

Now, for pliers, I do not like the journeyman grips (too bulky), but for these sidecutters, I prefered the jouneyman grips.. it was much comfier.

Best Marker for Electrical Wires

Sharpie is the best marker for labelling wires.

Sharpie Fine Point Marker

A permanent marker is a disposable that your company should provide for labelling wires, marking out box heights, and general purpose labels.

I want to discuss a couple points about what’s the best marker for labelling wires.

I think Sharpie Fine Point are the best marker for electricians to label wires.

Be cautious how you use a sharpie, such as don’t use a sharpie on concrete, or push down too hard. (Use a carpenters pencil instead!). This extends the life of the sharpie!

Sharpies cost companies lots of money; it’s important to look after your marker! (I’ve heard jobsites require returning an old sharpie to get a new one if it drys out, lol!!)

There’s also Sharpie Ultra Fine Point which is nice for small labels, but companies usually don’t provide them, and they aren’t good for general construction work.

Milwaukee Tool introduced their Milwaukee Inkzall Marker, a competitor to Sharpie, but from my experience, I enjoyed the Sharpie more (it’s tried and true!)

Best Wire Racks for Electricians

A wire rack is not a part of a required apprentice tool list, but it’s important to see pictures of popular wire racks electricians use. Here in Canada, a lot of electrical companies used Rack-A-Tiers wire rack dispensers. I share two in this section.

Rack-A-Tiers E-Z Roll Wire Dispenser Rack

Rack-A-Tiers E-Z Roll Wire Dispenser Rack for Wire Spools for Electricians to Pull Wire Easy with Wheels

Rack-A-Tiers Wire Rack with Wheels

This Rack-A-Tiers wire rack was pretty cool! You get one stand with wheels, and one stationary stand. Each stand has a screw bolt that digs into the EMT so the pipe does not move, however don’t over tighten, as these often stripped out on a jobsite!!

In short, stack your wire spools in the same direction, stick a piece of 1″ EMT pipe through the wire spools, then put a stand on each side.

Now you can walk around site with your wires on wheels with just one arm! The Rack-A-Tier E-Z Loader wire rack definitely made life easier on site!

Rack-A-Tiers Multi-Purpose Wire Dispenser

Rack-A-Tiers Multi-Purpose Wire Dispenser to Hold Multiple Sets of Wires on Plastic Stands

Rack-A-Tiers Plastic Wire Rack Stand for Wire Sets

These Multi-Purpose Wire Rack Dispensers are used for multiple sets of wire spools for big wire pulls (notice they do not have wheels). In the image, I just have one pipe for my wires, but you can set up a few pipes for TONS of wire spools on these wire racks!

This saves you a lot of time when pulling wire in a commercial electrical setting. These can be used for residential as well, but usually the Rack-A-Tiers EZ Loader was more common because you can walk your wire rack on its wheels.

A really cool feature is how neatly these Rack-A-Tier Multi-Purpose Wire Dispensers store away.. you just slide them into eachother for a solid fit, and they stay out of the way.. They are built to last and strong!

Tools for Cutting-In:

Cutting-in in the rough-in process involves removing cable jacket (sheathing) with an electrical knife, entering the wires into a junction box, stripping the wires with wire strippers, and splicing wires by twisting them with Lineman’s pliers.

FREE Training – How to Splice Wires for Electricians Series

Best Lineman’s Pliers for Electricians

Favorite Klein Tools Pliers - D2000-9NE

Klein Tools D2000-9NE

Pliers are the #1 tool electricians use. Whether splicing wires, cutting, reaming, or using as a gentle hammer.. it’s important pliers are nimble, comfortable, and strong!

The dipped grips and 2000 Series hardend steel were my best pliers for electricians in terms of reaching in tight places, cutting screws, and taking a beating!

(Klein Tools does offer Journeyman Series grips, but I found them too bulky.. I also do not like a fish tape puller or crimper on the pliers.. I found it gets in the way!)

I explain all this in How to Buy Klein Tools Pliers, but here’s the main points:

  • The D2000-9NE Pliers are my favorite pliers (lighter blue)
  • These are not the D213-9NE (darker blue)
  • The D2000-9NE can cut through screws (2000 Series)

Best Wire Strippers for Electricians

Best Wire Strippers to Splice Wires

Klein Tools 11055 Wire Strippers

Electricians use wire strippers to remove conductor insulation, and making wire hooks which attach to plugs and switches. Wire strippers can also cut machine screws (6-32 and 8-32 screws) on thread to prevent stripping anything in finishing!

I think yellow tip wire strippers are ideal for everyday electrician use for installing lights with small gauge stranded wire (#18), working on commercial plugs (#12), or even dryer wire (#10). They’re light, comfortable to use, and its hooked handle fits perfect in your pant pocket!

Bonus.. because of the wire size order, you can double-strip two #14 wires at a time because #14 and #12 are in an ideal location for your thumb to push!

Are these the best wire strippers? Well, there’s TONS of wire stripping tools available.. you may see wire stripper pliers, but I found these bulky, and doesn’t give that nice wire strip feeling of the yellow-tip strippers. There’s also auto wire strippers.. for some reason bosses didn’t like these.. maybe it’s because it rips the jacket rather than stripping it?

Anyways, these Klein Tools Yellow-Tip Wire Strippers were my favorite.

Be careful, Klein Tools sells a white tip wire stripper version which changes the wire size order layout, which I didn’t enjoy! Get the yellow tips to follow my recommendation!

Best Electrical Knife for Stripping Wire

Milwaukee Tool 18mm Snap Knife - Model Number: 48-22-1961

Milwaukee 18mm Snap Knife (48-22-1961)

Electricians always have their own knife preference, but I REALLY enjoyed a 18mm snap knife, and in particular, this Milwaukee 18mm Snap knife.

I used this snap knife for stripping wire jacket, opening boxes from deliveries, and because it’s so sharp, it can be used for very precise, or delicate, tasks, too! If you need to be aggressive, just stick the blade out a little bit. If you need to cut something long, like insulation, extend the blade full!

As a snap knife gets dull, we easily snap off the blade to get a sharp edge, and replacement blades are very affordable (you rarely have to change them).

The 18mm knife fit PERFECTLY into the left pocket of my Carhartt Overalls, so I always had my knife on me (very important to be a good apprentice!)

I found 25mm snap knives too bulky. With the 18mm people would tease me and say “what a cute knife”, but it’s SUPER sharp, and the best electrical knife I’ve tried!

Best Tools for Bending EMT Pipe

Bending electrical pipe is known as EMT (Electrical Metalic Tubing), conduit, or just “bending pipe”. It’s the process of bending a raceway with a pipe bender for conductors to be pulled through, while avoiding obstacles on the jobsite with 2-point offsets, 4-point offsets, saddles, kicks, and 90 degree bends.

We connect pipes together with couplings, and connect to electrical boxes with couplings.

If you are not learning to bend pipe on the jobsite, I personally bought my own 1/2″ bender, a bundle of pipe, some couplings, connectors, straps, and metal boxes, and installed 2×4 at random places to create obstacles to learn the art of pipe bending. It cost some money, but allowed me to truly learn what I was doing, and the knowledge allowed me to advance as an electrician.

Best Hand Reamer for EMT Pipe

Best EMT Pipe Reamer for Electricians

Klein Tools EMT Pipe Reamer (#85191)

If you’re a commercial electrician, you’ll bend A LOT of EMT Pipe.

When cutting metal pipe, it’s very sharp, and we must ream conduit so it’s smooth for wires to go in, otherwise we risk damaging wires!

We can ream pipe with sidecutters, pliers, or even a file, but this was the best conduit reamer, as it reamed both the inside and outside of a pipe!

This EMT Reamer is used for 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ EMT, and has a replaceable reaming blade, which I never replaced in 4-5 years of solid use. The tip is also a flathead to tighten connectors and couplings if a drill isn’t handy!

Pro-Tip: To preserve the life of the blade, don’t force the ream. If it’s tight one way, try reaming the other way. Always touch the pipe opening with your fingers to ensure it’s smooth before entering wires!

Best Level for Electricians Bending Pipe

Best level for electricians bending pipe Klein Tools level

Klein Tools Conduit Level (935AB4V)

When bending pipe, you must have a level with strong magnets, otherwise your level will circle around the pipe and fall off!

Previously, the blue Empire level was my favorite because years ago it was way cheaper than the Klein Tools level (like $35 vs. $70).

However, in recent years Klein Tools (orange level) has dropped their price, has better magnets, AND the level vials are a bit bigger to see clearer.

In my comparison video, the Klein Tools level felt like the better conduit level. So I’d go for that one! (The magnets are almost too strong!)

Best Tool for Cutting EMT Pipe

Milwaukee M18 Hackzall with Bi-Metallic Blade at an Angle with Battery for Cutting EMT Pipe

Milwaukee M18 Hackzall

A Hackzall was by far the best way to cut EMT pipe in my experience!

When first starting, I’d use a basic hand hacksaw, which works, and is affordable, but it’s definitely slower, and hard to cut in many situations. And a Sawzall is WAY too heavy, and requires two hands to operate…

A Hackzall is a powered mini Sawzall that only requires one hand to use! Additionally, it can sneak into tight places to cut, and use a hand reamer to ensure the pipe is safe for wires!

If you’re a commercial electrician bending pipe, a Hackzall is revolutionary to the pipe bending process for quick cuts. (Make sure to use a metal blade!)

Here’s the fast workflow: Make sure to have 3 batteries. One battery for your impact driver (which switchs with a drill for unibit holes), one battery for the Hackzall, and one battery should always be charging. If the Hackzall battery gets low, switch it with the impact, and charge the battery at break. This ensures you’re always working and batteries aren’t slowing you down!

READ CLOSE: I’ve only used the M18 Hackzall (non FUEL), and it gave an AMAZING experience. There’s also a M18 FUEL version.. but I haven’t tried it. Also, the M12 Hackzall is smaller and nimble.. but I’m not sure how battery life and power is.. the regular M18 was rock solid for cutting EMT pipe and workflow. BE CAREFUL when buying, as Amazon has weird pricing for this item.. it should be like $150 max (and you may not need the battery.. so you can buy just the bare tool!)

Best Nut Driver for Building Pipe Racks

9/16" Hollow Shank Nut Driver for Electricians to Build Pipe Racks with 3/8" Hardware Nuts and Bolts

Hollow Shank 9/16″ Nut Driver

The problem with normal nut drivers when building pipe racks with 3/8″ ready rod is you can only tighten down a nut until the ready rod hits the nut driver!

A hollow shank nut driver allows the ready rod to go into the shank while you continue to tighten the nut. It gives full control on getting your pipe racks level while using your impact driver!

This 9/16″ Hollow Shank Nut Driver was shown to me by a very good electrician buddy. It was game changing to pipe bending and pipe rack building.

Best Channel Locks for Electricians

Best Plumber Pliers for Electricians - Channellock 430 Tongue & Groove Pliers

Channellock 430 Plumber Pliers 2″

Many people call Plumber Pliers Channellock because of the name brand, but when bending pipe, I always had plumber pliers on me!

Let me explain, because most electricians preferred pliers..

When electricians bend pipe, we often have to install connectors into electrical boxes. So most electricians would use their pliers for box knock outs, and to tighten EMT connectors, however the pliers would often struggle to tighten connectors well.

I found using the 430 Channellock Pump Pliers were amazing for box knock outs, and tightening connectors EASILY, even if multiple connectors were beside eachother!

Using Plumber Pliers in the back pocket while bending pipe was such an amazing workflow trick, and I highly recommend you try it!

Additionally, these are good for 2″ EMT pipe if you need to rotate the pipe into a coupling. These took a BEATING, and held up very well.

Best 9/16″ Wrench for Electricians

9/16" wrench for 3/8" nuts and bolt heads

9/16″ Rachet Combination Wrench

9/16″ Non-Rachet Angled Combination Wrench

The goal is to have the tools you need as an electrician, but not be too heavy.. If you bring every wrench size, things get heavy FAST.

A 9/16″ wrench is required for building pipe racks with 3/8″ nuts and bolts, and you must have two 9/16″ wrenches to twist in both directions to safely tighten properly.

In my experience, I enjoyed having a 9/16″ Rachet Wrench, and a 9/16″ Angled Box-End Non-Rachet Wrench. (The box-end is the closed-end of a wrench! The angle is about 15 degrees.. which can also be labelled as a 15 degree offset.)

Angled Box End Wrench for Tight Spots with no Ratchet

Having a 9/16″ with rachet was nice, and a stationary 9/16″ with angle allowed me to get into tight spaces.. it was a great combination.

Best 7/16″ Wrench for Electricians

7/16" wrench for 1/4" nuts and bolt heads

7/16″ Rachet Combination Wrench

7/16″ Non-Rachet Angled Combination Wrench

Make sure to read the 9/16″ wrench above, as the same concept applies.. you must have two wrenches to properly tighten items by twisting in opposite directions.

7/16″ is not as common for electricians, but when building pipe racks, sometimes there’s special clamps required for 1/4″ nuts and bolts.

So as a commercial electrician who bends pipe and often builds pipe racks, you will need both 9/16″ and 7/16″ wrenches.

Again, I like to have a 7/16″ Rachet Wrench, and a 7/16″ Non-Rachet Angled Wrench (the box-end is angled a bit to get in hard to reach places).

Required Nut Driver Sizes for Electricians

Required Nut Drivers for Electricians are 1/4", 5/16", 3/8", 7/16", 1/2"

Impact Nut Driver Set

You will learn quick what the most frequently used nut driver sizes are for electricians on a commercial jobsite.

I suggest a 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, and 1/2″ nut driver set!

For bigger sizes, I found myself using socket sets or wrenches (sometimes you can find a 9/16″ nut driver included in a set, which could be useful).

Make sure nut drivers are magnetic AND have Hex heads, otherwise you CANNOT use them in impact drivers, only drills (very annoying!).

Be cautious loaning nut drivers to co-workers.. I borrowed my 1/2″ nut driver, and never got it back!!

Here’s a quick rundown of what each nut driver size may do in the electrical field:

  • 9/16″ is common for 3/8″ nuts and bolts for building pipe racks
  • 1/2″ is common for removing electrical panel stuff
  • 7/16″ is for 1/4″ nuts and bolts for tasks like unistrutt clamps
  • 1/4″, 5/16″, and 3/8″ are randomly used on different equipment

For a lot of nut driver stuff, I would use my Klein Tools 11-in-1 Multi-Bit Screwdriver, but if I needed speed, I’d use a nut driver on a drill.

I’ve linked to a DeWalt Nut Driver Set that includes 1/4″, 5/16″, 3/8″, 7/16″, and 1/2″ with hex heads and magnetic.. I haven’t tried them, but reviews are good..

Tools for Electrical Service Work

Service work can also be called maintainence work. I’ve also classified this section to tools electricians should always have on them for safety, and always being efficient.

If you’re working in a condo suit, and have to go downstairs, always make sure to have these tools on you as many times other trades will ask for help for temporary power, and you can always find out the problem by opening covers.

Best Multi-Bit Screwdriver for Electricians

Best Multi-Bit Screwdriver for Electricians - Klein Tools 32500 11-in-1 Screwdriver

Klein Tools 32500 11-in-1 Screwdriver

There’s A LOT of competition regarding the best multi-bit screwdriver, but understand many of those videos are for general purpose tasks.

Electricians need a special type of multi screwdriver with bits most common to electrical tasks AND nut drivers to remove electrical panel covers.

Never use a multi-bit screw driver in an electrical panel as you can drop bits, and can blow up a panel if you can’t find the bit and turn it on! Always use a regular screw driver for panels. Multi-Bit screw drivers are awesome for general electrical tasks to reduce tool weight!

Now, Klein Tools makes many multi-bit models, but this specific 11-in-1 screwdriver is the best, in my experience! It gave the most versatility in terms of bits and nut drivers.

The size of the 11-in-1 was good, and could fit in tight places, and was easy to place in my overalls side pocket AND remove it easily to quickly work.

Klein Tools also make a 10-in-1 model, but it’s much bulkier, and you lose a bit and nut driver size, which always felt like it was the one you needed!

Best Volt Tick for Electricians

Klein Tools NCVT2P Volt Tick - Best Voltage Tester for Electricians

Klein Tools NCVT2P Dual Voltage Volt Tick

You should ALWAYS have a volt tick on you as an electrician, whether in the ground work, rough-in, or finishing stages.

If you wear overalls for electricians, I always stored mine in my chest pocket!

There’s A LOT of Voltage Testers out there, but why I like this particular model is because its DUAL VOLTAGE. Press the button once to test line voltage (120V+). Hold the button down, and you can now test low voltage.

A volt tick often doesn’t work for range (oven) and dryer plugs, so putting this to low voltage mode worked perfectly for that.

Never rely on a voltage tester for live power. You should always use a real volt meter if you are going to work on de-engergized equipment.

Additionally, it had a silent mode which was useful if the boss talked with the client or site general, you could work silently. I really liked this Klein Tools NCVT2P Volt Tick, and it’s not overly expensive.

Best Finishing Tools for Electricians

Electrical finishing is the process of putting on plugs, switches, lights, cover plates, baseboard heaters, and completing any deficiencies before handing the work over to the owner. The finishing process requires a much more tedious approach such as no finger prints on the walls, no damage to the painted dry wall, and making sure things are level, and our cover plate screws are vertical.

We use many of the same roughing-in tools in finishing, but there may be the odd tool that mainly comes out in the finishing stage, which I will share below.

Best Finishing Level for Electricians

Affordable Torpedo Level Example for Electricians

Affordable Torpedo Level

In the finishing stage, we do not need an expensive level. We want a basic torpedo level, which you can get for about $10..

This is because it’s lightweight, often made of plastic, and sometimes has a slot on the top to look down when leveling plugs and switches. Also, it’s wise to put tape on your level’s edges so it doesn’t mark up the wall at all!

Remember, when levelling plugs and switches, use your level vertically on the plug or switch, not the coverplate!

For pipe bending, we use heavy-duty levels with rare earth magnets so it sticks onto metal good.. but it costs a lot more, and can mark up the walls because it’s metal!

Make sure to buy an affordable torpedo finishing level with a top slot to easily see the vial bubble when levelling horizontally.. don’t overspend here!

Best Finishing Screwdriver for Electricians

Best Finishing Screwdriver for Electricians putting on coverplates for light switches and plug outlets

Klein Tools Finishing Screw Driver (601-6)

Once electricians reach the finishing stage of putting on coverplates, you need to have a small-tip precision screwdriver for the coverplate screws.

This is a flat head finishing screwdriver that you do not use for ANYTHING but coverplate screws.. and don’t let anybody use your finishing screwdriver!

I like a 6″ shank, otherwise it can be hard to control. Additionally, the tip is 3/16″ which is about the size of a finishing screw, so it fits perfect!

If you use too big of a flat head screwdriver, you risk scraping finished paint off the screws, or damaging the coverplate hole by gouging out its plastic!

Both Klein Tools and Greenlee make good finishing screwdrivers, but I linked to the Klein Tools 601-6 for this 3/16″ tip and 6″ shank.

Best Heavy-Duty Finishing Flathead Screwdriver for Electricians

Heavy-Duty Flat Head Screwdriver Tip for Electricians in the Finishing Stage (Klein Tools 602-6)

Heavy-Duty Flat Head Finishing Screwdriver (602-6)

In the finishing stage when working in electrical rooms, you a strong screwdriver with a sharp tip when dealing with big flat head screws, and tightening down certain lugs.

This heavy-duty flathead IS NOT to be used for beating, or rough work.

This heavy-duty flathead finishing screwdriver is a 5/16″ tip with 6″ shank. I like the smaller shank as it fits well in your tool pounch without being too tall. (So you will want both a 5/16″ tip for heavy-duty finishing, and 3/16″ tip for coverplate finishing).

Best Plug Tester for Electricians

Best Socket Tester for Plug Outlets for Electricians

Greenlee GFCI Plug Tester

The goal of this apprentice tool list is to save you money, and give high-quality results to professionally do your electrical tasks.. Plug testers can get REALLY gimmicky quick.. so here’s what you truly need in a socket tester for electricians:

  • Polarity Tester (If your Hot/Neutral are Reversed, etc.)
  • GFCI Tester

What is a Plug Socket Tester? Once you’ve wired your plug and energized it, you must go to every plug in the building and insert this plug tester in. It shows if your wiring is correct (the hot is on the hot terminal, neutral on the neutral terminal, and bond on the bond terminal). If not, the plug tester will show either an Open Ground, Open Neutral, Open Hot, Hot & Neutral Reversed, indicated by its different lights.

Some plugs are GFCI, such as plugs close to sinks or bathtubs, so we need to have a GFCI popper built into the plug tester to ensure the GFCI is functioning safely before handing over the installation to the customer.

Pro-Tip! Gently use a plug tester to straighten plugs in finishing!

You do not need a super expensive plug tester.. this Greenlee GT-10GFI GFCI Circuit Tester was the exact plug tester I used for YEARS, and it’s still in good condition.

Best Multimeter for Electricians

Cheap Volt Meter for Electricians which includes volts (AC and DC), Amps, resistance (ohms), and continuity.

Digital Clamp-On Multimeter

Read this section close about best volt meter for electricians.

Multimeters are expensive and often stolen on jobsites. People know the brand name “Fluke” as being expensive, and also understand that HVAC technicians make much more use of multimeters than we residential and commercial electricians do.

HVAC tradesmen require temperature sensors, and other advanced multimeter features, so I’d say no more than $50 for a meter to not worry about theft, while still safely and professionally completing our electrical metering tasks.

The picture shows my volt meter I used for years.. It cost me $10, and did me amazing even into my journeyman years! One jobsite even needed my cheap multimeter for firealarm, because their more expensive meters weren’t sensitive enough for some devices!

So, what do I recommend for a meter for electricians?

If starting my electrical apprenticeship over, here’s what I’d do:

I’d get a “clamp-on meter” for non-contact testing, which the image shown here is not. The meter should monitor Volts, Amps, Resistance, and Continuity.

I’d want the multimeter be rated for 750V AC, as only being rated or 600V sounds sketchy if that’s its max.. many of Klein Tools cheaper meters are only rated for 600V.. (but my cheap multimeter was rated for 750V AC!). Klein Tools higher-end meters have a higher voltage ratings, like their CL445.. but cost increases.

I’ve linked to “Digital Clamp-On Multimeter”, and you can see there’s tons of options. My suggestion is to not overspend, but make sure it’s rated for AT LEAST 600V, and we do not need advanced stuff like temperature on the meter. A basic multimeter that provides Voltage (AC + DC), Amps, Resistance, and Continuity is perfect for residential and commercial electricians.

What Tools to Get as an Apprentice Electrician? (Starter Kit)

If you do not have any electrician tools yet, then I would look at an apprentice starter kit for both hand tools and power tools.

Above was a tool list for apprentices of the brands I enjoyed using for a particular tool in the electrical trade.

For hand tools, you can go with Klein Tools or Greenlee (both gave me a very good experience), but you’ll usually find Klein Tools a bit more pricey.

As you start getting pay checks, and your wage increases from completing electrical school levels, I’d then look at buying some Klein Tools items like my favorite pliers and sidecutters listed above.

For power tools, I’d suggest Milwaukee Tool Drill Bundle for electricians.

These tool bundles provide the best savings, and easiest way to start as an electrician buying tools:

Best Hand Tool Bundle

If you want to start just like I did, my company offered a Greenlee Starter Kit which I paid off each check:

Klein Tools has a similar starter kit, but it’s only a 12-Piece, and isn’t their high-end 2000 series pliers.. but it’d get you going!:

Can’t decide what’s the best hand tool bundle for electricians? I would say the Greenlee 16-Piece because it provides more types of screwdrivers, but whatever one is most affordable at the time is a good choice!

Best Power Tool Bundle

Hand Drill vs. Impact Driver Side-By-Side Comparison

Companies usually provide power tools like a skillsaw, Sawzall, and hammer drill, but apprentices are required to have a drill.

You eventually want a heavy-duty drill and impact driver. I suggest this combo:

Want to make sure you buy the best drill and impact? Read my How to Buy a Drill Guide.

Best Electrical Tool Brands

These companies are highly recommended for electrician tools.

If someone talks bad about one of them, it’s usually just personal opinion.. Each of these brands are great for the tools that they specialize in!


Klein Tools Company Logo

Klein Tools

Klein Tools is probably the most known electrical tool company (almost all trades recognize the brand while on the jobsite.)  In general.. any tool you purchase from them will be quality and should last for years.

However, their tools often tend to be overpriced, and offer features which aren’t always necessary (which you end up paying for).

But for basic electrician tools, this is a rock solid company that you should looking at first if the price is right!

Milwaukee Tool Company Logo

Milwaukee Tool

Milwaukee exploded in recent years with innovation for all trades!

Prior, I knew them for power tools, like Sawzall, but have introduce many hand tools to compete with industry leaders!

I personally liked Milwaukee for power tools, but find their hand tools are cheaper compared to Klein Tools. (My tape measure broke very quick!)

Also, their drill chucks often drop bits.. I’ve owned 3 different drills wih this problem.. but the drill is still very powerful and what I used.

Greenlee Electrical Tools


Greenlee is known for conduit benders, heavy duty electric benders, knockout kits, and basic hand tools.

My first hand tool starter kit was Greenlee, which I still use some tools to date!

In my experience, a lot of people talk bad about Greenlee’s hand tools, but I think they’re great!

(Don’t fall into paying more just for the name brand, Greenlee is quality!)

Greenlee makes many speciality electrical tools for big jobs, moreso than other electrical companies!

Apprentice Tool List Wrap-Up!

So there’s the best tools for electricians in my experience over the years.

Each brand specializes in certain tools, like FATMAX for tape measures, Klein Tools for Pliers, and Milwaukee Tool for your Power Tools like Drills and Hackzall!

I hope you found this guide about what tools apprentice electricians need useful, and please leave a comment if you have any questions!

Don’t know where to start as an apprentice electrician?

Here’s some free electrical training info!:


  • Waheedullah

    Thanks for your kind describe i am living in Canada could you please tell me what college is the best to study electrician

    • A
      Riley Weller

      Hi, I hope you enjoyed my Electrician Tool List!

      For schooling, I do not have any special recommendation..

      A lot of what you learn will be on the jobsite, you doing your own research, and asking many questions!

      Sometimes electrical is also a bit unique to the actual province, or even sometimes city, too!

      But generally the electrical code book is the standard we follow (but always contact the local Electrical Inspector, as they are the one who actually will sign off and approve your work!)

      You can learn How I Became an Apprentice Electrician.

      Hope you enjoy 🙂

  • Dario Foe

    Thank you for all your work & devotion.
    Wishing you the best.

    • A
      Riley Weller

      Thank-you! Hope my best tools for apprentice electricians list helps you on your way.

      One of the hardest things is finding good tools for electricians for a fast workflow.. which you only find out over years on the jobsite and sometimes making some good and bad purchases.

      Feel free to ask any other questions about becoming an apprentice electrician.

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