Last updated on July 30th, 2023.
If you’re looking for the top Electricians tools in 2023 then you’ve come to the right place.
Electrician apprentice tools are the same as journeyman electrician tools.
The lists you see on the internet from different union apprenticeships or non-union apprenticeships have been designed to list the basic tools a first-year apprentice should have when walking on the job site.
The difference between the union and non-union tool list is:
- Union electricians provide electrical meters & testers, power tools, and/or specialty tools.
- Non-union electricians provide some of those but require their electricians to provide basic electrical meters and power tools.
All electricians – regardless of whether you’re an apprentice or a journeyman – are responsible for basic hand tools.
Find out which electricians tools are essential, and which are “nice to have”.
Let’s dive right in.
First Year Electrician Apprentice Tools:
Union Tool List
If you’re joining an IBEW apprenticeship then you’ll have to buy the tools listed in the local union agreement for first-year apprentices.
The tool list may look similar to this:
- Side cutters
- Wire Strippers
- 2 x Adjustable Pliers
- #2 Phillips Screwdriver
- Multi-tip Screwdriver
- Flat Blade Screwdriver
- Flat Blade Stubby Screwdriver
- Tape Measure
- Torpedo Level
- Hack Saw
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Tool Pouch with Belt
- Razor Knife
Some apprenticeships give out starter packs for new apprentices to help offset the initial cost. Be sure to check if your NJATC offers them before you start buying.
Non-union Tool Lists
Non-union apprenticeships have similar tool lists as the union, but can also include these extra power tools:
Tools are not cheap – let’s just get that out in the open. Especially if one gets lost or stolen and you have to replace it.
I completely get that purchasing them can be a major hurdle if you’re trying to become an electrician and money is tight. My advice would be to buy a tool set and buy a new tool after each paycheck until you’re tool belt is full.
Here’s the deal:
The cheapest way to get 95% of the tools you’ll need is to buy a pre-assembled electrician’s kit. That way you can walk onto the job site ready to work. This kit is excellent for first year apprentices to build on.
It has the core tools all electricians use on a daily basis: work belt, 19 pocket tool pouchside cutters, wire strippers, one Phillips screwdriver, one cabinet-tip screwdriver, two square-recess tip screwdrivers, diagonal-cutting plier (red), needle nose pliers, adjustable pump plier, and magnetic tip tape measure.
This is the best way to ensure you get the most tools in one purchase. Once you start working you can build up your tools over time as you progress and earn more money.
You may have to purchase a few more tools down the road to fulfill the tool list requirement, but this set helps offset the cost of buying tools individually.
If you have some extra cash to spend on a quality starter set then I would recommend either of these two sets.
- Heavy-Duty Long-Nose Pliers- Side Cutting
- High-Leverage Side-Cutting Pliers – Fish Tape Pulling
- High-Leverage Diagonal-Cutting Pliers – Angled Head
- 10″ Pump Pliers
- 10″ Adjustable Wrench – Standard Capacity
- 1/4″ Keystone Tip Cushion-Grip Screwdriver – 4″ Heavy-Duty Square Shank
- 3/16″ Cabinet-Tip Cushion-Grip Screwdriver – 6″ Round Shank
- 5/16″ Keystone-Tip Cushion-Grip Screwdriver – 6″ Heavy-Duty Round Shank
- #2 Phillips Cushion-Grip Screwdriver- 4″ Round Shank
- 1/4″ Cabinet-Tip Screwdriver- 6″ Heavy-Duty Round Shank
- 7-Piece Cushion-Grip Nut Driver Set (3/16″,1/4″, 5/16″, 11/32″, 3/8″, 7/16″, 1/2″)
- #2 Square-Recess Tip Cushion-Grip Screwdriver – 4″ Round Shank
- 670-6 – 3/16″ Cabinet-Tip Cushion-Grip Screwdriver – Rapi-Driv®
- 25′ x 1″ Power-Return Rule- Double-Sided
- Magnetic Torpedo Level
- Crimping/Cutting Tool- Non-Insulated and insulated Connectors
- 16″ canvas Tool Bag
This kit includes:
- 18-Inch heavy-duty multi-pocket bag
- Heavy-duty 8-Pocket leather pouch
- 2″ leather tool belt
- 9″ side-cutting pliers
- 8″ diagonal cutting pliers
- 8″ long nose pliers
- 10″ pump pliers
- Pro plus wire stripper (10-18 AWG)
- NM cable ripper
- Stripping/crimping combination tool
- Cable cutter
- Utility knife
- 12″ hacksaw
- Keystone tip square shank 1/4-Inch by 4-Inch – Flat blade screwdriver
- Keystone tip square shank 5/16-Inch by 6-Inch – Flat blade screwdriver
- Cabinet tip round shank 3/16-Inch by 6-Inch – Flat blade screwdriver
- Cabinet tip round shank 1/4-Inch by 6-Inch – Flat blade screwdriver
- Phillips tip #1 – 3/16-Inch by 3-Inch.
- Phillips Tip #2 – 1/4-Inch by 4-Inch
- Screw holding screwdriver 3/16-Inch by 6-Inch (great tool!)
- 3″ scratch awl
- 10″ adjustable wrench
- Nine-Piece folding hex-key set
- 25-Feet tape measure
- Torpedo level (0, 30, 45, 90 degrees)
- 18-Ounce Electrician’s hammer
- High dexterity gloves, Large
- GT-11 voltage tester.
The Klein kit doesn’t have a tool pouch which you will need when you’re first starting as an apprentice. The Greenlee kit costs a little more, but it comes with a tool pouch, hacksaw, level, Hex key set, and 8-pocket leather pouch.
Buying Electrician Tools One At A Time
If you’re able to buy individual tools and build a set then keep reading. Like I said before, I’m going to show you the tools that I use.
Some are a bit pricey – but that’s what you pay for a premium product that will last 10+ years. Check out the alternatives mentioned for cheaper deals.
- Multi-bit screwdriver / nut driver shaft holds 8 popular tips and converts to 3 nut driver sizes
- Includes industrial strength heat treated bits: 3/8-Inch, 5/16-Inch and 1/4-Inch nut drivers, #1 and #2 Phillips, 1/4-Inch and 3/16-Inch slotted, T10 and T15 TORX, and #1 and #2 square recess
- Interchangeable blade for fast and easy switch out; comfortable Cushion-Grip handle
By far the most used tool in my bag and the best tool to buy if you’re on a budget. It’s so much better than carrying around 11 tools.
Despite having all of the various drivers you would likely need, the size is no larger than a single screwdriver – and it does the work of 11 tools!
When I’m not carrying my tool bags, this is in my pocket because it’s versatile and can save me when I’m in a pinch.
The bottom line is you won’t be disappointed with this screwdriver.
- 8 tips / 3 nut driver sizes
- Nut drivers – 3/8-Inch, 5/16-Inch and 1/4-Inch
- Screwdriver tips – No.1 and No.2 Phillips, 1/4-Inch and 3/16-Inch slotted, T10 and T15 torx and No.1 and No.2 square recessed
If you’re looking for a more in-depth review, check out our post on the best multi screwdriver.
I’m on my third set of these. The first one dropped 40 feet from a lift and the second was “borrowed”, and never heard from again. Watch your tools!
These Klein Strippers have been widely received as some of the best wire strippers on the market. They cut, strip and loop 10-18 AWG Solid and 12-20 AWG Stranded wire – which are the most common small gauge wire used in the electrical industry.
They also cut 6-32 and 8-32 screws which are the most common when installing switches and receptacles.
I like the locking latch because I can easily replace them in my tool pouch without getting the teeth hung up on something.
Some electricians break off the latch because it locks the strippers closed sometimes during use.
Basic Journeyman Electrician Tools
- WARRANTY: Every product sold by Gatorback is backed by a one year defect free warranty! If there is a problem with the bags such as a rivet or stitching, contact us, we will replace the defective piece on your belt free of charge! The product must be purchased from us to be protected under our warranty.
- SIZING: All of the Gatorback sizing is based off the average fit for each size, if there is any issue with sizing contact us before returning and we will send out the size you need free of charge! We like to look out for our customers!
- MAXIMUM COMFORT: The Gatorback Tool Belts have a patented air channel design to provide the user with a breathable, comfortable and sweat free experience. Even the foam backing we use in our belts is an ultra-breathable material to keep the belt cool and comfortable!
You need somewhere to put your tools…right? Some electricians like to use leather tool pouches because canvas ones tend to wear out over time. Mine do show some wear and tear, but they’re still holding up after 7 years.
Suspenders for tool belts help distribute the load of a tool belt between your waist and shoulders. Use them or else you’ll be constantly adjusting your belt and adding more strain to your back.
Let’s stay away from toolboxes for now. You can always add that to your arsenal later on…unless it’s a required item.
This tool belt has 20 pouches and sleeves that organize your tools and common use materials (connectors, couplings, screws).
Handles on the top of each pouch make it easier to carry when you’re not wearing it. The padded waist is comfortable and a double tongue belt makes quick adjustments easy.
These cutters are hardened to cut wire, bend and shape wire for making proper terminations, and have a “hot-riveted joint ensures smooth action and no handle wobble.
They fit any size hand and the high leverage makes cutting wires or crimping on connectors a breeze.
Here’s the deal:
They’re an extremely helpful tool when you need to make close cuts or pull out nails or staples.
It’s slightly angled head helps when you’re trying to cut something in a tight space.
I broke a cheaper pair trying to cut nails out of concrete and was without a tool for a few days. This one is the best you’re going to get.
Pump or Tongue-and-Groove pliers – are commonly referred to as “Channel Locks,” despite brand name. These, however, are Channel Lock’s and I’ve used them since day one as an apprentice.
They have some wear and tear but work just like they came out of the package.
I would wait on buying pliers shorter than 10 inches – you don’t have as much leverage when working.
Having two makes it a breeze when installing connectors and couplings.
Best Value Buy: Channellock 4-Piece Tongue and Groove Plier Gift Set
- Includes – 6-1/2-Inch tongue and groove plier
- Includes – 9-1/2-Inch tongue and groove plier
- Includes – 12-Inch tongue and groove plier
- Includes – 6-n-1 screwdriver
Speaking of gift sets – If you’re looking for a present for that special electrician in your life, check out our full list of the best gifts for electricians.
The four rare earth magnets have almost as much holding power as your kung-fu grip on that first beer after work.
Opposite of the magnets is a beveled edge that helps straddle nonmagnetic materials like PVC pipe.
A three-part tool – pliers, wire cutter, and wire stripper; they come in handy in a pinch.
You can make loops for plugs and grab wires from small openings.
They’re built very well and work great!
For most of the work I do I use my “channel locks” more than a wrench.
However, this is the one you’ll grab first when space is limited and to reduce the rounding of nuts & bolts.
The coated handle is nice and the hole on the end clips onto your tool pouch’s hanger.
A tape measure that works with you is important.
The Stanley FatMax has been my go-to brand since I first started. I’ve been through two and have been very impressed.
The blade standout is strong and doesn’t “break” like cheaper brands do. This is important for measuring equipment layouts, conduit runs, and bends.
The bottom line is the Fat Max is a simple tool that makes you more efficient.
Best Screwdrivers and Nutdrivers for Electricians
Probably the most important tool in the electrical trade. There are so many types of screwdrivers out there its easy to be confused about what to get.
Tradesman all over the world fight for “their” brand and what they use….and I’m going to do the same thing.
So here goes:
These screwdrivers are the best on the market.
The tips are very strong – I’ve cranked down super-hard on these drivers and haven’t rounded a tip yet!
The handles are comfortable and don’t slip in your hands. Plus, this set as has all the right sizes for every task.
Don’t spend your hard-earned money on junk – ’cause you’ll just end up throwing it away.
- 1 cabinet-tip
- 3 keystone-tip
- 4 Phillips-tip screwdrivers
If you’re going to spend the money, this is the set to get. These things will save your knuckles and keep production moving!
The magnetic tip keeps nuts or bolts from falling out and the hollow shank allows you to drive nuts further without bottoming out the driver.
The set I use doesn’t have magnetic tips – but they still work and I can’t justify retiring them…yet.
Specs: 1/2″, 7/16″, 3/8″, 11/32″, 5/16″, 1/4″, 3/16″ drivers
All of the shanks are 6″. The overall length of the 1/2″ and the 7/16″ is 10 3/8″ and the rest are 9 3/4″.
The shorter ones have slightly smaller handles so that’s the reason they are slightly shorter.
Klein Tools HacksawAn apprentice’s best friend. My first and only hacksaw.
It slices through conduit quickly as long as the blade is replaced when needed. Blade converts quickly to 90° or 45° for standard or flush-cuts.
Insert the blade so the teeth run forward – it cuts as you push, not when you pull.
It works “good” but I’ve used others that are super smooth.
- Hammer with durable plastic-alloy jacketing helps to protect neck from fraying and splintering if incorrectly struck or overstruck
- High-strength fiberglass shaft absorbs shock and keeps head tight and comfortable, perforated neoprene grip is bonded to the handle
- Extra-long neck, and narrow striking face are ideal for reaching into outlet boxes and other tight areas
Everyone has their own opinion about which hammer is the best. Hammers are designed for specific uses so make sure you buy one that suits the job.
When working in construction the hammer has many uses.
I wrap the fiberglass shaft a few times with colored tape for easy identification; which is important on large construction sites.
Now that you have to a great list of tools that will help you become a great electrician, let’s focus on the finer details.
- Interlocking nose to hold blade securely
- Three-position retractable blade
- Blade storage in handle,Blade is stored inside the the body of the knife.
Some electrical shops or apprenticeships require you to have a razor knife as part of your tools. They’re great for opening boxes, stripping larger wire, etc.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth look, check out our guide on the best electricians knife.
If it’s required – get one. Just don’t slice yourself with it – I’ve seen it happen a few times.
- This product is easy to use
- This product is Highly durable
- Manufactured in China
Always have two. They break and people ask to borrow them constantly. Buying a contractor pack like these ensures you’ll always have one nearby.
Sharpen two of them and toss them in your pouch. You’ll use them every day.
- It is easy to use
- It is highly durable
- Made in China
Sharpies are great but, the Milwaukee Inkzall is definitely your best choice as an electrician.
They write on almost everything.
Use the clip to keep it on your hard hat for quick access.
What If I Can’t Afford All These Tools At Once?
Consider buying a new tool after each paycheck. Doing so shows your employer, journeyman, or a foreman that you’re serious about becoming an electrician.
Klein Tools have been the default electrician tools for decades. They are without a doubt my favorite hand tools to use – but they’re expensive.
There are alternatives from Greenlee, Channel Lock, Milwaukee, Ideal, Knipex, and CLC. Many electricians swear that some of the other brands are better than Klein’s. But either way I’d much rather buy a quality tool that will last me 10+ years, rather than a cheap piece of plastic that I’ll have to replace every year.
Remember that electricians who succeed in the trade do two things well:
- Finish the job right the first time.
- Use the right tools for the job.
Getting started in the trade can be stressful especially when you’re new and not sure what to expect. Doing proper research on which tools to buy will help ensure your success in the trade.
Did I miss anything?
If you have a suggestion or comment please leave one below.