Commercial Electrician

What can you expect from a job as an electrician? 


An electrician is any skilled tradesperson who designs, installs, maintains, and repairs the electrical systems and products used in residential homes, businesses, and factories. Electricians work inside or outside buildings to ensure lights, industrial equipment, and appliances operate safely and reliably. There are many special types of electricians, including residential electricians, who install wiring and solve electrical problems in homes, and inside electricians, who maintain and repair control systems, motors, and electrical equipment in businesses and factories.

The Difference Between an Industrial and Commercial Electrician

If you’ve been looking into becoming an electrician, you may have seen or heard different job titles tossed around and been curious about the difference. Two titles in particular sound like they would be for the same job: industrial and commercial electricians. Why do both these positions exist?

It comes down to where you work: The main difference between industrial electricians and commercial electricians is the kind of building or worksite you perform your tasks in. However, training for both positions is similar, with industrial requiring a more extensive education of the two.

What Is an Industrial Electrician?

Industrial electricians get their education either by becoming an apprentice or going to trade school. As an apprentice, you will spend four years in the classroom as well as complete on-the-job training. Classroom hours will run about 144 per year, and on-the-job training is around 2,000 hours per year. Going the associate’s degree route will help earn credits that can transfer toward the apprenticeship program. Since it is illegal to do any electrical work without a license—unless it’s on your personal property—passing a licensing exam is required.

Industrial electricians work on all things electric within the industrial setting. Your job is focused primarily on maintenance and installation of electricity for manufacturing and production. Duties will vary depending on who your employer is, but most industrial electricians have a similar job description. You will run tests and inspections on the building’s electronics, work on the building’s circuit board by either cleaning or repairing it, and install outlets and fixtures, making sure everything is grounded correctly. You are also responsible for repairing systems that have completely shut down.

What Is a Commercial Electrician?

Just like industrial electricians, commercial electricians are required to have either an associate’s degree, apprenticeship, or a combination of the two. You will need to be licensed, as well.

You work in environments such as offices, restaurants, and retail stores—basically, anything the public can readily access. Neither you nor an industrial electrician do residential work in people’s homes. On the job, you will either work from or create a blueprint of the building’s electrical system. You will install the conduit or run the electrical wiring according to the plan and make sure it’s up to code. The commercial electrician is the one who makes the power, heating, and lighting work within a building.

Typically, you use standard tools such as screwdrivers, drills, and pliers to complete your tasks. However, you may use varied power tools, as well. So, be familiar with all the tools of the trade and know the proper usage of them.

What Commercial Electricians Do ?

Commercial electricians install, maintain, inspect and repair electrical systems in commercial buildings. These are any buildings that are not used as residences, so they are generally larger than the buildings in which residential electricians work. An exception is a large apartment building, which may be considered commercial rather than residential. Some of the duties of these electricians are:

How to Become an Electrician ?

Like many professionals, electricians fall into two categories: generalists and specialists. The latter category includes commercial, industrial and maintenance. Regardless of the category, electricians must be able to perform electrical repairs and maintenance in both business and residential buildings. Electricians are trained to work on building assessment, connectivity, heating and security systems

Becoming an electrician entails entering a certified apprenticeship program. But before you do that you need to meet the following minimum prerequisites:

Here’s how to become an electrician:

•             Decide what kind of electrician you want to be (generalist or specialist).

•             Join an electrician apprenticeship program sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) or Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC). These programs include both classroom courses and on-the-job training, and take about 4 years to complete.

•             Earn a certificate in a technical vocational school or training academy. If you go this route, you will learn the classroom theory in the vocational school, and will then have to look for an apprenticeship to develop the on-the-job skills.

•             Continue your education. Electricians must keep up-to-date with the latest developments in technology, National Electrical Code changes and, if you’re a specialist, the latest developments in your field.

•             Get licensed. Some state and local governments require electricians to be licensed. In addition, if you plan to be an independent contractor, you may need an additional license.

•             Train to be a supervisor or manger. As you advance in your career you may want to be a supervisor or manager, or even start your own business

What Makes a Good Commercial Electrician?

If you are hiring an electrical services contractor it can sometimes get confusing deciding which type of electrician you really need. In fact there are many different types of electricians who specialise in different aspects of their trade so as important to know what you are looking for before making a decision.

Oddly enough there are some electricians who have spent a long time working in construction and who specialise in commercial work. After having been out of the mainstream for a long time you might be surprised to hear that some electricians have difficulty re-adapting.

Without exaggerating the situation, it is important to choose an electrician who is competent and has plenty of experience in the type of work you need to have performed. Although someone with commercial experience may eventually be able to adapt to general household work, the time taken to complete the tasks may not be to your liking and the price may also be considerably higher because of this.

On the other hand, if the work you need to have done involves installations and laying of cables, then a commercial electrician could be just what you need and could have fact save you time and money.