Industrial Vs Commercial Electricians-Know The Differences

Industrial Vs Commercial Electricians-Know The Differences

Last updated on December 12, 2023

An electrician is a professional tradesperson that specializes in the electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines, transmission lines and other relevant electrical equipment.

The services offered by these professionals are needed for the installation of new electrical units, servicing, maintenance, replacement, and repair of existing electrical systems. Electricians are categorized under the vocational occupation type.

Electricians are divided into two main categories based on the level of voltage they work with, their speciality skills, and the site of work: Electrical Linemen and Electrical Wiremen.

Electrical linemen set-up power lines, and provide maintenance and repair for these lines.

Industrial and commercial electricians, on the other hand, are classified as wiremen, who typically work with lower voltages used inside buildings. They distribute and connect the client’s electrical equipment through a system of conduits to a power source.

Industrial Electricians

Industrial electricians are highly skilled professionals with wide experience in installing, maintaining, testing, and repairing electrical equipment and systems, particularly in special environments like factories, plants and manufacturing facilities.

They work in a variety of settings and are expected to meet rigorous expectations and very physical job demands while ensuring their safety and the safety of others around them. In order to be fully compliant, and ensure proper execution of their work, industrial electricians must observe all local, state, and of course, national safety codes.

Industrial Electrician Job Description

The principal job requirements of industrial electricians are installation, maintenance, and repair services of different electrical equipment, components, and relevant electrical controls. This requires broad overall knowledge of electrical components, and thorough knowledge of safety codes and regulations as it involves many risks. This role requires a high level of professionalism, technical skills and mechanical proficiency.

Industrial electricians need to be able to understand, interpret and make educated decisions based on technical documents like blueprints, schematics, or verbal instructions.

The job can be quite demanding physically, since typical jobs for installing or repairing equipment require climbing, crawling, or standing for an extended duration of time. Industrial electricians work in uncomfortable and awkward locations where squatting, kneeling or bending may be frequent, and they need to be able to operate tools and machinery in uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time, with no repercussions.

 Industrial Electricians’ Work Environment

Industrial electricians are the backbone of technological innovation. They play a big role in installing and setting up hydroelectric, solar, and wind power systems.

Industrial electricians generally work with sophisticated machinery and electrical systems within industrial facilities. In contrast to residential and commercial electricians, these tradesmen ply their trade-in factories and manufacturing plants. They typically work on larger and higher-capacity equipment than their professional counterparts.

Their services are rendered in peculiar environments like:

  • Manufacturing plants
  • Factories
  • Science research centers
  • Electrical power companies
  • Mining companies
  • Construction sites
  • Smelters
  • Oil and gas refineries
  • Shipyards
  • Warehouses, etc

Typical Job Responsibilities of Industrial Engineers

In order for production and manufacturing equipment to run smoothly, industrial electricians handle and oversee several day-to-day responsibilities, including:

  • Testing existing equipment to determine if components need to be upgraded or replaced.
  • Reading, understanding, and interpreting specifications and blueprints.
  • Grounding electrical systems.
  • Performing scheduled electronic inspections and tests.
  • Cleaning circuit boards and contacts.
  • Installing, servicing and repairing heavy-duty equipment and industrial communications systems.
  • Servicing and repair of existing equipment.
  • Management of reports detailing the servicing and rehabilitation of industrial machines.
  • Servicing generators, motors, and high voltage systems.
  • Maintaining oil levels for motors and replacing wiring on site, etc.

Skills of Industrial Electricians

➤ Proficiency in mechanical aptitude is a key skill, as detailed understanding of mechanics and the capacity to be comfortable around electrical work is non-negotiable.

➤ Another major set of skills an industrial electrician should possess is problem-solving, critical thinking, and acute analytical skills. The ability to analyze electrical problems, analyze and introduce potential solutions is extremely important. They should be able to make use of logic to determine faults in electrical systems.

➤ Motivation is a must as these skilled workers either work on a team along with other tradespeople and professionals or might work alone on projects. They should possess good interpersonal skills and have a keen eye for details.

➤ Strong verbal and written communication skills are also very important, since industrial electricians are expected to read and comprehend different types of texts on a daily basis, including work orders, technical codes, regulations, and equipment manuals.

➤ Time management skills and organizational prowess should be exhibited by these professionals.

➤ Ability to perform physically demanding assignments which may involve lifting heavy objects, climbing ladders, crawling, etc

Education and Training of Industrial Electricians

  • High school diploma or GED.
  • A college degree is often not essential, but electricians either earn electrical engineering degrees or electrical engineering technology degrees. Examples of such degrees include a Bachelor of Science degree, Diploma of Electrical Engineering, Certificate II in Electrotechnology, etc
  • Completion of an electrician program at a trade school or technical institute.
  • Journeyman experience/internship. An apprenticeship program is usually about four to five years. It includes structured training through a registered organization.
  • Application for an Electrician’s License and passing of the exam.
  • Knowledge of electrical systems, hand tools, and industrial equipment.
  • Knowledge of necessary maths background.

Salary/Pay of Industrial Electricians

Positions for skilled industrial electricians are on the rise and the pay is robust. There are numerous job opportunities in Australia with an expected 10.9% salary growth within 5 years.

While salaries vary from region to region, the average salary of an Industrial electrician in Australia is about $93,600 per year, with low-entry positions starting at about $80,100 per year and the most experienced worker earning about $112,844 per year.

Commercial Electricians

A commercial electrician is a skilled electrician that has undergone a systematic and rigorous training that focuses on electrical systems in buildings other than residential buildings.

These professionals operate larger systems in big buildings such as shopping malls, office buildings, restaurants, government buildings, etc., essentially any building that is not for residential use.

Commercial Electrician Job Description

The job description of a commercial electrician is quite similar to that of an industrial electrician. The main difference is the work environment: Commercial electricians work in commercial buildings while industrial electricians work in industrial environments.

Commercial electricians handle the installation, design, maintenance and repair of electrical systems and devices in commercial buildings.

This role generally mandates extensive education, skills, and knowledge of electrical systems through study, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. They typically work on fundamental electrical installations and repairs of basic electrical equipment.

Commercial Electricians’ Work Environment

The work environment of commercial electricians is typically indoors, handling installation and wiring of systems within a wide range of buildings, such as:

  • Office buildings
  • Medical centers
  • Hotels and lodging
  • Retails stores
  • Multifamily housing buildings
  • Farmland
  • Malls
  • Restaurants
  • Garages, etc

The job can be quite hazardous, with a risk of electric shocks and fires, as well as injury from operating tools and equipment while working. The use of safety gear and the rigid compliance to safety codes and regulations can reduce these risks greatly. 

Typical Duties of Commercial Electricians

  • Installing wiring and electrical components, like switches and light fixtures in buildings
  • Analyzing and rectifying problems in wiring and electrical components
  • Making use of state, local, and national guidelines for wiring commercial buildings and electrical systems.
  • Reading and using technical drawings, blueprints, and schematics
  • Repairing faulty equipment and systems
  • Interpretation of specifications, schematics, and job orders to labor and staff, as well as allocation of duties
  • Servicing, troubleshooting, and installing commercial electrical products
  • Testing electrical systems to assess their proper functioning
  • Complete documentation of repairs, replacements, and servicing information
  • Installing electrical equipment such as transformers, load control devices, regulators, street lights, etc

Skills of Commercial Electricians

➤ Commercial electricians should be able to think technically and critically, as a large part of the role of a commercial electrician involves the diagnosis and troubleshooting of electrical issues. The ability to recognize and solve common problems in electrical systems is an essential skill.

➤ Interpersonal communication skills are very important. Commercial electricians have to properly understand instructions and effectively communicate solutions to clients, often people with little to zero knowledge of electrical systems. These professionals should learn from more experienced colleagues and should equally train apprentices, both of these tasks require good communication skills.

➤ Resourcefulness is an key skill for a commercial electrician. The ability to come up with a creative solution on the spot to quickly solve a sudden problem, especially one that hasn’t been tackled before, is a great advantage for the commercial electrician.

➤ A good commercial electrician should always be professional, presentable, efficient, and reliable in the workplace.

Training and Licensing for Commercial Electricians

  • High school diploma or GED.
  • A college degree is not essential, but electricians typically earn either electrical engineering degrees or electrical engineering technology degrees.
  • Completion of an electrician program at a trade school or technical institute.
  • Journeyman experience/internship. An apprenticeship program is usually about four to five years. It includes structured training through a registered organization.
  • Application for an Electrician’s License and pass the exam.
  • Knowledge of electrical systems, hand tools, and industrial equipment with a minimum number of classroom learning, training, and work experience.

Salary/Pay of Commercial Electricians

The role of a commercial electrician is both lucrative and competitive. The pay varies from location to location, with an average salary ranging between $70,000 to $90,000 per year with the entry-level positions earning close to $50,000, whereas high-earners receive an average of $110,000, inclusive of benefits like overtime, bonuses, tips and commissions.

Similarities Between Commercial and Industrial Electricians

There are a myriad of similarities between commercial electricians and industrial electricians, however, the roles for each job are quite distinct.

Although they both require the same basic education and undergo similar initial training, their professions diverge as their training extends into specialization.

Due to the varying demands of their work environments, electricians need to acquire a unique set of skills to help them navigate their roles and carry out their responsibilities efficiently.

Differences between Industrial and Commercial Electricians

The main difference between the commercial electrician and the industrial electrician is the workplace and environment.

Work environments can also vary for commercial electricians working in different commercial building types, such as retail stores and malls, guaranteeing that the electrical components and wiring are properly and efficiently completed, by using a variety of power tools.

Industrial electricians, on the other hand, typically work in manufacturing and production facilities.

Industrial electricians work with more complicated, sensitive, and expensive machinery in industrial settings, while commercial electricians do not work with such machinery and handle more basic equipment to ensure that the wiring and electrical components of the building are operating optimally.

Industrial electricians target a wider range of electrical systems, from high voltage components to microcurrents, whereas commercial electricians deal with lower voltage electrical systems, generators, special health and safety equipment, large heating and cooling units.

Industrial electricians have more extensive training than commercial electricians because of their work environment in industrial sites. This creates a higher risk and exposure to more hazards and dangers including falls, electrocution, and accidents involving industrial machinery.

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