What is a Commercial Electrician?
A commercial electrician is a trained and licensed electrician who focuses on wiring and electrical systems in commercial buildings rather than residential buildings. These electricians work with bigger systems, in large buildings like shopping malls, office buildings, restaurants, government buildings and high rises. Many aspects of the job and training are similar to those of residential electricians, but there are also some important differences to consider when choosing your future electrical career.
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:
- Installing wiring and electrical components, like switches and lights
- Maintaining electrical systems
- Inspecting electrical systems to be sure they work, are safe and are up to code
- Diagnosing and fixing problems in wiring or electrical components
- Reading and using technical drawings
- Planning electrical systems for new construction
- Using and following state, local and national guidelines for wiring and electrical systems
- Leading teams of electricians and training apprentices
The typical work environment for a commercial electrician is indoors, although there is also a significant amount of time spent in the work truck, going to and from jobs. As with residential electricians, these professionals do work that is sometimes physically demanding, requiring that they get into small spaces, move around a lot and spend a lot of time standing or crouching. The work can also be dangerous, with the risk of shocks, fires and injury from tools and equipment. Using safety gear and following safety regulations can reduce these risks.
Training and Licensing for Commercial Electricians
Most states have separate licensing for commercial and residential electricians. This is because the wiring and power used in commercial settings are different. Power to residential settings is one-phase, while power to commercial buildings is three-phase. Electricians working on commercial wiring need to be trained to be able to work with these important differences.
As with any type of electrician, to become a commercial electrician you will need to have a certain number of hours of classroom learning and on-the-job training and work experience. An apprenticeship program can provide all of these required hours. Some programs will include training for both residential and commercial work, while others keep them separate. If you want to become a commercial electrician you will need to have a certain number of hours of work experience, depending on your state, in a commercial setting.
Salary and Job Outlook
The salary for a commercial electrician is similar to that of a residential electrician. The combined median annual salary in 2017 was $54,110, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top earning electricians made over $92,000 per year, so there is room to earn more with experience and years on the job. The outlook is also strong for commercial electrician jobs. The growth in the field is currently nine percent, and there will continue to be a demand for qualified, licensed commercial electricians over the next several years.
If you are looking into a career as an electrician you may choose to work in commercial buildings or residential. These are similar, but commercial jobs may be bigger and more complicated. You are more likely to work for a larger company as a commercial electrician. In many other respects, though, these careers are similar and both are great options for a skilled trade.
What is a Low Voltage Electrician?
All careers for electricians are currently growing, providing a number of great opportunities if you are considering training for a skilled trade. There are many different types of electricians, with differences in where and what they work on and how much training is required. A low voltage electrician, sometimes also referred to as a voice-data-video electrician is a skilled professional who works on lower-voltage electrical systems, components