Working as an Industrial Electrician
Electricians vary by their specialty skills and where they work. Industrial electricians differ from commercial and residential electricians in that they work in industrial settings: plants, factories, manufacturing facilities. Like other electricians they need to go through training, get licensed and follow safety guidelines and the National Electrical Code. As with similar jobs, positions for qualified industrial electricians are growing and salaries are competitive.
What Does an Industrial Electrician Do?
Electricians who work in industrial settings do much the same work as other electricians. The differences are related to the location and setting, the type of power used and the size of the electrical systems, which are much bigger than those used in residential and many commercial buildings. Here are some of the typical duties of an industrial electrician:
- Read and follow technical drawings, blueprints, and job plans
- Install wiring and electrical components and systems during the construction of new industrial plants
- Make upgrades to existing industrial electrical systems
- Maintain wiring and electrical components
- Diagnose and fix problems with components, wiring and equipment in industrial electrical systems
- Use large equipment and tools
- Travel to and from job sites
- Lead teams of electricians and train apprentices
- Develop plans for wiring of new buildings
- Follow the National Electrical Code and ensure all systems are up to code
Industrial Work Environment
Most of the basic duties of an industrial electrician are the same as those for other electricians. The work environment, though, can be very different. These professionals work in plants and factories, which are large, loud and busy. The buildings are full of equipment and machinery, and electricians need to work with or around it.
The work of an industrial electrician is physically demanding and requires standing for long periods, fitting into uncomfortable spaces and positions, and lifting heavy objects and tools. There are many potential dangers in the work environment, including falls, electrocution, and injury caused by accidents involving the machinery in the industrial setting.
Education and Training
As with other types of electricians, an industrial electrician needs to complete certain educational and training requirements before being licensed. The simplest way to meet all the requirements is to enroll in a union or non-union apprenticeship program. Depending on the state, there may be a specific number of hours of training that must be completed in industrial settings. In general, it takes four to five years to complete an apprenticeship, but the training does include paid work.
Salary and Job Outlook
For all types of electricians, salaries are good and reflect the level of training required, the licensing and the specialized skills and knowledge that these professionals have. Electricians in 2017 earned an average of $54,110, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Annual salaries can go up to and above $92,000, and industrial electricians typically earn more than residential electricians.
All types of electricians, including those working in industrial buildings, can also expect to enjoy good job security, as growth is strong. New construction and the ongoing need to repair and maintain electrical systems means that electricians will continue to be in demand for years to come. Current growth is nine percent, which matches average job growth. If you’re looking into a career in electrical work, consider training to become an industrial electrician to enjoy a job that is varied, challenging and lucrative.