News & Events

February 15, 2018

Commercial, Residential, and Industrial Electricians: What Are The Differences?

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You’re ready to start the journey to become an electrician. You’ve researched educational programs, picked one, and maybe you’ve even started classes or hands-on training. Even though the next step in your career path is completing your training, you also need to start thinking about what type of electrician you want to become. And you need to start making decisions right now.

Luckily, you have plenty of time to decide where you want to work and why. But that doesn’t mean making this decision isn’t challenging. Instead of looking at the whole wide world of electrical careers, start by narrowing your choices down into groups or types.

If you’re not sure where to begin, take a look at the three main groups of electricians: commercial, residential, and industrial.

Commercial Electricians

Commercial electricians are exactly what they sound like – electricians who work in the commercial (nonresidential) setting. Instead of working on wiring people’s homes, you’ll go into office spaces, retail stores, and other businesses.

The type of work you do and the places where you’ll work vary depending on the company that your work for.

Some commercial electricians work directly for one business. This doesn’t mean that you work for an electrical company. Instead, you might work for a bank, medical center, shopping center, nationwide retailer, or any other larger business. The companies that hire full-time electricians prefer to have in-house professionals on-call over using an outside contractor.

Keep in mind, even though some companies hire in-house electricians, plenty of others rely on services from the outside. Electrical contractors that serve commercial establishments may specialize in this type of work or have both residential and commercial branches of service.

Commercial electricians need to have a broad knowledge of electrical principles. With a variety of different types of jobs in this field, the commercial electrician may need to do anything from installing light fixtures in a small retail store to making repairs in a large office building.

Some commercial electricians work in non-residential buildings that aren’t necessarily businesses. This includes electricians who work for government agencies, municipalities/townships, or hospital systems.

Residential Electricians

Again, some contractors and electrical companies hire both commercial and residential workers. But that doesn’t mean you have to specialize in both types of work. Residential electricians work in individual residences. In other words, they make repairs and installations in people’s homes, including single-family homes and apartment buildings.

Residential electricians tend to work more directly with customers than other professionals in the field. Residential electricians go into private homes and help the resident fix the problem or install new equipment, so their experience requires communicating with the customer.

If you don’t feel comfortable interacting with others, this may not be the right type of job for you. But if you enjoy communicating with customers, you may enjoy working in residential settings.

Industrial Electricians

Like commercial electricians, industrial electricians work in the business setting. Even though this specialty also focuses on non-residential electrical applications, it differs from the work done in commercial environments.

While commercial electricians may repair, wire, or install electrical devices in offices, restaurants, retail stores, and other similar spaces, industrial electricians work in plants and other similar facilities. Industrial electricians need to have highly specialized knowledge of complex systems and safety requirements in the industrial setting.

Industrial electricians who work in plants don’t necessarily work in electrical or utility plants. They may work for large-scale manufacturers or other similar companies.

Are you ready to start your career as an electrician? IEC Greater Cincinnati has training and apprenticeship programs that put you on the path to career success. Visit our website today to learn more.