Industrial Electrician vs. Commercial Electrician

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An electrician isn’t just a ‘one size fits all’ profession. Depending on skill area and job focus, there are different types of electricians catering to either residential, commercial or industrial needs. Before deciding on an electrician for your business, you should know the difference between an industrial and a commercial electrician. While both may seem similar on the surface, they each focus on different specialty areas.

What is an industrial electrician?

In simplest terms, an industrial electrician repairs, tests and maintains electrical equipment. Generally, industrial electricians work in factories, plants and mines. These types of industry require advanced knowledge and expertise to handle the array of complex equipment used. In Australia, many industrial electricians work for mining companies, steel producers, car manufacturers and large electrical firms. They carry out all types of jobs, but with a focus on hydraulic, pneumatic and other kinds of operative machinery. Along with the basics, industrial electricians are also required to be skilled in robotics and the other specialised equipment used in these industries. They typically report to the facility’s managers or maintenance supervisors and are responsible for carrying out repairs, maintenance and safety checks.

When should they be used?

An industrial electrician is required to keep a large factory operating smoothly and to ensure the safety and efficiency of vital machinery and how it operates. Industrial electricians are used to carry out the following tasks and duties:

  • Installing new electrical systems
  • Troubleshooting electrical equipment
  • Repairing and maintaining equipment

Industrial electricians are also expected to have several years of apprenticeship training under their belt, along with relevant certificates and qualifications. Since factories have completely different power and electricity needs than other avenues in the electricity profession, industrial electricians need to be highly skilled, flexible and adaptive to handle high voltage systems and other vital electrical components in factory equipment.

What is a commercial electrician?

Commercial electricians, on the other hand, specialise in providing electrical repair, maintenance and safety checks within commercial offices, retail stores and other related workplaces. Commercial electricians can also design, plan and diagram electrical systems specific to the workplace’s needs, as well as the conduits of pipes or tubing required by local electrical codes.

Commercial electricians predominately work with hand tools including screwdrivers, pliers and knives, along with power tools and monitoring tools. They can work with a broad range of customers including builders, office people and building owners. Sometimes specialty work will be required, as well as repair and maintenance jobs commonly found in residential buildings. You will most likely find a commercial electrician working with (or for) medium to large buildings and businesses including shopping malls, restaurants, government buildings and high rises.

When should they be used?

If you own, run or manage an office, business or franchise, you may require a commercial electrician to tend to your electricity and power needs. If the work you need to have done requires installations, rewiring or laying of cables then you would need a commercial electrician. Other tasks and duties commercial electricians carry out include:

  • Installing new equipment or rewiring existing equipment
  • Repairing or maintaining heating and cooling systems
  • Installing security alarm systems or electrical components like switches and lights
  • Designing electrical systems or working from existing blueprints
  • Following local, state and national guidelines for wiring and electrical systems
  • Leading a team of electricians and training apprentices

Commercial electricians are the most common of the two professions, with the focus of commercial work being upon the efficient operation of wiring and electrical components of a business. A good commercial electrician requires relevant education, along with the completion of post-apprentice courses. Many commercial electricians work in the field as a stepping stone toward becoming an electrical engineer.

A final word on industrial and commercial electricians

Industrial and commercial electricians both require basic knowledge of the electrical profession. However, while this knowledge is the cornerstone for both professions, their specialty lies in two different areas. While industrial electricians are skilled at troubleshooting problems within the manufacturing industry, commercial electricians are skilled at electrical repairs and maintenance within the mainstream workplace. Knowing the difference between the two should help you to determine which electrician is suitable for your needs or project.

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