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Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Electrician: What’s the Difference?

When following a career path in the electrical field, you’ll get to decide in training what kind of an electrician you want to be. Residential, commercial, and industrial electricians have a similar base skill set.

There are many differences in the type of work they perform on a daily basis, and in terms of the required training needed. Let's review some major differences.

Residential Electricians | What They Do

Residential electricians or wiremen are highly skilled technicians who provide services such as installation and maintenance of electrical systems within residential structures. Depending on the level of experience, residential electricians nay also train and supervise the team of apprentices and helpers.

As a residential electrician you will:

  • Install, repair, and maintain electrical outlets, wiring, relays, switches, and control systems in residential buildings
  • Work with circuit breakers and transformers
  • Read the blueprints and work with architects to plan the electrical layouts of the structure
  • Use a variety of hand and power tools
  • Follow your state regulations based on National Electrical Code (NEC)

Residential Electrician Training Requirements

To become a residential electrician, you will need to obtain a high school diploma or GED equivalent, complete an apprenticeship program, and pass the wireman test required by most states.

Or, if you’re looking to find a training program in your area, check out our excellent partner schools that can help you start your career in as few as 10 months.

Find a local electrical training program.

Residential Electrician Salary and Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) electricians earned an average of $67,810 in 2023, with top 10% earning as much as $104,180 or more. Since new energy sources like solar panels are becoming more common, and the housing market has shown increased demand, employment of electricians is expected to increase 6 percent by 2032, adding about 73,500 job openings for electricians each year over the next decade.

Commercial Electricians | What They Do

Commercial electricians are licensed specialists who install and maintain electrical systems in commercial buildings such as retail stores, offices, and restaurants. Their primary job is to ensure that the control systems and wiring work properly and efficiently. You won’t be dealing with homeowners and residents, so this line of electrical work would be great for more introverted people.

As a commercial electrician you will:

  • Install conduits and the run the electrical wiring in commercial buildings
  • Work closely with blueprints provided by the general contractors
  • Wire instruments that control lighting, heating, air conditioning, and heating units
  • Diagnose malfunctioning systems, equipment, and components to locate the cause of a breakdown and correct the issue
  • Use hand tools and power tools to perform various tasks
  • Follow your state regulations based on National Electrical Code (NEC)

Commercial Electrician Training Requirements

Like residential electricians, commercial electricians are expected to obtain a high-school diploma or GED before enrolling into an electrical training program.

Your training on average will take about 12 months. During training you will learn the principles of hydraulics and pneumatics along with basic electrical skills. You will also master various alarm systems, power systems, and natural gas delivery systems. Find local electrical training in your area with one of our partner schools. 

Commercial Electrician Salary and Career Outlook

Electricians working in nonresidential building construction averaged around $9,980 per year in 2023 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career outlook is expected to remain consistent with the national average for all careers, making it a promising industry to pursue. 

Industrial Electricians | What They Do

Industrial electricians are highly trained specialists who install, maintain, and repair electrical equipment on industrial buildings, such as manufacturing facilities and warehouses.

Aside from being skilled, technical, and mechanically proficient, industrial electricians also have to be in great physical shape. You will work with a team of professionals on your daily projects, so teamwork and communication skills are highly important for this role.

As an industrial electrician you will:

  • Install, maintain, and repair electrical components of industrial equipment
  • Follow the blueprints, schematics, and other technical documents
  • Have an extensive knowledge of electrical systems, industrial equipment, and high-voltage components
  • Work with a team of skilled professionals
  • Meticulously follow local, state, and national electrical codes and regulations

Industrial Electrician Training Requirements

Before you can start training, you must obtain a high-school diploma or GED equivalent, in some cases, an associate degree in a related field might also be required. Training duration varies from as few as 10 months to 4 years depending on the program and specific job requirements.

During your training, you will be mastering skills in electrical wiring, electricity fundamentals, electrical controls, blueprint reading, and electrical code.

Making the Bright Choice

This may surprise some, but in certain states, it is actually illegal to perform any kind of electrical installation other than at one's own (not rented) residence without an electrician's license. Electricians are skilled and knowledgeable in their field and their skills are invaluable.

Also, with green energy's growing popularity, it is expected that electricians will have many opportunities in the future ahead. 

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