Take the First Step Toward Your Electrical Career Now!

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


It’s not a secret that electrical trade offers high pay, job security, and endless respect by communities and businesses that rely on electricians in their day-to-day lives. Unlike many other trades, electricians have many niche specializations, which makes for a great variety of choices when it comes to training.

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 skillset. After that, there are many differences in the type of work they perform on a daily basis and in the training required to perform those duties. Let’s go over the 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 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 tools 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 G.E.D., 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, all of our partner schools are nationally accredited and will 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 $60,370 in 2019, with top 10% earning as much as $96,580. As the housing market shows stability and new sources of energy like solar panels become more common, the employment of electricians is projected to grow by 10 percent from 2018 to 2028.

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 works properly and efficiently. You won’t be dealing with homeowners and residents, so this line of electrical work is more suited for the introverts.

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

Just like the residential electricians, commercial sparkies are expected to obtain a high-school diploma or G.E.D. before enrolling into an electrical training program.

During your training, that takes on average 12 months, you will learn the principles of hydraulics and pneumatics along with the 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

Commercial electricians earned an average of $58,109 in 2019 (payscale.com) with top 10% making over $72,000/year. The job outlook is rather promising as well, projecting to grow by 10 percent over the next decade.

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 sparkies also have to be in great physical shape (on the bright side, you get to save money on a gym membership). 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 G.E.D., in some cases an associate degree in a related field might also be required. Training duration varies from as few as 10 months to four 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.

Industrial Electrician Salary and Career Outlook

Industrial electricians earned an average of $62,123 in 2019, with top 10 percent making over $100,000/year according to payscale.com. This niche is expected to grow ten times faster than the average for all occupations in the next 10 years.

The Choice Couldn’t Be Brighter

Did you know that in most states, it is illegal to do any kind of electrical installation, other than in one's own (not rented) residence, without an electrician's license? This means that regardless of the path you choose to follow, as a skilled electrician you will always have a stable career and reliable paycheck.

scroll to top