Electrician fixes broken wires on pole

Industrial Electrician vs. Commercial Electrician: What's the Difference?

Environment is the key factor in the lines that separate an industrial electrician from his brethren in the commercial field. Offices, retail stores, and restaurants are the usual stomping ground for the commercial electrician. Manufacturing, heavy industry, energy production, and chemical plants are just some of the locales that the industrial electrician will find themselves immersed in. With such different locations, how do their skill sets differ between these two classifications so that each can perform their duties safely and efficiently?


The duties of the commercial electrician lie in the generalization of their tasks. Their locations are very often those that can be accessible to the general public. Stress is placed on making the systems they work on as safe as possible. This means that the distribution of power will be on the lower end of the spectrum, mainly dealing with the 110v, which is is meant for office equipment and low intensity lighting. Sometimes they will have to work on higher voltage systems for uses like heating, ventilation, or air conditioning. The main skill sets beyond basic electrical proficiency are the in-depth knowledge of electrical code and getting jobs done within budget.

Industrial is Specialization

With the industrial electrician, their knowledge goes beyond what would be encountered by the general public. Manufacturing often has power requirements that range from very high AC voltage to the micro levels of direct current. Power transmission systems are made of sturdy material like rigid conduit so that the job can be done with safety in mind for personnel and production. Motor controls, programmable logic, and troubleshooting a myriad of sub systems are just the tip of the iceberg in this field. Often a company will have a four-year apprentice program to train their electricians to deal not only with the basics, but all that arises in their specific industry. Specialization is required so that the job can be done safely for the protection of all involved in the manufacturing process.

Both types of electricians share the foundational skills in their field. They respect all that electricity can do and are able to make it perform to the customer's desired function safely. There are other fields like residential electricians that come and take care of your home's needs. No matter what type of electrician you need for a job, rest assured that once they obtain a journeyman's license, that they are suitably trained in their field. Now that you know the differences in the commercial and industrial fields, you can feel confident that you will choose the correct one to get the job done in the best manner possible.

Last Updated: April 15, 2015