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The employment in the electrical field is expected to grow by 14% through 2024, in general.
But commercial electricians have even better job prospects since civil projects and new commercial development are on the peak and outpaced even residential construction.
These data are based on the 2015 statistics of the US Department of Labor.
According to USA Today‘s online publication IndyStar, the job market is on-fire for commercial electricians.
This trade is in the top-10 of the hottest technical trades in America.
Commercial electricians work in particular work settings and do specific types of jobs.
Generally speaking, they install, maintain, troubleshoot, upgrade, and fix electrical systems in all non-residential structures.
Their work settings include:
- Recreation facilities.
- Government agencies.
- Commercial construction sites.
- Businesses and retail establishments.
- The Roles and Job Duties of Commercial Electricians
- State Licensing Requirements and National Certification Options for Commercial Electricians
- Commercial Electrician Salaries
- The Major US Employers of Commercial Electricians
The Roles and Job Duties of Commercial Electricians
Commercial electricians are responsible for an array of tasks, which can depend on their work setting and the type of job they are working on.
In general, the most common electrical tasks required from commercial electricians include:
- Installation of cable trays.
- Termination of large conductors.
- Installation of commercial switchgear.
- Commercial wiring and lighting.
- Electrical work on raceways.
- Installation of commercial outlet boxes.
- Electrical work on commercial transformers and generators.
- Installation of bus ducts.
- System wiring which involves significantly more electricity than residential sites.
Commercial electricians are different from industrial electricians since the commercial wiring work doesn’t usually involve handling high voltage systems or industrial machinery.
Also, they don’t work in industrial settings, such as foundries, refineries, factories, power plants, or oil and gas fields.
One of the job openings in July 2016 for a commercial electrician to work as the on-site electrician involved the following duties:
- Use schematics to troubleshoot fuses, circuits, switches, fixtures, and ballasts.
- Repair, install and maintain electrical systems that include motors, transformers, internal/exterior conduits, generators, switchboards, and power circuits.
- Perform preventative maintenance and repairs.
- Replace circuits, fluorescent tubes, ballasts, fuses, switches, and receptacles.
As per the National Electrical Code (NEC), the areas and competencies of a commercial electrician include the following:
- Surge arresters.
- Identification of grounded conductors.
- Overhead service conductors.
- Branch circuits, including outside circuits and feeders.
- Overcurrent protection.
- Busways and auxiliary gutters.
- Air conditioning and refrigeration equipment.
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.
- Types of cables and conduits suitable for commercial wiring.
- Hospital commercial electrical systems and equipment.
- Commercial control panels.
- Capacitors – under 1,000 volts and over 1,000 volts.
- Elevators, escalators, moving walks, platform lifts, stairway chairlifts, and dumbwaiters.
- Commercial garages.
- Conduit bodies, fittings, and handhole enclosures.
- Generators and transformers.
- Manufactured wiring systems.
- Commercial storage batteries.
- Electric signs and outline lighting.
- Integrated electrical systems.
State Licensing Requirements and National Certification Options for Commercial Electricians
In terms of licensing, some jurisdictions consider commercial and industrial electricians as part of the same category.
Others, identify them as separate professions.
Some jurisdictions place commercial electrical work under common licensure with residential electricians.
Licensing jurisdictions function at municipal, county, or state level.
Depending on the licensing jurisdictions, the requirements for commercial electricians can vary.
However, the licensing stages are usually similar.
In most jurisdiction, the apprentice-journeyman-master electrician model is applied, with separate licenses at each stage:
The apprenticeship takes from four to six years to complete.
Typically, it starts with classroom education covering the basics of commercial electrical work.
It includes the National Electrical Code (NEC) as well.
The on-the-job training can be available as an apprenticeship or on-the-job training with an employer.
Both options can be taken as well.
After you meet the training hour requirements set by your licensing body, you will move from the apprentice level to the journeyman by taking a state’s electrician exam.
After passing the required examination, you will obtain the journeyman license.
As a journeyman, you can work more independently.
In some jurisdictions, you won’t be exposed to direct task-specific oversight requirements.
With two to four years of solid work experience, you can take the master electrician examination administered by your jurisdiction.
Master electricians can work with near-total autonomy and do all the tasks related to commercial work.
In most jurisdictions, you can also apply for a license as an independent contractor.
National Certification Option
Some employers may promote or hire supervising electricians and inspectors with some national certification.
State or jurisdictional licensing and voluntary certification are different things and not to be confused.
Jurisdictional or state licensing is a legal requirement enforced by government licensing boards.
Through the International Code Council, you can obtain the Commercial Electrical Inspector certifications.
This is a voluntary professional credential that shows a unique level of expertise in code and safety protocols of commercial electrical work.
The following certifications are meant for industrial electricians, but they can overlap with commercial electricians’ activities:
Industrial Association of Electrical Inspectors
Certified Electrical Inspector (CEI).
SGS Electrical Installations Certification.
AVO Training Institute
Industrial Electrical Safety Inspector.
National Fire Protection Association
Certified Electrical Safety Worker (CESW).
ISA Certification Programs
- ISA Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST).
- Certified Automation Professional (CAP).
- Electrical Safety.
- Electrical Maintenance.
- Electrical Code and Standards.
Commercial Electrician Salaries
The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the federal agency collecting and maintaining salary statistics for all occupations nationwide, including commercial electrical installers and repairers.
According to the BLS data of 2015, the average salary for commercial electricians was $56,670.
The top 10% of specialists made $79,030 on average.
The highest-paying states for commercial electricians in 2015 were:
- $79,600 (average).
- $95,480 (top 10%).
- $70,050 (average).
- $98,040 (top 10%).
- $66,910 (average).
- $93,330 (top 10%).
- $65,070 (average).
- $88,050 (top 10%).
- $64,830 (average).
- $91,640 (top 10%).
The Major US Employers of Commercial Electricians
The major employers of commercial electricians in the US include:
- Federal, state, and local government agencies.
- Commercial construction companies.
- Building equipment contractors.
- Employment services.
- Nonresidential building construction.
In major metropolitan markets, the following employers provide the most opportunities to commercial electricians:
- CLP Resource.
- Trade Management Inc.
- Critical Electric Systems Group (CESG).
- Facility Solutions Group.
- Bexar County.
- Trillium Construction.
- Rogers Electric.
- USG Corporation.
- Tradesmen International.
- Staybright Electric.
- Commercial Trade Source, Inc (CTS).
- MGA Employee Services, Inc.
- Tradesmen International.
- Gaylor Electric.
- Parsons Corporation.
- Romanoff Group.
- Construction Labor Contractors.
- Gaylor Electric.
- Mowhawk Careers.
- Owens Corning.