Industrial Electrician

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With industrial growth and technological innovations, it’s a great time to become an industrial electrician.

Developments in the field make this career more dynamic than other conventional electrician jobs.

Some innovations in recent years that indicate the outbreak for the profession include:

  • Increased adoption of localized power sources such as hydro, wind, and solar
  • Discovery of hydraulic fracturing that revolutionized the U.S.’s position in the global energy market
  • Increased power and decreased size of computers, together with the development of the Internet of Things (IoT)

Let’s find out what an industrial electrician does and other important information below.

Role of Industrial Electricians

Industrial electricians are responsible for a wide range of tasks.

  • Installing, repairing, and maintaining industrial machinery systems
  • Incorporating sensors and telemetry devices into industrial machinery, providing real-time updates on maintenance needs and productivity
  • Developing electrical systems for the new generation of gas and oil extraction equipment used in hydraulic fracturing
  • Other types of wiring work

The easiest way to determine the work of industrial electricians is to look at their work settings.

They might work in the following environments:

  • Factories
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Production lines
  • Mining operations
  • Power stations
  • Smelters
  • Industrial construction sites
  • Shipyards
  • Oil and gas refineries and platforms
  • Scientific research facilities
  • Vehicle manufacturers
  • Aircraft production

According to the Industrial Training Authority (ITA), industrial electricians need the following distinguishing skills:

  • Perform electrical work with motors and generators
  • Perform electrical work with heavy-duty machinery
  • Inspect, install, repair, service, and troubleshoot industrial electrical systems
  • Perform electrical work on industrial construction sites
  • Perform electrical work with pumps, environmental regulating systems, and industrial lighting systems.
  • Work with high voltage systems
  • Perform electrical work with industrial communications systems.

They should also be well-versed in the following:

  • National Electrical Code (NEC) related to industrial settings
  • Knowledge and skills in…
    • Hazardous locations and classes
    • Services exceeding 1,000 volts
    • Feeder and service load calculations
  • Operation of machinery and equipment
    • Portable cables over 600 volts
    • Switchgear and industrial control assemblies
    • Industrial installations of overcurrent protection
    • Electric welders
    • Capacitors, resistors, reactors, and storage batteries over 1,000 volts
    • Cranes and hoists.
    • Motors, motor circuits, and controllers
    • Electrode-type boilers
    • Electric-discharge lighting systems over 1,000 volts
    • Industrial machinery

State Licensing

In some states, industrial and commercial electricians are classified under the same category for licensure.

Others, however, recognize them as separate professions.

So it’s best to check the state licensing requirements with your local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) chapter or the local regulatory agency.

Regardless, the state will recognize three levels of the industrial electrician profession.

  • Apprentice

During the apprenticeship, you can gain on-the-job training and gain field experience with 1,000 classroom hours of safety protocols and electrical science and theory study.

Some states may license an apprentice electrician, while others may not.

During the apprenticeship, you will undergo…

    • On-the-job training to gain field experience
    • At least 1,000 hours of classroom instruction on safety protocols and electrical theory

It will usually take four to six years to complete the apprenticeship.

  • Journeyman

Most states will require the following for you to become a journeyman:

    • Complete the apprenticeship program
    • Successfully pass the journeyman licensure exam

Once you’re licensed, you won’t have to be under task-specific supervision.

You can work more independently in a team led by a master electrician.

  • Master

Most states will require the following for you to become a licensed master (industrial) electrician:

    • At least two to four years of journeyman experience
    • Successfully pass the master electrician licensure exam

Only then can you work as a team leader or foreman, supervising apprentices and journeymen.

Holding this license also qualifies you for a contractor’s license where you can…

    • Work independently within the scope of industrial electrical work
    • Bid for contracts

Professional Certification

A few national organizations offer relevant voluntary professional certifications.

In some jurisdictions, they require that you obtain one from these organizations.

However, most often, it’s the employers who’ll ask for such certifications from these organizations:

  • SGS Certification
    • SGS Electrical Installations Certification.
  • Industrial Association of Electrical Inspectors
    • Certified Electrical Inspector
  • ISA Certification Programs
    • ISA Certified Control Systems Technician
    • Certified Automation Professional
  • International Code Council
    • Commercial Electrical Inspector
  • National Fire Protection Association
    • Certified Electrical Safety Worker
  • NTT Certification
    • Electrical Code and Standards
    • Electrical Safety
    • Electrical Maintenance
  • AVO Training Institute
  • Industrial Electrical Safety Inspector

Potential Salaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, as of 2015, industrial electricians can earn an average of $56,670.

The top 10% of industrial electricians made an average of $79,030.

The metropolitan areas on the West Coast rendered the highest average salaries:

  • Anchorage metro area
    • Average – $82,030
    • Top 10% – $96,210
  • Brockton, MA metro area
    • Average – $77,030
    • Top 10% – $111,340
  • Tri-Cities, WA metro area
    • Average – $74,520
    • Top 10% – $104,290
  • Oakland, CA metro area
    • Average – $73,510
    • Top 10% – $99,680
  • Bend, OR metro area
    • Average – $72,530
    • Top 10% – $90,430
  • Fairbanks, AK metro area
    • Average – $71,570.
    • Top 10% – $84,650
  • Seattle, WA metro area
    • Average – $71,070
    • Top 10% – $98,650
  • Salem, OR metro area
    • Average – $71,030
    • Top 10% – $101,270
  • Albany, OR metro area
    • Average – $71,020
    • Top 10% – $79,230
  • Sacramento, CA metro area
    • Average – $70,670
    • Top 10% – $102,300

Major Employers

In 2015, the major employers for industrial electricians were reported to be the following:

  • Building equipment contractors
  • Household appliances and electrical and electronic goods merchant wholesalers
  • Federal government
  • Resource extraction and energy production
  • Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing
  • Electronic and precision equipment repair/maintenance

Major employers of industrial electricians in the U.S. job market include:

  • San Antonio
    • Commercial Metals Company
    • Schlumberger
    • Alcoa – Aluminum Company of America
    • Critical Electric Systems Group – CESG
    • San Antonio Water System
  • Los Angeles
    • LU Electric
    • Los Angeles County
    • Extron Electronics
    • Kite Pharma
    • Bergelectric
  • Phoenix
    • Rogers Electric
    • Konecranes Lifting Businesses
    • Superlite Block
    • Delta Construction Partners
    • The city of Phoenix
  • Chicago
    • Huhtamaki
    • Federal-Mogul
    • Trillium Construction
    • Real Alloy
    • Tradesmen International
  • New York City
    • United Nations
    • Stacey Electric Service
    • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
    • CDM Smith
    • Amtrak

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