Commercial Electrician Job Description

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While the number of jobs in the electrical trade is projected to grow by 14 percent in the ten-year period leading up to 2024, commercial electricians in particular may discover their prospects are even better since new commercial development and civil projects are outpacing even residential building (US Department of Labor, 2015). USA Today‘s online publication IndyStar confirms that the job market is white hot for commercial electricians, placing this electrical trade specialty on its top-10 list of the hottest technical vocations in America.

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Licensing classifications aside, you can always identify a commercial electrician by their work setting and the type of jobs they’re on. In simplest terms, commercial electricians install, upgrade, maintain, troubleshoot, and fix electrical systems in virtually all non-residential settings, including:

  • Banks
  • Government agencies
  • Schools
  • Businesses and retail establishments
  • Offices
  • Airports
  • Recreation facilities
  • Restaurants
  • Commercial construction sites

The Roles and Job Duties of Commercial Electricians

Commercial electricians perform a wide range of duties, which can change according to their work setting and the kind of job they’re on. Generally speaking, the electrical needs of most commercial settings typically require:

  • Installation of commercial switch gear
  • Termination of large conductors
  • Installation of cable trays
  • Installation of commercial outlet boxes
  • Installation of bus ducts
  • Commercial wiring and lighting
  • Electrical work on commercial transformers and generators
  • Electrical work on raceways
  • System wiring that involves significantly more electricity than residential sites

Commercial electricians are generally considered different from industrial electricians in that commercial wiring work doesn’t typically involve working with high voltage systems, industrial machinery, or at industrial settings like factories, refineries, foundries, oil and gas fields or power plants.

In one job vacancy announcement from July 2016 looking for a commercial electrician to serve as the on-site electrical technician, the following job description was provided:

  • Repair, install, and maintain electrical systems that include motors, transformers, internal/exterior conduit, generators, switchboards, and power circuits
  • Replace circuits, fluorescent tubes, ballasts, fuses, switches, and receptacles
  • Use schematics to troubleshoot fuses, circuits, switches, fixtures, and ballasts
  • Perform preventative maintenance and repairs

The National Electrical Code (NEC) identifies the competencies and domains of commercial wiremen to include the following:

  • Identification of grounded conductors
  • Branch circuits, including outside circuits and feeders
  • Surge arresters
  • Overhead service conductors
  • Commercial garages
  • Overcurrent protection
  • Conduit bodies, fittings, and handhole enclosures
  • Types of cables and conduits suitable for commercial wiring
  • Busways and auxiliary gutters
  • Commercial control panels
  • Air conditioning and refrigeration equipment
  • Generators and transformers
  • Commercial storage batteries
  • Capacitors – under 1,000 volts and over 1,000 volts
  • Hospital commercial electrical systems and equipment
  • Electric signs and outline lighting
  • Manufactured wiring systems
  • Elevators, escalators, moving walks, platform lifts, stairway chairlifts, and dumbwaiters
  • Integrated electrical systems
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems

State Licensing Requirements and National Certification Options for Commercial Electricians

While some jurisdictions identify commercial and industrial electricians as part of the same category for licensing purposes, others recognize these as separate professional classes. Still other jurisdictions include commercial wirework under a common license with residential electricians.

Licensing jurisdictions can operate at the state, county, or municipal level. Different licensing jurisdictions establish different licensing requirements for commercial electricians, though the licensing stages tend to be generally uniform.

Most jurisdictions follow the apprentice-journeyman-master electrician progression model, issuing separate licenses at each phase:

Apprentice – The apprentice phase lasts between four and six years and typically starts with classroom education that covers foundational topics for commercial electricians, including the National Electrical Code (NEC). Initial on-the-job training may be available in the form of a direct apprenticeship, on-the-job training with an employer, or both.

Journeyman – After meeting the training hour requirements as established by your licensing authority, you would then test out of the apprentice level by taking your state’s electrician journeyman exam. Once you pass the necessary exam, you would be issued your journeyman license. You generally have more independence as a journeyman electrician and in some jurisdictions you would not be subject to direct task-specific oversight requirements.

Master Electrician – After two to four years of good, solid work experience, you will have the option of taking your jurisdiction’s master electrician exam. As a master electrician you are trusted to work with near total autonomy, you can perform all activities associated with commercial electrical work, and in most jurisdictions you would be eligible to apply for an independent contractor’s license.

National Certification Option

Some employers may look to hire or promote supervising electricians and inspectors that hold some form of national certification. Voluntary national certification should not be confused with state or jurisdictional licensing, which is a legal requirement that is enforced by government licensing boards.

The International Code Council offers the Commercial Electrical Inspector certification as a voluntary professional credential that demonstrates a unique level of expertise when it comes to code and safety protocols related to commercial electrical work.

Other certification options specific to electrical work in industrial settings, which can overlap with commercial electrical work, include:

SGS Certification

  • SGS Electrical Installations Certification

Industrial Association of Electrical Inspectors

  • Certified Electrical Inspector (CEI)

National Fire Protection Association

  • Certified Electrical Safety Worker (CESW)

ISA Certification Programs

  • Certified Automation Professional (CAP)
  • ISA Certified Control Systems Technician (CCST)

AVO Training Institute

  • Industrial Electrical Safety Inspector

NTT Certification

  • Electrical Safety
  • Electrical Code and Standards
  • Electrical Maintenance

Commercial Electrician Salaries

The US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the federal agency responsible for maintaining salary statistics for all professional classifications in the nation, including electrical installers and repairers of commercial and equipment.

In its 2015 findings the BLS shows that nationwide, these professionals earned an average salary of $56,670, while those in the top 10 percent earned an average of $79,030.

States offering the highest average annual salaries for commercial electricians in 2015 were:

North Dakota

  • $64,830 (average)
  • $91,640 (top 10%)

Connecticut

  • $65,070 (average)
  • $88,050 (top 10%)

Maryland

  • $66,910 (average)
  • $93,330 (top 10%)

Washington

  • $70,050 (average)
  • $98,040 (top 10%)

Alaska

  • $79,600 (average)
  • $95,480 (top 10%)

The Major US Employers of Commercial Electricians

Major industries in which commercial electricians in the United States include:

  • Commercial construction companies
  • Federal, state, and local government agencies
  • Building equipment contractors
  • Nonresidential building construction
  • Employment services

Important employers of commercial electricians by major metropolitan job markets include:

Chicago

  • Rogers Electric
  • SolarCity
  • Trillium Construction
  • USG Corporation
  • Tradesmen International

San Antonio

  • Critical Electric Systems Group (CESG)
  • Trade Management Inc
  • Facility Solutions Group
  • CLP Resource
  • Bexar County

San Francisco

  • Bergelectric
  • SolarCity
  • Sunpower
  • Parsons Corporation
  • Outsource

Indianapolis

  • Commercial Trade Source, Inc (CTS)
  • Tradesmen International
  • Staybright Electric
  • Gaylor Electric
  • MGA Employee Services, Inc

Columbus

  • Romanoff Group
  • Gaylor Electric
  • Owens Corning
  • Construction Labor Contractors
  • Mowhawk Careers

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