For people considering careers as an electrician, there are a lot of specialty areas they can choose from. Two common examples of specialties in this profession include commercial and residential electrician occupations. These things allow people to work in various environments, as well as carry differing responsibilities, so it is imperative to know and understand how commercial and residential electricians differ. In this article, we will define the two professions, highlight important differences between the two, and explain how to pick a specialty.
What are residential electricians?
These professionals are people who repair, install, and update various electrical systems, wiring, light fixtures, circuit boards, and power outlets in homes. For instance, they may fix electrical components in single-family houses, apartment complexes, condominiums, and townhouses.
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What are commercial electricians?
These experts are individuals who update, repair and install electrical networks and other components like generators, lighting, receptacles, and transformers in business buildings. Some of these structures include resorts and hotels, retail stores, school buildings, office parks, and other facilities used for commerce.
Difference between commercial and residential electricians
Though both have a lot of similarities in their job responsibilities, both professionals differ in various ways. Listed below are some examples of how they differ:
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As mentioned in their job titles, both professions have different job environments. Professionals working on housing properties usually work on sites to install electrical components and wiring systems for new apartments or houses. But they also do jobs in well-established places that have individuals or families living in them.
Because of this, professionals working in residential properties make sure they respect the property owners and their personal properties as they complete repairs and installations. In contrast, CE experts work on construction sites for business structures like retail stores or office parks. In these cases, professionals may need to complete jobs late at night or early in the morning to accommodate retail or business hours.
Education tracts for both Electrical Contracting professions include several similar milestones. For instance, both professions need at least a high school diploma or a General Educational Development, followed by the completion of a 2-year technical school program and followed by apprenticeships.
But they differ in the kinds of apprenticeships they go after. For example, residential electrical experts would most likely pursue apprenticeships with tradespeople or businesses specializing in repairs, installations, or maintenance of electrical systems in residential structures. On the other hand, there is a good chance that CE experts would pursue apprenticeships with commercial businesses that teach them how to work with large electrical systems for commercial establishments.
Because of the differences in the job environment, as well as the areas of specialty, both professions have different job responsibilities. Listed below are some examples of these responsibilities:
Working with various voltages
One way the two professions differ in their responsibilities is the size of the voltage systems they usually install, maintain, or repair. Experts working in residential sites usually work with voltage networks between 120 and 240 volts that supply houses with power.
In comparison, professionals working on CE projects can do more voltage systems, usually exceeding 240 volts for bigger commercial structures.
Working with various wiring systems
CE works with larger electrical wiring networks with tube conduits that works pretty well for large power supplies and business spaces. On the other hand, RE works with smaller electrical wiring complexes with plastic sheathing. These systems fit well into crawl spaces and out of the property owner’s view.
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Working with various quality systems
RE and CE have different policies to follow when it comes to providing quality and safe services. For instance, CE usually needs to establish backup power sources for establishments like law enforcement facilities, hospitals, grocery stores, and medical laboratories; at the same time, RE works with homeowners on their electrical complex.
Can property owners transfer from one specialty to another?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes; professionals can transfer from one specialty to another. CEs looking to transfer into a RE role already have tons of experience working with high-voltage complexes, as well as complex components.
But because CEs work with various kinds of writing systems and hardware, they may benefit from getting RE training or education before they accept residential jobs. Similarly, RE looking to move to a CE role needs to gain a lot of experience with various wiring systems, hardware, and voltage complexes used in commercial environments. These experts may need to complete more training and CE apprenticeship to maximize their skills, as well as potential in the industry.
Can professionals work as both residential and commercial electricians?
Technically speaking, they can’t work as both RE and CE at the same time. But if the individual has previous education and experience in both areas, they could market themselves as contract electricians to commission on both residential and commercial building projects.
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Choosing between a RE and CE specialty
Listed below are steps to help individuals weigh their decisions to become a commercial or residential electrician:
Consider which career path interests you
For instance, if you love the idea of installing systems for retail stores, restaurants, hospitals, malls, and other kinds of structures, there is a good chance that you want to go with the CE specialty. On the other hand, if you are interested in how electrical systems in homes function, as well as how it differs from big family houses, townhouses, apartment complexes, or condominiums, you might decide to go with RE work.
Professionals should think about whether they enjoy communicating with clients directly or not
As an RE, individuals communicate with property owners and family members directly. It means experts need to be comfortable being in other individuals’ properties and making good conversation as they complete the job. If they do not want to work with property owners directly in their private homes, CE commissions might be the best option for them. But they might still work with building workers or contractors.
Individuals should check their earning potential and compare it to their salary goal
Salary earnings for CE and RE differ depending on where they were employed and the level of skill needed. They should look at job openings in their area to determine which specialty matches their income needs to narrow their selection.