Domestic, Industrial & Commercial Electrician: What’s the Difference?

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Planning to enroll in an electrician program? Have you given any thought to what environment you’d like to work in, or areas in which you’d like to specialize, as you progress in your career?

Electricians work in several different domains: domestic, commercial, and industrial.  Each path comes with its own unique challenges, technical demands, and specialized skills.

This post outlines the differences between the three domains to help students narrow their focus, and choose the electrician career that best suits their interests and goals.

The Domestic Electrician: Working in Client’s Homes

Domestic electricians are hired to wire residences during the construction phase, conduct repairs and upgrades in existing homes, and perform regular electrical maintenance to ensure homeowner safety.

Typical tasks for domestic electricians include:

  • installing light fixtures, appliances, and ceiling fans
  • diagnosing and repairing electrical failure
  • re-wiring older systems and bringing dwellings up to code
  • installing additional outlets
  • fixing or testing security systems
  • appliance safety testing (particularly in rental properties)

Domestic electricians may work with a company, but many are entrepreneurs who start their own business. Working directly with homeowners and families, they need strong communication skills to build rapport, establish trust, and put customers at ease.

The Commercial Electrician: Working in Structures for Public Use

Similar to a domestic electrician, a commercial electrician is responsible for ensuring the wiring and electrical components of a structure are functioning efficiently and safely.

However, the types of structures commercial electricians work in are far more varied, and typically more complex than the average home.

Commercial electrical settings may include restaurants, hospitals, schools, malls, and stores—basically any interior space that is accessible to the public.

Commercial electricians install and upgrade wiring, but they may also work with higher voltage electrical systems, generators, special health and safety equipment, oversized appliances, and large heating and air conditioning units.

Commercial work entails different energy needs, load demands, materials, and equipment setup than residential electrical jobs.  For example, most residential wiring is single phase and 120 volts, whereas commercial structures normally use a three phase design—providing greater energy output for the increased power demands of commercial environments.

Industrial Electrician: Working in Manufacturing Plants & Factories

So we’ve established that domestic electricians work in private residences, and commercial electricians work in structures for public use. That leaves us with industrial electricians. If you follow this career path you’ll work in heavy duty environments that are typically restricted from public access, such as:

  • primary steel producers
  • mining companies
  • car manufacturers
  • electrical power companies
  • factories

Industrial electricians handle some of the same tasks as their peers in the domestic and commercial domains. They install, replace, and repair wiring, receptacles, switch boxes, conduits, lighting fixtures, and other typical electrical components.

However, they are also trained to install and repair electrical motors, generators, industrial storage batteries, transformers, regulators, and adaptors. Industrial electricians who can install and service robots and other computerized control equipment are particularly sought-after by large electrical contractors who specialize in this area.

So, because of the varying demands of their work environments, domestic, commercial, and industrial electricians must each build a distinctive skillset. They start off with the same basic training, but apply and build on those fundamentals in very different ways.

Which path are you leaning toward?

Looking for more information on how to start an electrician career? Comparing electrician training in Toronto? 

Consider the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute’s Construction & Maintenance Electrician Program. This training is your first step toward an electrician apprenticeship in the domestic, commercial, or industrial domains.

Visit the program page for details, and to chat live with a knowledgeable advisor. We’re here to help!

Click Here to Learn More About Construction & Maintenance Electrician Training