Skilled Trades

Commercial Electrician: Job Description, Requirements, and Outlook

Skilled TradesJanuary 09, 2024

Electrical work is a growing field, and its professionals are projected to remain in demand. Among the reasons for this positive job outlook are expected retirements in the profession and the emergence of alternative technologies like solar power. 

Commercial electricians specialize in working on large, complex projects that have high-voltage systems over 240 volts. Given their scope of training, they’re also capable of performing the same work as residential electricians, who operate 120- to 240-volt systems. 

This type of electrician works in commercial settings, including office parks, shopping centers, schools, and other commercial buildings. Commercial electricians’ responsibilities include reading technical drawings and blueprints to understand what the specific job entails, and using various tools to troubleshoot, upgrade, install, repair, and maintain electrical systems. 

To get started in the field, commercial electricians can complete an electrical trades program, such as the one offered at the Fortis Institute campus in Birmingham AL.  Then, upon completion, gain work experience, and become licensed (according to state requirements). Individuals who are interested in the electrician profession should explore the commercial electrician job description, key duties, and education requirements. 

Commercial Electrician Job Description

A commercial electrician is a trained and licensed professional who’s an expert in repairing, installing, and maintaining electrical systems in commercial settings. They may also upgrade outdated systems with smart technology or to meet regulatory standards. Additionally, they may establish backup power sources for locations such as grocery stores, law enforcement facilities, and medical laboratories. 

Collaboration with other skilled tradespeople is frequent, so effective communication skills are vital. Because they’re hired to work on larger projects, commercial electricians have extensive knowledge of a wider range of electrical systems than their residential electrician counterparts. 

Work Settings for Commercial Electricians

Much like other tradespersons, electricians work where their expertise is needed. Since their specialty is commercial writing systems, they commonly work in spaces such as shopping malls, schools, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, office buildings, and government buildings. While on the job, they may work in cramped spaces and be exposed to dust, dirt, fumes, and debris. There are also risks of fire, shocks, and injury from equipment and tools. 

This career is physical, so commercial electricians should be comfortable standing, stooping, and bending for periods of time. In addition, they may work in hot or cold environments and at great heights. They must wear gear that protects their eyes, ears, and clothing. With experience, these professionals could become self-employed and have more control over their assignments, work locations, and schedules. 

Commercial Electrician Job Responsibilities

A commercial electrician job description includes providing general and emergency electrical services, typically as part of large and complex projects. Commercial electricians are trained to work according to codes and requirements that are specific to commercial spaces, including systems between 240 and 480 volts. They work with equipment including generators, transformers, lighting fixtures, and receptacles. 

Common duties of commercial electricians include the following:

  • Installing commercial recessed lighting and fixtures
  • Retrofitting outdated lighting with energy-efficient options
  • Repairing and maintaining electrical panels
  • Testing, diagnosing, and replacing electrical systems to ensure they’re up to code
  • Providing price estimates
  • Operating power and hand tools (i.e., wire cutters, saws, ladders, screwdrivers) to service various electrical systems
  • Reading and implementing requirements from technical drawings 
  • Leading teams of electricians
  • Following state and local guidelines for wiring commercial systems

Commercial Electrician Education and Experience Requirements

After earning a high school diploma or equivalent, prospective electricians can begin to learn the trade through a vocational school diploma program or an electrician apprenticeship program. 

Apprenticeship programs may last four to five years and are completed under the tutelage of a licensed electrician. Individuals who attend a vocational electrician training program may complete shorter apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are paid on-the-job training. It’s important to note that this option varies by state and locality. 

In addition to education, commercial electricians must complete a certain number of training hours and then apply for licensure, which is required by most states. Prospective commercial electricians can visit the website of the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies for a list of state requirements. 

Commercial Electrician Fundamental Skills

Aside from general attributes like physical strength and stamina, a commercial electrician job description should include several specific skills, such as: 

  • Critical thinking. This skill is essential when making informed decisions about electrical systems. For instance, an electrician may need to independently choose a solution based on various factors.
  • Color vision. Since electrical wiring is color coded, commercial electricians must be able to safely and accurately distinguish wires, components, and cables. 
  • Mechanical knowledge. These professionals need hands-on expertise to navigate electrical systems, troubleshoot issues, handle tools, and connect wires. 
  • Blueprint reading. Commercial electricians should be adept at reading technical drawings and blueprint designs to determine specifications, layouts, and connections. 
  • Troubleshooting. This is a fundamental skill that is commonly honed during a training program. From testing equipment to replacing motors, this skill is an opportunity for individuals to apply their knowledge in the field.
  • Commercial wiring. Residential and commercial electricians are trained in different power systems, so they must be skilled in handling the proper voltages (over 240 volts), supplies, and equipment. 
  • Customer service. Electricians interact with the public, co-workers, and stakeholders, so it’s important to have strong communication skills to present information and ask questions. 

Job Outlook for Commercial Electricians 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electricians in general are projected to experience a 6% rise in employment from 2022 to 2032. Jobs will continue to be in demand to replace retirees and career changers. With advancements in alternative power sources, commercial electricians will also be needed to install and replace solar and wind power supply systems.

Start Your Commercial Electrician Career with Fortis

To work as a commercial electrician, formal training and work experience are required. The Fortis electrical trades training program can be completed in as little as 48 weeks and is offered at the Fortis Institute campus in Birmingham, Alabama.. The Alabama location offers a high-voltage electrical program that can help prepare students for the commercial electrician job description and responsibilities. The training covers topics such as safe work habits, electrical theory fundamentals, alternating current theory, conduit bending techniques, and National Electric Code standards. 

In addition to electrical trades, individuals can receive training from Fortis in other skilled trade programs: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); electrical systems technology; and welding. 

Discover how Fortis programs can help you launch your commercial electrician career today. 

Recommended Readings
Benefits of Trade School: Why a Hands-on Skilled Trades Career Might be a Good Fit
Career Options for Electricians
4 Reasons to Consider a Career as an Electrical and Electronic Systems Technician

Chron, “How to Become a Commercial Electrician Journeyman”
Indeed, Residential vs. Commercial Electrician: Key Differences
National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies, Licensing Information
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Electricians
ZipRecruiter, Commercial Electrician Job Description
ZipRecruiter, What Is a Commercial Electrician and How to Become One