What is a Commercial Electrician?

Comparing Commercial vs. Residential Electricians


A commercial electrician is an electrician who specializes in wiring and electrical systems in commercial buildings such as retail shopping centers, large shopping malls, apartment complexes, condo complexes, and office buildings.

They work on bigger scale electrical systems that are much more complex than residential buildings, and they even create electrical system plans for new buildings, and to help improve older buildings.

In order to be a commercial electrician, you must meet the classroom training and hands-on work experience hour requirements. If you decide to go into this field, you will need to participate in an apprenticeship which is basically you shadowing and working directly with a master electrician for 4 – 5 years.

When you work as an apprentice, you are guaranteed to meet the classroom and hands-on hour requirements, which are 2,000 hands-on work hours, and 144 classroom hours. In addition, to become any type of electrician you will need a high school diploma or equivalent.

What kind of work does a commercial electrician do?

A commercial electrician does a wide variety of services such as installing, maintaining, and inspecting commercial buildings’ electrical systems.

The buildings they work with are much larger in size than what residential electricians work with. Common tasks that commercial electricians will do are:

  • Installing bulk amounts of lights, outlets, and switches

  • Electrical system maintenance

  • Perform electrical system inspections

  • Diagnose and fix any problems with wiring or electrical components

  • Read and use technical drawings

  • Plan electrical systems for new buildings

  • Use and follow state, local, and national guidelines for electrical systems

  • Lead teams and train apprentices

These kinds of electricians work mainly indoors, and they can spend a good amount of their day traveling to and from jobs.

To become a commercial electrician, there is a requirement of the number of hours you’ve spent in a classroom setting learning about what you’ll be doing in the real world, as well as a requirement for hands-on work.

We will discuss the differences between a commercial and residential electrician later on in the blog.


What does a commercial electrician charge per hour?

Since commercial electricians work on larger scale projects and buildings, they get paid slightly higher than residential electricians do.

On average, a commercial electrician can charge anywhere from $95 – $120 per hour. Their price can vary depending on their experience level, their workload, supplies, and travel, but it’s usually within that range.

Because they work on larger buildings such as apartment complexes, malls, retail stores, etc., they have a lot more responsibility and they come with a higher price tag. Working in a commercial setting typically requires having more knowledge, more skill, and the building codes are usually much stricter than residential buildings.

There’s a lot more you need to know in the commercial world, and you’re dealing with bigger-scale projects and issues.

What is the difference between commercial and residential electricians?

Now, while there are a lot of similarities between a commercial and residential electrician, there are also so many differences.

In this section, we will be comparing the two types of electricians so you’ll know for future reference.

  • Building size

The names make this point pretty obvious and well keep it simple: residential electricians work on single or multi-family homes, apartments, condos, trailers, etc., and commercial electricians work on warehouses, office buildings, shopping centers, malls, etc.

  • Phase power they work with

Because commercial electricians work on much larger buildings, they work with three-phase power (electric power generation, transmission, and distribution), whereas residential electricians work on single-phase power (just distribution).

  • Project tasks

The two types of electricians work on very different project tasks and some similar project tasks.

o   Similar tasks:

1.Adding lights

2.Adding outlets and switches

3.Installing and maintaining wiring

4.Ensure all electrical systems are working

Different tasks:

1.Commercial electricians work with transformers whereas residential does not

2.They work with conveyor systems, PLC terminations, and more

3.Create plans for electrical systems

  • Building codes

Because commercial electricians work on large buildings, they have different building codes and they tend to be stricter than residential codes. In commercial, you have to stay up-to-date on building codes as they can often change.

  • Pay rate

Commercial electricians charge 10-30% more than residential electricians per hour. Each type charges on an hourly basis, but the rate is much different.

Commercial charges anywhere from $95 – $125 per hour and residential charges anywhere from $50 – $100 per hour. The rate is extremely different, but keep in mind that commercial works on a large-scale building and residential is more of your small business electrician.

  • Hour requirements

To become a licensed commercial electrician, it requires 2,000 hands-on work hours and 144 classroom hours. To become a licensed residential electrician, you must have completed an approved residential apprenticeship program or 4,000 hands-on work hours, and you must pass a test.


The road to becoming a licensed commercial electrician is no easy task and not everyone is cut out for this type of work. It requires a lot of hard work, a lot of studying, and a lot of long workdays.

They don’t let just anyone get through the program, they only allow the best of the best to make it all the way through.An electrician who works in the commercial industry carries a lot of responsibility on their hands, and they have to be an expert in the field.

They deal with large warehouses, shopping centers, malls, apartment and condo complexes, and office buildings. They have to know exactly what they’re doing every day, and they have to always be on point with their work.

Not only do they install, repair and maintain, but they must also always ensure the electrical systems they work on are always working at 100%.

This is a tough job and it’s not for everyone, but it’s a great trade to know and learn if that’s where you can picture yourself. It’s a great field to get into!

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