A commercial electrician is a qualified electrical technician who focuses on wiring and electrical installations in commercial buildings. Unlike a residential electrician, a commercial electrician works on a larger scale since most commercial buildings require a lot more power and need more advanced electrical installations. However, a large apartment building can be considered a commercial building due to the scale of installations required.
Commercial electricians don’t have to work solely on an office building. Some commercial electricians have dedicated their craft towards certain specific facilities such as mining operations, factories, elevators, security installations, and normal lighting work. Broadly, these categories of commercial electricians can fall into the following subgroups:
• Wind Turbine electrician,
• Building Automation Systems
• Electrical Inspector
• Industrial Electrician
• Low Voltage Electrician
• Security and Fire Alarm Installer
• Sign Specialist Electrician
• Solar Energy Technician
The duties and responsibilities of commercial electricians vary depending on which of the above sub-categories the electrician has specialized. In some cases, this specialization depends on the utility company they work for, and sometimes a qualified and certified commercial electrician will move between these different subgroups depending on the needs of the employer or the availability of work. The commercial electrical industry is therefore wide enough to accommodate a large variety of interests and skills. Most commercial electricians share the following duties:
- Maintaining the electrical systems to ensure they work optimally
- Conduct routine inspection of electrical systems to ensure they are up to code
- Planning electrical systems and pathways for construction
- Installing wiring and electrical components, like switches and lights
- Diagnosing and fixing wiring/electrical components
- Reading technical drawings
- Ascertaining whether state, local, and national guidelines for wiring and electrical systems have been followed.
- Leading teams of electricians.
Training and licensing of commercial Electricians in Canada
Most commercial electricians in Canada start as apprentices. An apprentice has to do both classroom study as well as a practical study under the guidance of a certified electrician, also referred to as a journeyperson. An apprentice earns about 40% of what a certified electrician earns. There are varying entry requirements to enter into an apprenticeship in each of the provinces in Canada. In most provinces, the minimum age is about 16 years and a grade12 education. Some provinces such as Quebec require an apprentice to have studied maths, physics, and English, whereas others already have apprenticeship programs for high school students.
In Canada, the apprenticeship program takes about 4-5 years. These are divided into four 12 month periods with 8000 hours of practical training where the apprentice earns a salary. This is followed by four 8 week periods that involve technical training and a certification exam. A certified electrician in Canada must have the interprovincial standards Red Seal and this is a uniform requirement across all provinces.
The average pay for a commercial electrician is higher than that of a residential electrician. On average a commercial electrician earns C$ 34.25 per hour, but this figure fluctuates depending on the level of certifications. An electrician with the interprovincial standards Red Seal can earn as high as C$41.25.
Commercial electricians work an average of 40 hours per week, however, this is only for the amount of time spent at a site. In most cases, the work of a commercial electrician involves planning and layout, before actual installations or repairs. Experienced electricians know that access to the right tools and assistants goes a long way to assure the work is done faster and with the highest professionalism. For certain commercial properties, commercial electricians have to work as independent contractors, and this means they are answerable to the main contractor. However, a large number of electricians prefer working as employees for major contractors because of the assured work and preferential benefits.
Maintenance is another aspect that commercial electricians have to factor in. The highest earning over a long period comes from maintenance work. The complex electrical systems require the same contractor to conduct maintenance especially if they are the ones who designed the outline. Therefore, a commercial electrician will work closely with electrical engineers to make their work easier.
The scale of commercial buildings makes commercial electrical work quite exhausting. A commercial electrician will have to contend with risks of shock, fire, heights, and harsh weather conditions. Since the electrical works involve indoor and outdoor, commercial electricians must be well conversant with all safety protocols by attaining sufficient safety training and certifications. A good capacity to use tools and harnesses would go a long way in ensuring they work to the best of their level.
Canada is a very diverse country. Some parts such as Quebec are still extensively Francophone and the main language and culture are French. A commercial electrician has to understand French before seeking work in such territories. Electricians from Quebec tend to follow French codes and have a lot more in common with their French counterparts in more ways than just the similarity in language. This affinity for the French language further extends towards using French tools and appliances, whereas the rest of the country might prefer interaction in English.
Language barrier aside, any electrician has to understand the different regulations in the provinces they seek work. Though the rules have a lot of similarities, it is important to still understand the differences. Most Canadian electricians already understand this during their apprenticeship but for others moving into Canada these differences can be quite daunting. Lately, there has been a large influx of Americans and Mexican electricians seeking certification for work as electricians in Canada.
Overall, the work of a commercial electrician is rewarding in Canada and many apprentices immediately find work and fulfilment the more certifications they earn. For foreigners coming into Canada to work as commercial electricians, they must first meet the regulations and certifications at the provincial level as well as other required work permits. In essence, Canada remains a major hub for prospective commercial electricians due to the high benefits and availability of quality jobs.