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What Does an Industrial Electrician Do?


An industrial electrician installs, repairs, and maintains electrical systems in industrial settings. They can read and interpret blueprints and technical drawings and follow all relevant codes and regulations.

Companies must have an industrial electrician on staff to prevent fires or injuries caused by malfunctioning equipment. These professionals often create reports or logs of company appliances to help managers keep track of maintenance.

Industrial electricians work on heavy machinery, such as that found in factories, oil refineries, and power plants. They install, test, and repair electrical systems in these settings. They often work overnight and weekends but are well compensated for these shifts. Most industrial electricians have a high school diploma and have completed an apprenticeship or a post-secondary training program at a trade school. A few of these electricians have a college degree in electrical engineering, technology, and electrical engineering.

Many states and industries employ more industrial electricians than others. Those working in manufacturing, mining, and construction have some of the highest employment levels. These positions also pay well and offer benefits, including a 401K and medical, dental, and life insurance.

Two main ways to become an industrial electrician are to complete a post-secondary education program at a trade school or take on a union-sanctioned electrician apprenticeship. The education option typically requires two to three years and includes classroom instruction and hands-on experience with equipment. An apprenticeship can take longer but provides the advantage of earning wages while learning on the job.

Apprenticeships are available through union programs affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), non-union trade schools, and electrical contractors. The advantage of a union-sanctioned program is that it often offers better pay, benefits, and advancement opportunities. However, the downside is that you are locked into the union for a few years as you work toward becoming a journeyman electrician.

Once you are a journeyman electrician, you can seek a special or master electrician license. The special license allows you to work in specific buildings or lots, such as hospitals, hotels, and school districts. The master license lets you bid on any electrical work.

Regardless of your chosen path, both require you to be mechanically inclined and skilled at using tools. You must also be detail-oriented and capable of reading blueprints and electrical schematics. It is helpful to have a basic understanding of computer software, such as Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), and the ability to work in various industrial environments.

Industrial electricians install electrical systems in new buildings as part of their job. They also inspect existing systems and make recommendations for repairs. They must follow several plant and OSHA safety policies when working with electricity, including using personal protective equipment (PPE). They may need to communicate with clients to ensure they understand their needs before work begins.

Whether working on an installation or a repair, industrial electricians use various tools to complete their work. That includes large equipment such as motors, transformers, and generators. In addition, they need to know how to read blueprints and technical drawings to ensure they are installing the right electrical components for the correct system.

An industrial electrician can work well with a team of people. They often need to communicate with clients and co-workers to make sure they understand their requirements for a particular project. They also need to be able to follow instructions from supervisors and managers to complete their work.

In addition to their electrical expertise, industrial electricians must have physical stamina and manual dexterity. Their work requires them to lift heavy objects and climb ladders or scaffolding when inspecting and repairing equipment. They also need good organizational skills to keep track of paperwork and files associated with their job.

When a commercial or industrial building experiences an electrical issue, it can be a critical issue that threatens productivity and potentially the safety of staff members. Because of this, it’s vital that an industrial electrician is available for emergency repairs and to provide ongoing maintenance services.

As an industrial electrician, you can find jobs in several different industries. Depending on your qualifications and experience, you can receive a decent salary for this role. Apprentices tend to receive the lowest salaries, while master industrial electricians can negotiate a higher pay rate depending on their skill level and experience. Your job location can also influence how much you will earn, as many cities offer better wages than rural areas.

Electrical problems aren’t just a matter of fixing them once they occur; industrial electricians also perform routine maintenance. That can include monitoring electrical systems to detect problems or potential problems and recommending future repairs or maintenance. An industrial electrician must understand how the system works so they can offer accurate advice and prevent issues from arising in the future.

This type of work requires physical stamina, manual talent, and the ability to follow health and safety regulations. People in this role often work in cramped spaces and may need to climb ladders or scaffolding when inspecting equipment. They also use hand tools like pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, knives, and conduit benders. Some of these tools require special care, so the electrician must know how to handle them.

A career in this field can be very rewarding. After completing an apprenticeship, an industrial electrician can become a master electrician and move into roles that require management skills, such as an electrical supervisor or factory manager. It’s common for those in this field to continue their education by taking courses that can improve their technical knowledge and increase their salary.

An industrial electrician must know electrical codes and standards, including the National Electrical Code (NEC). These electricians may oversee contractors to ensure all work is carried out correctly. They also analyze data, review project plans, and provide recommendations during contractors’ meetings.

In addition to repairing electrical problems, an industrial electrician must keep records of all work performed and maintain an inventory of electrical supplies. They may also conduct inspections of the facility and its equipment and write reports when required. This job can be challenging, but it is very satisfying for those who enjoy working with their hands and have the technical skills needed to do well in this industry.

Industrial electrical work involves working with more significant amounts of voltage and sensitive machinery, which requires specialized training and licensure. An industrial electrician’s services are typically needed to repair or maintain complex and expensive systems in businesses, warehouses, factories, and production facilities.

These systems include electrical wiring, lighting fixtures, and the equipment used. Industrial electricians perform repairs and maintenance tasks based on blueprints, technical drawings, and electrical code specifications.

In addition to inspecting and repairing existing electrical systems, an industrial maintenance electrician may be called upon to install electrical equipment and lighting in new buildings or warehouses. This type of work is often done on an emergency basis to minimize production downtime and ensure the safety of workers.

Industrial electricians follow a supervisor’s instructions during installation to complete the task. They also ensure that all safety measures are adhered to in the workplace. Apprentice industrial electricians typically work with experienced journeymen to gain hands-on experience. Once an electrician has gained enough experience to become a journeyman, they can begin performing independent electrical equipment repairs and maintenance.

After an industrial electrician inspects a piece of equipment or a system, they may test it to ensure the components function properly. Sometimes, they may need to order new parts and perform additional repairs to get the equipment running again. They must also maintain logs of all equipment tested, repaired, or replaced.

An industrial maintenance electrician works for electrical contractors and the maintenance departments of manufacturing plants, mines, shipyards, warehouses, and other industrial establishments. They have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as physical stamina. That very hands-on job often involves climbing ladders and bending over for extended periods.

An industrial electrician’s preventive maintenance procedures are designed to identify and fix minor problems before they escalate into major issues that could lead to costly production disruptions. It also helps to ensure that electrical equipment is operating at peak efficiency, which can reduce energy consumption and associated costs.