An industrial electrician works in buildings such as schools, hospitals, and offices to prevent or resolve electrical issues. They use their expert knowledge of electrical systems to diagnose and fix problems quickly to ensure the organizations in these buildings can continue to run safely and efficiently. If you’re considering becoming an electrician, learning what this specialization entails can help determine if it’s right for you. In this article, we explain how to become an industrial electrician, discuss what they do, list their critical skills, and answer frequently asked questions about this career path.
What is an industrial electrician?
Industrial electricians work in buildings like schools, offices, hospitals, or manufacturing plants and use their knowledge of electrical systems to test, troubleshoot, and repair electronic equipment. They fix issues and check for things that may cause problems in the future to try to avoid them, aiming to cause as little disruption to services as possible. They may hire other industrial electricians to work alongside the building if it is significant. Some industrial electricians may work with an external company and visit establishments to fix issues or perform routine checks.
How to become an industrial electrician
There are several possible paths to becoming an industrial electrician. Below are the steps describing how people interested in this role usually follow. See how to become an industrial electrician:
- Complete your secondary education
Most industrial electricians have a secondary education, including GCSEs. Relevant subjects include physics, mathematics, and technology. High levels in English and science subjects could also be beneficial. Most candidates complete A-Levels, although it’s possible to do a group one diploma with only GSCEs if you’re 16 or older.
- Take a diploma or other relevant course.
Depending on your other qualifications, you can take a Level 1, 2, or 3 diploma in electrical installations. These courses give you the initial knowledge required to become an industrial electrician, including theoretical and practical experience. After completing your certificate, you can take it to the next level or find an apprenticeship or entry-level job.
- Consider a degree
Degrees aren’t usually essential for industrial electricians, but having one helps you secure more senior positions. Relevant degrees include subjects like technology or physics. You typically require relevant A-Levels or an equivalent diploma to apply for a degree.
- Get practical experience
Whether you gain knowledge through a diploma or degree, the next step is gaining practical experience. Many candidates secure this by finding apprenticeships, typically lower-paid jobs where you learn skills in a suitable environment. Often, apprenticeships lead to full-time work. Apprenticeships are usually available in establishments such as offices or factories. Another option is a temporary paid or unpaid internship, which involves working with a company for a short time. It’s less likely for training to lead to permanent employment, though it’s still possible.
- Apply for entry-level jobs.
You can begin submitting applications for entry-level positions if you have some theoretical understanding and practical experience. Use the Indeed job board to locate industrial electrician jobs in your area. These might be in an establishment itself or with an electrician firm. For instance, a hospital might assemble a group of commercial electricians.
- Progress in the industry
After securing your first job and gaining experience, you can progress to a more senior position within your current workplace or by looking for new opportunities. You might aim to oversee a team of electricians or have your industrial electrician firm. Promotions come with extra responsibility, but the financial rewards can be high.
Duties of an industrial electrician
Here are the primary duties of an industrial electrician:
- working in an establishment to monitor the electrical supply
- testing electrical equipment to prevent problems
- troubleshooting equipment when a problem arises
- fixing electrical issues promptly
- creating temporary solutions to ensure that electrical equipment continues to operate while working on a permanent fix
- communicating with other people in the workplace to describe problems and solutions
Industrial electrician skills
Some critical skills can help an industrial electrician perform their work safely and efficiently. Some of these include:
Attention to detail
Keen attention to detail can help you assess problems or, in some cases, find problems before they occur. With observation skills, you could notice that something isn’t functioning correctly and use that to discover a broader issue. Attention to detail can also help you to ensure that you perform your duties with as much care and precision as possible.
Teamwork and communication are essential skills for industrial electricians. Not only do they typically work within a team of other electricians, but they may also collaborate with non-electricians in the workplace. For example, an industrial electrician working in a hospital may communicate with the administration team to ensure they undertake electrical work at a suitable time to minimize patient disruption.
To accurately assess and find the cause of problems, industrial electricians use their knowledge of electrical systems and logical thinking. For example, if there’s a partial power outage in a school, they may use analytical thinking skills to pinpoint the likely cause, depending on the outage area. They can then take steps to fix the problem.
Industrial electricians may use technology to perform some of their duties. They may write reports, send emails about issues and solutions, and use software related to their profession. Computer literacy is becoming a typical requirement for industrial electricians as workplaces become increasingly digital.
Mathematics skills can be helpful in industrial electricians. Basic mathematics, like subtractions, additions, divisions, and multiplications, can help you perform routine calculations and measurements. You may also use geometry to help you determine the angles of electric setups.
Science, specifically physics, skills are helpful for industrial electricians. Physics can help you determine why various electrical malfunctions are occurring. Most industrial electrician diplomas include a substantial amount of physics theory. Knowledge of biology and chemistry may also be helpful.
FAQ about being an industrial electrician
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about being an industrial electrician:
Where does an industrial electrician work?
Industrial electricians can work in hospitals, schools, government buildings, and offices. There may be more work opportunities in places with a high population density, as a high population usually equates to more of these establishments. Industrial electricians could also work in mines, manufacturing plants, and water treatment facilities. You can find these opportunities nationwide, but they may be more common in areas with industrial facilities. Industrial electricians may have an office where they write reports and communicate with colleagues, but they often work on-site.
What hours do industrial electricians work?
Industrial electricians typically work standard office hours, which are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They usually carry out administrative work and routine electrical maintenance during these hours.
If there’s a critical issue or emergency, they may work overtime in the evening or weekend to complete necessary work. In these cases, they usually receive overtime pay or accrue hours to take off in lieu. Senior industrial electricians often have more flexibility with their hours, as their jobs may focus on administrative tasks and team organization.
How long does it take to become an industrial electrician?
It typically takes around five years to become an industrial electrician. Generally, candidates study for two years before taking an apprenticeship or entry-level job. They may then continue to learn while working for another three years to become a fully qualified industrial electrician.