What is a commercial electrician?

A commercial electrician is an electrician that works on electrical installations in property intended for commercial use. Commercial electrical covers a huge range of working environments, some examples of these are as follows:

  • Retail outlets
  • Offices
  • Restaurants/bars/cafes
  • Leisure
  • Schools
  • Warehouses
  • Hotels
  • Airports

What does a commercial electrician do?

Commercial electrical work is very varied and can involve working on new build electrical installations, additions/alterations/maintenance on existing electrical installations, inspection, testing and fault finding.

Examples of commercial electrical work:

  • Installation of containment (cable tray, basket, ladder racking etc)
  • Cable pulling
  • Instalation of distribution boards
  • Power lighting and control
  • UPS systems

Other work commercial electricians some times carry out:

  • Fire alarms
  • CCTV
  • LAN (data cabling)
  • Security alarms

What’s it like to be a commercial electrician

Commercial electrical work can be quite enjoyable. Many commercial electrical installations will cover all areas of electrical work so it is quite varied. It can also be quite monotonous, depends what work you end up doing and if you enjoy it!

It can be very long hours and often involves working away and nights shifts. I worked for a number of years on supermarket refits which are done over night when the store is shut. It pays well however is hard work doing nearly 60 hours a week plus travel time. I worked away most of the time anywhere between 2 to 6 hours drive from home.

You can of course find work closer to home doing less hours particularly if sub-contracting.

Do commercial electricians get paid well?

If you’re willing to put the hours in, working as a commercial electrician can pay very well. There’s plenty of work out there where you can do 60 hours + a week. If you’re on the books most employers offer generous overtime rates after 37.5 hours. Even more so if you’re willing to work nights.

If you’re ok with working away there’s even more money to be earned with travel time, digs and food allowances.

To give you an idea the most I earned in a year as an employed (on the books) contracting electrician was £50k. That was working away on 60+ hours a week for about half of the year, then at home doing around 40-50 hours a week for the remainder. This was a mix of day and night shifts. I did £47k as a 4th year apprentice! I know electricians that have earned far more than this.

Do you need an Ipaf for commercial electrical work

Yes you will more than likely need an IPAF to work as a commercial electrical. Many commercial electrical projects you will spend much of your time up a MEWP (mobile elevated work platform – scissor lift, cherry picker etc) working at high level installing containment, pulling in cables, lighting etc often above a ceiling grid.

You will also spend alot of time up step ladders/platforms although many sites do not allow you to or limit how much time you can spend on them. Mewp will always be preferential.

From an employment perspective, particularly if sub-contracting, holding an IPAF will make you much more desirable. Apprentices and employees already ‘on the books’ will usually be put through the course by their employer.

Do you need a Pasma for commercial electrical work

From my experience holding a PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ & Manufacturers’ Association Ltd – mobile scaffold etc) is not essential however again will make you more desirable to potential employers if you hold it.

Do you need an JIB ECS card to be a commercial electrician?

Yes to get on any commercial construction site and carry out electrical installation work you will be asked to provide an ECS card, what every grade that may be.