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Describing someone as an electrician is largely a generic term used to describe what sort of industry they work in, but there are actually many different types of electricians, and it often pays to understand the difference so that you can pick the right one for the job you have in mind.

Licensed and skilled

As you would expect, a suitably qualified electrician will have recognized skills and be fully licensed to carry out electrical work.

There are however differences in the type of work that an electrician may be qualified and equipped to do though.

If you are seeking out info about solar power for example, you will want to find someone who has the necessary skills and qualifications required to install a solar energy system in your home.

Here is a look at the different types of electrician that you will encounter.

Residential work

If you are a homeowner and have some domestic electrical issues that need resolving or want a quote for a rewire, you are looking for a residential electrician.

A residential electrician is qualified to either install, maintain or upgrade the electrical circuits and equipment in your house or apartment.

The scope of their work will normally extend to doing outside lighting and other similar projects. In order to become a residential electrician, there is a minimum four year apprenticeship to complete, followed by a test to confirm their competence, before they can undertake work on their own.

If you appoint a residential electrician, you will know that they have been put through their paces and will be able to offer a professional level of competence, once they are qualified.

Commercial work

As the name implies, a commercial electrician will mainly be found working on commercial projects, such as industrial buildings, constructions sites and also mechanical electrical systems.

Although you will certainly find that a good number of commercial electricians will undertake some installation work, like installing a security system or connecting up a water heater, the scope of their qualifications, means that they will invariably be working on commercial projects rather than carrying out residential work.

There are very rigorous standards that a commercial electrician will need to adhere to, as commercial electrical work does potentially affect public safety, as the work is being carried out in a commercial building and environment.

More than seven years experience

You might also see someone being referred to as a master electrician.

Those classed as a master electrician will have completed at least seven years of experience as an electrician, or they might have completed a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, which earns them the right to be called a master electrician.

It may well be that an electrical contractor who is running their own business, is classed as a master electrician. A person of this stature will have managerial skills as well as experience and qualifications, and you will often find a master electrician working in a supervisory capacity, if they are not running their own business.

Wide variety of contracting tasks

You may also encounter someone who is described as a journeyman electrician.

This type of electrician operates in both the residential and commercial sectors. They will be able to carry out mechanical connections, carry out installation and maintenance of security and communications systems, and deal competently with lighting installations and power supply requirements.

A journeyman electrician will have completed a number of years of on-the-job training and this will have enabled them to acquire the appropriate license in their relevant state.

The fundamental difference between a journeyman and a master electrician is that the journeyman hasn’t yet qualified for their master’s license. This means that they may be required by state law to work alongside a master electrician, and although they will not be permitted to design any electrical system, they can install equipment and wiring.

Picking the right one

The relevance of these different descriptions for an electrician is that many will tend to specialize, so it is a case of picking the right one for the job that you have in mind.

You may well find that a general electrical contractor has access to a list of suitably qualified electricians that are competent and permitted to carry out the required work. Ask for proof of licensing if you are unsure and check that they have the required level of liability level of insurance.

Hopefully, understanding the difference between each type of electrician, will help you to pick the right one and get the job done with the minimum of fuss.

Charles Barker is semi-retired now, but worked as an electrician all his life since entering the trade as an apprentice at 16. He discovered his enjoyment of writing soon after he realized he had so much extra time on his hands, and spends his free days writing, doing odd-jobs around the house and spending time with his grandchildren.


 
 
 

 
 

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