Commercial electricians perform work in offices and businesses, usually installing lighting and power outlets. Their wiring, however, more often than not follows a three-step approach, utilizing two smaller, secondary circuits to supply power and a third larger circuit, called the main circuit, to supply electricity to the buildings overall power needs. Depending on a company’s power requirements which can be 120 volts/ 208 volts, or even higher, depending upon the area of the building that the work is to be performed in. In smaller buildings, the three step approach often uses a direct 12 volt supply. However, for larger buildings, the three step approach is more often utilized using an alternating current (AC) electrical supply.
In addition to installing lighting and power outlets, commercial electricians are also responsible for installing and maintaining the electrical systems such as ventilation systems, water heating, air conditioning, and electrical conduit. Electrical conduit refers to the pipes and wires used to supply power to various appliances and electronics within commercial buildings. Properly installed, conduit prevents accidents, fire and many other hazards from occurring.
All commercial electricians must obtain certification in order to safely perform work within the workplace. Currently, most states require that an individual obtain at least a general contractor’s license in order to legally perform work related to electricity. At this point, it is important to note that there are numerous types of licenses available in North America. Some states require only that the commercial electrician have the ability to read and follow plans; some only require that he or she have knowledge of specific processes involved with each type of license. While the majority of states require at least a general understanding of how commercial electrical systems work, it is typically required of all commercial electricians to take and pass a competency exam, which is offered by the North American Registry of Certified Electrical Contractors (NAR).
In addition to competency testing, a commercial electrician must complete a comprehensive background examination that examines his or her education, training, certification, work experience, and knowledge regarding electricity. Most states require that candidates successfully complete this exam before they can become licensed. Candidates will need to successfully complete the exam not only to satisfy the state’s requirement, but also to demonstrate that they have significant industry experience and knowledge of electrical safety and control systems. In addition to being prepared for the exam, prospective candidates should also research salary ranges and average salaries for similar job duties. By examining salary trends and data on average number of hours worked per year, you will be able to identify a candidate that falls within your budget.
In addition to competency testing and licensing, you will also need to consider the tools and equipment that a particular electrician uses. An electrician who is experienced in commercial electrical systems will typically utilize tools and equipment that are similar to those utilized by plumbers and electricians. Therefore, you will want to verify that the tools being used by the electrician are appropriate for the building that you will be conducting work in. For example, an electrician who works with structures that are more than one story in height will likely require scaffolding. A competent electrician will be able to show you copies of their current licensing documents as well as tools and equipment that they utilize on a daily basis.
The majority of commercial electricians will utilize telephones and internet based applications when communicating with clients. While telephone calls may be typical, most electricians will prefer to use email. Businesses will typically provide a specific amount of time to conduct business via email. When using email, you should ensure that your commercial electrician has installed and updated all necessary software so that they are able to effectively and efficiently communicate with you. Finally, you may want to consider paying for the professional to conduct walk-throughs of electrical systems that you would like to have repaired.
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