What is the difference between a Residential and Commercial Electrician?

residential commerical electrician

A commercial electrician may also be trained to install and operate electrical paneling that would not be present on a residential property. One major difference is that in a commercial property, the wiring must be accessible at all times to prevent potential fire hazards. There are stricter fire safety codes than would be seen with residential coding because of the higher voltage. (1)

Commercial electricians might also have to work with other technicians, such as HVAC technicians, when working within a commercial building, and there is less of a chance of interacting directly with the owner of the property than in a residential space, than the project manager or supervisor.

“Each of these types of wiring requires different amounts of electricity as well as different atmospheric conditions. That’s why both commercial and residential wiring require different expertise when it comes to repairs and installation. “


Most of the skills that commercial and residential electricians acquire are similar in the sense that they work with wiring, but the size and quality of the wiring they work with differs.

Residential electricians try to ensure that their wiring is out of sight for the homeowner to maintain a more aesthetically pleasing interior, and they follow standard regulations to promote safety. The systems that the build and maintain, however, are smaller. Larger systems are used for larger commercial buildings.

The circuits required for residential properties tend to be able to withstand a lower voltage in comparison to commercial buildings as well.

Electrical Licensing and Education Requirements

Electricians can be categorized based on their certification and level of expertise. An apprentice electrician is still in their training phase and may be operating under the supervision of a mentor while still attending schooling. This is generally what occurs as they then are hired by the commercial electrician group that is completing their training.

Apprenticeship length varies from state-to-state but thousands of hours of work and several years of training are the required minimum, across the board. Once the apprentice electrician has completed this training, they are considered certified journeyman electricians and are allowed to work without supervision.

After years of working and thousands more hours accrued as a journeyman electrician, an electrician would be considered a master electrician. These electricians are trained and capable of working in industrial projects as managers. They have the experience and knowledge to create the blueprints that other electricians would work with.

What are the Different Types of Electricians?

There are different types of electricians that you might hire depending on the property and project that you have planned out. While many of the skills that they learn and utilize are similar, there are great differences in what scale they operate within. A residential electrician has been prominently trained to work within a residential property while a commercial electrician works on commercial properties.

What is a Residential Building?

A residential building is defined as a building specifically used for normal lodging purposes. It may contain cooking and plumbing facilities and tends to have no more than four units for sleeping arrangements. The main sorts of residential buildings include single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, condominiums, and the surrounding land.

What is a Residential Electrician?

What is a residential electrician

As stated above, a residential electrician is a tradesman that has been trained to work within residential buildings. Their focus is on the intricacies of family homes, condos, and any buildings that are approved for people to be living in them. Their focus is on installing and maintaining wiring systems and electrical components while also respecting the people that will be occupying the space.

Residential electricians work with lighting fixtures, air conditioners, power outlets, and the circuits that run within the home to ensure a safe and proper flow of electricity. They are trained to interpret blueprints and be capable of diagnosing critical problems within the building that might cause danger or interruption to the residents’ daily life. There are local and federal regulations and codes that they must follow of which these residential electricians require constant understanding.

What is a Residential Electrician Salary?

Location ultimately decides how much a licensed residential electrician makes though level of training also impacts a salary. An electrician working within a less densely populated area, such as a rural area or town, would possibly make far more when compared to cities and suburban areas.

On average, a residential electrician may be expected to make around $42,000 to $50,000 per year. Some residential electricians prefer to operate independently and make slightly less than those that work within an electrical company.

What is a Commercial Building?

A commercial building is defined as a building used for commercial activities and used for conducting business. Such examples of these would be considered retail businesses, banks, office work, food service and restaurants, warehouses. A commercial building would see a greater amount of activity and foot traffic than a residential building and requires a different set of skills for electricians due to sheer volume and size.

What is a Commercial Electrician?

What is a commercial electrician

A commercial electrician is a tradesman that focuses on buildings meant for commercial purposes as opposed to residential homes. The buildings that they work with tend to have more exposure to the elements and wear-and-tear of traffic in comparison to the typical apartment or townhouse. Some examples of these buildings include high rise buildings, offices, restaurants, and even outdoor properties such as parks or stadiums. Most public buildings are considered to be commercial properties unless more than 60% of the space within is designated for dwelling purposes.

Commercial electricians tend to work in environments that are prone to cramping or overheating given the sort of property that they are employed on. Considering the different sizes of the buildings, commercial electricians must maintain a versatile and wide knowledgebase.

With constant foot traffic, the typical building will require more maintenance to prevent electrical problems from occurring in the future. Commercial electricians are capable of reading blueprints and following them to pinpoint what errors might occur in the future and to work on them preemptively. Many commercial electricians will work with other technicians, such as HVAC technicians, and are trained to properly scope out what they are required to do with others in mind.

What is a Commercial Electrician Salary?

Similarly to a residential electrician, a commercial electrician’s salary depends on the location that they operate within. In such a case as a commercial electrician, on average, working with commercial buildings might net them a salary anywhere from $48,000 to $78,000. This is also largely dependent on what commercial electrical company that they are employed by as it is far less likely for a commercial electrician to operate by themselves.

Can you transfer From One Electrician Specialty to Another?

It is entirely possible to transfer from one electrician specialty to another; however, since both specialties require different knowledge and training, it is highly recommended that the electrician pursues additional education in that aspect of their field. (2)

Many ECs hold licenses in multiple states and jurisdictions and are supportive of an examination program that is reciprocal across multiple jurisdictional lines. “
– EC Mag

Commercial and residential electricians utilize and work with different types of wiring systems and hardware. Due to this, some states require additional time to be spent in a new apprenticeship for the change to be applicable.

Do homeowners need to be licensed to wire their own house?

It is entirely possible to do your own electrical work within your own residential property in most states, but this can be a dangerous task and is usually dependent on your local coding standards. Some require a permit while others require all wiring, outside of small projects, done by trained licensed electricians. All work would require a licensed inspector’s approval after the fact.

Before setting off on a project, look up your state and local areas laws to determine whether or not you are allowed to do your own electrical wiring and to what extent. In all cases, it is recommended to have a professional electrician involved in electrical work in order to, at the least, cut costs from possible trial-and-error. Hiring a professional will make sure that the job is done properly from the get-go rather than after the third or fourth attempt.

Why Should You Hire a Professional Electrician?

Outside of ultimately saving money from having to repair mistakes that might occur if you are not trained as an electrician, some states and local areas require a licensed professional. If you are uncertain whether your area requires it, it is recommended to look into it prior to beginning any project on your own. A professional licensed electrician is educated to diagnose, troubleshoot, and work in a strictly regulated, safe way that prevent potential fires, electrical damaging, as well as to ensure your and your family or business’s safety.

Having a professional residential or commercial electrician will extend the life of your electrical wiring and ultimately be cost effective in the long run. To make matters better, most electricians are guaranteed with their electrical work. Visit Same Day Pros  to find a professional licensed Electrician near you.


  1. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), 5 Main Differences Between Residential and Commercial Electrical Work, https://r5.ieee.org/rgv/2020/11/14/5-main-differences-between-residential-and-commercial-electrical-work
  2. Electrical Contractor, Expansion of Electrical License Reciprocity : Update on NASCLA Accredited Electrical Examination Program, https://www.ecmag.com/section/codes-standards/expansion-electrical-license-reciprocity-update-nascla-accredited

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