The job of an industrial electrician is niche and requires skills and knowledge related to the installation and maintenance of all electrical devices and components in industrial buildings. He is required to install, maintain, inspect, troubleshoot and repair or service all types of electrical equipment such as motors, heavy duty machines, pumps, generators, illumination systems, communication systems and many more.
- Their work actively revolves on calibrating, and working on preventing or predictive maintenance as well. Preventive measures may include bending conduit, oiling motors or replacing old wiring in electrical equipment.
- Electricians working in this sector are called by other names as well. They are also known as mill or mine electricians, marine or plant electricians. You will find them working in mines, shipyards, factories and plants, oil and gas rigs, and other industrial enterprises.
- Although their profile can be termed unique, some duties overlap with the job descriptions of construction electricians, facilities mechanic, domestic, rural or low-rise electrician, millwright, instrumentation technician.
Roles and functions of an industrial electrician:
- Troubleshoot and repair all types of electrical equipment.
- Evaluate and recommend a repair and maintenance plan for all electrical equipment, and wiring.
- Troubleshoot and repair material handling equipment.
- Interface with customer and office to repair equipment and service customer needs.
- Maintain and perform scheduled preventive maintenance of all electrical equipment.
Just as electricians across many countries require government-mandated certifications, industrial electricians may require a trade certification as well depending on their country of work. However, in most countries that do not require a trade certification; trade, codes, standards and regulations are still applicable. For example, all electrical contractors in Canada require a mandatory Construction and Maintenance license.
How to become an industrial electrician?
There are many courses available today to qualify as an industrial electrician. Depending on the country you reside in, you can study or work as an apprentice to gain experience as an electrician.
- For example, in the U.K., an aspirant will have to obtain an industry recognized level 3 qualification. Similarly, in the U.S., an aspirant will need to join an Electrician Apprenticeship Program sponsored by the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), or National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
- These programs include both classroom courses and on-job training. These apprenticeships will take about 4 years to complete. In the U.S., aspirants can also study Industrial Electrical Technology at an associate’s degree or certificate level.
- Once they complete the degree, they can transfer the credits to their apprenticeship. Once they complete the apprenticeship, industrial electrician aspirants can take up a state examination to become a licensed Journeyman electrician.
- The job a Journeyman electrician involves working to allow electricity to pass through homes, businesses and factories. The journeyman electrician performs this by installing and maintaining the wiring, fuses and other electrical components involved in the flow of electricity. Journeyman electricians are seen working in residential homes, factories and even large construction projects such as skyscrapers.
Which are the industries where the industrial electrician finds work?
- Steel producers
- Mining companies
- Parts manufacturers
- Electrical firms
- Motor vehicle manufactures
In recent times, advances in robotics have improved automation across large industries and manufacturing houses. However, although high reliable, robots require frequent repair and maintenance. Industrial electricians can choose to become industrial automation electricians as well.
Industrial electricians must be willing to work in difficult conditions too. As part of their job, they may have to climb huge machinery and work in tight spots to identify, troubleshoot and manage various electrical issues. The job also entails the need to have a very good understanding of blueprints and the ability to visualize spaces.
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