Industrial Electrician

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* Information retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does an Industrial Electrician Do?

Industrial Electricians are highly skilled individuals who safely install, service and troubleshoot equipment, and perform preventative and predictive maintenance functions. They work with plant lighting equipment, distribution circuits and transformers; motors, starters, and motor control centers; programmable logic controllers, computer-based controls, control panel, and electrical control systems. In addition, they may service high voltage electrical systems. Industrial Electricians perform all work in accordance with relevant codes.

While some of the controls and systems may be similar, Industrial Electricians must understand their unique properties, and must constantly learn new systems and relevant codes.


Before they perform a task, Industrial Electricians must carefully plan and prepare for the work. They review electronic or written blueprints or specifications for a job. Next, they determine which tools and material are needed, and plan the sequence of work.

Work typically falls into one or more of the following categories:

After the work is completed, Industrial Electricians use both simple and highly sophisticated tools to check the accuracy of their work against blueprints.

Because technology is changing rapidly, Industrial Electricians must continuously learn a wide range of machines.

What Are the Working Conditions?

Today, most modern industrial facilities are relatively clean, well lit, and ventilated. Industrial Electricians are typically not limited to a specific work area; rather, they are highly mobile and active throughout the facility, going wherever their skills are needed. However, they must be able to stand for long periods of time and work in cramped or uncomfortable positions and on ladders and lifts. They often work with their hands above their heads, in confined spaces and in a variety of conditions and temperatures, both hot and cold.

Working around machines and equipment and with high voltage presents certain dangers. Industrial Electricians must vigilantly follow safety precautions, and wear personal protective equipment, such as high-voltage suits and gloves, safety belts, protective glasses and/or hard hats, to avoid common hazards.

Industrial Electricians typically work a 40-hour week, and overtime is common.

Knowledge & Training

Persons interested in becoming Industrial Electricians should be mechanically inclined, have good problem-solving abilities, be able to work independently, and be able to do highly accurate work that requires concentration and physical effort.

Industrial Electricians train in apprenticeship programs, informally on the job, and in technical colleges. Regardless of the training setting, Industrial Electricians must possess or gain the following knowledge:

High school or vocational school courses in algebra, geometry and blueprint reading are highly recommended.

Apprenticeship programs consist of on-the-job learning and related classroom instruction lasting up to 4 years. During on-the-job learning, apprentices work almost full time, and are supervised by an experienced Industrial Electrician. Classroom instruction includes AC and DC electricity, safety blueprint reading, motors and generators, and more. Apprenticeship classes are often taught in cooperation with local community or vocational colleges.

A growing number of Industrial Electricians learn the trade through 2-year associate degree programs at community or technical colleges. Graduates of these programs still need significant on-the-job experience before they are fully qualified.

What Does the Apprenticeship Program Require?

What are the Application Requirements?

What Skills Should I Possess?

Additional Resources

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains information on all occupations. For more information on the Machinist trade in the United States, visit:

Sources: Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards Position Descriptions,
Apprenticeship in Wisconsin Handbook

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