There are different types of licenses for electricians. A general electrician is licensed to do general electrical work including those in residential homes and other small-scale infrastructures. A commercial electrician, on the other hand, has the education and training to deal with the more complex electrical system of a commercial building, with its numerous lighting, heating, air-conditioning, ventilation, CCTV and telecommunications requirements, not to mention the operation of building-specific equipment such as elevators and escalators.
On the other hand, there are industrial electricians, whose education and training have prepared them for the more rigorous and demanding job of maintaining the electrical system of more specialized facilities. Examples would include manufacturing or production facilities, and of course, transport terminals such as airports and air controller buildings.
This type of electrical work is far more specialized than other types of general electrical work. The electrical systems in these kinds of facilities are far more complex, involving large and expensive types of machinery, specific temperature and environmental requirements, high tech communications and transportation systems. For an airport, in particular, which involves the daily operations of passenger planes, the lives and welfare of thousands of passengers, and airspace safety, it is doubly more important that the airport’s facilities are not only properly installed, but well-maintained. The services of an industrial electrician command high premium not only because of its unique demands, but also because it is far more rigorous, demanding and exacting than general electrical work. Even a small mistake could compromise the transportation industry and the welfare of a great number of people. The air transportation industry is a public utility, and requires the highest standards in electrical maintenance.
This is why the process of becoming an industrial electrician is rigorous. Aside from the educational requirements, one needs at least four years of apprenticeship, including at least 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid practical training. You are required to be familiar with reading blueprints, electrical codes, safety and first aid practices, fire alarm systems, elevators, and communications. Most importantly, you are expected to have the knowledge and practical experience with the power needs of the facility you are servicing, and knowledge in how to handle high voltage systems and equipment, and how to maintain and repair electric devices. An industrial electrician’s work is crucial because the loss of power in any crucial area of the facility could mean large costs and the stalling of the entire operation of the facility.
In a large and complex facility such as an airport, with thousands and millions of independently moving parts and staff and people, each with his or her own job to do, the continuous supply of power is all-important to ensure the smooth running of the entire facility. Airports provide a specific service, which is transportation. Safety is therefore paramount, not only to prevent electrical dangers but also to prevent transportation issues or problems.
So, while the demand for industrial electricians might not be as high as those for commercial electricians, the unique nature of the industrial electrical industry means that the possible industries where one can work are limited, but the expected return for such specialized service commands great respect and high pay.