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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys I’m about 7 months out before I can write my exam. I’m starting to feel like I want explore a new area of the field. How hard would it be to switch over to industrial. I’ve applied to a couple factory’s no luck yet. I understand that my experience is in residential little commercial. I was wondering If any here has made the switch over to industrial from residential. And give there experience with there switch.
 

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Magic Smoke Remover
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My formal training is commercial, and a few years as a theatrical electrician which is a whole different world… when I went out on my own as a residential contractor it was very very different to go from trapeze and pipe (or generators and ridiculously heavy cable) to rope 🤦‍♂️ I think it’ll be a shock at first (lol) but you’ll fit into the grove of it, it’s just a different way to do the same magic.

My company also does HVAC and plumbing, so on new construction we may not even touch a breaker and another EC gets that job. It’s fun to watch the Union guys come in and me have to show them how to use your lineman’s sideways to bang on a Carlon box or how to bring that romex into a surface mount exterior panel. You’ll have some humble pie to eat at first, that’s for sure.

what an exciting journey you are about to embark on!
 

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Chief Flunky
Field Service Engineer
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Hi guys I’m about 7 months out before I can write my exam. I’m starting to feel like I want explore a new area of the field. How hard would it be to switch over to industrial. I’ve applied to a couple factory’s no luck yet. I understand that my experience is in residential little commercial. I was wondering If any here has made the switch over to industrial from residential. And give there experience with there switch.
In Canada the licenses are different.

In general the skills other than the basics are completely different. I mean you almost never even consider NM-B in industrial, not even solid conductors. In industrial you use conduit, MC, tray, etc. You might use flex but it will most likely be LFMC, almost never nonmetallic. And construction needs metalworking and welding skills, stuff you almost never need in residential. And where in residential honestly the Code pretty much dictates everything down to where you place boxes, you end up doing a lot of 3 phase and motor work and do a lot of your own design. It’s more on your own workmanship and reputation. I maybe run into an inspector once every few years and pulling permits is a great way to get run off a job. And this doesn’t even touch on instrumentation, controls, motor circuits, and distribution systems. Again almost none of that applies to residential.

Even troubleshooting is different. In residential if you suspect or find a breaker problem you just replace it without trying to troubleshoot. Not so in industrial where breakers can cost tens of thousands. There is a lot more “just replace” in residential service work. And a lot of industrial parts may no longer be available, and even when they are, the local supply houses don’t carry them in stock; everything has to be ordered. And I’ve seen motors with 54 week lead times. Plus everybody complains about lack of prints and it can speed up troubleshooting but they are almost as common as residential but in addition to needing to know how things normally work there is a lot more “process”. For instance you kind of need to know how industrial burners work to work on them. And the way they work is much more complicated than a Weber grill,

But the basics of troubleshooting for instance or construction planning and scheduling or supervising a job work anywhere. So those skills transfer. You just need the knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
In Canada 309A can work in industrial, Im just applying at all the local factory’s hopefully I get a phone call back
 

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Big nosed attic troll
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Just keep being persistent! Things will work our sooner or later….
 

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industrial E,I&C
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In Canada 309A can work in industrial, Im just applying at all the local factory’s hopefully I get a phone call back
Industrial applications are all about name dropping.

Buy (beg) a cheap allen bradley vfd then set it up for single phase to 3 phase conversion. Add a 9 lead motor and learn how to make it start/stop and control speed.

Now with a little practice you can name drop Allen Bradley, motor and vfd on your application. You do not need to be a expert but you do need to have a basic understanding of what they are talking about during a interview. (good thing is most of the people interviewing you have no idea which is why they are looking for name dropping).
Once in you will be expected to hit the ground running. I hope you like reading technical manuals.
 

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Industrial Mostly, Panels and drives
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You mention 309A so I am assuming you are in Ontario. If you are in Southern Ontario and licensed there are probably a dozen places that will take you tomorrow. That won't help you learn, but you will get exposed to industrial.

Industrial life will really depend who you work with. Some really neat equipment, but also some really shitty work done at places for years. I would say industrial gets away worth almost as much corner cutting as home owners do
 

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Maybe you want to get on with a contractor that is more diversified for a few years first. That will help break you out of that 'resi' pigeonhole.

I was fortunate to get a very mixed-bag apprenticeship with the IBEW. Resi for me was concrete highrise condos - basically armoured cable and smurf-tube by the mile. That came in addition to institutional, commercial, and substation work. Even got some sawmill machinery work as a 4th year. I'm currently in an industrial role, but I did have to take an entry-level non-electrical position to start.

FWIW, this 309A stuff doesn't come up out west here in BC. You either have an Electrician trade-qualification (TQ) or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have 7 months left on my apprenticeship, I’ve applied to a few factory’s no calls yet. Maybe I should get on with different contractor who does a mix of everything and go from there I’m only 23 so there’s no rush
 

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Big nosed attic troll
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I have 7 months left on my apprenticeship, I’ve applied to a few factory’s no calls yet. Maybe I should get on with different contractor who does a mix of everything and go from there I’m only 23 so there’s no rush
Me too
 

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I am 100 % retired now. Enjoying life :)
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Lot's of guys start out in residential and move into commercial and industrial. Just keep looking something will come up. Maybe you can find a contractor that does both and he will take you on for residential and work you into commercial. Just show good work ethics and the desire to learn and I'm sure you will get there.
 

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Chief Flunky
Field Service Engineer
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I have 7 months left on my apprenticeship, I’ve applied to a few factory’s no calls yet. Maybe I should get on with different contractor who does a mix of everything and go from there I’m only 23 so there’s no rush
Like anything else give it time. Without seeing the rest of your resume it sounds like job hopper. And you are walking out on an apprenticeship. If I was HR I’d be worried that you get up to speed then ditch in six months.

Plus as I said…residential and industrial are very different.Like I said though I’ll bet you can hang receptacles and wire a room in your sleep. None of that is remotely useful in industrial. Even you you don’t do it to Code in say an office rehab nobody will know or care. It is to the point where we just tell the HR clerks that if nothing on the resume looks like commercial or residential, throw it out. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time. I know this is harsh but it’s reality.

Another option around here is volunteer as a mentor for FIRST Robotics. Sure Dean Karen does every kick off while higher than a kite but a lot of the stuff they work with is essentially industrial electronics. Just that the core controller, breakers, and motors are purposely power limited.

Another option is “charity” like farmers. I can guarantee when you deal with the guys that don’t give two hoots about doing things legally you will be in the trenches and dealing with som crazy stuff. Don’t even mention CEC. Just explain WHY it’s wrong and the consequences. And it gets you tons of experience. They just want somebody to help them and most are too clueless to jump all over you. The downside is no mentors. You learn by doing. But it’s good resume material.
 

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Scada Supervisor
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Buy (beg) a cheap allen bradley vfd then set it up for single phase to 3 phase conversion. Add a 9 lead motor and learn how to make it start/stop and control speed.

Now with a little practice you can name drop Allen Bradley, motor and vfd on your application. You do not need to be a expert but you do need to have a basic understanding of what they are talking about during a interview.
I interviewed a guy a few months back that said he had VFD experance. We asked him how he would setup the drive basics. He said Power in top, Motor in bottom, then just plug in the blue cable and that is it, it does the rest.
 

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I interviewed a guy a few months back that said he had VFD experance. We asked him how he would setup the drive basics. He said Power in top, Motor in bottom, then just plug in the blue cable and that is it, it does the rest.
Pretty standard around these parts. That's all the installer does. Some office guy has done a pre-setup, and they send a tech out at the end of the job for commissioning and fine-tuning. The apprentices and JW's are on the next job by then...
 

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I worked for a resi shop in the early 80s that got a tire shop . We went from tract houses to commercial in less than a year . Then off to PW work . Then got into industrial did some factories . So roll with it you can . power and light don't change just methods do . We also did low volt too . Thats how I cut my teeth .

The shop I work for now we bid it all . We do it all and with a small crew that aint scared .

If you want to learn you can learn . We hire those with that mindset .
 

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OP, sounds like you've been in the trade long enough that maybe you have former co-workers who ended up in different fields of operation. I have always made a point to keep in contact with former co-workers that I had liked to work with. Even if it's an email/call/text/ message every few years.

Such a relationship was my ticket transitioning from resi to industrial/oilfield automation maintenance. I had a former coworker put in a good word for me to his boss and that got me in the door for an interview. I doubt I would have even know that job was available without his help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I’ve been at one shop my whole apprenticeship which is just me and my boss. So I don’t really have any ex coworkers to contact. I understand my experience is not even close to industrial. I just want to further my knowledge in the trade and get more experience. After doing residential for 5 years and little commercial it starts to get boring
 

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Would you have interviewed him if he said he had no experience.
No we were looking for someone with experience on large drives. BUT if he would of said I never did the setup or troubleshooting of a drive but I know how it supposed to work and am willing to learn, that would of been a better answer.
Cowboy
 
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