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What are the pros and cons of being a residential electrician vs commercial?
Residential work sucks.

Commercial work sucks a little less, but not much less.

Industrial motor controls, plc's, etc. is about the only thing that keeps me interested in this trade anymore (Commercial fire alarms are ok too). Imo if you have to suffer through this trade everyday, industrial is the way to go.
 

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What are the pros and cons of being a residential electrician vs commercial?
In Vermont residences all we see are obese addicts w/matted body hair mainlining syrup , and cutting up cabot cheese with razors on mirrors....:jester:

~CS~
 

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You will find that this question will be answered differently by many people. Some love commercial while others hate it. I made my living doing residential but I like the contact with people that you get more of working residential.

The down side is crawling in attics and crawl spaces etc but that never bothered me. You need to find what you like the best. There is also a difference between remodeling and new construction in both commercial and residential work. There is no one answer but I am pretty certain you can make more money in commercial- but you can lose more also.
 

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If you need to suffer through anything you should find something new to do.

Commercial is nice cause it's going to be pipe work, different equipment,variation of work and not as much customer interaction.

Residential is nice cause the materials are going to be close to the same on most jobs along with the system. Customer interaction is large and paramount.

Industrial has it's benefits. Troubleshooting is the name of the game. Sometimes high pressure. Need in-depth understanding of theory. You get to know your area, building, or campus very well and can become the go to guy.

IMO it's all great! Do it all if you get the chance.
 

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I have done mainly resi/ light commercial / agricultural work mostly and as most of these guys are saying you need to find what suits you best.
Resi has its pitfalls for sure like Dennis said. I have grown to hate the attics and crawl space jobs.
But at the same time I enjoy the interaction with customers.. some good , some really bad.
There are days where you just want to do your job and not be bothered by customers too.
I have to admit because of the area I work in mostly ,I lack the experience to do some of the commercial/industrial work which I wish I had more experience with.
Keeps the brain stimulated, and I don't mean running pipe for days on end.
That is what has attracted me to the service side if things.
Trouble shooting seems to be both challenging and satisfying at the same time. FOR ME.
Exposure to as much as possible is the way to start out.
Then run with what you really enjoy!
 

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As an apprentice, you should be trying to get a variety of experience. Sometimes that's not easy, particularly when your first priority is simply being employed.
 

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Pro's to commercial; you don't have to deal with homeowners
you can focus on the electrical portion of the job
you don't have to stress yourself out thinking about the "HOW" as often

Pro's to residential; you get to interact with people
it's always something new and a little different, and often more out of the box thinking which makes it fun (unless it's tract home new construction, then it just sucks)


Cons to commercial; it's more physically demanding
the work is often very repetitive/boring

cons to residential; you have to deal with homeowners
you need to be more than an electrician; this includes being a "people person", "cleaning person", and sometimes a "moving person". Plus lots more.



I like a good split of them both, but we do considerably more residential than commercial. However, the commercial jobs (especially fit outs) are brainless jobs that are a great change of pace from doing residential. Industrial is where it's at.
 

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as others said, in commercial you can be a complete animal, and not required to have the slightest bit of manners, or even an "inside voice".

residential is nice, and there is the occasional wacky partially/fully naked female that might cause you to lose your job.

it's all fun. you need to do it all if you are going to be a well rounded electrician/man about town.
 
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Electrical work, in general, is no picnic. I've done mostly residential work my whole life, so it's the easiest and most enjoyable for me.

Commercial work is the most physically difficult and requires the least thought. Contrary to what piperunner would have us believe, commercial construction work is definitely the bottom of the barrel as far as I'm concerned. It's monotonous, you work with criminals and drug/alcohol addicts all day long, and you destroy your body.

Industrial controls and machinery and fire alarm are where you get to use your brain the most and your body the least.
 

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What are the pros and cons of being a residential electrician vs commercial?
I'll ask you a question: What are the cons of not doing both??
 

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I'll ask you a question: What are the cons of not doing both??
Exactly. I'm just as comfortable if I'm threading a stick of GRC, bending some EMT, hanging a high-bay, hanging a ceiling fan or, roping a house. I always see these commercial vs. residential vs. industrial threads and laugh. Why anyone would think that one type of work or another is beneath them or, want to limit themselves to one particular niche is beyond me.

I'm not a commercial, industrial or, residential electrician....I'm just an electrician. One that you can stick pretty much anywhere and get production from. And that makes me much more valuable than someone that has only done certain types of work their entire career.

Just my 2 pennies.
 

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CopperSlave said:
Exactly. I'm just as comfortable if I'm threading a stick of GRC, bending some EMT, hanging a high-bay, hanging a ceiling fan or, roping a house. I always see these commercial vs. residential vs. industrial threads and laugh. Why anyone would think that one type of work or another is beneath them or, want to limit themselves to one particular niche is beyond me. I'm not a commercial, industrial or, residential electrician....I'm just an electrician. One that you can stick pretty much anywhere and get production from. And that makes me much more valuable than someone that has only done certain types of work their entire career. Just my 2 pennies.
More truth spoken!
 

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I'm not a commercial, industrial or, residential electrician....I'm just an electrician. One that you can stick pretty much anywhere and get production from. And that makes me much more valuable than someone that has only done certain types of work their entire career.
I guess it all depends on what type of work you want to do. I work for a commercial/industrial contractor. Knowing residential wouldn't make me more valuable to them.

When people ask me what I do for a living I tell them I'm a commercial/industrial electrician. The only residential work we do is the occasional job for friends of the boss or once in a while a small job for a good commercial customer as a favor to keep them happy. I hate every second of it. When someone asks me to do side work I usually tell them I'm not a residential electrician and they should call someone else. There is nothing about residential work that peaks my interest at all.

To each their own.
 

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I guess it all depends on what type of work you want to do.
I don't want to do any of it.:) I just haven't figured out a way to get paid to drink beer and do what I want.
My point to the OP was, don't limit yourself to just one thing....get as much experience as you can and find what suits you.

I've worked with some resi guys that were amazing on houses and dealing with homeowners and couldn't bend a decent saddle to save their ass. Just as I've seen some damn good conduit benders that look lost laying out a kitchen in a custom home.

I've never liked to do any one thing too much....repetitive work makes me sad.
 
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