Inside the Job: Wiremen vs. Electricians
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Being in the electrical systems and electrical power equipment industry, it only makes sense that we have certified and skilled electricians on our team. However, depending on the specialization of the individual, these electricians could also be considered wiremen. While our knowledge of electrical power systems calls for us to know the difference, and those educated in the trade also know, we realize not every individual may know what makes an electrician an electrician, and how a wireman is a wireman.

The gist boils down to this: anyone involved, certified, and working in this electrical trade is referred to as an electrician. But, as there are several, broad categories within the electrician job field, those who are in a specific subset can also go by another title; wireman. So in other words, a wireman is an electrician, but has this title because of the type of electrical work he/she does. Just like there are different doctors for essentially every body part (a dermatologist doesn’t do the same work as a cardiologist), there are different positions and proficiencies electricians focus on.

Inside those proficiencies that cause electricians to differ from wiremen, the rabbit hole goes even farther down; the proficiencies that wiremen have vary depending on their specialization. To elaborate on how the work of wiremen differs from universal electricians, there is one main difference. Generally, electricians install and maintain wiring, control, and lighting systems, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When working on wiring, control, and lighting systems, electricians often work in an array of settings. But our team at Gilbert Electrical System tends to work on electrical power equipment that is used in material handling and mineral processing. Other times, electricians are broken down into additional categories, which include linemen. Linemen are those in the electrical field who work on electric utility company distribution systems that are at high voltages. (Maybe we should be calling our team linemen!)

How do electricians and their specific category of linemen contrast from the work a wireman does? The long-awaited answer is not only do wiremen work at lower voltages than linemen, but they have the added responsibility of taking electrical lines and wiring that were installed outside (by linemen, of course), and distribute the electric power inside. To bring electric power inside, wiremen are trained in installing, repairing, and maintaining everything from electrical lines to control systems, fire alarms to computer networks, and electrical outlets to motors, among other apparatuses. But what makes the rabbit hole go even deeper into the electrically powered ground is that wiremen can be separated into two categories: inside wiremen and residential wiremen.

The definitions of these two categories seem to be rather obvious. To break it down simply, an inside wireman works on the interior of commercial operations, which can range from factories to businesses to offices and more. A residential wireman performs essentially the same duties — only, inside a domestic environment that can range from a house to an apartment to a townhouse and other buildings people call home.

In the end, we get taken back to elementary school with a shapes comparison. Although all squares are rectangles, not all rectangles are squares. The same analogy can be used with this electrical profession: Although all wiremen are electricians, not all electricians are wiremen. And at Gilbert Electrical Systems, we’re thankful for that distinction. Besides, the BLS predicts the all-encompassing occupation of electrician will grow by 20 percent by 2022. So the need for people trained in different aspects of electric power will be “charged” up.

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