According to Forbes.com, electricians are among America’s highest-paid blue collar workers, earning a median salary of $28.35 an hour or $58,970 a year.
An electrician provides vital services to society that is rewarded with well-paying salaries and incremental pay increases as experience level increases. Electricians install and repair power systems, so the lights, fixtures and appliances people need in their daily lives can run smoothly.
Most electricians start out as apprentices for four years, working under seasoned electricians to learn the ropes of the trade.
Apprentices usually get paid salaries between 30 and 50 percent of what fully trained electricians make. As apprentices learn more, their pay increases periodically. Electrician apprentices can expect to earn between $9.81 and $18.65 per hour.
The region of the country and amount of experience an apprentice has also influence wages. An electrician apprentice in areas with high costs of living – such as New York or California – will usually earn more than an someone living in an area with lower costs of living – such as St. Louis or Atlanta.
Experience level also influences an apprentice’s salary, as apprentices with a few years of training will be able to bring more skills to the job and will earn higher wages. As with most fields, entry level electricians earn less than more experienced electricians.
Apprentices earn higher wages with overtime and bonuses. For overtimes work, apprentices earn between $13.57 and $27.08 per hour. Apprentices earn between $0 and $1,212 annually for bonuses.
Once an electrician is certified, he or she can expect to earn between $13 an hour and more than $38 an hour. As with apprentices, factors such as experience level and geographic location come into play, with the most experienced electricians earning higher wages.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median hourly wages of wage and salary electricians were $22.32 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $17 and $29.88 per hour. The lowest 10 percent of electricians earned less than $13.54, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $38.18 an hour.
In addition to experience level and geography determining electrician salary, the type of industry an electrician works in plays a role in determining salary amounts. The U.S. Department of Labor says that about 79 percent of electricians work in the construction industry and are self-employed, but some electricians work in other industries as well.
Electricians who work in the field of electric power generation, transmission and distribution earn the highest wages, about $28.15 an hour. Just below these electricians are electricians who work for local government, earning an average of $25.66 an hour.
Electricians in the non-residential building construction field earn an average of $22.21 an hour, and those who work for building equipment contractors earn similar wages, with an average of $21.71 an hour. Electricians in the employment services industry bring in an average of $18.32 an hour.
There are a variety of certification programs available for electricians, including college degrees, certification seminars, online certifications and state licenses. Most apprenticeship programs include courses that prepare electricians to pass a certification exam and earn a license.
Certified electricians earn more than non-certified. A certified electrician earns an average of $22.69 an hour. A master electrician earns an average of $24.26 an hour. These averages are based on a survey of 4,777 electricians across the U.S.
Highest Electrician Salary
The top 10 percent of electricians earned an annual salary averaging $80,890 – or $38.89 an hour – in 2010. The top 25 percent of electricians earned $63,880 – or $30.71 an hour – in 2010.
The highest paid electricians work in the fields of accounting, natural gas and management, scientific and technical consulting services.
Electricians with the highest average salaries are located in California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. California included 44,130 electricians as of May 2010, and they earned average wages of $28.68 per hour – or $59,650 annually. A total of 43,340 electricians worked in Texas as of May 2010, earning an average of $20.54 an hour – or $42,270 annually. New York included 33,490 electricians earning an average salary of $32.54 an hour – or $67,690 annually. In Florida, 27,810 electricians earned an average salary of $19.38 an hour – or $40,320 annually.
Illinois was the highest paying state for electricians as of May 2010, with 22,940 electricians earning an average salary of $32.90 an hour or $68,430 annually.
The top-paying metropolitan areas for electricians are Vallejo-Fairfield, California; San Francisco, California; New York-White Plains, New York; Oakland, California; San Jose, California; Chicago, Illinois; Trenton, New Jersey; Honolulu, Hawaii; Newark, New Jersey; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The highest-paying non-metropolitan areas for electricians are the North Coast region of California, Mother Lode region of California, Railbelt/Southwest Alaska, Southeast Alaska, Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard.
Another factor in determining electricians’ salaries is union membership. Joining a union usually helps workers earn higher wages and better benefits. In exchange, union members pay membership dues.
About 32 percent of all electricians are members of a union. The most popular union for electricians in the U.S. is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – or IBEW. The IBEW bargains on behalf of electricians to improve their wages and benefits, such as sick pay, vacation pay, health plans and safety protections.
There will always be a need for electrician jobs, as people rely on power for so many aspects of their lives. Electrician jobs are expected to grow in the future. Sources say that electrician jobs will increase at a rate of 12 percent between 2008 and 2018. There will be the most demand for electricians with a wide range of abilities and skills.