Written by Kacie Goff
The digital revolution continues to transform our daily lives. And it’s made many people working in the trades worry about the long-term outlook for their jobs. Not so for electricians, though. As people become increasingly reliant on devices and internet connections, electrical professionals can only expect more job security in the future.
So if you’re thinking about a change or you’re hunting for your first job, a career in electrical work might be worth a look. There are two things you should know, though.
First, states require electricians to get a license with them. Usually, that means completing an apprenticeship and applying for a license with your state electrical authority. From there, you’ll need to complete continuing education to maintain your license (don’t worry, you can do it online).
Secondly, you want to be sure that an electrician’s salary pays enough to meet your needs. Good news: it almost definitely will. Electricians earn a solid living, thanks in part to the fact that working with electricity can be dangerous. But with the proper training, working as an electrician can be a safe, good-paying job.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — basically, the best source possible for this data — says that the average electrician earns $56,180 a year. If you land a job working on government or manufacturing projects, you’re looking at taking home even more, with an average salary of $60,000 or above. Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contracts average at just under $55,000 annually.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t differentiate between types of electricians. If you choose to work for an electrical company, you’ll get consistent hours, a definite perk. But you’ll also get a flat hourly wage, creating a ceiling on your earnings.
After a while, you might decide you want to strike out on your own. Working for yourself, you’ll have to find jobs and manage things like invoicing and taxes. But you can potentially take home more from each project when you’re self-employed.
All told, how much an electrician gets paid depends on whether they work for themselves or a company — plus a bunch of other factors we’ll look at later in this guide.
Back to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: they say electricians average an hourly rate of $27.
All this said, the average electrician salary varies based on where you live. The cost of living definitely impacts your earnings; pricey states like New York and California generally pay their electricians more.
For state-based salary averages, we don’t have a far-reaching, authoritative source like the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But we do have a handful of data compilations so you can at least get an idea of what you can expect to earn as an electrician in your home state.
Here are three lists of electrician salaries by state so you can cross-reference them and get a better picture of local pay:
As you look further into an electrical career, you’ll see that many states offer different license levels. Generally, you start as an apprentice and work your way up to journeyman. Eventually, you’re eligible for the highest electrician license: a master license.
Is it worth putting in the time to get to the master level? To answer this question, we’ll pose another: how much does an electrician get paid if they have a master license?
A fair bit more, it turns out. While journeyman electricians are looking at that previously discussed average of $27 an hour, several sources put the average rate for master electricians closer to $30 or $31 (see Salary.com, Indeed, and Payscale). Let’s say you earn $30 an hour as a master electrician. You’re looking at a salary of more than $62,000.
Good news: electrical careers are on the upswing in a big way. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that electrician job growth will hit around 8% over the next decade, double the projected job growth for average industries. Ultimately, that means that more than 60,000 jobs will open up, creating plenty of space for you to start your career as an electrician.
Now that you know how much money electricians make, you might be seriously considering this career path. The steps you’ll need to take to become an electrician depend on your home state and the requirements its electrical authority lays out. Generally, though, after you get a high school diploma, your requirements are:
Ultimately, electrical careers promise lots of opportunities in the coming years. And since the average electrician salary pays well, it’s a profession well worth considering. If you’re curious about becoming an electrician, find your state’s electrical authority and look up their requirements so you know what to expect.