Electricians keep the lights on and motors humming in homes, schools and businesses nationwide. They master the necessary technical skills in four-year apprenticeships that include both book work and hands-on training, learning to read electrical diagrams and install and fix all parts of electrical systems. They also master the state and local electrical codes. After completing an apprenticeship, you become a licensed electrician and qualify for an electrician's salary.
Most electricians work a full-time gig, and overtime is common on maintenance jobs and on construction sites. The average wages of an electrician were $25.50 per hour in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the equivalent of $53,030 for 52 weeks full time. Out of more than one-half million licensed electricians, 10 percent earned $30,420 or less annually, and 10 percent earned $82,930 per year or more.
The industry you work for affects your expected average wage as an electrician. Nearly 70 percent of electricians worked for building contractors in 2012, and averaged $52,630 per year, according to the bureau. The next-largest employer was local government, employing less than 3 percent of electricians. These government gigs paid a more generous average of $59,170 annually. However, electricians working for employment services earned only $44,600 per year.
A few industries paid electricians more than $70,000 on average in 2012, according to the bureau. Electricians working for business, management and computer schools received an average of $81,800. Natural gas industry electricians were in second place, receiving $75,430, while electricians for accounting and bookkeeping services got average wages of $73,210. Real estate lessors and remediation and waste management businesses also paid more than $71,000 per year on average.
Best Pay by State
The average electrician pay in three states topped $70,000 in 2012, according to the survey. Alaska was in the lead, paying its electricians an average of $74,280 per year, while New York came second, with average pay of $70,580. Licensed electricians in Illinois also averaged a very desirable $70,060 per year.
Top Metro Pay
Electricians in three metropolitan regions averaged approximately $80,000 in 2012, according to the BLS survey. In the Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey, greater metropolitan region, licensed electricians earned the top metro salary of $81,340 per year. In the greater San Francisco region, electricians averaged $80,430 per year, while they averaged $79,440 annually in the New York City region.
Electricians could expect a 23 percent increase in jobs between 2010 and 2020, compared with 14 percent on average for all jobs, according to bureau predictions. Many new jobs will result from growth in construction and in the alternative energy industry, including solar and wind power. However, alternative energy depends on the whims of government policy, while construction work follows the ups and downs of the economy. Electricians with a variety of skills will have the best chance of finding work in a changing economy.