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Have you thought about becoming an electrician? If so, you’ve probably wondered, “How much does an electrician make?” 

This article reviews average salaries for electricians. It also discusses how you can set yourself up to make more money in the profession with the proper training and education. 

How Much Electricians Make on Average 

Electricians’ salaries vary widely around the United States, just like many other professions. If you’re starting, it’s wise to understand how electrician salaries work. 

How Electrician Income Is Determined 

Factors that influence electrician income include: 

  • Geographic location 
  • Training and education 
  • Years of experience 
  • Specialization 
  • Employed vs. self-owner 

The more you can influence several or even all of these factors, the more you can exercise agency over your finances. 

The Path to Success as an Electrician and Electrician Salaries 

Most electricians start out working for someone else. This lets them gain experience in both electrical contracting and business practices. They are considered “journeyman” electricians at this stage of their care.  

Figures from the last few years show that entry-level electricians earn an average salary of just over $38,000 annually. Once they have a few years of experience, that number jumps to around $50,000 annually. 

The median for all electricians nationally is slightly more than that, at about $61,500 annually. That’s on par with what plumbers earn, too. This information comes from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

On average, experienced electricians can make $75,000 to $100,000 annually. These are contractors with at least 10 years of work history. At this stage, they have usually reached what is known as the “master” level. 

Master electricians can supervise journeymen and apprentices (see next section). They can make $50 per hour designing schematics for electrical systems. And they are allowed to pull permits. 


How to Start an Electrician Business 

Some electricians then start their own contracting businesses. Working for yourself gives you more freedom and the potential to make more money. 

If you start your own business eventually, your income could be uncapped. You could hire lots of employees to take on multiple jobs simultaneously. Or you could even open several branches to increase profits even more. 

We mentioned the geographic location above. That is perhaps the most significant influence on electrician pay. For example, in 2021, the median salary in Illinois was over $80,000. However, the median in Florida was just over $43,000 annually. 

The lowest percentage of electrician earners make roughly $33,000 annually. That’s just over $16 per hour. 

How Training and Certificates Can Impact Earning Potential 

Being as well-qualified as possible is essential to avoid being in the lowest-paid group of American electricians. Fortunately, there are several paths to becoming an electrician in this country. You have options that work with your age, location, and budget. 

Option 1: Get a 4-Year Electrical Engineering Degree 

With a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, you can bypass trade programs (see below). You only need to complete an apprenticeship program (also more below) as determined by your state. Each state has different requirements in this regard. 

Why do you need to do an apprenticeship? Electrical engineers learn a lot of science and theory behind how electricity functions. But they don’t have the practical knowledge and experience required to perform tasks like: 

  • Installing wiring and lighting systems 
  • Performing electrical inspections and testing 
  • Repairing equipment and fixtures 

An apprenticeship under a master electrician teaches an engineer these on-the-job skills. 

Earning a four-year degree in electrical engineering is technically overkill if you want to work as an electrician. However, this path works for some individuals. 

Working as an electrical engineer usually means being employed by someone else. If you realize you want to work for yourself, you may want to start an electrician business. 

This means paying your dues and working your way up the ranks. Luckily, with your extensive background, you’ll probably move up faster to the master level and beyond. 

Additionally, some engineers find out after graduating that they prefer other career paths. Other jobs might pay less or involve more risk, but they’re more interesting. 

For example, you might decide you like flipping houses. Of course, you want to make the most profit and establish a unique reputation. Therefore, you want to install sophisticated electrical systems and high-tech automation. 

To do this work yourself, you need to be a licensed electrician. So, you can use your degree to fast-track yourself into an apprenticeship and then licensure. You can work on your properties to your heart’s content. 

Option 2: Attend Trade School 

For many people, going to trade school is a better alternative to a four-year program. It takes less time and costs significantly less money. 

Where things get confusing is that each state has different requirements for becoming an electrician. Many states with higher electrician salaries have stricter demands for working as a journeyman. 

A new trend in these states is to require trade school plus an apprenticeship. Previously, you could work solely as an apprentice and skip school. The hours you completed as an apprentice eventually led to journeyman status, assuming you could pass your state’s exam. 

You will have to check with your state’s licensing board to see what the current requirements are for your state. It’s worth noting that requirements change frequently, and you want to be current. 

If your state requires you to attend trade school, there are some benefits to it: 

  • If you didn’t finish high school, some trade schools let you complete your GED (General Educational Diploma) while enrolled. 
  • You will get a solid background in electrical contracting, which you need to do your job well. 
  • You will have an easier time finding an apprenticeship, which requires passing an exam. 
  • Many trade schools have job referral programs and alumni connections that help find work. 

What do trade school programs teach? Your curriculum will include these topics, among others: 

  • Trade math 
  • Electrical and circuit theory 
  • Wiring for different scenarios 
  • National Electrical Code (NEC) 
  • Electrical measurements 
  • Electrical troubleshooting 

Option 3: Join an Apprenticeship Program 

As mentioned above, you need to complete an apprenticeship as an electrician, regardless of your education. Your state determines the minimum number of hours you must work. 

It could be under 1,000 or as high as 8,000. Depending on where you live, you should spend about two to five years to finish your apprenticeship. 

Apprenticeships can be highly competitive. To be considered, you must pass an aptitude exam and interview. 

During an electrician apprenticeship, you work under a master electrician. They oversee your work and teach you how to do many of the tasks typically performed by the profession. 

If you go to trade school, your instructors can inform you about apprenticeships in your area. Some states, like California, maintain an online database that you can search. 

Another great resource is your local chapter of the IBEW union. That’s the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They can also help you if you have moved to the United States from another country and want to learn how to become a licensed electrician here. 

Next: Pass Your State’s Licensing Requirements 

Finally, to work as a journeyman electrician, you must pass the licensing requirements for your state. This involves taking an exam that covers topics like: 

  • Knowledge of electrical theory 
  • National Electrical Code (NEC) 
  • Local electric and building codes 


Hire the Best: The Top 5 Electrician Training Programs 

Specialization for Electricians 

Why is being an electrician such a popular profession right now? One reason is that there are so many different subcategories for specialization. 

Specializing allows you to carve out a niche and do the kind of work you like. It also makes it easier to earn more over time. 

The more you specialize, the more you remove competition and stand out. The less competition you have, the better your chance of landing jobs. And the more authority you’ll have should you want to open your own electrical contracting business. 

First, there are two general categories of electricians: residential and commercial. Residential electricians work on homes. Commercial electricians work on businesses and industrial projects. 

What are some areas of specialization within those categories? 

If you practice as a residential electrician, there are opportunities for new construction. Every newly built home needs wiring, lighting, and other electrical infrastructure. 

There is also a demand for electricians who work on remodels and renovations. These involve tasks like rewiring kitchens and properly installing new appliances. 

You could concentrate on historic homes, which present a challenge regarding wiring and electrical panels. Or you could partner with a general contractor who flips mid-century homes. 

Some electricians work on-call for homeowners. For instance, they respond when someone has a problem with the circuit breakers on their electrical panel. Or they fix loose outlets and help replace lighting fixtures. 

There are many subcategories within commercial electrical contracting. Some examples include: 

  • Fire and safety 
  • Voice, data, and video 
  • Lighting 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Security and alarms 
  • Design of new systems 
  • Outside line work 
  • Sustainable power 

Many of these require their certification process, depending on your state. 

Your state may have formal categories for certain levels of electrician work. Let’s take California as an example: They have a well-defined certification and licensing process, one of the strictest in the United States. 

You can become certified as a general electrician there. This entails completing at least 8,000 hours of work in two different fields and passing an exam. 

Being a general electrician is the highest certification possible in the state of California. That gives you many more job opportunities and helps you earn a higher salary. 

Above general electrician in the Golden State is the C-10 electrical contractor category. This is a licensing category, not a certification. It’s what’s needed to oversee general electricians. And it’s required if you want to ever start your own electrical contracting business. 

Where can you get more information about certification, licensing, and specializations? 

  • Your area trade schools 
  • Your state’s licensing board 
  • Your state’s division of labor 
  • The local chapter of the IBEW 
  • Employers you apprentice with 


Commercial Electrical Work vs. Residential Electrical Work 

[INSERT IMAGE: A4 – Electrician kneeling.] 

National Outlook of the Electrical Industry 

In 2023, the US Government predicted that between 2002 and 2032, employment for electricians would grow by 6%. That’s higher than the average for other professions. 

Furthermore, this translates to over 73,000 openings per year. Some of this growth will likely come from new demands in the field. And some job opportunities will come from replacing aging electricians who retire. 

In addition to new building construction, the demand for electricians will increase for other reasons. First, the old electrical infrastructure across the country will need to be replaced soon. 

New sources of power generation and green energy are also blossoming fields. There will also be openings for electricians who want to work in this industry. 

Determining Your Earning Potential: Where to Start 

Is becoming an electrician right for you, based on the earning potential discussed above? Here is some expert advice to help you decide if it’s a viable profession for you: 

  • Before taking any action, determine your state requirements for working as an electrician. This will determine the commitment you need to reach your career goal. Do you have the willpower to complete the requirements? 
  • Your state and region will also influence your earning potential. Is the average salary in your area a feasible wage for you? If not, would you consider relocating to an area with higher wages?  
  • What kinds of electrical contracting work appeal to you? This will also affect your salary potential. On the other hand, consider the demands of any specialty you are considering. You may be okay with sacrificing a higher salary for reasonable hours and a good work-life balance. 
  • Most trade programs for electricians have financing and aid options. Look at those if budgeting for school is an issue. You may be eligible for assistance or loans. You might also get school funding from an employer if they find you a stellar performer during an apprenticeship. 
  • Some electrician trade programs offer night school for working students. Is this a feasible option for your situation? 
  • Not ready to start training right away? Consider working in a related field, like construction. Union apprenticeships value relevant experience in overcoming the cold. You’ll understand the demands of the job better in many specialties. And you can prove you are reliable and hardworking. 


Electrical Contractor Software 

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