You can’t go wrong getting a job as an electrician—even if it means nights, weekends, and overtime.
After all, making a median salary of $60,370 a year puts you well on the way to a comfortable living wage.
Nonetheless, the electrical industry is unique in several key areas. Understanding them offers an excellent way to put the numbers in perspective.
If you’re an electrician, your employment prospects are rosy for reasons that may surprise you.
Overview of the Job Outlook in the United States
Skilled trade jobs are a unique sector of this industry:
You can find jobs with only a high school diploma or the equivalent.
You can make a decent average hourly wage, even when you land an entry-level job with a business.
You can get paid to learn a skill that you can use at home on your projects.
However, coursework or certification can help you land an apprenticeship, which will give you a better average salary.
Another thing that makes these positions so attractive is the industry’s job outlook. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates an 8-percent increase in employment through 2029.
That’s twice the percent change for the average job.
The fact is that specialty trades like electrician positions require individuals with experience. It’s essential for many facets of the industry, including the construction business.
Let’s consider some numbers and what you can expect to see in the average wages and per hour rate for these workers.
Data on Salaries for Electricians in the United States
Of course, there are regional differences in the average salary among the states, based on demand and concentration of skilled workers.
US News estimates that the national median salary for electricians was $56,180 in 2019.
The publication also reported that being an electrician is the fifth best job for individuals without a college degree. Let’s break down the figures by state.
The top three states regarding the highest number of people employed are:
- New York
While California has the most electricians, New York has the higher paying jobs with an average salary of $79,480.
It is second only to the District of Columbia, which has the highest. California comes in at $70,460. Of course, the cost of living is also a factor.
On the other hand, the states with the lowest salaries include Arkansas, Florida, and North Carolina. Even the electricians in the lowest paying states still earn over $20 an hour.
If you’re looking for the states with the most opportunities, then set your job alerts for Wyoming, North Dakota, and Utah. These states have the highest concentration of jobs, albeit with lower annual wages.
It’s essential to put those figures in perspective. While the number on your 1040 is lower, you’ll make enough for a comfortable living in your chosen career.
Nevertheless, being an electrician is an excellent choice for a career path, especially if you have had training with years of experience in the field.
The mean national hourly wage for someone in this industry is $29.02 per hour, which is a respectable paying job no matter what state you call home.
Trends in Electrician Jobs
Looking at the state annual salary data reveals several striking trends that the national average doesn’t show:
The average increase in salary per year varies with the state.
For example, electricians in both Minnesota and Hawaii saw higher pay increases than other states. The former was 24.2 percent and 18 percent in the latter for the last five years.
The other surprising fact is the high job demand.
While some professions have leveled off, the demand for electricians has risen in recent years. More individuals are leaving the job scene each year and retire. That figure exceeds the number of new employees replacing them.
The result is a job shortage for electricians.
Where Are the Electrician Jobs in the United States?
The other thing to consider is the particular field. You’ll see that the most jobs by far are in building construction.
It accounts for nearly 90 percent of all positions. Other potential job sources include:
- Employment services
- Local governments
- Non-residential construction
- Utility system construction
If you’re looking for the best industries to find a job, you’ll find that related businesses have lucrative opportunities.
The best places for getting paid the top salaries are:
- Natural gas distribution
- Event promoters like sporting facilities
- Land subdivision
- Real estate
The top jobs in some of these related industries pay average annual salaries in the $104,250 range for natural gas distribution.
Average Hourly Wages by Employment Sector
An electrician salary varies by the particular job you do and your years of experience. For example, an individual working in commercial construction will likely make a higher annual salary than someone doing residential work.
Likewise, an electrician at a utility company will make more than either of these positions. Let’s consider the salaries for electricians by industry.
- Residential contractor: $59,730 average annual wages
- Non-residential contractor: $61,300
- Line installers and repairers: $65,700
- Power plant operators: $85,950
- Electrical and electronics engineering technicians: $65,260
If you are in training, you can expect to make a lower average hourly wage. However, if you are a journeyman who has completed an apprenticeship, your pay will increase with your experience.
As you can see, you can make a comfortable living by working in this field.
How to Become an Electrician
While you don’t need a degree, you will need formal training through an apprenticeship. You can satisfy come of the requirements you’ll need for a position through coursework at a trade school or community college program.
The time you’ll spend with formal education is worth it, too. You’ll gain a complete understanding of basic electrical information. It’ll go a long way on the job for problem-solving and critical thinking.
You can expect your training to last between four to five years. However, it typically is paid time. You’ll learn both the practical and technical aspects of being an electrician.
That involves about 2,000 hours of hands-on work, too. Your training will include topics such as:
- Electrical code requirements at the state and national level
- Blueprint reading
- Electrical theory
- Types of power tools
You will also need to get a license with requirements varying by the state. Often, it means passing a test on the essential tasks and national codes.
You may also have to stay up to date with the industry through continuing education coursework.
Final Thoughts About Earning a Living as an Electrician
While it may not pay the highest wages, work as an electrician has many perks that can tip the scale in its favor if you’re looking for a new career.
The salary is decent, especially in related fields.
You’re almost guaranteed to find jobs available at any level.
You can segue way your skills into DIY projects at home that you know is done right.
If you have excellent troubleshooting and communication skills, you might consider looking for work as an electrician. It’s one position that will pay the right person well.