Electrician Salary Guide

According to 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electricians earned more on average than construction trades workers, carpenters, roofers, or plumbers.

Electricians work in commercial and industrial construction and in people's homes, installing or repairing anything connected to the electrical grid. They fix problems and prevent hazards in electrical systems, from home wiring to wind turbines

How Much Does an Electrician Make in the United States?

According to the BLS, electricians earned an average salary of $61,550 in 2020. That's higher than the average salary for all jobs, at $56,310.

Above-average pay isn't the only draw to this trade. As an aspiring electrician, you may be motivated by the craft and attention to detail required for the job — or by its many opportunities to apply technical knowledge and reasoning to complex problem-solving.

Salary Changes Throughout the Career Path

As an electrician, your salary depends on your level of experience and your field of specialization.

Apprentice

Once you've set out to become an electrician, you will spend the first few years of your career gaining experience as an apprentice. The starting salary for an apprentice electrician is far less than a seasoned pro. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for apprentice electricians was $35,440.

Journey-Level Worker

After completing three to six years of apprenticeship, electricians can earn the title of a journeyman or journey-level worker and significantly increase their pay. Journey-level annual salaries posted on Payscale.com averaged $60,218.

Master Electrician

Having clocked in several thousand hours as a journey-level electrician, you can become a master of the trade. Master electrician annual salaries on Payscale.com averaged $70,900, not counting the commission and bonuses they earned.

Electrical Contractor

Electrical contractors use their years of knowledge and experience to design electrical systems and earn the most pay in their field. Their salaries on Payscale.com averaged $79,081.

Specializations and Pay Potential

As early as apprenticeship, electricians have opportunities to specialize. The Electrical Training Alliance lists four specialties:

  • Outdoor linework
  • Industrial wiring
  • Low-voltage installer technician work
  • Residential wiring

Workers in different specialties report different pay. According to the BLS, low-voltage installer technicians earned median salaries of $62,020 in 2020, while electrical powerline installers earned median salaries of $75,030.

Pay Difference By Location

FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MA MD DC

Salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Opportunities and Job Growth

Aging buildings all over the country need ongoing maintenance, and new construction requires work to install wiring and connect to power grids. Because of this, electricians are always in demand. The BLS projects these jobs will grow by 8% through 2029. That's twice the projected growth rate for all positions.

National policies influence the growth of this trade. For example, the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework encourages more solar and wind power and greater access to high-speed internet in rural areas. These types of projects require trained electricians, electrical contractors, and installers.

BLS data from 2020 revealed that electricians could find work could all over the country:

States with the highest average wage for electricians included:

  • Illinois ($81,650)
  • New York ($81,340)
  • Hawaii ($79,280)

States with the highest pay potential, or where electricians in the 90th percentile for wages earned the most, were:

  • New York ($132,520)
  • California ($124,290)
  • New Jersey ($122,550)

The highest employment levels for electricians were in major metropolitan areas — New York City, Los Angeles, and Dallas-Fort Worth — but the top-paying cities were:

  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($106,680)
  • Trenton, New Jersey ($90,210)
  • Kankakee, IL ($88,530)

Other Benefits of Becoming an Electrician

Benefits

If you become a union member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), you may qualify for several benefits. The IBEW offers union members in several states benefits, including:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Vision benefits
  • Prescription drug benefits
  • Supplemental retirement plans
  • A pension plan

If you do not join a union, you can still be part of a community of electrical workers, such as your local chapter of Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC). This organization advocates for issues on behalf of self-employed electrical contractors, such as keeping healthcare costs low for small-business owners.

Perks

Electrical work can be rewarding for people who seek challenge and variety in their careers. Being an electrician means you:

  • Solve complex puzzles
  • Collaborate with others — engineers, planners, and homeowners
  • Put your technical expertise to work in practical scenarios

Protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide electrical workers with protective equipment, such as rubber insulating gloves.

Schedule

If you are self-employed, you get the added perk of setting your own schedule.

Salary for Self-Employed Electricians

If you are a self-employed electrician or electrical contractor, you determine what you earn based on the contracts you negotiate and how much you work. For one, you may miss out on commercial contracts taken up by unions.

Additionally, as a self-employed electrician, you are responsible for:

  • Marketing to customers
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Doing administrative work, invoicing, and billing
  • Paying for your own health insurance and providing it for anyone you hire
  • Paying for liability insurance in case of accidents

Many electrical contractors only become self-employed after many years of working as part of a union. This allows them to earn a more predictable income at first and pay into a retirement savings fund.

Prominent Employers

As a trained electrician, you can find work at companies, in the military, or through the union.

Manufacturers, transportation, and construction companies employ electricians.

  • According to Glassdoor, Tesla electricians reported average earnings of $36 per hour.
  • Electricians at railroad company Union Pacific reported being paid $34 per hour.

The U.S. Army and U.S. Navy are top employers of electricians.

  • U.S. Army electricians reported earning just under $47,000 on average.
  • U.S. Navy electricians reported $50,841 average pay.

By joining the IBEW, the union negotiates your wage and benefits. According to a BLS report analyzing union wages for all professions (not just electricians), nonunion workers earned just 84% of what union workers made.

How Much Does it Cost to Become an Electrician?

High School Education or Equivalent

To start out as an apprentice, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED credential. The cost of the GED test varies by state but generally costs around $80 to $140.

Postsecondary Education

Postsecondary education is not required to become an electrician, but it could help you maximize your employability. If you get an associate degree or certificate from a local community college, you could pay around $5,000.

Apprenticeship

As an apprentice, you get paid for the work you perform. While you accrue some costs for after-work classroom learning, these costs are frequently subsidized by your employer, local union, or another sponsor.

Apprenticeship.gov lists apprentice fees and employer incentives by state. As examples:

  • In Wisconsin, apprentices pay $480 per year for their apprenticeship, but they also receive a stipend to attend class and sometimes have their tuition reimbursed.
  • In Georgia, the state legislator funds up to 70% of expenses for technical college students to earn a certificate or diploma.

Tools and Equipment

Some sponsors will provide apprentices with tools, but you may have to buy some of your own. The 10 most common tools electricians need may run around $400 to $500.

Licensing

Many states require electricians or electrical contractors to be licensed. You can earn licensure by proving the number of years you worked as an apprentice and passing an exam. Find out if your state requires licensing from this National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) map.

Costs for licensure vary. Oregon, for example, requires a journeyman license, which costs $100 and must be renewed every three years. In North Carolina, journeymen do not require a license, but electrical contractors do; their fee is $90.

Continuing Education

To stay licensed, you need to participate in continuing education (CE). Requirements for CE units vary across states, typically consisting of 15 to 35 credit hours every two to three years, and you can complete the requirements for a couple hundred dollars.

Union Dues

If you join a union, you must pay union dues. These dues typically include a $10-40 base fee per month and/or 1-2% of your working wages.

You can explore due structures on local IBEW chapters' websites, such as:

Throughout your career path, and especially as you start out, local chapters of unions and state departments may offer resources to assist your training costs. Learn more in our career guide on how to become an electrician.

Salaries for Related Jobs

Electrical powerline installers and repairers

  • Salary: $74,410
  • Cost to become: A high school diploma or $80-140 to complete the GED.

Elevator installers and repairers

  • Salary: $86,200
  • Cost to become: A high school diploma or $80-140 to complete the GED.

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers

  • Salary: $53,410
  • Cost to become: $1,200 to $15,000 for a certificate or associate degree.

Plumber

  • Salary: $61,100
  • Cost to become: A high school diploma or $80-140 to complete the GED.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers

  • Salary: $48,020
  • Cost to become: A high school diploma or $80-140 to complete the GED.

Wind turbine technician

  • Salary: $59,340
  • Cost to become: $4,000 to $15,000 for an associate degree in applied science (AAS) in wind energy technology.

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