An electrician salary can vary greatly depending on the type of work, experience, industry, and location.
An apprentice will generally start higher than minimum wage. In Alberta, your rate as an apprentice is based on your company’s Journeyman rate. According to Alberta Apprenticeship, a first year will earn at least 50% of Journeyman wage, increasing to 60% for second year, 70% for third, and 80% for fourth. Canadian apprentices can expect to start around $18/hr - $22/hr, with typical Journeyman rates ranging from $30 - $50 per hour.
Statistically, the average salary is about $70,000. Since most electricians are paid hourly, this works out to about $31 per hour for a certified electrician. A journeyman industrial electrician can expect to earn $34-$38 per hour, an average $85,000 a year in Canada.
Experience – As with any career, the more experience and seniority you have the better your electrician salary and the more you will be paid. A first-year apprentice will usually only make half of what a fully licensed electrician earns.
Location – Wages vary by state and country, depending on the cost of living in a particular region. For example, an electrician in Alaska is paid approximately $10,000 more per year than one working in Maine.
Industry – Some industries are more dangerous, and some require more technical knowledge or other expertise. An electrician working in building maintenance will earn much less than someone working as an airline electrician.
Specialization – Electricians specializing in new developments in electrical power generation, distribution and transmission are, in most cases, the highest paid.
Unions – Union members often get paid more than non-unionized workers. About one third of all electricians belong to a union.
Overtime – Workers who do a lot of construction will typically work a set schedule each day, while maintenance electricians can get several hours of overtime each day which can drastically affect your weekly earnings.
Shift Work – The biggest earnings come from working away from home. Big construction projects in remote areas will typically use extended work shifts to reduce travel costs. Shifts can range from 10 on 4 off to 24 on 4 off, depending on the priority of the project. Shift work will also typically be longer than 8-hour days, which means overtime. And, working away from home will typically come with living allowance which, in Alberta, is tax-free cash.
The downside to shift work is that you may be required to stay in a work camp. Most modern camps are well stocked with food, entertainment, and wifi, but being away from home can be difficult.
Self-employed – Working for yourself has many benefits, and many disadvantages as well. The biggest benefit is that your earnings are directly affected by how hard you work. The more contracts you can secure, the higher your salary will be. The disadvantage is that you are also responsible for marketing yourself and securing the contracts. You are also in charge of managing your own paperwork, taxes, insurance, and company finances.
Many people begin their career as an electrician’s helper. This is like an apprenticeship, except you can begin work right away and get indentured later if you decide to continue as an electrical apprentice. These positions are usually quite difficult to obtain, and will not earn much more than minimum wage.
Usually, you need to have a personal or professional relationship with a certified electrician to be considered for the job. Your electrician salary will depend on the employer and your experience but will usually be well above minimum wage. Minimum wage varies by province or state.
There are many organizations willing to train electricians. First, you must enroll in an apprenticeship program. The program directors or training school will usually have several companies ready to take on apprentices. In most cases, you will be paid above minimum wage.
You will have to pay for the schooling portion yourself. Some employers pay for this, but there are a few that will. Your apprenticeship training takes four years. You will get a raise each year you successfully complete a school year. You may also qualify for overtime hours or special bonuses.
This type usually works in large facilities the require constant care by an electrician. Some examples might be schools, process facilities and other government buildings. The work is generally light, and the electrician salary reflects this. On average, you can expect about $25 - $40 per hour. Your actual pay will depend on your experience, location, and required duties.
A lineman installs and maintains the power networks that we use and in our daily lives. They provide electrical transmission for customers who use large amounts of electrical power and communications services. Wages can vary greatly. About sixty percent of linemen earn an electrician salary between $30.00 and $45.50 per hour.
Electrical and electronics technicians help design, develop, manufacture, and test electrical and electronic equipment. This includes communication equipment, industrial, radar, and medical control and measuring devices, computers, and navigational equipment. Industries an electrical technician can work in range from aerospace to environmental protection and development agencies. How much you earn will depend on the specific industry. An electrician salary can range from about $45,000 to $75,000 per year.
Unlike most electricians who must travel to job sites, those specializing in motor repair usually work in factories. They are responsible for keeping the equipment in good working order, so production can flow smoothly. They often remove and replace or repair defective components, such as motor windings. They are equipped with the training to diagnose the problem, and the tools and parts they need to repair any motor related problems. This could be a small, hidden joint not properly soldered or a malfunctioning motor starter, or something as simple as a blown fuse. The average wages are about $25.00 per hour.
Electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers, also called service technicians, repair a variety of equipment. If you love to take things apart and put them back together, this is the perfect job for you. The knowledge and expertise is just as complex as that of any other electrician, but the work feels more like a hobby than a job.
Although most electronic manufacturers employ this type of electrician, the majority are self-employed. They will open a small shop and customers bring in their televisions, stereo components, DVD and CD players, video cameras, and maybe even a toaster or two for repair. Many electricians in this field also install and repair complicated security systems, intercom equipment, satellite dishes, and complete home theater systems, consisting of large screen TVs and a sophisticated surround sound audio system.
If you are self-employed, you will probably charge by job, rather than by the hour. An hourly employee can expect about $23.00 per hour.
There are several other areas in which an electrician can work. And within each area, there are several sub-areas. That is the greatest thing about being an electrician – there are so many options. Once you have your basic training and apprenticeship completed, you can focus on the area you are most interested in, plus, you can change your mind at any time during your career. Some changes may require some extra training, but the possibilities are virtually endless.
You may never get rich on an electrician’s salary, but the joys and satisfaction of the job will make up for it.