It’s that time of year again. The results are in and it’s no surprise that for the 4th year in a row our salary survey shows that electricians still earn the most of all the trades. What is a surprise in the most recent data is that a number of trades (including plumbers) have seen a drop in average salary over the past twelve months.
Average Electrician Salary (£30,765)
The average salary recorded by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) of £30,765 is actually the median value. This means that 50% of electricians earn more than this amount and 50% earn less. It’s the ONS's preferred measure of average earnings as it is less affected by a relatively small numbers of very high earners that can skew the data upward. Therefore this average gives a better indication of typical pay than the mean which comes out at £31,648.
When we ran this survey last year we saw the biggest increase for plumbers whilst electrician pay seemed to have stalled. This year we can see plumber salaries have dropped by around 2% whilst electricians have increased by around 1%.
Why have some trades seen a drop in average salary?
When we last ran this survey it was surprising to see that the biggest increases in salaries had been in some of the less skilled trades where people still earned much less than an electrician on average. However the drop this time around is most likely a slight adjustment to these larger increases last year. It is also important to note that the data is for salaries, and as the construction sector sees increased demand more workers tend to go freelance or self-employed where they can earn a much higher wage.
How realistic is it to earn over £30K as an electrician?
The majority of electricians tend to work on a self-employed or a contracting basis. Whilst salaries represent what you can earn when employed by a company the amounts earned as a contractor tends to be more realistic. With established self-employed electricians you will be hard pushed to find anyone earning below £30K per year and earnings are more likely to be around £35-40K per year. In London and the south east this figure is likely to be higher.
Hourly Rates / Day Rates (£20-£50 Per Hour / £140-£350 Per Day)
Since most of the people working as electricians are either self-employed or contracting it is very hard to gather data on how much they charge or earn. In the South East and London it is very realistic for an established electrician to charge £45 per hour or £300 per day, further north this amount will drop. However, these days it is more likely that a sparky will charge a set rate for a particular job. In this situation smart working and marking up on materials such as sockets, cables and consumer units can make a real difference to an hourly rate. You will be hard pushed to get a new consumer unit supplied and installed for less than £450 these days, and with the boxes costing around £130 and the job taking less than a day you can see that this is where the money really can start to add up.
What are trainee salaries like? (Around £21K)
If you start out as an apprentice then you will most likely earn below the minimum wage. This is because you are earning and learning at the same time. However if you front load your training, like most of our customers, you can start out on a trainee salary usually around £21K per annum.
If you do a quick search online you will find that most jobs for electrician mates start off at around £11 per hour which is great for someone starting out.
The key to earning more?
If you do a search for electrician jobs on a website such as Indeed you will see that there are lots of jobs available offering some fairly decent salaries. You will find most of the jobs are advertised by agencies. These agencies will be taking a cut from your hourly wage- usually around 10-15%! So one very simple way to earn more is to put in the leg work and apply direct to numerous building and contracting companies. This will allow you to maximise your earning potential. There is nothing wrong with working for an agency and especially in the early days agencies can play an important part in finding you work. However as you progress your career you should make lots of contacts who will assist you in finding the latest and best contracts.
As well as working direct the best way to increase your earnings is simply to work hard, be on time, build a good reputation and of course progress your knowledge through great experience and further training. For most electricians one way to increase their wage or grade is to take the following courses:
1. C&G 2394/95 Inspection & Testing Courses – For Approved Electrician status
2. C&G 2396 Electrical Design course – For Site Technician status
For more information on JIB wage grades see below:
JIB Wage Grades
The JIB publish wage grades on their website. Whilst the JIB have clear guidelines for what an electrician can earn these are guidelines only and not every employer sticks to these.
As of the 4th January 2016 the JIB suggests you should earn the following hourly rates if you have your own transport:
Trainee Electrician - £11.56 - £13.68
Electrician - £14.39
Approved Electrician - £15.61
Site Technician - £17.57
And if you live in London or the south east you should expect:
Trainee Electrician - £12.94 - £15.33
Electrician - £16.13
Approved Electrician - £17.48
Site Technician - £19.68
In order to qualify for the higher pay grades most people will need to fulfil the following:
1. Trainee Electrician - Apprenticeship or electricians mate usually with C&G 2365 Diplomas
2. Electrician - Relevant qualifications, Level 3 NVQ & AM2 (These days a 2357)
3. Approved Electrician - As per number 2 plus periodic inspection and testing qualification such as the C&G 2394/2395
4. Site Technician - As per number 3 plus over 5 years’ experience (3 of which in a supervisory role) plus a level 4 qualification such as a HNC
Remember at the end of the day it isn’t just about how much you can earn but also about how happy you are in your job. Most people choose to train as an electrician not just because of the earning potential but because they are sick of being stuck behind a desk and want to work on the road, on site and with their hands. Remember being a sparky is the perfect job for someone who wants to work with their hands and their mind.