There is a perception in the construction industry that sparkies may have it pretty good when it comes to where they work, how they work and how much they get paid. The don’t need to get their hands dirty to the same extent as a plumber and don’t work outdoors as much as a roofer or brickie. So we thought we would investigate and see if this were true.
Electricians work is variable. One day an electrician may find themselves outside installing shed lighting and another day fault finding in a kitchen. It’s a job full of variety and suits people who don't like doing the same thing day in and day out. You can find yourself working locally or at a job which requires you to work away from home for a while. Electricians work in a whole range of differing environments, from second fixing in residential homes to working at height installing wiring on half finished building sites. So although they will generally work on a water tight property there are still situations when they could be battling the elements along with everyone else.
You may have heard good things (and of course not so good) about becoming an electrician, are you still a little undecided about whether to enter this exciting trade? We have decided to expel, and confirm some of the myths and hearsay that surrounds the job of an electrician. Do electricians get to swan in when everything is water tight and do their bit; and what is the extent of the dirty work.
An electrician gets all the clean work
This is definitely the case with the second fix. Watch as all the other trades look at you in envy as you go into the job with your toolbox and accessories. Without doubt this is the nice side of the job and is definitely the favourite amongst both electricians and their customers. It's nice and clean and you only need a handful of tools – at this point all the hard work has been done, and you are close to getting paid for the work. The second fix is known as being the cream of the work throughout all trades. Whilst the brickies will have moved onto the next dirty job, the electrician is doing his job in a nice clean environment.
No two days are the same
Electricians are attracted to the job because they do not know what they will be doing from one week to the next. If you like the element of surprise then you will thrive in this environment. Where a roofer only does roofing and a brickie only does brick laying, an electrician, by contrast gets involved in all areas and structures of a building. All aspects of a property have to be taken into account as part of the work of an electrician including timbers, flooring, joists, floors, walls and ceilings. This is what makes the job so interesting. There are so many different aspects that an electrician gets involved in – and that is what makes the job of an electrician more than a job – it makes an exciting and varied career.
What about pay?
Looking at the official JIB rates which are known as the official wage reference for electricians at all stages of their career, even a salary for a trainee electrician looks pretty attractive.
A trainee electrician can earn up to £26,769.60 per year. This is based on a 36 hour working week according to the JIB wage rate.
Once qualified an approved electrician can earn £30,532.32 according to the JIB wage rates. Again this is based on a 36 hour working week.
If you continue to upgrade your qualifications and reach site technician status, you will be earning £34,388.64 which we think is a pretty impressive wage.
All these figures are based on a 36 hour week Monday to Friday. Of course, the opportunity to earn more clearly exists and these figures do not take into account overtime, weekend work and being on call to name but a few.
What can I earn?
We have listed below the avrage houly rates for an elecrician nationally and in London where average wages are much higher:
Trainee Electrician - £12.76
Approved Electrician - £14.57
Site Technician - £16.40
Trainee Electrician - £14.30
Approved Electrician - £16.31
Site Technician - £18.37
Source: JIB Rates from and including 7th January 2013 http://www.jib.org.uk/handbook.aspx?cid=13
How does this compare to building and allied trades?
We did a bit of digging and found a 2012 survey published by the Guardian. What we can see is that electricians actually top the trades when it comes to average salary. They are closely followed by plumbers but once you move away from these two heavily regulated industries the average salary drops by a significant amount. On average an electrician earns £28,846 PA with Plumbers earning roughley £1000 less at £27,866 PA. This is purely based on salaries and doesnt take into account income if you are self employed where we know average earning are much higher.
Genrally an electrician appears to be better off in both working conditions and pay. As we said earlier in the article, when other trades such as roofers and brickies move onto the next dirty job, the electrician proceeds to move onto the most favoured aspect of their job. Not only that, but they also enjoy a higher rate of pay for the cleaner work.