There are reports of electricians earning £156,000. Do electricians really earn 6-figures a year?
I am often asked “How much do electricians make?”. Having been trained as an electrician myself and then going on to employ dozens and dozens of electricians over the years, I appreciate my personal experience with rates of pay could very much vary to that of others. I thought I would take to the internet and ask real electricians how much they earn to dig deeper into whether or not it was a myth that electricians earn 6-figure salaries.
The results were quite astonishing!
I asked over 500 electrical professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter to provide some input on their pay and put out a poll on Twitter to find out electricians earnings for 2018-2019.
The Daily Mail reported in 2017 that: Electricians are earning as much as £3,000 a week as they cash in on a chronic shortage of skilled workers across the country.
That amounts to £156,000 a year – around six times the average wage and more than the £150,000 earned by the Prime Minister.
I find this hard to believe apart from exceptional circumstances.
A Twitter poll to discover the earnings by electricians
On my twitter account @danstheengineer I created two polls to ask twitter #electricians how much they earn. One poll for the employed and the other for the self-employed.
According to the Office of National Statistics the average salary for an electrician in the last year has risen by 5% to £32,315. This is the highest increase seen in the trades with plumbers following at 3.9%. That is £123,685 shy of the £156,000, the Daily Mail reported. Just a few quid, ey?
The JIB are an industry trade body who publish guidelines on electricians hourly rates of pay on their website. However, be aware that not all employers will adhere to these guidelines. It isn’t compulsory for employers to be registered with the JIB which means employers can pay whatever they wish providing it meets government minimum wages.
From and including Monday 7th January 2019 the JIB suggests that the national standard hourly rates of pay if you have your own transport are:
Electrician – £15.46
Approved Electrician – £16.77
Site Technician – £18.88
And for those who work in London or the south east you should expect:
Electrician – £16.86
Approved Electrician – £18.28
Site Technician – £20.57
There are different grades of ‘electricians’ and the JIB sets out a requirement of how to achieve the grade. Many in the industry look at the JIB rates as the guideline regardless of whether they are registered with the JIB or not.
An electrician is someone who serves an apprenticeship and qualifies once obtaining an NVQ level 3.
An approved electrician is an electrician above who has at least two years’ experience as an electrician and has passed a further course on inspection and testing and periodic testing.
A site technician is someone who has 5 years’ experience as an approved electrician and has a higher level of qualifications such as the electrical design and verification course.
You can find out more about JIB grades here.T
The Survey – How Much Do Electricians Really Earn?
I asked electricians, how much they earned per year, if they were PAYE employed or CIS self, employed, if they worked for someone or made their own sales, hours worked and what part of the country they worked in.
The people who participated in the survey varied from employees of large companies, site electricians only working in construction, business owners, one-man bands, recruiters and managers.
I have broken down the survey results to 3 parts of the country; London, where the pay is greater than anywhere else in the country. Northern Ireland, where the pay is less than anywhere else in the country. And National which is anywhere apart from London and Northern Ireland.
I have then split the wages into 3 groups within the location; Working for a company, one-man bands and company owners. Someone working for a company is an operative who is ‘hands on’ who is either employed or self-employed who doesn’t make their own sales, but instead works directly for one or more contracting companies. The grades of operatives is similar to the definition that the JIB uses. A Technician would also be a QS (qualifying supervisor) or a highly qualified supervisor. The ‘working for someone’ category also includes electrical managers. The ‘one-man band’ category is an electrician who works alone, self employed or has their own company but doesn’t employ anybody other than an apprentice. A one-man band sources their own sales oppose to working for another company. A company director is an owner of an electrical contracting company who employs multiple staff. They might be partially hands on.
For the purpose of clarity, the operatives and electrical manager roles have been calculated at 40 hours per week. It was incredibly difficult to ascertain the hours worked for company directors and one-man bands, so the pay is calculated simply at the amount they earned within the 12-month period. All pay is the annual wage before tax.
As you can see, there is a distinct trend in wages for the operatives working for a company as the grade increases. Electrical managers tend to earn slightly more than an approved electrician and less than a technician electrician. One-man bands earn similar to that of an approved electrician and company owners seem to earn less than many operatives!
Electricians in London earning far more than in Northern Ireland
Pay really varies across the country. Electricians in London and the South East typically earn far more than anywhere else. The pay in Northern Ireland is far less than elsewhere. Many have told me this is due to the cost of living in these areas. Having lived near and worked in London my whole life, I can confirm it costs a small fortune to work and live there! Interestingly, some recruiters who provided their input claimed that their clients will pay the higher rates in larger cities, not just London, such as Cambridge. Recruiters also claimed that the rates the electricians were paid didn’t really vary if someone was employed or self-employed.
The self-employed seem to earn slightly more than the employed electricians, but often someone who is self-employed often will have to pay for their own transport, they are not always entitled to holiday pay, and generally do not receive a company package like those who are employed.
The pay for self-employed one-man bands seems to be particularly poor compared to those who employed because of the hours required to run a small business, the stress and pressure of ensuring they have enough work.
Company directors earn much more, right?
When I quizzed company directors on their pay which often is less than the electricians who work for them, they would often say there isn’t enough money in the company to pay themselves anymore. It seems there is a similar trend between the one-man bands and the company directors!
There were some electrical managers who earned excess of £65,000 per year, but generally they worked in specialist areas such as hazardous environments responsible for maintenance and on-going upgrades.
Some electrical project managers reported earning in excess of £100,000 per year, but, worked 70+ hours.
There are some job adverts for roles as an electrician claiming to pay £32 per hour such as Aspect Maintenance Services on Total Jobs or Pimlico Plumbers advertising £60,000 – £100,000 per year on Indeed.
I spoke to an electrician who has worked for a company who claimed he can earn £100,000 per year. The business model is that the electrician is to be self-employed or have a Ltd company who essentially sub-contract to the company. The electrician then uses a company vehicle (which they lease from the company), and are notified when a job comes in. The electrician is to buy their own materials and the client is charged by the company at the companies’ rates which are usually far greater than national average. The electrician then invoices the company for their times and materials used. This figure; the invoice figure, is their pay. The electrician I spoke to about this didn’t earn anything near the 6-figure salary.
If someone was contracted on this model, it wouldn’t surprise me if they could make 6 figures a year, providing they worked every hour under the sun! But their pay certainly doesn’t reflect what they actually earn as a wage because it includes their overheads to operate their ‘business’.
As you can see there are so many variables to someone’s wage when working as an electrician. Pay generally reflects experience, level of qualifications and location in the UK. But do electricians really earn £156,000 per year? I don’t think so. Have any input to add? Feel free to comment below.
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Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in Rishikesh, India