- 1 Ahead of the rest
- 2 Prevailing Headwinds
- 3 Self-employed and Contract work
- 4 The scale of the opportunity
- 5 Self-employment costs
- 6 Trainee Earnings
- 7 Training Considerations
- 8 JIB Gradings
- 9 How to increase earnings potential
- 10 Summary
Working as an electrician can be immensely rewarding and enjoyable occupation. Client relationship management, learning new skills, and immense job satisfaction are just a few of the benefits. However, one of the key advantages is the sectors impressive earnings potential. Individuals enter professional roles for a variety of reasons. And, although money shouldn’t be the only motivation for pursuing a certain employment position, it’s important to be properly compensated for the work you carry out.
This article intends to highlight the key salary information relating to the electrotechnical sector. Whether you’re in the early stages of considering a career in the industry, or a seasoned electrical worker, you’ll find value in understanding expected average earnings and working benefits. This may invite you to engage further into your planned entry to join the sector, or allow you to challenge the amount you’re currently receiving.
It may be worth also conducting your own research into alternative trades. If you’re considering a career as an electrician, there’s a decent chance you’ll be relatively competent at a range of practical jobs. Therefore, you may also review disciplines such as painting and decorating, plastering, or carpentry as viable options. Although this article will offer some insight into comparable trades, its advisable to conduct some personal analysis of these other opportunities. However, we’re fairly confident you’ll land back at wanting to be an electrician!
Ahead of the rest
It’s worth positioning the electrician salary against the rest of the ‘traditional’ trade disciplines.
In November 2021, the National Office of Statistics released their latest data on average industry salaries. For the eighth consecutive year, electrician registered as the number one earnings occupation amongst all of the trades. This is no mean feat.
The average median salary of an electrician is a substantial £32,540, which is ahead of the overall UK curve. Indeed, when reviewing average earnings across the country, the number comes out just north of £31k. Using the median average is the most appropriate measure in this context. The mean average would incorporate those at the extreme ends of the scale, and therefore output a skewed final total. Median averages account for all salaries, but then find the central point and express this as its sum. Therefore, it represents the true ‘middle’ number of everyone conducting that role. For consistency purposes, the quoted UK overall figure also utilises this formula.
More importantly however, this number is significantly higher than most of the sectors in its immediate vicinity. The closest earners to electricians, in second-place on the trade ladder, are plumbers, who earn approximately £31,695 per annum. Bricklayers typically earn just south of £28k. Roofers prop up the overall table, with individuals connected to this industry usually earning around £24,750. Although no trades are poorly compensated, some clear bandwidth between the top and bottom earners is certainly visible.
Furthermore, this number has actually declined year-on-year. In 2020, electricians earned £33,945 on average, nearly £1500 more than their current rate of pay. This may not seem like a huge number, but it is a sizeable dip to occur within twelve months. However, unforeseeable marketplace conditions have contributed to this decline.
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly had a material impact on the vast majority of industries. Social distancing rules, the temporary closure of trade retailers, and people’s purse strings generally tightening, have all sought to undermine working activities. The Furlough scheme would have also had a detrimental effect on this number, with many employers opting to embrace the government scheme. This means that many of those in the electrical trade, along with vast swathes of the wider population, had earnings curtailed at 80% for a significant portion of 2021. The above elements may also have conspired to damage industry salaries and overall performance in the previous year, but its worth remembering that there were three clear months of business at the beginning of 2020, before COVID-19 took its grip on society. Unfortunately, pretty much all of last year’s marketplace activity was compromised by rolling restrictions and difficult economic circumstances.
Furthermore, the protracted Brexit negotiations, and their subsequent outcomes, have put pressure on supply chains like never before. Building materials have been harder to acquire, and weakened logistics channels have faltered under intense pressure and demand. This has also sucked up additional income, leaving less to invest in employer wages and training.
However, on the bright side, this means when normality fully resumes, salaries will most return to a similar level enjoyed previously. And there is cautious optimism that complete recovery is on the horizon.
Self-employed and Contract work
The highest-earning electricians are usually either self-employed or work on a contract-basis. Those working within the contract sphere will attach themselves to various working projects, rather than working exclusively for one business or employer. Self-employed and contract workers are able to extend their earnings potential by the way they structure their charges. Individuals will advertise their labour via a fixed rate for a set timeframe, and are therefore not tied down to a capped salary. This is an unavailable method of pay for those aligned to a specific business on a salary arrangement.
Experienced and competent self-employed electricians earn upwards of 35k on average, with a reasonable number earning more than this. This increases if located in either London or the South-East, due to the associated economic environment.
The scale of the opportunity
The information below provides a flavour of costs attached to specific jobs that an electrician may undertake on a regular basis. While these estimates are just a guideline suggestion, and some variance should be expected, they give a reasonable illustration of what you may find out in the trade. Also, due to this point, the bandwidth of charged amounts in these examples is relatively wide.
Customers should expect to pay the following prices for each job, with the bracketed completion times applied:
- Replacing a Consumer Unit (fuse box): £500 (half-full day)
- Producing an Electrical Installation Report: £90-£180 (4-8 hours)
- Supplying and installing a double socket: £80-£130 (1-3 hours)
- Replacing a light-fitting: £40-£60 (1 hour)
- Repairing a damaged power cable: £40-£60 (1 hour)
- Installing an electric cooker: £50-£80 (1 hour)
- Installing an electric shower: £250-£400 (1 day)
- Installing an external security light: £90-£140 (1-3 hours)
- Installing an Electric Vehicle Charging Point installation: £200-£300 (1 day)
Understanding the costs breakdown
You can therefore quickly see how lucrative the trade can be. In breaking down hourly rates, you can extract a comparable number, and use it to cross-check earnings in this field versus others. This may serve to really highlight the scale of the opportunity in the electrical industry.
We can see the full scope of this opportunity by reviewing the charges applied for an electrician’s expertise. Fully-qualified electricians are highly-skilled and knowledgeable professionals. They’ve undertaken intensive training programmes and successfully passed a number of challenging assessments- so their labour costs are appropriately significant. Let’s take the example of the fitting of a consumer unit. The box itself will cost roughly £100, and, as noted, job duration is projected at just under a day’s work. Even when one factors in other component operating costs, such as tools, insurance, vehicle costs etc, labour charges would still be in the region of £350 for approximately six hours work. A far superior hourly rate to a raft other industries and occupations.
Energy efficiency industries
Lastly, it’s also worth quick some discussion around the final line on the articulated list. The Electric Vehicle production industry continues to grow at an exponential rate. Finite energy resources, alongside a backdrop of mounting social pressure for companies to produce renewable solutions has catalysed a major boom in ‘green’ markets. More people purchasing electric vehicles has inevitably led to increased demand for charging points. There are substantial earnings to be made in this space, so make sure you consider undertaking the relevant training required to upskill yourself in this field. It is a current, and future, goldmine! This also applies to other energy efficiency markets. Global focus on reducing carbon footprint, and driving renewable alternatives in industry, has catalysed a raft of opportunities in the electrotechnical sector. Make sure you’re aware of what these are, as these too could illustrate a lucrative endeavour for electricians.
It’s also important to optimise your income streams. Many electricians fail to properly account for involved costs in the delivery of works. Labour expenditure is only a proportion of the expenditure. Consider material costs, logistics spends, tools investment, not to mention the potential social time forfeited if conducting weekend or evening work. This doesn’t mean that you should attempt to hoodwink clients, or demonstrate a lack of integrity. Simply make sure that you charge the appropriate fee, reflective of all the elements that led to full task completion.
These types of costs should also be accounted for when reviewing employment options. As per a number of sectors, there are clear pros and cons for owning a business versus standard employment. Understand the potential financial outlay before committing to this endeavour, balancing likelihood of success against current marketplace conditions and anticipated costs.
Those conducting apprenticeships will have to wait a little longer before realising these kinds of earnings. Given that employers will often also subsidise apprentice learning enterprises, hourly rates can dip under national minimum wage. However, some companies may use governmental support to mitigate against this, and use this to money for your studies without having to deduct from your electrician salary. Earnings at this point shouldn’t be a source of too much frustration though. Gaining a position on an electrical apprenticeship is a gateway to acquiring more money than many other pursuits, and it’s likely that you’ll still have a little more money in your pocket than the majority of your peer group. Training courses can be expensive, so, in this way, the substantial savings made should really form part of the overall view on your compensation package.
True, those who haven’t joined an apprenticeship scheme, whether through personal circumstances, application rejections, or preference, will have to pick up these associated qualification costs. In order to fully complete required training modules, individuals should be prepared to stump up a significant amount of money. Although apprentices will complete the same courses, pursuing a standalone training route will be a quicker way to progress through your training schedule. This route allows you to frontload training, and potentially pick up skills quicker. In the medium-term therefore, this will make you a more attractive proposition for full-time employment.
However, it’s important to note that in order to complete this City & Guilds course, candidates will have to submit evidence of practical work completed whilst in a workplace. The earlier, C&G 2365 Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma courses, required to progress into the NVQ segment, will also support your employment chances. Therefore, its worth regularly applying to businesses at the start of your learning journey. If successful in attaining an employment position at some point during the Level 2 & Level 3 diploma programmes, you could earn up to £24k per annum as a trainee. This is clearly a noticeable increase on the yearly salary of a typical apprentice.
Every so often, JIB (the Joint Industry Board) publish advice to the industry on how much different roles within the sector should be typically paid. The Joint Industry Board is a regulatory body, accountable for delivering testing, grading, and general guidance across the industry. However, companies are not mandated to meet the suggested levels, and a decent proportion do unfortunately discard these numbers.
JIB apply gradings to electrotechnical role pay-rates by taking into account a range of relevant criteria. This includes expectations involved in specialist occupations, location of where individuals work, and, in the case of apprentices, whether they’re predominantly college or workplace-based for the duration of a specific training module. They also offer advice on associated benefits, such as sick pay and death-in-service. Although a morbid subject, this is unfortunately something one should seriously review when registering with an employer. Electricians regularly undertake hazardous work that could ultimately lead to death or serious injury.
In November 2021, JIB announced their latest proposed electrician salary expectations for years 2022 and 2023. The extensive nature of the report makes it impossible to go through in a summarised, overview article. However, the below table sets out the most recognizable industry roles, and correspondingly advertises the JIB-advised pay rates. These came into effect on Monday 3rd January of this year.
N.B. London and South East rates are slightly higher. Note the difference in pay between owning a vehicle and having transport provided. This accounts for additional operating costs, such as petrol, insurance, MOT & Servicing etc.
JIB-approved pay structure
|Hourly Rate (Transport Provided)
|Hourly Rate (Own Vehicle)
Cable Installation Supervisor
(or equivalent specialist grade)
(or equivalent specialist grade)
Leading Cable Hand
(or equivalent specialist grade)
|ECS Experienced Worker Card Holder
Trainee Electrician (Stage 3)
Mechanical Trainee (Stage 3)
|Trainee Electrician (Stage 2)
Mechanical Trainee (Stage 2)
|Trainee Electrician (Stage 1)
Mechanical Trainee (Stage 1)
How to increase earnings potential
As with any role, in any industry, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Simple things such as a strong work ethic and commitment to your job will shine through to peers, leaders, and clients. Consider additional training you can undertake to augment skills and diversify into new areas. Whether its upskilling in sectors where special locations are in-play, such as hospitals, marine environments or campsites, or entering ‘green’ industries such as solar panel fitting or, as discussed earlier, EV Charging Points, there are a raft of opportunities external to the immediate electrical installation trade.
If self-employed, elevate your brand and reputation in the marketplace. Do you give your customers a ‘five-star’ level of service? Do they have the ability to offer feedback and review your work? Are you acting with integrity in everything you do?
If contracted to a business and earning a fixed salary, embrace overtime opportunities and throw yourself into training course opportunities. Make time for your own personal development, and don’t be afraid to take the plunge into self-employment. It could lead to higher incomes!
Lastly, if you’re just starting out, or indeed at a bit of a loose end, consider signing up for agency work. Although you’ll lose an element of flexibility, you may be in a position where you’re happy to ‘go where the work is’ These companies have good relationships with a host of industry clients, so exploit their services when you need to. There’s nothing like getting out in the field and getting some experience, regardless of the scale or complexity of the role.
Becoming an electrician is a challenging, yet attainable, target for most individuals. Its attractive pay rate, levels of job satisfaction, and practical edge make it a sought-after role for many people, regardless of age, gender, or experience level.
However, make totally sure that you’re willing to put in the hard work and commitment that it takes to be successful in the trade. You won’t be able take advantage of the earning’s potential unless you’re prepared to do this.
So, pick your career route, have a plan, and pursue it with as much energy as possible. You’ve seen the sise of the opportunity, now go out there and grab it!