Electricians are responsible for fitting, repairing and servicing electrical machinery, equipment and wiring. All industries and houses in the UK rely on electricity to some degree. As such, electricians are in high demand to make sure that appliances and systems continue operating properly.
The work that electricians do ranges, from domestic jobs to technical installations and maintenance in industrial settings. The variety of skills and knowledge needed means that there is a wide range of salaries within this one profession. The salaries also range dramatically from apprentices who are just starting out to established electricians who run their own companies.
In this guide, we'll look at how much you can expect to earn as an electrician, including the various factors that could impact your salary.
The average salary for electricians in the UK is approximately £32,000. Based on a traditional 40-hour work week, this equates to just under £17 per hour before tax. However, the salary varies considerably based on the electrician's experience and qualifications, as well as their geographical location.
Apprentices are legally entitled to earn National Minimum Wage, which is considerably less than most experienced electricians earn. For this reason, electricians can see a dramatic change in their wages within the first five years of working.
Continue reading to find out how much electricians can earn at each stage of their career progression, as well as the earnings difference between employed and self-employed individuals.
Most customers are willing to pay extra for someone who has years of experience under their belt. Some highly qualified electricians charge as much as £45 per hour when working on complex jobs because the work requires a particular set of skills and knowledge that most electricians don't have.
Around 46% of tradespeople work over 45 hours per week, which is higher than the national average of 36.5 hours per working week. These extra hours mean that just under half of tradespeople work an extra day's worth of hours than most other professions and therefore earn more per month. In addition, 54% of tradespeople work weekends, which usually costs customers more than if the tradesperson was doing a job during the week.
Experienced electricians can apply for jobs where they teach the next generation of tradespeople. Many colleges and apprentices need experienced electricians to help with the practical side of training, as well as theory.
If you employ an apprentice, you can get help from the government for training and assessments. You can get given up to £1,000 to help support your apprentice if they are:
- 16 to 18 years old
- 19 to 25 years old with an education, health and care plan
- 19 to 25 years old, and they used to be in care
Apprentices are entitled to National Minimum Wage, in addition to holiday pay and allocated time for study and training as part of the apprenticeship.
The rate that you get paid as an apprentice will depend on your age and the year of study that you are in. The table below shows a breakdown of the pay rates for apprentices:
|Age||Year of study||Pay per hour|
|16 to 18 years old||Any year of study||£4.81|
|19 years or older||First-year||£4.81|
|19 years or older||Any year after the first year has been completed||National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for your age|
The National Minimum and National Living wages for individuals who have completed their first year of study and are aged over 19 years are:
- 19 - 20-year-olds: £6.83
- 21 - 22-year-olds: £9.18
- 23 and over: £9.50
Newly qualified electricians will usually start to earn a contracted salary rather than an hourly rate. This can range between £19,000 to £22,000 per year. However, this rate will start to increase as they gain experience and knowledge from working longer in the field.
As self-employed electricians can set their own rates, the pay can vary significantly. The pay is usually based on a number of factors, such as the tools required for the job, travel expenses and the length of time that it takes for the job to be completed. Most self-employed electricians charge anywhere between £20 to £50 per hour. However, some electricians choose to charge a day rate instead, especially if they know that it will take them a long time to complete it.
Day rates usually work out cheaper per hour than an hourly charge. Most self-employed electricians charge between £200-£250 for day rates. In some areas, such as London, the average day rate can be between £350-400.
A self-employed electrician will usually charge more if they are in high demand. This is because customers are more likely to pay a premium for their work. On the other hand, an electrician who operates in an area where there are lots of electricians may have to lower their rates to try and get an advantage over their competition.
Self-employed electricians are responsible for buying and the maintenance of their tools and materials, as well as their transport to and from jobs. These extra charges will come out of the electrician's wages, although they can claim them as business expenses so that they are tax deductible.
While employed electricians may not have to worry about covering the cost of their tools and materials, they won't get the full amount that each customer is paying for the job. This is because the company will receive the money and then pay their employees once they have deducted the business costs and enough to make a profit. The benefit of being self-employed is that electricians can keep whatever profit they make after they have covered their business expenses.
You can earn more as a self-employed professional if you successfully advertise your business. Customers will be more likely to find your business if you have a good website and use fliers to advertise. Word of mouth can also result in a lot of customers, so it's important to provide good customer service at every job.
There are pros and cons to being self-employed. You can make more profit from each job, but you may struggle to find work at certain points throughout the year. On the other hand, employed electricians may not get paid as much, but they will have a steady stream of work.
Aside from experience, there are a number of other factors that can affect your salary. For example, you may find that you have more work if you are willing to travel further or be on call. Your customer service skills can also impact your workload, as customers would be more likely to hire a friendly tradesperson over someone who is tardy and rude.
It's also a good idea to gain as many skills and knowledge as possible so that you aren't limited by the jobs that you can complete. This could mean that you try to gain additional qualifications so that you can take on more jobs. You will also be able to charge more if you have additional qualifications.
The type of location where you complete your work can also increase your salary, as some jobs are more dangerous than others. For example, working in a construction environment can carry more risks than in a domestic setting.
The average wage for electricians varies across the UK due to a number of factors such as demand. London, the UK's largest city, has the highest average salary for electricians at £36,686 per year. Wales has the lowest average salary at £28,159 per year. The following is a breakdown of the average salaries in other regions across the UK:
- Scotland – £34,529
- South East – £33,661
- East – £33,315
- West Midlands – £32,759
- East Midlands – £32,623
- Yorkshire and the Humber – £31,995
- North West – £31,452
- North East – £31,062
- South West – £29,898
Although many of the regions have higher than average salaries, there are other areas, noticeably Wales and the South West, that have significantly lower averages. There is a general trend with the salaries, with most northern regions having a lower than average salary. However, Scotland is the exception as it has the second highest average in the country.
What qualifications do electricians need?
Many electricians take a college course when starting out, as they can learn both technical knowledge and practical skills. The common college courses for aspiring electricians include:
- Level two Diploma in Access to Building Services Engineering (Electrical)
- Level two and Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation
- T Level in Building Services Engineering for Construction
The majority of level two college courses require a minimum of two or more grade 9 GCSEs, or four to five GCSEs at grade nine for level three courses.
Another route that is popular for aspiring electricians is taking an apprenticeship. The standard entry level for an apprenticeship is four to five GCSEs at grade nine, including maths and English.
Many older electricians don't have a level three qualification because their jobs had different qualification requirements when they started their careers. If this applies to you, it is possible to get an Experienced Worker Assessment if you have worked in the industry for five or more years.
It's also possible to move into electrical installation work if you have worked in a related industry (such as building or electrical engineering) as you will have relevant experience and qualifications.
You may need to carry an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme ECS card, which will show the relevant qualifications that you have gained, as well as the experience you need to work safely on site.
What skills do electricians need?
Electricians need a wide range of skills, such as the ability to use and repair various electrical systems and appliances. It's also important to pay attention to detail, as many electrical issues can be easy to miss. Maths is a good skill to have as it can help you to understand technical plans.
Aside from the technical skills of the job, it's also important to have good customer service skills as you will likely come into regular contact with members of the public. You may also have to carry out basic tasks on a computer or handheld device, especially if you are self-employed and need to process payments.
Each sector of the industry also requires specialist skills and knowledge. These are often gained from working on the job, although you may be able to learn them through a specialist apprenticeship or training course.
The average electrician salary is between £28,000 to £34,000, although the average salary in the UK is estimated to be around £32,000. The average hourly rate for electrician jobs ranges from £4.81 for apprentices to as much as £45 for experienced and established electricians.
The highest salary for an electrician in the UK is £36,686 per year in London. Wales has the lowest average electrician salaries at £28,159 per year. The salary for an electrician can be influenced by a number of factors aside from geographic location, such as qualifications and experience. Self-employed electricians also tend to earn more as they can charge what they like and keep all of the profit after they have covered tax and business expenses.
Electrical work is usually transferable across various industries and sectors. This means that there is a lot of potential for career progression and, therefore, an increase in salaries.