October 21, 2022

Which electricians make the most money?

british plug next to text block

If you want to know which electricians make the most money, there are a number of different factors you need to consider before we can come up with a comprehensive answer.

We can look at electricians' salaries based on the speciality a person decides to go into, comparing how pay varies across these jobs.

We can also look at career progression and find out how pay changes with experience or we could think about location and how where an electrician works affects their salary.

If we consider this question to be a comparison of pay across specialities, then there is one very clear winner.

The electricians who make the most money are those who work as commercial electricians. On average, in the UK, these sparks take home approximately £37,676 per year, which works out to be roughly £500 more than domestic and industrial electricians.

However, as we have mentioned, there are a number of other variables that can impact an electrician's salary that need to be considered. Furthermore, if we take into account how the cost of living varies in different locations, the total take-home for each sector can also look very different.

But before we consider any of these questions, we need to clarify what the different types of electricians are and how their roles vary.

If you’re interested to find out who earns more between plumbers and electricians, check out our blog looking at how much different plumbers make in the UK, with a full breakdown of factors affecting plumbers’ salaries.

Or, if you want to see how these two trades stack up on the global stage, check out our comparison blog with data taken from 5 different continents.

What are the different types of electricians?

As a career option, working in the electrical industry offers a broad range of opportunities with many different specialities available that a person can train in. Rather than just working in one area there are numerous options to choose from with each requiring a very particular set of skills.

For the purpose of this blog, we’re going to focus on three main categories within the industry, as these are the core specialities. These three sectors are the following:

  • Commercial
  • Domestic
  • Industrial.

Domestic Electricians

As a domestic electrician, you will work in people's homes, travelling from door to door to fix and install electrical systems. A domestic electrician can work in any residential building including multiple occupancy housing and social housing.

Most domestic electricians work as sole traders and are able to set their own hours and decide their own rates.

Some of the common jobs these types of electricians complete include:

  • Installing wiring, lighting, and appliances
  • Replacing and repairing fuse boxes
  • Adding switches and sockets
  • Installing electric vehicle charging points

Commercial Electricians

These electricians predominantly work as subcontractors, completing jobs that span from working on high-value domestic properties to large energy infrastructure systems such as power stations.

These specialists generally have to complete more technically challenging tasks than their domestic counterparts, however, the work can be less varied day to day as it involves focusing on a specific task.

Given the complexity and the associated risks that come with this line of work, commercial electricians generally need a higher level of qualification and considerably more experience.

Unlike domestic electricians who can set their own hours, commercial workers usually have to work hours and rates decided by the company that contracts them.

Some of the common tasks you might expect to complete in the commercial sector include:

  • Containment (methods used to protect cables)
  • Installing alarms and large systems
  • Maintaining and installing high-voltage generators

Industrial Electricians

Industrial electricians operate on some similar jobs to commercial and domestic electricians, however, in the industrial sector, the scale is often bigger. This means working with large machinery, three-phase systems and commercial projects that require industrial installation.

Industrial electricians will generally work on projects within factories or manufacturing plants.

Despite sharing many of the same core skills as domestic and commercial electricians, industrial electricians may not have the necessary skills and experience needed to carry out maintenance on domestic properties, even if they have all the required qualifications.

Some of the tasks an industrial electrician might work on in this sector include:

  • Installing equipment like breakers, wires and other components of an electrical system
  • Installing and renovating systems
  • Maintaining the records and reports log

Which electrician gets paid the most?

Now you understand the 3 main specialities a person can go into within the electrical industry we can better answer the question of which type of electrician earns the most money.

To find out the answer, we took some time to do some research across job websites.

After compiling data from four different sites, including Adzuna, Reed, Talent and Totaljobs, we came up with the following results, which we have compiled in the table below.

Commercial Domestic Industrial
Adzuna £38,840 £36,919 £36,678
Reed £37,564 £40,194 £34,991
Talent £35,004 £33,996 £38,267
Totaljobs £39,295 £36,678 £38,421
Average £37,676 £36,947 £37,089

When we compared the data, we found there was some variation in the results.

In two out of four websites, commercial electricians came out on top, while domestic and industrial electricians had the highest salaries displayed only on one website each.

Based on the results we found, commercial electricians make the most money, with the highest average salary across all four sites.

However, it is important to note that these results are somewhat offset due to the fact that most domestic electricians work independently as sole traders, meaning their job opportunities are often not displayed on job websites.

Due to the fact that domestic electricians can set their own rates and run their own limited businesses, the opportunities to earn the highest salaries are likely to be found amongst these domestic electricians, even if they don’t have the highest income on average.

Where do electricians make the most money?

In the UK, your expected salary can vary quite significantly depending on where you live and work. If you’re based in London for example, salaries on average tend to be 25% higher than in the rest of the country. This means that if you are an electrician who works in London, you can expect to earn more than electricians that work elsewhere in the UK.

However, this isn’t the full story. When we consider how the cost of living varies across different cities in the UK, the picture we’re presented with looks very different.

To find a more comprehensive answer we decided to do some research.

Firstly we used Numbeo to calculate the cost of living for a single-person household across 18 major UK cities.

We then used salary sites Adzuna, Reed and Checkasalary.co.uk, to calculate the average salary for electricians in each city.

With this data, we were able to estimate the total yearly net earnings for an electrician in each city and work out which city is the best for electricians to earn the most money.

You can see our results in the table below.

Please note that the cost of living data used is an approximation and will vary depending on a number of different factors. These approximations are based on a one-person family.

City Average salary Cost of living * Take home
Sheffield £38,740 £15,384 £23,356
Newcastle £38,065 £14,748 £23,317
Birmingham £39,078 £15,852 £23,226
Norwich £39,686 £17,136 £22,550
Liverpool £37,824 £15,756 £22,068
Manchester £38,942 £17,280 £21,662
Cardiff £37,863 £16,248 £21,615
Southampton £39,519 £18,072 £21,447
Edinburgh £38,133 £17,448 £20,685
Leeds £36,972 £16,356 £20,616
Cambridge £41,644 £21,048 £20,596
Reading £40,389 £19,800 £20,589
Glasgow £36,862 £16,332 £20,530
Plymouth £34,667 £15,336 £19,331
Brighton £40,098 £21,360 £18,738
Bristol £38,300 £19,776 £18,524
Oxford £39,011 £20,532 £18,479
London £43,004 £28,368 £14,636

Salary data taken from averages across job comparison and salary sites: Adzuna, Reed and Checkasalary.co.uk. Cost of living calculated from Numbeo.

Interestingly, once we factored in the cost of living, it was Sheffield that came out on top as the city where electricians earn the most, with those who work in Newcastle and Birmingham (second and third) earning slightly less.

London, which produces the highest salaries for electricians, actually ended up coming bottom once we factored in the cost of living. In fact, London electricians end up with around £6000 less in their bank account compared to the average, which comes in at £20,944.

As always it’s important to caveat that these numbers are based on averages and approximations that can vary significantly for any one individual. What these numbers do give you, however, is a very good guide as to what you can expect to end up with depending on where you work.

How much do experienced electricians make?

In the electrical industry, experience isn’t the most important factor when it comes to earning an increased salary.

Although experience is valuable and will help provide you with the confidence and competence to complete a task, there is something more important that is needed when determining salary.

The best way to win high-paying jobs is to become a Gold Card Approved Electrician. This is the highest level of qualification you can undertake within the electrical industry and gives you access to many jobs you wouldn't otherwise be able to undertake.

For example, if you wanted to work in a commercial setting or on a construction site, it is a requirement that you have your Gold Card. Furthermore, technically, if you want to carry out unsupervised work as an electrician, a Gold Card is required - however it is worth noting that this often isn’t the case in practice.

Once you are Gold Card qualified you can expect to demand a far higher salary even compared to more experienced but less qualified electricians.

Despite this, qualifications aside, experience is still valuable and in general, you can expect to earn more as an electrician with experience.

This is supported by data collected by Checkasalary.co.uk who have shown that electricians' salaries increase steadily from the ages of 18-21 up to 30-39, where earnings stay level until you hit your 60s - when salaries decrease.

Graph taken from checkasalary.co.uk

Even though these results clearly show that total salary does increase with age, it’s important to remember that a major reason for this is that it takes time to become qualified to the necessary standard to command higher salaries.

Most older electricians who earn more will also have taken the time to become better qualified. This is why an electrician's qualifications are most important when it comes to how much a person in the electrical industry can earn.

How to become an electrician?

If you are interested in becoming a spark, the best way into the industry is still to complete an apprenticeship.

However, securing an apprenticeship is not always an easy thing to do. These opportunities are competitive and no business will take you on unless you are fully focused and dedicated.

To give yourself the best chance of securing an electricians apprenticeship, a good place to start is to complete a college course.

These courses will provide you with many of the core skills you need for a job as an electrician, allowing you to become familiar with many of the industry practices and standards.

Some of the relevant courses to look at are the following:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Access to Building Services Engineering (Electrical)
  • Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation
  • T Level in Building Services Engineering for Construction

Watch out for courses that claim to train you within a few weeks or months. These courses do not provide you with the training necessary and will not qualify you to work.

Once you have completed your early training you can start looking for an apprenticeship.

When trying to find an apprenticeship to apply to, the best place to look is apprentice 121. This resource will help you get in touch with electrical businesses looking for apprentices.

They have done great work for trainees who have lost work due to COVID and have helped them find new employment. They provide a great resource so go and check it out.

Conclusion

So, based on all these findings, what does the highest-earning electrician look like? Well, we’ve summarised our findings into five bullet points.

The electrician that would make the most money would be:

  • A commercial electrician
  • Someone who works in Sheffield
  • Is Gold Card qualified
  • Is aged 40-49

And the last factor, that has a considerable influence on an electrician's earnings…

  • Is a male

Sadly it’s still the case that men on average earn more than women within the trades. For more information on how salaries compare between genders across different trade occupations, have a look at our blog which breaks down all the details for women in the trade industry.

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