Buildings everywhere require electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems that need to be installed and maintained by electricians. As the technologies are improved and older systems break down, electricians perform much-needed tasks, including identifying problems, repairing failed equipment, and replacing parts or entire systems.
To learn more about pursuing a career as an electrician, use this guide to discover the highest-paying electrician jobs, popular career paths for electricians, and more.
Highest Paying Electrician Jobs
Master Electrician Average Annual Salary: $71,200
PayScale reports a median annual salary of $71,200 for master electricians1. The career outlook for 2020-2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is 9% growth, which is about the average for all jobs.
Master electrician is the highest level an electrician can achieve. Normally, this level requires not only the completion of an apprenticeship but further, at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience in specific types of electrical work. They must pass a master electrical exam or hold a master electrical license in their state of residence and know the National Electrical Code extremely well. Master electricians often work full time and may manage other electricians and apprentices as part of a team.
Electrical or Electronic Engineering Technician Average Annual Salary: $67,550
The BLS reports a median annual salary of $67,550 for electrical or electronic engineering technicians. The career outlook for 2020-2030 in this field is 2% growth, which is below the average for all jobs2.
Electrical and electronics engineering technicians work with engineers to design and develop electrical and electronic equipment. These technicians conduct tests, analyze device performance, and aid in designing, constructing, and fabricating equipment.
Those with an associate degree in electronics technology, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or a similar program may qualify for this position.
Electrical or Electronics Installers and Repairers Average Annual Salary: $62,020
The median salary for these jobs is $62,020, and the career outlook for electrical or electronic installers and repairers is 2% growth over the next 10 years3.
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install and repair various electrical equipment, often in a repair shop or factory setting. They work on motors, power tools, transportation equipment, commercial and industrial equipment, powerhouses and substations, and motor vehicles.
A high school diploma and apprenticeship are generally required to qualify for these careers. These workers may need the ability to lift heavy equipment and work in awkward physical positions.
Elevator/Escalator Installers and Repairers Average Annual Salary: $88,540
The BLS reports an average salary for elevator or escalator installer and repairer jobs of $88,540, and the 10-year outlook for these careers is about average at 6% growth4.
Elevator and escalator installers and repairers work on elevators, escalators, and moving walkways. These workers may be on call and may work overtime. In addition, they usually work in cramped spaces or at high elevations, such as in elevator shafts.
Education needed beyond a high school diploma includes trade school training or an apprenticeship.
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) Mechanics and Installers Average Annual Salary: $50,590
The BLS states a median salary for HVACR careers of $50,590 and predicts 5% growth between 2020 and 20305.
To obtain a position as an HVACR mechanic or installer, students can attend a trade school for specialized training or serve an apprenticeship. Licensing is often required, depending on the state.
HVACR mechanics and installers repair, install, and update heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems in individual homes, school buildings, hospitals, factories, and offices. They often must understand blueprints, schematics, and diagrams. Some jobs require EPA and/or OSHA certification.
Electrical Line Installers and Repairers Average Annual Salary: $75,030
Although the career outlook is flat for 2020-2030, the average salary for electrical line installers and repairers is $75,0306. About 23,300 openings occur every year, mostly due to retirements and transfers out of the field6.
Electrical line installers and repairers (often called linemen) install, repair, and upgrade electrical power systems. These workers may have hazardous jobs, such as exposure to high voltage and working at dangerous heights.
In addition to a high school diploma, these workers usually need technical instruction and long-term, on-the-job training or apprenticeship to be adequately trained for this physically demanding career.
Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers Average Annual Salary: $58,870
The BLS reports a median annual salary for telecom line installers and repairers of $58,8706. The career growth is expected to remain flat through the decade, but many openings occur due to retirements and career changes.
Telecommunications line workers work with telecommunications cables, including fiber optics. They often work out of an aerial bucket truck and use power tools, climbing hooks, and ladders.
Solar Photovoltaic Installers Average Annual Salary: $46,470
A high school diploma and some technical school or community college training are good foundations for a career in solar photovoltaic installation. The median salary for these positions is $46,4707.
This career involves assembling, installing, and maintaining systems that convert sunlight into usable and storable energy. It may involve working in high places such as rooftops.
Climate change and increased regulations are leading to increased interest in renewable energy sources such as solar power. The BLS expects this field to grow about 52% over the next 10 years7.
Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers Average Annual Salary: $61,470
Some training in electronics, telecommunications, or computer technology in addition to a high school diploma help qualify workers for these careers. On-the-job training is usually required as well. The median salary for this position is $61,470 per year8.
These workers install and maintain devices and systems that carry communications in homes and offices, and on work sites. They may work from a central office location or an electronic service center, as well.
Electro-mechanical and Mechatronics Technologists and Technicians Average Annual Salary: $59,800
Preparation for this career includes a high school diploma plus vocational school, on-the-job experience, post-secondary certificates, or even an associate degree. The BLS reports an average salary for this role of $59,8009.
Electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians are workers who work on unmanned, automated, servomechanical, or electro-mechanical equipment. Some operate unmanned submarines, aircraft, or robotic equipment.
Worksites for these careers include oil rigs, crop fields, deep ocean, and hazardous waste sites. These jobs often demand precision, manual dexterity, excellent vision, working well under time pressure, and critical thinking.
Popular Career Paths With an Electrician Degree
An electrician degree is one of the highest-paying trade school degrees. The BLS reports that electricians most often work in the following industries: electrical contracting or wiring contracting (65% of workers), self-employment (9%), manufacturing (7%), government (3%), and employment services (3%)10.
Electricians also work in the various branches of the military. For example, new recruits to the Navy can train as electricians and work aboard nuclear submarines.
The major unions, like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and non-union organizations, like the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), for electricians offer support for contractors in the form of training and apprenticeships, business and workforce development, advocacy, awards, conventions, and other events, and job boards.
Average Salaries for Electrician Degree Graduates
Pay rates for electricians vary based on training and years of experience. According to data from the BLS, the average salary for an electrician, regardless of experience, is $56,90010. The BLS also projects that employment in apprenticeship positions, including electricians, should grow at least as fast as, and possibly faster than, the average for all occupations for the period 2018-202811.
How to Find a Job After You Graduate
Apply to a Trade School
After graduating from high school, students who want to pursue a career as an electrician should do one of two things: apply to a trade school or community college with an electrician course, or apply to either a union or non-union organization for an apprenticeship.
The benefit of going to a trade school or community college first is that many schools can apply credit from the program toward the student’s time required as an apprentice, thereby reducing the number of hours needed to qualify as a journey worker.
Apply for an Apprenticeship
On the other hand, starting out as an apprentice can simplify the process and save money that would have been spent taking courses at a school or college. Apprenticeships provide hands-on training, technical instruction, and wages in exchange for several years of work (usually about four years, though the range is 12 months to six years)11.
To apply for an apprenticeship at a union, students usually need a high school diploma or GED, as well as other requirements, which vary by state. For instance, IBEW Local 102 in New Jersey requires an aptitude test, oral interview, and drug testing before admission to an apprenticeship.
Non-union organizations like IEC and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) also offer apprenticeships. For example, the ABC Heart of America of Kansas and Missouri teaches students how to wire, install, and troubleshoot electrical systems in residential, commercial, and industrial situations and predicts journey workers can make $30.51 per hour.
The New Jersey Chapter of IEC offers a four-year apprenticeship with 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training for each of the four years. The technical instruction is paid for by the 2,000 hours of actual work, so students start their careers with no college debt.
Discover More About a Career With an Electrician Degree
Q. How long does it take to become an electrician?
It takes about four to five years to become a fully licensed electrician. A trade school program generally takes between nine months to one year to complete.
Q. How long does an electrician apprenticeship last?
In most states, an apprenticeship lasts 4-5 years, or about 2,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training, plus technical instruction, which may be in the form of evening classes.
Q. What licensing is required to become an electrician?
Most electricians must pass exams on National Electric Code and state and local codes in their home area. In some states, continuing education is required and can often be taken through professional organizations such as unions.
Some careers, such as solar photovoltaic electrical generating and lighting systems, may require additional certifications. Finally, most programs require the electrician to have a valid driver’s license and a good driving record.
Q. What is the average career path for electricians?
Most electricians begin with either technical training or an apprenticeship. After the apprenticeship, the worker becomes a journeyperson (or journeyman), which means they can work on their own as an electrician. After completing thousands of hours of on-the-job experience (in many states, it is 8,000 hours), the journeyperson may take an exam to become a master electrician.
Do I need a college degree to become an electrician?
Although no degree is needed to become an electrician, the career path to becoming a journeyman electrician takes about five years. Fortunately, this time usually involves on-the-job training, so the apprentice is earning while learning.
 PayScale. (2021). Average Master Electrician Hourly Pay. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Master_Electrician/Hourly_Rate
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologists and Technicians. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electrical-and-electronics-engineering-technicians.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/electrical-and-electronics-installers-and-repairers.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/elevator-installers-and-repairers.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Line Installers and Repairers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/line-installers-and-repairers.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Solar Photovoltaic Installers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/solar-photovoltaic-installers.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/telecommunications-equipment-installers-and-repairers-except-line-installers.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Electro-mechanical and Mechatronics Technologists and Technicians. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/electro-mechanical-technicians.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Electricians. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/electricians.htm
 Torpey, E. (2019, November). Apprenticeships: Outlook and wages in selected occupations. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2019/article/apprenticeships-outlook-wages-update.htm