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Electricians are responsible for installing and maintaining fuses, wiring and other mechanisms used for the transferal of electricity. They bring electricity into businesses and homes, and many are also employed in factories installing and servicing electrical equipment. The majority of electricians are paid an hourly wage while some receive a yearly salary. The pay varies depending on the nature of the work. In general, electricians working in the field of automobile manufacture or other areas where they are responsible for installing and repairing complicated electrical equipment are paid the best.
While overtime is sometimes required, most electricians work 40 hours per week. Electricians working in maintenance may also have to work nights and weekends, and some have to be on call in case of emergencies. Companies that operate 24 hours per day often break up electrician work into three shifts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2006 the median earnings of electricians (paid both wage and salary) were $20.97 per hour. While the highest-paid 10 percent of electricians made made more than $34.95 an hour, the lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $12.76. The middle 50 percent of electricians made between $16.07 and $27.71.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80 percent of electricians are self-employed contractors or they work in construction. Self-employed electricians often work in residential environments, installing electricity and electrical appliances in houses. They are also responsible for giving customers price estimates, and must be able to predict the cost of labor and materials. Self-employed electricians’ median hourly earnings were $20.47 in 2006. Electricians in the field of non-residential construction earned slightly more at $20.58 an hour. They are primarily responsible for the installation of wiring systems in factories and businesses.
Electricians working for local governments are often responsible for maintaining the electrical power supplied to towns and cities. They may also be responsible for repairing street and traffic lights as well as fixing any electrical problems that arise in public buildings. Electricians employed by local governments earned a median of $23.80 per hour in 2006.
Electricians working in electric power are responsible for its generation, transmission, and distribution, and are often employed by companies such as General Electric. They work with complex electrical equipment that can be extremely dangerous if mishandled, and thus are paid more than electricians working in contracting or construction positions. In 2006, the median hourly earnings of an electrician working in electric power were $26.62.
Electricians employed by the automobile industry are the highest paid, earning a median hourly income of $31.90 in 2006. The complex electrical systems used in robots and other automated systems for manufacturing motor vehicles require installation and maintenance. This can only be performed by highly qualified electricians.