When neon signs on top of a business suddenly go dark or electrical outlets stop working in a house, occupants call electricians for repair. These trades workers maintain electrical systems in homes and businesses, and install wiring and lighting systems. Because of possible shock hazards, they must wear protective clothing and practice safety procedures. Their salaries vary by employer and work location.
Electricians made an hourly range of under $14.61 to above $39.75, but averaged $25.44 per hour, as of May 2011, states the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their wage was greater than the average for all construction and extraction occupations, which was $21.46 per hour, and more than the mean for all occupations in the country, which was an hourly $21.74. To earn this compensation, electricians diagnose electrical problems and provide solutions ranging from simple repairs to the replacement of entire electrical systems. Their schedules generally run full-time but may include weekends and evenings, for the convenience of consumers or to work when buildings are unoccupied.
The highest paid electricians worked for business schools and computer and management training, where they averaged $38.10 per hour. Next for wages was natural gas distribution, at a mean hourly $36.07, and services for accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping and payroll, averaging $35.42 per hour. The biggest employers of the profession were building equipment contractors, which held more than two-thirds of the jobs and averaged $25.29 per hour. To earn these journey-level wages, most electricians must successfully complete a formal four-year apprenticeship. Until that time, apprentices receive a portion of the journey-level compensation as they undergo training in both classrooms and on the job.
For states, electricians earned their highest wages in Alaska, averaging $34.63 per hour; New York, at a mean $33.98 hourly; and Illinois, averaging $33.86 per hour. The best-paying metro areas were Vallejo, California, averaging an hourly $39.33; New York City, at a mean $38.34 per hour; and Fairbanks, Alaska, at a mean $37.31 per hour. Job opportunities were greatest in the high population states of Texas, California, and New York; and in the cities of New York, Chicago, and Houston.
Jobs for electricians depend upon the economy. Because it is expected to grow from 2010 to 2020, positions are predicted to increase by 23 percent, which is equal to the growth projected for workers in all construction trades, but far more than the 14 percent increases predicted for all occupations. A growing new field is alternative power generation, sought after by those concerned about the environment. The best job opportunities will go to those workers with the widest variety of electrical skills.