Do you make as much as a union worker electrician? Chances are greater than 50% you do not. This post explores how people with regular jobs can make six figures a year no problem.
The media loves misery. There’s definitely a lot of bad out there, but does the media really have to focus on suffering 24/7 to generate viewership?
Perhaps disinterest with negativity is partially the reason why old media is dying. And perhaps because old media is dying, journalists can’t help but write depressing things. Life hack tip: Don’t watch the news for a week and observe your stress level go down and your happiness go up. This is especially true during the pandemic!
I’ve long believed that many people make much more than we know or think. Always watch what people DO with their money, and not what they say. If they are just making ends meet, why is there a nice car in their driveway? Debt and poor choices can’t explain everything. Or can they?
We sometimes like to think other people are struggling to make ourselves feel better. But “other people” are ourselves. It’s much better to focus on bettering ourselves don’t you think?
Some people had to start over in their 60s due to the financial crisis. While other people made a fortune scooping up deals for cents on the dollar. Try to always look at the positive side of things no matter what, because if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will.
Here’s a whole list of six figure jobs in multiple industries in case you’re curious and need proof that you don’t need to graduate at the top of your class to make a large income. This post is about discovering one more.
Union Worker Electrician Make Bank: More Wealth Out There Than We Know
Whenever I highlight an average income or an average net worth, those who are below average tend to advocate the use of median figures and vice versa. It’s curious no matter what the statistics say, there’s somebody out there somewhere who doesn’t believe the figures.
Given the skepticism, I like to look at real life anecdotes and report back my findings. For example, I’ve come to realize there’s a lot of parental help for adult children in San Francisco to afford property, graduate school tuition, and new cars.
Perhaps not everything will be OK as I hypothesized, but the idea of demonstrating a tremendous work ethic, aggressive savings, and risk taking is no longer the only option to gain wealth. Our parents are another great option so treat them well!
I’d like to share with you my latest income anecdote as another example of people making way more than we think. Most people don’t view being an electrician as a very lucrative job.
I’m not sure anybody sees blue collar labor in general as being very lucrative. But after spending an afternoon listening to my electrician’s story, I think all of you will be surprised at how much a union electrician in SF makes!
Making Big Bucks As A Union Worker Electrician
I’ve known Leroy for a couple years now. He is a union worker electrician. The first time I met Leroy was on the public tennis courts on Turk St. and Laguna St., a block away from the projects in San Francisco. Jabir, the poorest richest person I know made the introduction.
Leroy is a 44 year old black man weighing in at roughly 215 pounds and stands 6 feet tall. He has a decent tennis game, but because he wasn’t in fighting shape he tired easily after the first set.
Given I’m a grinder who can last for three hours, Leroy couldn’t keep up and eventually lost our friendly match 3-6, 2-6. Leroy was a nice guy, so when I had to change my outside electrical panel, I gave him a call to do the work.
Leroy lived in Bayview, an “up and coming” neighborhood in SF where housing prices are 50% below the median SF housing price. I never imagined Leroy as someone who made a lot of money.
I figured I would pay him an hourly rate of $30 or less to get the project done. Instead, he came back to me with a bid of $50 an hour, which is supposedly $25 an hour cheaper than the going rate. Fine.
Leroy came to my house early one afternoon because he said his union negotiated a new deal with the city. His hours are now 7:30am to 2:30pm, M-F for only 35 hours a week and no more. I told him that was a great schedule, and he told me the union negotiated a new pay increase as well. Always curious, I asked him how much he made a year.
Earning Six Figures As A Union Worker Electrician
“Sam, I’m making $150,000 a year working 35 hours a week. It can’t get much better than that,” said Leroy. I agreed and asked him about other work he does given he has so much free time.
“Well, I’m here working for you now, and I’ve got a lot of other side jobs too. Overall, I make around $200,000 a year,” Leroy responded.
$200,000 is my ideal income for maximum happiness and Leroy admitted he was “living the dream.” Leroy also mentioned something else important.
“My biggest regret is going to college. Some of my colleagues are making much more since they went straight to trade school after high school and have so much more saved up. I’ll get roughly $5,000 a month in pension money once I hit 55, but when they hit 55, they’ll get $6,000 a month or more.”
I was floored! Here’s a guy who I thought was in the lower income group absolutely crushing it. The $5,000 a month pension for life is something only a few of us could ever dream of, but not Leroy. 11 more years and he’s there. The value of a $60,000 a year pension is $1.5 million if you use a interest rate of 4%, or $2 million if you use an interest rate of 3%.
Working for the government at all levels for an extended period of time is definitely a great way to get wealthy. Why do you think some of the richest neighborhoods in the country are around Washington DC? Take a drive around Great Falls, VA one day and be amazed.
Many Ways To Make A Lot Of Money
We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that going to a four-year college is the only way to make enough money to live a happy life. Clearly something is wrong if you graduate from college with $50,000 in debt and have to live at home with your parents because you can’t find a high paying enough job to support yourself. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card debt.
There are plenty of stories of successful entrepreneurs who never graduated from college, but make millions. There are also a ton of people with normal jobs like Leroy who will end up with a small fortune as well. It’s not easy being an electrician due to the physical labor involved, but if you can join a union and put in your dues, lots of money awaits.
Recommendation For Leaving A Job
If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I negotiating a severance instead of quitting. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.
When you get laid off, you’re also eligible for up to roughly 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.
Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.
It’s the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. In addition, it was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.
Recommendation For Entrepreneurship
Start Your Own Website, Be Your Own Boss. There’s nothing better than starting your own website to own your brand online and earn extra income on the side. Why should LinkedIn, FB, and Twitter pop up when someone Google’s your name?
With your own website you can connect with potentially millions of people online, sell a product, sell some else’s product, make passive income and find a lot of new consulting and FT work opportunities.
Financial Samurai started as a personal journal to make sense of the financial crisis in 2009. By early 2012, it started making a livable income stream so I decided to negotiate a severance package.
Years later, FS now makes more than I did as an Executive Director at a major bulge bracket firm with 90% less work and 100% more fun. Start your own WordPress website with Bluehost today. You never know where the journey will take you!
If you need help starting your site, I created a step-by-step tutorial on how to start your own site.
For more nuanced personal finance content, join 100,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. Everything is written based off firsthand experience.
Do You Make As Much As A Union Worker Electrician is a FS original post.
Derek McDoogle says
I like how you said that working for the government is a great way to make money My cousin is about to finish high school and he does not know what he would like to study. As far as I know, he likes to spend time inventing new things and fixing anything that goes wrong at home. I will suggest to him to think about being an electrician.
Perhaps you should’ve also asked Leroy about his 401k, the I.B.E.W pension, and the N.E.B.F pension. Most local 6 retired electricians I know are getting closer to 100k per year. 500k is also a normal amount in the 401k. Since we all make the same $ per hour we are very open to discussing our retirement plans. On a side note, even in the worst construction downturn, there is plenty of work for those that know how to make their employer money. My worst year was 2008. I still made 80k. I love what I do and I actually pity those that are enticed by free lunches and booze in the work place. My job can never be outsourced either.
It is so many factors which determine what we make annually. I’m only a 5th year non-union apprentice. Our pay increases every 800 hours worked. The biggest factor here is location. My first year I worked in Stockton, Ca and was making a base pay of $18/hr, with a total package of around $28/hr. I worked in Santa Clara also, which is the highest paying county, and I was making $32 base, and $48 Total package. Now in my 5th year of training, I’m still in Santa Clara, and make $78/hr base, $113/hr total package. Technically im making $113/hr, because my company doesn’t offer benefits, and with non union , prevailing wage jobs, the company has to give us the total package on our check. So $150k is easy to make, depending on the circumstances. I’m make over $200k, with hardly no OT.
I was a non union electrician in fort Wayne making 100k per year. I joined local 8. I hope I made the right decision.
I’m a union electrician (IBEW) in Detroit. Union tradesman really do make a great living, yes the work is physical but staying active is a key element to staying healthy( read about why okinawan farmers have the most 100+ year olds in the world). I think there’s a bit of a misconception about how much schooling and training an IBEW apprenticeship requires, there is 5 years of electrical theory, mathematics, code, blue print reading etc….IF you can get into the program, on top working full time and learning how to apply these skills on the job. I am a Navy Veteran and have a BS from a well respected University, I certainly had other options but found this to be the best fit for me. Most people don’t realize or believe how well union electricians do, or how much job satisfaction we have.
I am a union electrician in the southeast who also happens to be a college dropout. Total package before taxes on a straight 40 hour check at a government job is close to 70k a year with possibilities for more. My insurance is covered and I get paid a pension. Actual annual salary is closer to 55k before taxes. After taxes, assessments, and dues it’s closer to 42k. So on paper it looks good, but in all actuality it’s not too much better than probably any other job. Our insurance however covers your entire family and is very good, not quite but comparible to a government employee. Almost all across the nation your salary will be close to the same. The benefits are you get all major holidays or are paid double on the days that they do require you to work…. Unless your contract writes them in. There are a few areas where the annual salaries get that high (150k), but there’s high competition from all IBEW members to get into those locals and do those jobs. There is a seniority system and a jurisdictional system that goes into play as well. So if you do just walk in the door and get one of those 150k jobs you are very lucky. All that being said I’m glad I dropped out.. found a career that can take me all over the US to work. I have a set of skills that not everyone can do and found the union when I did, my point is not everything is bells and whistles though and people can and will exaggerate things from time to time.
This only applies in areas where there is a union deal like SF. Where I live electricians earn like 60k… just an average job. Similar to nurses. Registered nurses in So Cal are unionized with Kaiser and earn 100k but in the rest of the country earn 60k.
Financial Samurai says
Janitors and elevator technicians are making $200,000+ here as well btw. Check out the post: Abolish Welfare Mentality to see the proof.
Fernando Roberto says
As a tradesman here is some piece of advice. If you want to make lots of money as a tradesman do something others are not willing to do or just plainly won’t do. I am 20 years old and workin hard for a plumbing company and make around $45,000 yearly. I was always good with math and science and planned to become a general practitioner but became uninterested in college during my senior year of college ironic huh. My cousin makes around $50,000 a year as a bricklayer. He only has a G.E.D. and he never passed the 9th grade. When I was a senior he was a freshman and he dropped out. Jobs like plumbing, bricklayers, diesel mechanics, ironworkers, carpenters will be in high demand once construction really starts to pock up and baby boombers finaly decide is time to retire. Jobs like welder, electrician and pipefitter I would advice against since those jobs most people would be OK doing them. I mean the jobs that are the hardest and dirtiest (either or) will be safe from competition. If more people start going into the trades the ones I listed will be the most oversaturated since they are seen as cleaner and with good pay. For example to me being an electrician seems boring and sometimes dangerous, welding can burn you and you inhale fumes same as pipefitter but these will still be the favorites for people. If say you want to become an electrician I would advise instead to become an electrical lineman since they make much more than regular electricians. Centerpoint Energy linemen make around $100,000 a year. Also a huge “trade” to get into if you can call it that is driving. By driving I mostly mean trucks since they are in short supply. My neighbor owns a boat and a diesel truck and works as a truck driver. It doesn’t have to be truck druvers since other kind of drivers are also in short supply in other areas such as public transportation whether it is buses, subways, or rails. In my city last year had a driver shortage of 100,000+ but since they made new routes and schedules now they have a shortage of 30,000+ drivers up to as much as possibly half a million drivers short. Many drivers earn around $20 an hour after a year or two but many also work up to 80 hours a week. Drivers are in high demand and earn a great pay which many should take advantage of before driving is automated in the next 15-20 years. Putting trades aside if you want to go to college that’s wonderful just know that unless you are going into engineering, healthcare, finance, among other similar majors you most likely won’t get a job unless is a McJob. Right now the heatlhcare sector is booming and there is a shortage of al workers especially nurses. Engineers are also in extremely high demand.
Fernando Roberto says
I meant to say that I lost interest in college during my senior year of high school not college. Also my cousin will begin truckdriving now that he has his CDL as I know truck drivers who are/were making between $1,000-$7,000 a week.