Shedding light on the electrical trade

energy, electrical trade

“I shall make electricity so cheap that only the rich can afford to burn candles”, promised Thomas Edison. The American entrepreneur reached this goal by surrounding himself with a group of electricians. The trade then quickly evolved and has now become essential to a healthy energy market. Nowadays different names apply to similar professions: electrical fitter, construction electrician, electrical lineman, maintenance electrician. Here is an overview of the profession today in France.

Training and average income

Various types of training lead to becoming an electrical fitter; their advantage is that they are both short and highly specialized. Students willing to work in the sector can choose to enter a CAP programme (‘certificate of professional competence’) or to take a vocational baccalauréat examination at the end of high school, such as the ELEEC or STI2D. Other programmes, such as the vocational training certificate in home automation (“BTS domotique”) were recently opened to adapt to changing technology.

Beginners get paid around the minimum wage (net monthly ‘SMIC’ close to 1,100€), while more experienced electricians earn an average net monthly pay of up to 2,500 euros. Besides, many electricians open their own businesses to boost their revenue, earning up to about 4,000 euros of net monthly pay (source CIDJ).

An installation and maintenance-based activity

According to the French official classification[1] (code APE 453A, electrical installation works), the profession includes the following main tasks:

  • Installation of cables and electrical appliances
  • Installation of telecommunication cables
  • Computer and television cabling, including fibre optic networks
  • Lighting systems
  • Intrusion and fire alarm systems
  • Connecting electrical and household appliances

Extending skills

With more and more sophisticated installations, electricians must be skilled and meticulous. They must also exercise caution as well as display an uncompromising commitment to fast-evolving safety standards. Besides, teamwork with other professions is often required for extensive works.

A few figures

  • The average electrician is 40 years old (only 6% are under 25)
  • Most electricians are men: currently there are 163 female electricians in France, that is about 1% of the whole profession
  • Electricians represent around 12% of the occupational category of “maintenance agents
  • In 2008 the sector’s income grew by 5.9% (compared with 0.6% for very small businesses)
  • There were approximately 50,000 businesses on the market, 6,300 of which operating in the Ile-de-France region, which consists mostly of the Paris metropolitan area 

For more information:

[1] INSEE, national statistics office

[2] French Union of Metal Industries and Professions

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