Future salary of dream job

Hi my name is Brian Childress. I’m currently in trade school, learning a craft that is very interesting to me. I had a question for the ones that make a living from their craft. Which electrician would make more money, industrial, commercial or residential? My target location is Atlanta Ga. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Brian,

I just retired as the electrical trades program manager at a large community college in eastern PA, so maybe I can offer you a bit of advice.

Generally the industrial and commercial segments will pay better, but they will also have different tradeoffs compared to residential work. Industrial electricians will generally work more set hours and go to work at the same location… whereas commercial or residential work will generally be more varied. Also commercial work is often dominated by IBEW (union) contracts, which is another option you can consider. If you have an interest / vision of working for yourself at some point in the future, residential is generally easier to get started in, once you have journeyman or masters license.

I don’t have much knowledge of the job market in the Atlanta area, but in many areas of the country electrical technicians are in huge demand in the manufacturing sector. Personally, I would recommend that you learn as much as you can about PLC’s, advanced motor controls, and basic automation… if you become good at troubleshooting and maintenance you’ll not have to worry about finding a job. Manufacturing environments are changing rapidly and while the starting pay is sometimes not great, you can work your way up quickly if you are good at your craft. Best of luck to as you pursue your electrical career!

An Industrial Electrician is usually a very well paid position and can provide a comfortable lifetime living. The Training for an Industrial Electrician usually covers everything required for commercial and residential requirements. It is substantially more comprehensive than either. Commercial and Residential opportunities can provide a decent living depending on the availability of work in the area you live in. Income can also be influenced by the ambition and willingness to work more hours per week than the normal 40 hours.

Electricians are almost always in demand and you are assured a lifelong decent standard of living. Best of luck.


Engineer, I believe this is an engineer.

3 years old. I believe this is an almost 3 year old post and thread.

A 4 year engineering degree is not required for most electrical troubleshooting, installation, and maintaince type positions. Generally speaking… you would progress a little faster to a supervisory position if you wanted to go that route… but almost no company would require it. That said… it you want to do design work, you’ll need that degree. I’ve often advised my students to work a few years in a plant of their choice as a journeyman electrician, then see if you feel like you want or need that 4 year degree. Some folks like troubleshooting and the physical labor involved…. And some decide that they would rather work in the “front office” doing design and planning. Nothing beats getting your hands dirty and getting some real experience IMO. But like Old Houseboater said, good electricians are always in demand and in fact the demand only continues to increase. . But you need to understand the fundamentals of electricity to do troubleshooting (ohms law etc), so don’t skip the basics and just start pulling cable. At least get some basic electrical coursework completed, most community colleges offer evening courses to get started.


And if you like working outside and enjoy some physical challenges, look into a lineman’s career. Lot’s of long hours during storm outages, etc. But high pay and some guys I know really like the lifestyle. Again, a combination of electrical smarts and job discipline can take you anywhere!