Discuss electrician wages and earnings. Pros and Cons of the trade

Electrical Contractor's rates, earnings & electrician wages

Please do not hesitate to post a comment, an opinion, or answer the questions

I am a small Electrical Contractor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with a crew of four including myself. For bigger jobs I invite fellow ECs or sub-contract out.

95% of my work is residential and commercial electrical renovation and troubleshooting. I drive on average 40 minutes one way to a job site and 40 minutes back. And an average project takes about three hours to complete.

I always charge a $160 service call fee, which includes first hour or less of work. $160 is a minimum amount. And I charge $32.50 every half an hour or fraction thereof after the first hour for labor. Plus I charge double for materials and inspection.
(I have increased my rates as of May 2011. Why? See comments )

In downtown Toronto I charge even more. Because driving around, looking for a parking spot and then running back and forth with toolboxes, wires, ladders, etc. is hard, stressful and wasteful.

And I never go for free estimates if the expected price of the job is below $2000. Do you?

I decided to ask other electrical contractors doing residential renovation work and troubleshooting in Toronto & the GTA what their hourly rate is.

Let us discuss fair rates for both the contractors and reasonable prices to our customers.

Do you think $160 first hour fee is too low, right, or too high?
Do you think my $65 hourly rate is about right?
Do you do free estimates?
Do you waste too much time on free estimates?

What is your service call fee and rate?
Can you compete against handymen doing illegal electrical work? And what should be done about that?

We all know that big firms charge their commercial and industrial customers from $70/hr to $200/hr. Why do so many of us, residential ECs charge so much less?

I know some small ECs charge from $30/hr to $40/hr. I think it's a shame and discreditation of our occupation! Do you agree?

When I began working for myself, I also charged $30/hr. When in a few days there was too much work, I raised to $35/hr. It did not help. In a week I was making $40, then $50 and $60/hr. And I started to take a services call fee.

Amazingly, no matter what the prices were, most callers eventually became my customers! It is the case up to this day at $100 one time travel charge and $60 to $70 per hour!

Wouldn't it be worthwhile for everyone to charge fair amounts close to the average in the industry? Would you like to discuss it here?

What should be the average pay for an Electrical Contractor or electrician?
How much does an electrician make in your company?
What is the right remuneration in Toronto, Ontario or in other provinces in Canada?

Below is some data on the topic available online.

Stats on average wages & Hourly Rates in Canada for an Electrician

Keep in mind - the following are electricians' wages or rates that ECs pay to electricians/employees. Obviously, their customers pay much more than the rates below.

According to The Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario a unionized first year apprentice electrician wage package in Ontario (effective May 1, 2008-April 30, 2009) ranges from $19.70 to $24.81 per hour depending on the local union jurisdiction.

A unionized journeyman electrician wage package in Ontario (effective May 1, 2008-April 30, 2009) ranges from $49.93 to $51.89 per hour depending on the local union jurisdiction. Last Updated: 1-12-2009

According to Ministry of Labour, Ontario - Toronto electrician fair wage rate per hour was not less than $35.19 as of 2011

Check out Electrician Journeyman Salary in Canada. As per this National Data, Electrician Journeyman National Hourly Rate is $23 - $41, median: $30.66. And the Total Pay is up to $89,502 a year! as of 28 Oct 2016

Where the "Total Pay" combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare)

Example of high-rise residential UNION wages and fringe benefits for 2015.

Journeyman Base Rate $41.49 Total Package $61.69
Foreman Base Rate $47.79 Total Package $69.03
Pre-apprentice Base Rate $14.61 Total Package $21.48
1 year apprentice Base Rate $16.51 Total Package $27.86

Yahoo claims an average electrician salary in 2013 was $53,000 CAD

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You can also comment on these topics:

Has the ESA abused you?
Or charged money for nothing?

Pros and Cons of being an electrician
Do you do WASTEFUL free estimates?
Customer did not pay me. What should I do?


  1. Quite an interesting post.

    I charge $160 service call fee and $49/hr

    Good luck

  2. Charge a travel fee
    Don't charge by the hour, charge by the job.
    In service work $50 per hour is suicide.
    $125-175 an hour is correct.
    Estimates are not free - they cost you money to pay your man his hourly rate ($30-40 plus per hour)to drive your truck, burning your fuel to get there. We lose many calls because we do not go out for free. But we also get many jobs where people are happy to pay for professional advice and consulting.

    We run a 3 truck service company.
    One full time office person, answers the phone, schedules calls, tracks revenue and key numbers. Our trucks are well stocked, we show up on time, customers love us but we are not the lowest price. We are professional in every way, our clients will never have an issue with our service or warranty, and they understand that that level of service will cost a premium.

    Any professional electrical contractor has at least as much in expenses as any small law firm. But we also make house calls - and are on the road every day, in 9,000 pound trucks, taking our skills with us to the clients home or business. 10,000 hours of on the job training, months of intense study in Trade School to become certified. Write a Masters exam a few years later and open up your own business. [by the way - that is most of the problem in our trade - great skills as electricians, but don't know a thing about running a profitable business].

    You can only be priced right if you know your numbers. You need to know your overhead expenses, you need to track your profit on every job. What should your material and labour percentage be? What should your gross margin and net profit before taxes be for service work? or for new construction? What was your Profit last year as a percentage of revenue? If your wife ran the office - did you pay her, and did you figure that into your accounting? Every year thousands of electrical contractors go out of business in North America. Not because they don't know how to do electrical work, but because they don't know how to run a business profitably. Most of them are small one or two man shops that do not understand much about business.

    Don't be ignorant of your real expenses.
    Overhead is huge. Yellow Pages and other phone book advertising, Internet presence. Disability Insurance, Liability Insurance, Vehicle expenses (lease, fuel, insurance, maintenance,lettering or signage), WSIB coverage for all employees, benefits, drug plan, health plan, Computers, computer services, computer back-up services, software, Office Supplies (paper, stamps, ink and toner cartridges, new printers every year), Cell phones, uniforms or clothing allowance, tools, Accounting expenses. Shop or office lease or purchase. The list seems endless.

    If you do not charge enough for the service you provide, how do you expect to make a living for your family and have any kind of retirement plan in sight? You have to know your key numbers.
    Ask yourself - Can I afford to purchase RRSP's every year? Pay down my mortgage? Go on a family vacation? Send my kids to college or University?

    My advice on Service Calls ....
    Charge a travel Fee! Even to look at a job.
    Stop looking at work for nothing! That is what the experts say.
    If you line up behind 4 other electrical contractors to look at small residential and commercial jobs, your only chance is the low price (and you are the loser, not the winner).

    I have been in this trade for 30 years, a partner in business almost 20 years, been near to broke twice. This is a tough business, don't make it tougher on yourself by not charging accordingly.

  3. If you are charging $50 per hour, what are you keeping? $10 if you are lucky - get a job at Tim Horton's instead, and work half as hard with no headaches. They will have a better health plan than you do too.

    A Union Electrician in Toronto makes $51 per hour, works a 37.5 hour week and goes home to his wife who probably does not need to work as hard as your wife does to make ends meet. His house is paid for by the time he is 40 years old, he drives a new car every 4-5 years, has no homework like you do, and he does not realize how well he has it. He can actually retire someday and afford to live (will you be able to?). How can you charge $50 per hour and have anything close to what he has? And you know what - he deserves even more than that for working in this dangerous trade. [Did you know that far more electrical workers are killed and injured on the job every year in North America, than all the Firemen and Policemen and Emergency Workers combined?]

    In 1970, a new 100 Amp Service cost $950.
    There are some companies out there today (you know who you are) that are doing this for $1,200-$1,500 (40 years later!!!) In 1970 an Electrician working for an Electrical Contractor was being paid $1.50 per hour, and doing quite well, better in fact than the $51 per hour in the union today.

    My final thoughts ....
    Stop giving away your future. Get educated before it's too late (you will pay for this one way or another). Understand YOUR business, learn to read and understand YOUR financial statement, know YOUR key numbers. Understand that profit is not a four letter word. Treat every client like they are your only client, and charge them what YOU need to, for YOU to be profitable.

  4. Jimmy, where are you located pls?

    In service work $50 per hour is suicide. $125-175 an hour is correct. ----------- I've never heard anybody charging small residential customers/homeowners such rates. One could probably charge these rates for a high tech commersial or industrial work. (It's my opinion. I could be wrong.)

    Does anyone else charge $125 an hour or so for small residential jobs? Should all of us try to charge $125 an hour?

    All other Jimmy's points are abolutely correct!

  5. We have a small 2 man shop, doing both small commercial and all sizes residential jobs. We charge $80 per hour, would love to charge more as Jimmy rightly pointed out all the expenses. As with $80 we do have to make a lot of effort (eg. work crazy hours) to make a decent living. We do not have big client base yet so for travel fee sometimes we charge it, sometimes not, depending on how busy it is of a month. It is usually in range of $120-$160. But quite often even lately we get something like this:
    "if you are to wire an entire house 3000 all in is the right price"
    meaning labour and materials for an existing bungalow.
    "labour for a master is 25.00 per hour cash, by cheque it is 30.00 per hour and a licensed electrician is maximum $20 per hour"
    "chinese/indian have contractors doing it for $18-$20 per hour"
    these are the words of several of the customers I never had business with. As you all can see there are apparently people who have no dignity charging extremely low prices, I'm not even sure how they are doing that. Plus I am not sure what those potential customers base their responses upon and if this is true and they just base whatever they say on the average salary of electrician ($18-$30). Or is it the "contractors" who are basing their fees based on the salary they usually receive? As my rebuttal to such customers rebuttal, I often offer something some thing like this:

    >Thank you for your advise. Also these prices are possible, the
    >qualification of people charging them is quite questionable,
    >considering how much one have to pay each year (License fees, WSIB,
    >Taxes, Insurances) just to maintain contractor license, training that one
    >have to go through every year to maintain qualification and the
    >requirements to the materials and the methods of installation.
    >Also, what we found when working with the former clients of the
    >people charging such prices is the fact these "contractors" do not know
    >how to do proper estimates, so often they give you lower estimate and
    >then come back saying they need more money. The industry standard
    >for the invoice hour is $90-200 per hour for licensed electrician, there
    >are people who are charging less and do a great job, like we do and
    >there are people who charge even less than that and don't care about
    >what happens after.
    >So whoever you'll decide to go with, just check that they do have a
    >proper license. You can do so by going to https://www.esaecra.net/
    >and entering the license # in the proper field and see if the person you
    >are about to hire is the actual electrical contractor. Also, make sure
    >that the materials used are CSA/UL approved as lately some of the
    >"contractors" use cheap illegal materials of poor quality that often
    >break after work is done and contractor left, and often create a fire
    >hazard. Make sure that the contractor have at least the liability
    >insurance because if something happens to the house latter on
    >because of the improper wiring you can go after his/her insurance >company (you won't get much if you sue a small contractor anyway).
    >Make sure that they also have the WSIB coverage as otherwise anything
    >that can happen to the contractor will have to becovered by the hiring side.

  6. $50 per hour is too low. Jimmy said everything correct. I posted here before - not sure if it went through! The formula I observed years ago is: Charge at LEAST twice as the hourly rate you are paying the workers. Except I go 2 x the rate of an union electrician or apprentice. In residential, it should never be below $70/hr here in Winnipeg,in Toronto I would go $51/hr x 2 = $102.00
    Should visit my website at: http://www.actionelectric.ca/prices.htm

  7. I know it has been said already. $50.00 hourly is way too low. Contractors consistently charging 35 dollars as mentioned should be reported. I say this because when you factor wages, insurance, vehicle payment, vehicle maintenance, vehicle insurance, Fuel, ESA/ECRA licencing, Permits, WSIB, Training (Whimis, Master electrician, Safety), Location expense, Book keeping, Accountant, Advertising etc, 35 dollars hourly doesn't cut it. You may be able to provide service for 50 dollars, however i don't believe you will be around long. It has been our experience that its best to provide a free estimate for everything. It's called networking. We have priced 10 minute jobs, completed the work and then received $20,000.00 jobs from the same people. When you educate people about the things you do and do what you say you will do, when you say you are going to do it, doors open. I'm not saying this happens with every estimate, we just don't leave any stone unturned.
    You need to think about what kind of contractor you want to be. There are trunk slammers, legalized trunk slammers and real electrical contractors. We have taken the path of educating our people and education is expensive. We train our electricians to be master electricians. Why? Because a better trained electrician will have way fewer deficiencies and above all, will work safer. The last thing i want to tell one of my electricians spouses or parents is their son or daughter won't be coming home again due to a careless accident.
    Remember, you are a professional, the same as a doctor, lawyer etc. It took you at least 7 years to be a master electrician in Ontario. You can sign your name with the suffix M.E.( ie. John Smith M.E.)
    Look at what it really costs and govern your rate accordingly. You should be in the vicinity of $70.00 to $85.00. across the board for residential work. www.connexelectric.com

  8. I like what I've read on this forum. It was very educational. I am a recently licensed C&M electrician (passed c of q 8 months ago). Was thinking of starting my own business after being canned for a local company where I live. The company billed me out at 65/hr. sometimes a bit more on some jobs, as much as 105/hr. I think on some jobs (that company did hack jobs, the work was sloppy and no one who calls them self a professional would claim credit to that work). Was wondering what is a good margin for making a reasonable profit, but not cutting myself too short? I take pride and it is reflected in my workmanship. I owe quality work vs. sloppy get it done quickly and cheaply.

  9. Well, I think that commercial customers could afford paying $80/hr while residential would not be willing to pay more than $60/hr for bigger projects.

    And for sophisticated electrical work like robotics and some special equipment you can charge $200/hr

  10. Calculate your expenses for 1 month. Divide the number by the total number of billable hours(So for 1 guy it would be 173hrs - 40hrs/week * 52 weeks /12 months). That's your cost per hour. Than add your markup 25-30%.

    I'm one guy running my business out of my house. My hourly expense is a little under $50.00/hour. So I marked up 30% to get $65.00/hour. Companys with larger overhead would have to charge more.
    If I had a few employees and a shop to rent my rates would have to go up.

  11. Due to the gas price increase, and because groceries got more expensive buy 20% to 100% in the last two years I have also increased my hourly rates.

    I now charge residential customers a min $160 service call fee, which includes first hour or less of work. $160 is a minimum amount. And I charge $32.50 every half an hour or fraction thereof after the first hour for labor. Plus the cost of materials and inspection.

    In Downtown Toronto I charge 20% more. It always takes more time to drive there, hard to find parking, etc.

    My rates for commercial customers are about 17% higher than the rates given above.

    1. Your rates make a lot of sense to me, how are they received by customers? have these numbers resulted in a decrease in work for you, or are people generally accepting?

    2. The workload slightly decreased, but the revenue increased more than that. So overall I am making more money.

      But the purpose of the rate increase was merely adjusting to inflation. So even if I work a little bit less, and make a little bit more, the quality of my life has not improved. With more money I can still buy the same amount of things because those things are now more expensive.

    3. Your rates are ludicrously low and your ruin it for everyone else. How do you keep your wsib, insurance or anything else paid. How do you keep gas in your truck at that rate? A 5th year union APPRENTICE makes well over 32.50 an hour without a license in his wallet.

    4. Brian, may be you did not read the above post dated August 8, 2011 at 9:11 AM carefully enough. My rates for small commercial customers are about $74/hr.

      I charge up to $90/hr for heavy duty or complex industrial electrical work.

      And I immensely respect your rates and position. You can be proud of yourself as an Electrical Contractor!

  12. With the time & training it takes to get our master electrician's license we might as well be doctors. We as a community of licensed contractors should be charging accordingly!!!!!

  13. Welldone, thank you for the great info and all the time you spent to set up and provide the info, I run my own EC in Vancouver and I wish there was a blog like this in our area, we are facing the same challenges.
    Thank You

  14. Since i started charging $80/hr, i am sitting home. I've been in the business from last 3 years and i know very well that under 80 i can't survive for too long but i confused if there is enough customer to pay us that much.

  15. I am packing it in. I got roped into working for 50/hr. I cant survive making less than 70/hr. There are a lot of civil servants undercutting every trade out there and it is a tough living. Good luck to you guys and stay strong on your pricing

  16. I am an EC and I also had to pack it in. It seems that most people of today want everything for free.I found that most don't realise the amount of work it takes to bring power to a section of the house when the house is fully finished. When you tell them the price they can't beleive it. They then try to find someone who will then due it for next to nothing. They usually do find someone and guess what? These contractors will cut every corner there is and offer substandard work.

  17. I think we (professional contractors) who have all necessary documents and insurances need to band together and report those handymen and DIY'ers who have never bought an ESA permit and would get fined for trying to get under the radar! I've spent 10,000hrs in apprenticeship, and total of 23 years doing this and am charging 70-85 per hour (res-comm-ind) as my company gets going, but these guys bidding jobs for 30 cash need to be axed. We put our lives at risk everyday (not as much as those hi-vol guys) but I never heard a dentist dying or getting 3 degree burns from arc-flash as they have 3-4 year degree and charge $200 per hour... geeze my thermal camera cost 11,000 and those hydraulic pipe benders are not free. free quotes do have positive points (so far I've won 75% of my jobs by meeting the people face to face). BTW, why do some people send emails asking for help, then never write back after you offer a visit???

    1. Hi Rob: As a potential customer who does often e-mail for trades to come and give me a price on a job, the reason I don't sometimes respond to the contractor is the time lag. People who email expect 24 hr responses, at most 48 - and some contractors don't bother getting back to you for a week or two so you have already hired someone else. The customer's feeling is that 1) if you were interested in the job you would have responded sooner, and 2) if you take such a time to respond you may have a very full calendar and won't be able to do the job for months.
      So think back and try to see if that might be your problem.

    2. Rob, really? You never heard of a dentist dying? You never heard of a dentist getting Aids from a patient? No one said you guys don't deserve your money but there is an underground in every industry. It's been that way for longer than you have probably been alive and yes it hurts the "good guys". If you believe in Karma the bad apples will get theirs one day. That is no reason for Ontario's Electrical contractors to raise a Battle cry. Those of us who want a reputable contractor hire someone on the level. What you guys pay for in the form of insurance, W.C.and liability protects everyone and is part of the job. It is also passed on incrementally to your customer. No one forced you to call this trade your own. In North America we are blessed with free will. As far as travel time and free estimates, work it into your hourly rate. If downtown is too far for you, don't go. Did you ever buy or sell a house? A prospective agent does not charge you to come and advise what your home is worth even though they researched information done on their time to back up their prospectus. If during your search for an agent you learn of a competing one who charges less of a commission your agent may bite the bullet and do the same to get your business. They don't charge to photograph your home, do open houses, advertise, meet prospective buyers that might not show up or even to sometimes fetch a potential buyer in their own vehicle who can't arrive by themselves. They don't charge extra to negotiate wee into the night on your behalf at crazy hours to make a deal fly (no overtime or travel time or mileage either) but we all know it's built into the price somewhere. And sometimes you win and it's a quick easy sale and sometimes it's a dud, a long stretched out ordeal that was not anticipated eating up profits galore. Maybe though, a referral will come from it, maybe not. We also know the saying "if you can't stand the heat get outta the kitchen." Electricians are busy most always. Realtors like all sales people (I'm not one by the way) have ebbs and flows. What about the obnoxious contractors that are rude, messy and late for their customers? Should the customer take something off the bill or speak up and risk being threatened by an irate workman who walks off the job but seemed nice at the start? You and your fellow electricians might want to stop crying, be happy you have a secure profession when so many have lost theirs due to downsizing or an inability to pay for further training, etc. You might also look at the other side, that of a decent customer who gives you a reasonable job in pleasant surroundings with good intentions they will be treated respectfully and their work will be completed to satisfactorily and plan on paying as arranged. A little friendly communication between the parties helps too.

  18. I started out with all these same questions and realised I wasn't getting any farther ahead and actually losing on a few bids I put in. Finally I stopped asking other Electricians what thier charging and asked a experienced General Contractor his opinion on what the trade standards are. He never told me. But he did change my business around with these simple words "Why would you care about what your competition is doing, or any other profession for that matter. Charge what you need and just a little for your wants. Do good work, give great service, and never take advantage of anyone" . When it sunk in and we revamped our pricing, I rarley get a moment to breath . . . oh yeah financially i really don't give it much thought anymore.

    1. You sir, I would hire in a heart beat...

    2. I'd sure love to know who that contractor is. I had a good list of guys when I was in Toronto, but since I've moved to Dundas I can't find anyone who does a decent job for any price.

    3. Anonymous. (April 27, 2015 at 5:29 PM):
      I'm an Electrician in Dundas, working for my Dad's small business. We do work all over, but love local work the best.
      We're still navigating the ever-changing waters in terms of how much to charge customers in order to do justice to our customers' hard earned dollars, as well as keeping ourselves and our family's afloat. This likely leads us to charging less than we should, but we're working on it.
      One thing we do well is making sure we do good work.
      It's just simple good business to do a job correctly but for certain trades, electricians definitely included, it's absolutely crucial to do the job right. People can get hurt, and even die - or lose a home to a fire if they hire someone who is more worried about getting the job or lining their pockets.

      At the risk of coming across like a little cheeky, advertising on this forum... If you're still looking for someone to do GOOD work at a fair price in Dundas (or anywhere), please don't hesitate to reply to this message and I'll get you some contact information.

  19. Im a one man electrical contractor and i am billing out at $65 an hour plus permit cost mark up of 20%.
    I work in the Barrie area and Midland .
    I know of contractors like myself who charge out at 105-150 an hour.
    im not there yet.

    but I can see moving into the $85 dollar an hour price range.

  20. I would be interested to know what hourly rate is being charged when wiring a new home. Say 2500 sq ft with a finished 2500 sq ft basement with kitchenette and a three car garage. They expect me to do the work for nothing. Would be two of us on the job. I have a figure in my mind...but I would like a comparison. The job is on Lake Huron. Thanks!

  21. In the north of Toronto, about 2 hrs to be exact. most electricians charge anywhere from 65.00 per hr to 80.00 per hr. I do see other contractors moving up this way and doing jobs from other cities. i don't know how there making any money coming all the way here and doing a job. Things must be slow in the south. I myself charge 68.00 per hr and 80.00 when its water access. I do free estimate...because up here if you charge for them you would never get a job. Its just the way it is here. I think it is all in how you present yourself and the way you do your estimate up. give them details in your estimate. What exactly you are providing, so they can compare your estimate to others. It may take you more time but it may land you the job as well. Hope this helps. Cheers

  22. Crazy reading,
    I am a contractor working in the Greater Toronto Area,
    charging $100/ hr + material with markup and $150 service call.
    Often I don't get the job with these rates but If I'd do it I would feel bad doing it. People who pay for an electrician $50/ hr deserve the quality they get.
    I often tell them when they complain about the rate, call me back to fix what the other handyman screws up.

  23. Sadly, comparing to other years, business this winter is considerably down in Toronto and GTA for most small Electrical Contractors. On top of that many folks have dropped their rates in order to win customers.

    Too bad! The number of customers is down. The size of average job is smaller. Moreover, many small residential electrical contractors charge less per hour or per job.

    Do the math yourself ....

    We screwed ourselves through our greed and stupidity yet again!

    1. For good companies like my mine business is booming. We're a 5 truck shop doing mainly commercial and about 40 percent resi. We actually put another truck on the road 6 months ago and are barely keeping up to the point that Iend up subing work out to my buddies a couole times a month. The guys I know that are going under are the guys that I know do bad work. Do a good job and be polite and you have a customer for life. Some of our customers have been with us since the company opened 30+ years ago. Charge a fair price (Ours is $100 plus a $40 truck fee) and do work good enough to back up your work. They key to gaining more work is word of mouth. My company grows because my happy customers reccomend me to other unhappy customers and we come in to fix the other cheap guys mistakes. Also not taking advantage of customers who trust you enough not to have you bid a job is also key to survival. The few times I've been forced to bid a larger contract for a customer I've charged what I normally charge and come in significantly lower. I bid a $300, 000 job a few months back again Plan and came in almost $150, 000 cheaper than they did and they missed quite a bit of stuff on their quote. The last big reason guys are losing their customers is because they don't know how to bid a job. They miss things in their quote and either cut corners to make up the difference or ask the customer to pay the difference. Either way you've just lost a customer. Like I said before business is booming in and around Toronto for the guys who earn it. Just lowering your price doesn't increase business, instead you attract problem cheap customers and your unusually low rate will actually scare away the intelligent ones. Anyone who does good work and follows these rules I just laid out will find their business grows because our city as a whole is growing and the number or good electricians out there is only getting lower as the baby boomers begin to pack it in.

  24. I am a Master Electrician in Sudbury. I charge 65$/hr and mark up all materials by 20%. Since the city is small I do not charge a vehicle charge. Does this seem reasonable? I seem to get plenty of work with these rates. Should I charge an hourly rate of 85$/hr?

  25. Master Electrician in Sudbury, how busy are you this early spring. Just curious if you were 50% busy or more or less.

    I am in Toronto, busy only 20%. But I do not slashed the hourly rate as some others did.


  26. I never lose work at this rate. I can work all the time If I want. Should I charge more?

  27. Should I charge more? ------------ I think you should charge as much as you want providing you do a great job and make your customers happy

  28. Master Electrician from SudburyApril 1, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    I am in the GTA often. It is my impression that there is an abundance of Electrical work there. Are you contractors in the GTA very busy turning down work or is it horribly competitive? It seems that there is a lack of trades people in Ontario. Can you give me an idea of what a typical electrical job is for a small electrical company with 2 to 3 employees. Thanks.

  29. In the GTA it is horribly competitive with too many electricians and master electricians who are unemployed or underemployed, working at $25/hr - $35/hr, undercutting each other.

  30. Master Electrician from SudburyApril 1, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    This is most unfortunate. I guess I should be happy with the current situation here in Sudbury. How is Toronto Hydro to deal with?

  31. Master Electrician from SudburyApril 9, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Those are very low hourly rates. I could not survive with that hourly rate.

  32. Only small time guys working little resi jobs can survive working for anything under 80 an hour. How can you handle you overhead, insurance, wsib, etc charging 50 or less an hour. People think because a few amateurs out there are charging these rates us real contractors should be charging the same. This is why the only resi work we touch is through insurance work fixing your mistakes after a house has burned down or flooded. If your charging under 50 an hour you almost have to cut corners to even make a buck. Because people like this are out there it doesn't surprise me at all when the drywall comea down and I see the crap I see and the homeowner says but I hired an electrician. Start doing real work and charging real money and quit screwing up the market for the rest if us please and thank you.

    1. I have a dream!

      I have a dream that every electrician, master electrician and electrical contractor in Toronto, the GTA and throughout Ontario would read the Brian's posts above and become as reasonable, logical, decent, tenacious and proud of himself and his work as Brian is.

      My complete respect to Brian!

    2. Brian, I'm looking at starting my second career working as an apprentice in residential EC. Since your last post, how is business these days? Are you still maintaining your level of work or has it declined since August 2013?


  33. Anybody from Hamilton how much they charge per hour ?

  34. How much you guys charge in Hamilton area? Is there any work or same as Toronto?

    1. A few years late on the reply, I was just fortunate enough to stumble across this forum...

      We're based out of Hamilton (Dundas, Technically) and our rates are typically $70.00/Hour for my boss, a Master Electrician.
      $50.00/Hour for electricians working under him.
      Less, for part timers, depending on their experience and work ethic.

      But, we're still working on finding the right, and fair balance.
      Not too long ago we quoted a job for somewhere in the $20,000 range and later found out someone else had gotten the job and charged upwards of $80,000 (!!!). This speaks volumes about the differences between what different electrical companies are charging and about how some customers prefer to pay more, assumedly because they feel higher prices brings higher quality.

      In Hamilton there is work to be found, but you have to stay busy, market yourself and most importantly do good work and let word of your good work pass around. Word of mouth is by far the best form of marketing, I mean it brings your name AND an element of trust to the customer's mind instead of just your logo on a screen.

    2. HI
      I am happy that you guys share ur experience here.Its good to k,ox hox the market is .I am a electrician in France .I have a company but i am gona close it and moove to Ontario because my wife,canadian do not want to live in Paris.
      with the Ontario college of trades i proof my 9000H experience and iam going to pass the 309A soon.
      I hope that there is still future in this field because iam doing this since 12 years in Paris and i wish to find good people in Ontario to work with and follow and respect the Code .
      If anyone want to suggest me somthing do not hesitate pls

      Thanx a lot

  35. I have lost trust to most of the electrician/contractors i have talked to since i don't feel the sincerity that they are working for you, providing the best possible service and charging the most reasonable rate. Everytime I get a quote I see $$$ and make it seem that the job is more complicated than it really is. Dont get me wrong, I respect what they do and I know it is a difficult job but it seems that concern to the consumers are gone and all that is thought is how to survive and make tons and tons of profit out of 1 consumer forgeting that we are all human and all working hard to earn a living for ourselves and our kids future. So why not play it fair. This forum by Electric Rates Toronto gave me little confidence that there are still some fair electricians/contractors out there. I am desparate, I need help asap. please contact me e121c_guena@yahoo.com

  36. to Anonymous (above)

    It's a free and open market. Shop around and you will probably find the rate you want.

  37. Well said Electric Rates Toronto. Anonymous, have you considered looking for a flat rate contractor? No hourly rates and the work is done on a per job basis. All the Plumbers, HVAC and other trades bill that way, I don't know why the majority of the Electrical trades haven't moved to this method of charging the customer. It's beneficial to both sides as no additional costs are going to incur during the job, unless the scope (work) of the job has changed.

  38. the work is done on a per job basis ---------- I can not imagine how it is possible to price a small job, unless a tradesman always prices it much higher, with a 50% to 200% cushion.

    Take a simplest of all small jobs, like changing a switch. It should take an electrician maximum 10 min to do.

    But when you come, you can not take it out. Apparently somebody has installed the switch before the drywall and did not leave any slack of wire inside the box (No free conductor at all). You can spend an hour or three trying to fix this.

    Are you going to do it for the same money? Or are you going to leave without pay after wasting 2 hours on driving back and forth?

    It was not your fault. But are you going to pay for it?

    And what if such a bad but much bigger problem happened at the end of the three day long job? Are you going to work another two days for free fixing something that was not your fault?

    There are thousands of troubles like that. 95% of jobs have got hurdles, complications or troubles waiting for you.

    My question is, how can one take a small job on a per job basis, without either overpricing it just in case? Or without risking to get screwed?

  39. I think anyone that is just starting out, typically shouldn't have a huge overhead, if you have to borrow to start, then your already in trouble. Often you can be lucky and find a client, such as a builder who wishes to purchase the material and you have to install it, therein is a justification of a cheaper wage. I myself don't have overhead, I work from my own personal car, I don't have a shop, mortgage payments and such, the owner pays and supplies the material, I install it. I arrange for permits and inspections to which they are billed for. As for WSIB, that alone will differentiate the per hour billing. But it shouldn't add on a 30.00/hr extra, guess I will see after my first year.
    Besides if making 30.00/hr as an employee paid my insurance, my groceries, my beer, my tv, my internet, my cell, my mortgage, my utilities, then why would 85.00/hr not cover the same.

  40. .

    why would 85.00/hr not cover my insurance, my groceries, my beer, my tv, my internet, my cell, my mortgage, my utilities ------------- It would.

    Ask yourself another question, why should I charge $30/hr if most of other electricians charge $60/hr?

    And you could re-read the above to understand why.

    99.9% of normal people would prefer making $60/hr instead of $30/hr. So your post is a bit strange.

    If you make too much money, you can always donate part or all of it to the Sick Kids Hospital.


  41. can anyone explain how the big union shops are charging out their journeymen a65 per hour on insurance related work and still be in business, we have been recently unionized and do not understand how they are doing the work with such a low rate and still stay in business

    1. They aren't charging out at 65/electrician as after payroll burdens and package a union electrician is almost at $60/hour. They are more likely using a blended rate with apprentices in the mix

  42. It depends on how busy you are. A full time electrician can get salary at $35 per hour for 40 hours per week, if you can manage your business at 50% of time busy (meaning you have contractor work at 20 hours above per week), then you can charge around $65-$70 per hour, still the full time electrician are at bettter position as you have to pay your own insurance, license fee, tools and car expense, medical insurance. So I would say, if you have 20 hours business per week, you should go for $70 - $80 per hour.

    In vancouver, I found it's very difficult to get business for residential customer if I charge more than $60 per hour. So this moment, I would say as electrical contractor without fixed contract or commercial customer, it's very tough to survive in here.

    1. to Anonymous (above)

      NO matter how busy you are or else. By working at below $60 you undercut everybody, but first of all you bring home less money that you could have.

      Or in other words charging less than $60 is very bad for you all other electricians.

      So why NOT to do good instead of bad?

  43. I've been servicing the industrial sector for 22 years. In 2007 we had 12 employees, a shop in Toronto and we charged $85/hr. We had group benefits and annual profit sharing!
    Fast forward to 2014....We are down to 5 employees and not always busy. Benefits are a thing of the past. Our manufacturing customers continue to close their doors and the remaining plants are not spending money. (I'll hold back my thoughts on free trade) Most jobs go out for tender and the mandate is that it goes to the lowest bid.

    We have looked for work in the commercial sector, but the margins are also crazy low. The only tenders I have been able to win are where I only allow 5% for profit above cost and hope everything goes well. We recently lost a commercial job that required 7 days a week for 4 weeks. The general told me the EC who won the bid will only pay his guys straight time for weekends. It's the old "do you want a job or not attitude". I'm disappointed that electricians having taken 7 years to achieve a master license, will undervalue themselves.

    Anyway, felt I had to rant. Being a contractor means taking on huge financial risk and god forbid if one of your guys gets killed on the job site and you are found responsible. If your not making good money, it's just not worth the risk.

    1. You should have found out who the contractor was who wasn't paying O/T. The Ministry of Labour would likely darken the skies with inspectors. Fight fire with fire.
      From the Ministry of Labour site.
      "Overtime Pay

      For every hour you work over 44 hours a week, your employer must pay you at least 1½ times your regular rate of pay ("time and a half"). Even if you agree in writing to work more than 48 hours a week, your employer must pay you overtime pay for every hour you work over 44 hours a week.

      You can agree with your employer in writing to average the hours you work over periods of two or more weeks to calculate overtime pay. If you sign an agreement, your employer must also get approval from the Ministry of Labour's Director of Employment Standards. If you do not want to have your overtime hours averaged, you do not have to sign an agreement."

  44. I hear you all the way Guy. We recently lost another job to another contractor that priced the job at half of what we did, which is insane since the material cost is that alone. Not sure how they can do it (Im thinking stolen materials from construction sites and cheap labour). It's happening all over the GTA and it's a bloody shame. We have worked with the GC for some time and did many jobs for them but they kept hammering us to give lower and lower bids on each job. At some point you have to say enough is enough, we know they add at least 20% to our bid to they make money off us at our expense, reducing our margins and increasing theirs. I hate to say it but the influx of chinese and south asians setting up electrical shops and charging out 25 - 30 per hour is killing the trade. Been on many sites where they can't speak english yet have a 309A, obviously alot of fraud is happening and would like to know what the MOL and ESA is doing about it!!

  45. they can't speak english yet have a 309A, obviously a lot of fraud is happening and would like to know what the MOL and ESA is doing about it!! >>>> in Ontario that is a fault of the Ontario College of Trades, a useless parasitic entity, that sucks money out of our pockets and then hurts us in return!

  46. You nailed it, no value added by Ont C of T. We are already over regulated as it is without another enforcement agency.

  47. Been a while since I last posted....
    I've had more than my fair share of "New Canadians" who have never completed and apprenticeship, have virtually no experience and don't understand instructions, yet they have a 309 !!!!
    Here's my take....
    Immigrant: " I'm an electrical engineer from back home"
    Government: "Sorry, you can't be an engineer here because your not qualified.
    Immigrant: What can I do?
    Government: If you pass a test...we can make you an electrician. :-(

    I had a guy show up at my door with a 309 looking for a job. From the resume I could see he had not apprenticed. When I asked if he was an electrical engineer from back home. I was shocked when he replied that he was a mechanical engineer but was given the opportunity to study and pass the C of Q. In all fairness he was well spoken and seemed like a nice person, but it's just not right!

    I'm getting tired of this.

    1. I recently proof my experience for 309A.Let me tell you it was not easy they ask lots of papers diplomas and experiencs cirtificate.I had to provide lots of lots paper and i find it good.It should be like this thats the way it should be.people who deserve it get otherwise no .

      Now iam gona take classes and get prepared for the test.

  48. Ontario College of Trades and Electrical Safety Authority rob every electrical contractor in Ontario of a few thousand dollars a year in unnecessary licensing and inspection fees.


  49. what are the residential rates for Peterborough $75-120 seam fair


  50. A self-employed residential electrician in Ontario must now obtain three licenses from the Ontario College of Trades and Electrical Safety Authority and pay every year thousands of dollars in inspection and licensing fees to two redundant regulators.


    After paying business expenses and other mandatory fees like WSIB, insurance, etc. listed here:

    http://stopesa.blogspot.com/2015/04/poor-electricians-forced-to-pay-rich-esa-employees.html self-employed residential electricians pay 40% to 50% of their income for the above. Then we pay business tax and then personal income tax...

    If we play by the book up to 60% of your money will be taken away from us. It does not make sense to become a self-employed residential electrician in Ontario.

    Become a handyman. You will make money from day one and avoid paying bureaucrats whose claimed priority is your safety and that of the public. When in fact the actual priority is getting high salaries with the money taken from your pocket.

    The bureaucrats come in any color and shape. You will not be able to bypass them.

    And by the time you start working as a handyman, they will regulate and rob you too.

    There are plenty of hungry bureaucrats (or parasites) over there, enough to take money from every working person two, three, or four times over.

    The quickly multiplying number of parasitic authoritarian regulators in absolute and per capita terms is a national tragedy. Canada is becoming a semi-slavery state.

  51. I to am just looking at getting started as an EC just North of T.O. When conducting market research and speaking with a few EC contractors up here, their operating with a $65-75 hourly rate still. There needs to be a standard on what to charge because people are out here killing or industry and not even realizing it. In trade school they really need to implement estimating and NECA pricing units because I think to many of us, use a treble formula of educated guesses.

    1. RE: I to am just looking at getting started as an EC just North of T.O.

      I'm also looking at starting a career in residential EC (it would be my second career). I don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about becoming an EC after reading this forum, primarily because of apparent low-priced immigrant competition and licensing/overhead costs.... After performing your market research, do you still think you'll be able to make a good living? If so, why?

      - Undecided -

  52. I completely agree with http://stopesa.blogspot.ca/

    Canada is becoming a semi-slavery state where hardworking people are obliged to give part of their earnings to ESA criminals who have created laws to protect themselves while oppressing and robbing electrical workers.

    Three mandatory licenses and three licensing fees for residential electrical contractors is a mafia-like extortion by the ESA!

  53. in Ontario as the highest regulated province for electrical work should also be the highest cost too..
    yet for some reason out in Alberta where as a worker u make $100,000. plus...
    I would like to think here as a contractor you should make at least that...then again reading all this seems like more and more are chopping this industry up...wake up people this is not some local chop shop...where hot goods are half off...this is the real world where one needs to survive and provide for a family..in a dangerous trade...
    its time to step up and make people pay the right price for what we are WORTH!!!!....
    I dam well know I should be making $65/hr as a worker.....but nobody wants to pay that...cause they are greedy...they want me to work for them so they can charge me out at insane rates and pay as little as possible to have me around....
    bullshit start paying the ones that make it all happen,...instead of paying the hacks to do half the job then the right guy to come fix the bullshit...

  54. $65.00 p/hr. for repeat/referral customers (Residential), $75.00 for (commercial)*< I stick with this though, $85.00 for Motor Control (Industrial), and $150.00 for middle of the night EMERGENCY Calls! I Will admit that some homes are soooo HUGE $ and if I haven't done work for you before - I may charge a bit more! WHY- Because in my experience the majority of these kind of people are VERY High Maintenance, change orders are imminent! I have eaten it TOOO many times being a "nice" guy not charging a house call fee, so now I tell the ones I don't know, never worked before, or I feel are wishy washy I charge a $125.00 service call/ Estimate fee, which I will take off the total of the proposal *if they Sign it for me to do the work, I also give them a Mechanics Lien Warning! *NOTE to the un-licensed "contractor" - You have Little to NO rights in Calif. small claims court, or perfecting a Lien if not paid - BEWARE! So... what else can I do...?!? Hope this helps! I'm a Union trained (IBEW), FULL 5 yr. apprenticeship graduate, State Certified, 3rd generation licensed electrical contractor with over 25 yrs experience.

    1. I am very suspicious about the price you are charging. In Toronto, there are a lot of good electricians with ESA licence charge $25/per hour for the job.

    2. The average Ontario Electrical Apprentice earns around $18-25 an hour. Their company will charge them out at around double that.
      If you can find someone good who can work for that rate - with a valid license, then I would be more than surprised.

      Such a low rate makes me more suspicious than an overly high rate. There are always people charging too much for everything in this world.
      When people charge too little, I get alarm bells and a bunch of questions pop into my head.

      In this situation, my questions are as follows:

      1) Are they properly licensed?
      2) Do they do good, safe, legal and ethical work?
      3) Have they done anything in the past that makes it hard for them to get work charging regular prices? Why are they charging so little?
      4) How are they maintaining a company, charging themselves out for so little. It won't cover their costs and I don't know how they'd stay afloat.
      5) If they are so unaware of the market value of the work they perform, how can they be expected to actually know the work? (Do they know what they're doing?)

      Not to fall back on stereotypes, but if you buy something from the dollar store, or with "Made in China" on it - you typically expect it not to last, or maybe even work. Overpaying isn't necessary, but paying a price so low is bad too.
      For products, it just means someone is unethically paying poor people way too little to make products that are one step away from landfill garbage.
      For electrical work, I suspect that more often than not it means paying a real electrician more later to come fix the first "electrician"'s work; someone getting shocked or even a fire!

      Be careful whom you decided to trust. A lot can go wrong doing electrical, it's worth paying someone to do it right.

  55. What about charging a price per device installed? Such as say 75.00 per switches and rec.s,150.00 per potlight...

    1. Some people do that, and some people, ourselves included, do that some of the time.
      It depends on the job.
      Usually a price per outlet is a good starting point, but can tend to short you if you run into big problems.

  56. I don't see anyone talking about what you can make with proper mark up's on material costs and taking that into account. Isn't it realistic obtaining +30% on you mat costs?

  57. Home electrician in North YorkSeptember 4, 2016 at 1:28 AM

    I charge 30% to 500% more for my materials. The smaller the job, the higher would be my mark up for the materials. I would charge $10 for one leftover foot of Romex or $5 for a basic switch if I worked one hour or less (300% to 1000% markup). But if I worked for five days and used a $1000 worth of materials at retail, I would charge $1300 or so, (30% markup).

  58. Looking to start a small company in the next year or two. Just wanted to say that this blog was very informative and thank you all for your comments. Opened my eyes to few things I had not thought about.

  59. Wanted to say thank you for this blog. Starting a small company in the next couple years and found all these comments very helpful..opened my eyes to a few things I had not taken into account.


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