October 28, 2022

Who makes more, plumbers or electricians?

Plumbing spanner next to pliers behind text

Plumbers vs electricians. Two of the most popular trades going head to head. But who earns more and which country is leading the way for plumbers’ and electricians’ salaries? Let's find out.

When trying to find an answer to this question, we found there was a fair bit of variety in some of the numbers being banded around on the internet. There are a lot of competing figures out there and getting a coherent answer is hard to come by.

What’s more, most of the answers you will find will give you a pretty generalised answer. The thing is, this debate runs hot across the globe. Depending on which country you live in, you may get a different answer.

To clarify things, we took the time to scour the internet and take averages from advertised salaries across four different job sites from 8 major countries worldwide.

From these numbers, we were able to work out average salaries for plumbers and electricians from some of the most prominent countries across the globe.

So who earns more, the plumbers or the electricians? Let's break it down and find out.

Which country pays electricians the most?

Beginning with the electricians, in which country will you get paid the most for working as a spark?

The country that pays electricians the most, on average, is the USA, paying its sparks $56,101 per year, which is the equivalent to £48,886.

Not far behind it’s the Australians with electricians in this country earning the equivalent of £47,415 per year.

The UK, New Zealand and France are still doing well, with electricians in all three countries still coming above the average of £28,134.

Down at the bottom of the pecking order, it’s south Africa and Poland, with electricians from these countries earning the equivalent of less than £12,000 a year.

It is important to note that the cost of living varies considerably from country to country, so if we were to factor this in, it’s likely that these salaries would be much more closely comparable to each other.

Which country pays plumbers the most?

For all you plumbers out there, the country that pays plumbers the most, on average, is...the USA.

Once again the USA comes out on top, with plumbers earning $57,199, the equivalent of £49,842.

The pattern for the 7 other countries we looked into follows the same order, with Australia, the UK, New Zealand and France coming in second, third, fourth and fifth respectively.

Japan, South Africa and Poland are once again in the bottom 3 with all these countries coming below the average salary of £24,72.

Who earns more, plumbers or electricians?

Based on the data we found, electricians, on average, earn more than plumbers, taking home approximately £3,414 more every year. However, this is not the case in the USA, where plumbers out-earn electricians by $1098 (£956) per year.

In the other 7 countries we compiled data on, electricians earn significantly more than plumbers every time, with electricians earning an average of £3,107 more than their plumbing compatriots.

What’s particularly interesting here, is that it is amongst the countries with the lowest annual salaries that the differences in earnings are the greatest.

To highlight two countries, Japanese and South African electricians earn the equivalent of over £4000 more than plumbers in the same countries.

Plumber Electrician
Country British £ Local Currency British £ Local Currency
USA £49,842 $57,199 £48,886 $56,101
Australia £43,949 $78,830 £47,415 $85,047
UK £33,824 £33,824 £37,237 £37,237
New Zealand £32,423 $64,605 £34,573 $68,889
France £25,968 €29,887 £28,807 €33,155
Japan £22,268 ¥37,609,06 £26,721 ¥45,114,09
South Africa £7,360 R15,4354 £11,520 R24,1575
Poland £7,251 zł39,875 £10,668 zł58,662

If you want a more detailed analysis of how plumbers' salaries vary based on a number of factors including, age, location, types of speciality and type of employment, then check out our blog covering all this information for British plumbers.

If you are after a similar level of detail looking at electricians, we’ve also covered earning factors for British sparks in our blog on electricians' salaries.

Or why not check out both to really compare which career is better between plumbers and electricians?

Which is better an electrician or a plumber?

From a career perspective, it’s hard to clearly say which trade is better, working as an electrician or a plumber. There are however some pros and cons of each job.

Generally speaking the main differentiating factor between the two jobs comes down to whether you prefer working with water or electricity.

Some of the benefits of working in plumbing are the following:

  • You get to meet many different people
  • Its hands-on work
  • Jobs can be very varied with opportunities to specialise in different niches in the industry
  • You learn a lot and will become a specialist in what you do, with some real technical knowledge
  • Plumbers are in high demand so you won’t be short of work
  • Earning potential is high
  • The cost of entry into the industry is relatively low with good apprenticeship opportunities

Some of the cons of working as a plumber are:

  • You may work long hours and at unsociable hours of the day (though standard hours start at 40 per week)
  • Expect to get wet
  • Depending on what area you specialise in you will likely be working with sewage and unclean water
  • There is a lot of underground work so if you’re claustrophobic this is something to consider
  • Some of the glues you will use such as PVC can be unpleasant to work with

Some of the benefits of working as an electrician are:

  • You learn valuable technical skills
  • You make good money in this line of work
  • There is high demand for electricians with a current skills shortage in the UK
  • You get to meet many different people and work with different specialist
  • There is room to specialise and become an expert in one area of the industry
  • The cost of entry is inexpensive with apprenticeships available

Some of the cons you will experience as an electrician are:

  • The work on a job needs to be completed before you leave, meaning you may have to work late with long and unsociable hours (40 hours a week is usual however)
  • You will receive an electric shock - this may not be a strong shock but it will happen at some point.
  • There is a level of risk involved - if you’re working with high-voltage equipment a mistake could be life-threatening
  • You have to work in small and enclosed spaces
  • You may need to work at heights, so if you have a problem with this, you should bare this in mind (although this does depend on your speciality)

So where does this leave things? Is it better to be an electrician or a plumber?

As you can tell, both careers carry risks and rewards and depending on your interests and concerns you may prefer one career or the other. What is clear is that both trades involve many similar benefits and risks so choosing which is better comes down to your preference.

Both of these career options are highly regarded in the trade industry with those working in these jobs part of a group of more “academic trades”. These trades involve more technical knowledge compared to most other tradie careers.

If we were to answer this question purely based on risk and health, then plumbing would have to be considered the better career choice as although there are risks associated with plumbing, these are not as great as the risk of death when working with high voltage electricity.

Are plumbers or electricians more in demand?

Both plumbers and electricians are in high demand. These tradespeople provide essential services meaning their skills are always going to be in demand wherever you live and work.

In the UK there is currently a skills shortage, meaning that all tradespeople should easily find work. This has further been inflated since COVID when many homeowners begun investing in home improvement projects, which require electricians and plumbers.

Both careers are equally in demand with opportunities for work in both industries.

The main limiting factor is a person's ability to take on work and manage multiple jobs. One way to tackle this issue is to use an effective job management software such as the one provided by Payaca.

This technology can allow you to save time on your jobs and keep on top of your projects so that you can earn more.

Final thoughts

So which career do you think is best? Would you rather work as a plumber or as an electrician or do you think you’d rather go into a different industry entirely? Whatever you decide, hopefully, you’ve got a clearer understanding of the facts, including the benefits and drawbacks of both industries.

If you're interested in finding out about other career options in the trades, then check out our blog on the salaries of different construction workers, covering 30 different jobs and how much they earn.

For transparency, we took all our data from the following job sites using the most up-to-date results:

Totaljobs, Talent, Reed, Adzuna, Payscale, SalaryExpert, Salary.com, Jobted, Job Box, Denkikoujishi Shikaku, Economic Research Institute