Normally when writing a topic like this I would poll the vast number of electricians I have worked with over the years to give readers some hard numbers. When it comes to the question, do electricians do side work? this is a little more tricky. The reason – well, technically electricians shouldn’t really be doing side jobs.
The term side job refers to an electrical who is doing work outside of their standard working contract. As an electrician employed by a company, I had a clause in my employment contract that stated I would not do any work in my free time that was in competition with them. In plain English this means, don’t undercut us by doing work in your free time for cash!
This makes getting other electricians to open up about the extent of their side working gigs a little tricky. Fortunately, from almost a decade in the industry, I have a pretty good idea of what goes on behind the scenes.
Do Electricians Do Side Jobs?
Many electricians choose to do side jobs because of the extra money they can bring in. We have the skillset, the tools, and a never-ending list of family friends, and neighbors that “need a little job doing.”
When faced with the idea of earning a quick 50 bucks for an hour or so of work, it can be difficult to turn the offer down, even if we are technically breaking our employment contract. What they don’t know can’t hurt them right?
Reasons Why Electricians Do Side Work
- Chance to earn additional income
- Improve skill levels
- Build a customer base before starting our own buisness and going it alone
- Feel like we should help family memebers or friends out (this emotional guilt feeling is a powerful one)
When I asked some of my colleagues, it was no surprise that additional income was the main reason they gave for giving up their weekends and evenings in pursuit of side work. We all have life expenses or holidays we want to save that little extra for. The ability to work a few extra hours to earn a few extra bucks is a perk that a lot of traditional office workers do not have
Even though it can be financially very lucrative to do side jobs, an equally large portion of electricians (including myself) do not bother doing them. When you’re starting out, side jobs seem like the easiest thing in the world, but it doesn’t take too long to realize that actually, they can be a right pain.
Reasons Why Electricians Don’t Do Side Work
- It’s often against our employement contract
- We are not insured to carry out side jobs
- We cannot sign off side jobs
- It eats into our leisure time
- We can earn extra money by doing overtime at work
- We are not allowed to use the company van or tools for private work.
The observant readers will have noticed that the list for not doing side work is longer than the list for doing them. This may be my own bias, but it may also be because there are genuinely more reasons to not bother. It all depends on how strong the pull is of additional money (and some people truly believe cash is king!)
Not being insured and not being able to sign work off are serious problems with doing side work that should be taken seriously. Picture the scenario: An electrician does a side job for their neighbor, 2 weeks later there’s a disaster and the house burns down. That dearest pal neighbor all of a sudden may decide to sue the electrician for the work they did – The electrician will have no insurance to back them up.
I appreciate that is an extreme example but it is worth bearing in mind. The main reason I choose not to do side jobs is that if I want to earn extra money I simply pick up overtime through my employer. Most companies pay overtime at time and a half or even double the hourly rate. Add to this the use of the van, and the fact all work is fully insured and licensed, and it becomes a much easier way of saving up for that holiday.
Also See: Can Electricians Make 100K A Year?
Where Do Electricians Get Side Work From?
In my experience, there is no shortage of places where an electrician can get side work from. Once family and friends discover you are training to be an electrician the requests to do work start flooding in. In fact, it can be quite difficult to turn close friends down.
Work offers come flooding in because an electrician can do a side job much cheaper than a self-employed electrician can do the same work. The side jobbing sparky doesn’t have to worry about making the job worth their while, they can just pop in for an hour after they have finished a regular day at work.
If electricians are really keen they can pick up side work they can sign up to websites such as mybuilder. Websites like these are full of customers posting little jobs every single day. Simple half-hour jobs like changing light switches or replacing a socket are ripe pickings for side jobbing electricians.
Be warned though, these websites make checks so you really need your own insurance and governing body membership to sign work off properly to keep all this work well above board. If going down this road we are basically setting up our own self-employed business on the side.
See Also: Are Electricians Unreliable?
How Much Do Electricians Make On Side Jobs?
Pricing side jobs as an electrician is a tricky business because the work is often done for friends and family members. Although not often said aloud, these close contacts expect ‘mates rates.’ In fact, every electrician has a story about when they put themselves out to do work because they felt obligated to, only to have the friend haggle on the price afterward!
Side job pricing is another reason I choose to stay away from this side of work. When doing overtime at work I know exactly what I am going to be paid for each hour and there are no awkward conversations to be had.
So, do electricians do side work? If you are training to be an electrician the chances are you will start doing some side work as the quick cash seems like an easy win, especially when compared to the poor apprentice wage you are on at the time.
As our career progresses, and our hourly rate at work gets to a much healthier level, the hassle of doing private side work becomes less appealing, and many drop out. I know a few very experienced guys who do tons of side work and always will – but I know an equal number who say side jobs aren’t worth the hassle.