Do Electricians Get Laid Off A Lot? What You Need To Know!

The construction industry is going through a bit of a boom at the moment, which is fortunate for electricians like me, as well as all the other tradesmen that rely on a steady stream of work. Being an electrician or any tradesmen is quite a unique job as we are essentially always working ourselves out of employment.

We are given a task to complete and once we have finished we are no longer needed and need to find someone else with another task for us to complete and so on. When there is lots of work (like now) electricians are so in demand there is work everywhere. But this isn’t always the case. In my career, I have witnessed a few rounds of redundancies where the work has dried up and the business has had to make the difficult decisions to let people go.

This may be concerning to anyone considering becoming an electrician or starting any of the construction trades but fear not! This post is a walk-through of my research into the question, do electricians get laid off a lot? and how safe and secure can you feel in this line of work.

empty construction site
Deserted construction site

Do Electricians Get Laid Off A Lot?

Statistically, electricians do not get laid off more than other trade workers. However, that does not mean that electricians do not suffer from layoffs throughout their careers. Electricians, in particular, rely on a large volume of work to keep them busy, for example, a complete rewire may only last a week or two.

When work is scarce, any electrician can be laid off for an undetermined amount of time. Electrical projects can last for a few hours or up to a year or longer. When one project is completed, if there is no work scheduled to start within a reasonable time, it is not uncommon for electricians to be laid off until a new project begins.

When an electrician joins the workforce, they can choose to work as a hired employee, join a union, or pursue self-employment and entrepreneurship. Regardless of which direction an electrician wants to take their work, there are different levels of job security.

Self-employed electricians are technically laid off each time work finishes, but they earn a higher wage whilst working so in theory, they save for the rainy days. Employed electricians, or those “on the books” as they are often referred to, have some higher level of job security.

Employers will try to keep their workforce of electricians employed during dry spells of work. They do this by sending them to work away or simply absorbing the cost of having labor “stood up” not working. However, this only goes on for so long before the high-level management decides the only way to save the entire ship is by letting some of the electricians go.

Poor work performance, failure to follow safety protocols, or any other questionable behaviors that are inappropriate for the work environment also play a part in establishing job security and surviving the cut if a layoff should occur.  

Also See: Do Electricians Do Side Work?

Do Union Electricians Get Laid Off A Lot?

Like non-union electricians, statistics have shown that union electricians do not suffer from more layoffs than others in the construction industry and electrical trade. One of the largest electrician unions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), provides excellent benefits for members that encounter being laid off during their careers. 

As part of the IBEW, electricians have the option to work for more than one contractor, ensuring work stability and ongoing income. After completing a job, the electrician is not bound to any single contractor and can immediately start working for another contractor with a different project.

If there is ever a time when available work is less than the number of electricians available, the electrician can choose to put their name on an “out of work” list and be called when a new job opens. The list is on a first-come, first-serve basis, meaning the 23rd name on the list will be the 23rd to get offered a job, so it is best to sign up as soon as possible rather than waiting for one day, a week, or a month. 

Union electricians can also start with new contractors at the same hourly pay rate, whether going from job to job or being called in from a layoff. Willingness and the ability to travel will help keep an electrician from being laid off. Still, there will always be unforeseen events that can alter the amount of work offered in any given area, extend the length of a layoff, or even reduce the expected time a person will have to wait for work. 

Do Apprentices Get Laid Off A Lot?

Apprentices do get laid off. However, most employers and unions will do their best to find projects and work extra hard to keep apprentices employed. That does not mean that apprentices do not experience being laid off, but it is less common and apprentices are often the last to go.

An apprentice has an obligation to get their hours completed within a reasonable time if they want to advance to the next stage of their career. Typically, it will take around five years to get the necessary hours, and anyone in an apprenticeship would be wise to make sure they get their qualification under their belt in a timely manner.

See Also: Become an Electrician at 30 years old

Since apprentices make significantly less money than a journeyman or a master electrician, it is easier to negotiate project prices to persuade contractors to choose who wins the bid. This serves as a desirable advantage for everyone involved, the company, the contractor, and the apprentice. 

Electrical business owners and leaders monitor upcoming retirements, ongoing job contracts, new job contracts, soon-to-end job contracts, and what is needed to ensure the number of man-hours will be met to maintain profits and projects.

Knowing that an apprentice earns less money per hour than their journeyman peers does not always protect them from being laid off. Even though it saves the business money, the work might not be suitable for an apprentice to be on, especially if it is priced tightly in order for the job to be won.

The best thing an apprentice has going for themselves is that it is in the company’s best interest to help an apprentice get their mandatory on-the-job hours as quickly as possible. Once all the hours have been met, an apprentice can take the necessary steps to move towards a journeyman position and continue offering their services while making more money.

Why Do Electricians Get Fired? 

lazy construction worker risking being sacked
Lazy construction worker risking being sacked!

The number one reason an electrician is fired from the job site or from their company altogether is for safety breaches. Health and safety represent such a huge part of today’s modern construction world that any safety breaches are met with very stiff sanctions.  

As well as the safety breaches there are other reasons that electricians can get fired many are just like those in any other job, but worth a quick bullet point list I think! 

Some of the reasons why electricians are fired from a job or company are:

  • The work performed is consistently below standards
  • Using faulty materials
  • Not following safety protocols
  • Causing damage to customers property of assests
  • Offering lower prices if paid directly to the electrician for services done outside of the company.
  • Adding additional costs that were not part of the order
  • Showing up to the job site late
  • Being intoxicated or under the influenc
  • Not completing jobs as expected
  • Stealing
  • Behaving dangerously
  • Lose of driving license

An electrical company can be fired from an entire project if they schedule incompetent employees to work the job or have a proven reputation for extending projects well past expected deadlines. Failing safety inspections, using outdated materials that pose fire risks, and not cleaning up worksites after being finished are also reasons for contractors to find new businesses to work with. 

See Also: Do Electricians Get Shocked?


Getting laid off is a part of being in the construction industry that everyone, including electricians, must be aware of. When I first got into the industry I used to worry about where the next job was coming from. Over time I relaxed into it and realized that work has a good habit of turning up. When it hasn’t I have traveled further afield to find work and had some good experiences and seen some new places along the way.

When contemplating, do electricians get laid off a lot? it’s important to remember that although we may lose our job in one company or site we have a skill and a trade that will always be in demand. Having an essential trade is something that no one can take away from us so in this sense being an electrician could be considered one of the most secure jobs in the world!

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

Recent Posts