If you’re thinking about becoming an electrician you’re making a very good choice, electricians are in such high demand, and for this reason are very well paid. It’s such a rewarding career with job satisfaction thanks to job security, and if you love carrying out practical tasks then you will be in your element. Once you qualify it’s not just here in the UK where you’ll be able to work but all over the world too including countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand to name just three, you really will be able to work wherever you like, thanks to your skills and knowledge regarding your trade as an electrician.
So here I would like to explain all about the qualifications you’ll need in order to become a qualified electrician and hopefully answer a few questions you may have been thinking about in your mind.
What qualifications do I need to become an electrician?
Ok so the answer is pretty straightforward you must first complete Levels 1 and 2 before you go onto your industry recognised level 3 qualifications including:
- Level 3 Diploma in Electrotechnical Services (Electrical Maintenance)
- Level 3 Diploma in installing Electrotechnical systems and equipment (structures, buildings and the environment)
- Level 3 Diploma in electrical installations (buildings and structures)
Industry recognised organisations EAL and City & Guilds (2357) accredit the first two listed and the last one on the list is accredited by City &Guilds (2365)
Your local college or training centres offer good courses that will see you meet these required qualifications, they will prepare you for the electrical industry. You can take full time and part time courses, (which could also include an electrician apprenticeship if you can find one) depending on how much time you have available to put into your training.
These courses will cover all the basic theory that you’ll need to fully understand before you can put it all into practice in the workshops and for when you’re working as a fully qualified electrician.
The courses will include:
Level 1 certificate in electrical installation
Level 2/3 Diploma in electrical installations
What these courses do is they act as your springboard, so that from these courses you can get even higher up the qualifications scale. These courses will also help you greatly in becoming an apprentice or if you’re planning on working as a trainee.
Where you start your training from will be determined by how much or little experience you have in the electrical industry. Obviously if you’re completely new to the trade then you’ll have to start at the beginning which would be the Level 1 courses, however, if you do have experience then you could possibly begin your training at Levels 2 or 3 for example.
Industry recognised organisations have all agreed that the best thing to do is to get a work placement as soon as you begin your training, this way all that you have been taught can be put into practice at your workplace. This will definitely help you greatly when it comes to the practical sections of your Diploma.
What’s an NVQ?
Well basically when you see me write about “fully qualified” electricians that’s where the NVQ comes into play. To become “fully qualified” you must have gained your NVQ. You gain your NVQ when you start working as an electrician, you could be working for yourself or for someone else it really doesn’t matter. All that happens is an NVQ assessor will come and visit you at your place of work, they will arrange a day and a time and they will assess you carry out different tasks. The assessor will be marking you as you go along and then once the assessment is over they will tell you how you’ve done and whether or not you have successfully gained your NVQ. If so then you will be known as a “fully qualified” electrician. If however you’re unsuccessful don’t be too disheartened as you’ll have many more opportunities at gaining your NVQ. Your NVQ is accredited by awarding bodies which include EAL and also City & Guilds.
What jobs will I be doing when I’m qualified as an electrician?
Electricians work on a huge range of projects, you may be dealing with powering people’s homes or business premises, taking part in engineering projects, you’ll be able to transport data along fibre optic cables, you can also programme computer controlled intelligent factories, deal with heating controls and fire alarms, outdoor lighting and so much more. This career is never ending! You’ll also have the pleasure of dealing with renewable technology which will include wind turbines and photovoltaic systems.
Electricians inspect, test and install equipment while making sure that everything is in good working order and are safe for use and if faults are discovered fixing them.
There are different electrotechical careers and they can be broken down like this:
They install power to homes and business premises for example and deal with fire protection, security and lighting etc
They check systems are in good working order and are safe to use.
Highway systems electrician
They maintain and install traffic management systems and also deal with lighting on streets.
Machine repair and rewind electricians
They repair and maintain electrical motors and different types of machinery.
- Electrotechnical panel builders
They install and build control panels that will then go on to operate the electrical systems that are located inside buildings.
Electrician work within people’s homes, shops, business premises, offices and sports stadiums to name just a few and they can supervise any other members of their team.
Broadening your current portfolio!
If you are working as an electrician but don’t currently have any qualifications then you could be assessed against the current standards and see what qualifications you may receive. You will have the chance to have your work assessed by an assessor. The qualifications you’ll receive will depend on the results.
Those currently working for an electrician company, the boss may advise or ask you to try and get further qualification such as:
- 17th Edition (IET) Wiring Regulations
- Periodic inspection and Testing
You may have heard of Portable Appliance Testing which is also known as PAT testing, to get this you will need to be what’s known as a competent person and your relevant experience and your qualifications will determine whether or not this will be the case.
Part P of the building regulations will be another thing to try and aim for. What Part P does it states that any work to be done in the household must be approved by a certified contractor, becoming registered under the Part P scheme will enable you to certify your own work without having to go to your local authority to have your work assessed by a certified contractor, becoming registered under the Part P scheme will prove to potential customers or indeed employers that you are fully competent at your job and can carry out work competently, safely and effectively and are more than capable at working with electrics. Part P really could boost your work portfolio and your job prospects too.
The governing bodies under the Part P scheme are:
- British Standards
By completing further training you can then go on to work with environmental technologies including wind turbines and solar panels, which are both known as photovoltaic systems.
For further professional development you could go for higher level qualifications which may include:
- Foundation degrees
- Degrees in building services engineering
- Renewable energy technologies
- Electrical engineering
What hours do electricians work?
An electrician usually works 37 hours a week Mondays to Fridays, and there’s the option of overtime. Remember though that some companies do offer their customers 24 hr call outs and you may also have to do shift work. You may also be given a job that will mean overnight stays and it’s because of this that a driving license is recommended. Electricians may also have to work at height, they sometimes do have to work up scaffolding and they sometimes have to squeeze themselves into small spaces. An electrician must be able to work well with others because if they’re working in a team it’s essential.
Self employed electricians have the bonus of setting their own working hours and also their rates. They get to decide when and where they’re going to work and how far from home they’re prepared to travel. They get to choose the days they work and when they take their holidays.
Are electricians well paid?
Good question and a question I think you’re going to like the answer to. Yes electricians are extremely well paid, as I said earlier they are in such high demand along with other trades in the construction industry, someone somewhere is always in need of an electrician, after all, they bring power into our homes and business premises, we desperately need tem for our own day to day lives, and it’s because of this demand that wages are so high.
An electrician on their first year can expect to earn £8,000 and a newly qualified electrician could be earning between £17,000 and £20,000 a year. The more experience you get will see your wages soar. More experienced electricians can expect to be earning between £23,000 and £30,000 a year. Wages do all depend on the company you’re working for and where you are working in the country. It’s always been the case that the closer you are to London and the South East will see your wages rocket. So lucky you if you happen to fall into this part of the UK, you really could have hit the jackpot.
Well that’s it from me for now, hopefully you can now see what such a great career choice becoming an electrician would be, you’ll have job security that comes with knowing that your trade is in high demand and also it’s such an exciting career with new technologies being designed all the time. So good luck with your qualifications and I really do hope that you’ll become an electrician and will be reaping the rewards. Good luck!