Electricians test, fit and repair wiring and circuits, and install new electrical infrastructures. Often working in residential homes, offices or public buildings, electricians ensure and any wires and circuits are safe, repair any faults that may have cropped up or could crop up within the electrics, and help to install new circuits once any building work has come to an end.
Electricians have the potential for progression. Through training, experience and hard work, one can be promoted to the position of supervisor or manager. Failing that, electricians could go on to support themselves financially and become self-employed.
In addition, electricians with a wealth of experience could progress to being an engineering technician; this means an electrician who specialises in helping with any technical faults within engineering or construction businesses.
If you want to become a fully qualified electrician, you will require a level 3 NVQ in Electrotechnical Services. This can be awarded by either the City & Guilds, or EMTA Awards Limited. School leavers aged up to 19 are advised to start off training as an apprentice, and incorporate their NVQ studies into their training.
To become an apprentice, trainees usually need a GCSE (grade A-C) in Mathematics, English Literature and Science. If they don’t have the necessary academic qualifications, but they can pass the initial aptitude test, they should still be allowed to train. The apprenticeship provides them with relevant work experience, and allows them to earn a small wage at the same time.
The second part of the NVQ involves practical training. This allows students to gain hands-on experience in dealing with more important projects, and take more responsibility, in the same manner that the average electrician would on a daily basis.
For those who are over 19, rather than an apprenticeship, trainees on an NVQ course are advised to secure relevant work experience, usually over a long period of time. This is particularly important for the practical aspect of the NVQ, as without prior experience they are likely to struggle.
There are alternative qualifications to the NVQ in Electrotechnical Services. One example of this is the City & Guilds Technical Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology. This qualification will provide relevant training in electrical theory, and involves the development of the necessary practical skills. However, without completing a work placement or an apprenticeship, this certificate will not give trainees a full electrician qualification.
Even after completing an NVQ, electricians can go on to earn more qualification, specific to the position they have, and hope to have in the future. They include City & Guilds certificates in Inspection, Testing and Certification of Installations; Wiring Regulations and In-Service Inspection; and Testing of Electrical Equipment.
In addition, there are training programmes that will help to improve one’s skills. One such scheme is called ‘Part P’, and allows electricians to certify all their own electrical work, as opposed to requiring a contractor or a building inspector for approval of their work.
Becoming (PAT) Portable Appliance Testing is another great way to generate income if you are looking to make the move into becoming an electrician. (PAT) is an important part of health & safety of goods generally 3 years old, however this can be sooner for certain products. An example of where the testing would be carried out is in the work place, schools, hospitals on appliances such as kettles, fridges and computers etc. A device used to measure the electrical circuits to ensure safety. Generally courses can be completed for in the region of £50 for a training DVD for £150 for attending a 1- day training event.
What Employers Are Looking For?
There are a number of key skills that an employer will expect a well-trained and highly qualified electrician to possess. As well as good practical skills, electricians must be confident when using power tools, and pay close attention to minor construction details. They should take a methodical approach to their work, and be able to solve any problems that may occur. Being able to predict potential problems, or being prepared for potential problems, are further signs of a good electrician.
In addition, an electrician must have the ability to perform a number of tasks. They include analysing technical drawings, following instructions and focusing on the job for a long period of time.
There is also the matter of being able to prevent danger. An electrician should know how to ensure a healthy and safe working environment, and be aware of specific electrical safety regulations. Given the important of health & safety in the life of an electrician, gaining a first aid qualification will add real weight and purpose behind your C.V. First aid qualifications are run most weeks of the year and can be obtained over 3-5 days with St John Ambulance, or other private training companies, and start anywhere between £50-£150 per person. In addition any further health and safety qualifications will bolster an application for employment either on an apprenticeship or for a full time placement.
Electricians should also be reasonably fit, and have normal colour vision (not doing so could lead to major issues when distinguishing between different coloured wires in a circuit). Being an electrician is about more than just fixing wires, so having good administrative and communication skills are also very useful. The ability to communicate is essential given the responsibility of the job and the related trades that an electrician will work with such as Joiners, Plasterers and Plumbers.
How Much Money Will I Make as an Electrician in the UK?
The salary for an electrician will depend on their level of experience, and whether they work for a company or they are self-employed. Apprentice electricians will usually start on an annual salary of £10,000. This should rise to between £16,500 and £19.000 once they have earned their qualifications. This acts as the typical starting salary for all electricians who work for a larger organisation. By continuing to gain work experience and through hard work, an electrician’s annual salary should rise to at least £20,000, right up to £25,000. Electricians with specialist grading could end up earning around £28,000 per annum.
Self-employed electricians will need to have put in a few years of experience, and earned a fair amount of money, before being able to financially support themselves to the point where they can break out on their own. For those who do, a salary is determined not by the year, but by the job. Self-employed electricians have to build up their own network of clients. This means that, if their clients do not have work for them, then they cannot perform jobs and, consequently, earn money. After all, there is no guarantee of work for an electrician when they are self-employed. And, for the jobs that they do perform, if they are infrequent and/or minor, they won’t be making a lot of money. Over a long period of time and through continually building up contacts, being self-employed may end up being profitable, but when first going self-employed, an electrician will judge how much they are making based on the jobs they perform, and the frequency of their work, as opposed to an annual salary.
Pros and Cons of Becoming an Electrician in the UK
For some, the negatives of being an electrician are enough reason to not pursue this career path. However, with the right amount of skill and preparation, such drawbacks may not be a factor. A list of both the key pros and cons of being an electrician are listed below.
• Constantly learning new skills on the job
• Opportunities for progression through hard work and experience
• Not all the work involves electric (some administration too)
• Many jobs will be within a team, so you can share tasks & responsibilities
• The job can be dangerous for those just starting out
• Uncomfortable working conditions due to lack of space & bad weather
• Can involve a lot of travelling
• Half-finished sites can cause injury without researching any problems
Helpful Contact Information
The job of an electrician can be dangerous and, for those who are self-employed, a risk financially. However, for those with the necessary skills, talent and work ethic, being an electrician can be a successful career path to follow, and a profitable one in the long run.
For details of the different City & Guilds qualifications, including the NVQ, contact:
City & Guilds Head Office
1 Glitspur Street
Telephone 0844 543 0000
To find out more information regarding the different qualifications awarded by the EAL (EMTA Awards Limited), contact:
14 Upton Road
Telephone 0113 260 1188
RF Training – Private Electrician Training Courses.