Training to be an electrician is an excellent career option as there is a shortage of skilled traders in the UK. The country is particularly in need of electricians since it has been progressing towards green technologies like electric cars, wind farms, smart meters and solar energy. A 2019 report from the Electrotechnical and Skills Partnership concluded that the country needs 15,000 skilled electricians in the next 5 years to satiate the demand for new developments.
This shortage has resulted in higher wages. The average pay for an electrician increased by 5% in 2019. London has the largest deficit of electricians due to its robust construction industry.
Responsibilities of an Electrician
The primary task of an electrician is designing electrical systems. Other roles include:
- Installing residential and commercial electrical systems
- Interpreting wiring drawings and electrical schematics
- Maintain electrical systems and equipment
- Ensuring compliance with industry standards
- Interpreting power calculations and insulation tests
- Fitting circuit breakers and fuse boxes
- Linking telecommunication systems to power supplies
Electricians in the UK can either undertake an apprenticeship program, study a technical certificate or diploma or complete a domestic installer course. You can opt to specialise in a particular industry once you are qualified. The qualification routes are discussed below:
Apprenticeships involve both practical training and study at a training centre or college. You will work under the supervision of qualified and experienced electricians and earn a wage.
The challenging part of apprenticeships is that you will have to find an employer, and only students under 18 years can apply. Once you get an apprenticeship, you will need to complete a Level 3 course as you work.
The Level 3 NVQ Diploma is aimed at 16-18-year olds, and it is fully-funded by the government. The course takes 2 years, after which you will have to complete a 12-month NVQ assessment that includes onsite evaluation and AM2 exams.
You can also pursue a Level 3 NVQ in electrotechnical systems or a Level 3 NVQ in electrotechnical qualification. The NVQ courses cover a variety of units, including safety practices, inspection and wiring installation.
City & Guilds and EAL assess the qualifications. Additional training will be needed if you want to specialize in particular fields like installing solar panels. Electrical apprenticeships typically take 2-4 years, within which you will be earning a wage.
Diploma or Technical Certificate
If you are unsuccessful in getting an apprenticeship, you can pursue a technical certificate or Level 2 & 3 Diploma in electrical installation. This diploma is given under the City & Guilds 2365 framework.
Aspiring electricians will take 16 weeks to pursue the diploma, which includes assessments and an exam in a classroom and workshop setting. You will learn the electrical skills to use in various environments, including agricultural, commercial, and industrial setups.
It will be easier to get a job after completing the diploma, and you can consequently pursue an NVQ. Some students hold off on getting the NVQ, and others even continue working without the need to become “fully-qualified.”
It can take 1-3 years to get the NVQ, although you will be earning good money as you study. If you complete the diploma and NVQ, you will have a similar training level as someone who pursued an apprenticeship.
Domestic Installer Course
Domestic electricians can pursue a fast track electrical course. You can enrol with no experience or an associate trades person looking to ensure that your work meets industry standards.
A domestic installer course will include various City and Guild qualifications, including:
- Part P Course City & Guilds 2393
- City & Guilds 2382- Wiring Regulations
- City & Guilds 2392- Inspection and Testing
- City & Guilds 4141-01- Electrical Installation Work within a Domestic Dwelling
At the end of the course, you will be able to completely re-wire a house and set up light fittings and socket. You will be equipped to install, inspect and maintain electrical systems according to the updated regulations. Your work will, however, be limited to residential buildings like bungalows and flats.
Work Environment for Electricians
Electricians can work outdoors on telecommunication systems or in buildings and other structures. Most of them work on remote sites, and you can expect plenty of travelling.
Projects can range from a single day to several months, and you can work independently or be part of a construction team. There is also a lot of collaboration with other professionals like architects.
Electricians benefit from year-round opportunities. If you want a flexible schedule, consider a career path as a consultant or an independent electrical contractor. Electricians can have a 40-hour or 50/hour week, and earn decent money.
The work environment in a factory can be noisy and tiring, and electricians should be keen on safety since they deal with electricity. You can also launch an electrician business, and invest in a van, hand tools and power equipment.
How Much do Electricians Earn in the UK?
The Government Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates the national average salary for an electrician at £32,805. The amount you make as an employed electrician will primarily depend on where you are. The highest rates are in London, but you can expect competitive compensation in South East, Scotland and Yorkshire.
The highest earning potential for electricians is in self-employment. Independent electricians can charge anywhere from £20-50 per hour. You can also take as many jobs as you can to boost your earnings.
Is an Electrician Career Right for You?
If you enjoy using and repairing machines and tools, training as an electrician might be a good career choice. Other necessary skills include:
- Knowledge of building and construction
- Good grasp of maths to understand technical drawings
- Independent problem solving
- Attention to detail
- Customer service skills
- Time management
Becoming an electrician has plenty of perks like:
- High wages- Electricians are among the highest-paid tradespeople. You will earn the most as a self-employed worker, where you can set your hours.
- Exciting career choice- Electricians are continually on the move, and you get to experience a variety of projects and environments.
- Cheap training- You can work as you train to be an electrician, which will relieve you of student debt.
- Abundant opportunities- There is a shortage of electricians in the UK, which means that your services will be in demand.
An electrician installs, tests, and maintains electrical wiring and electrical equipment and fixtures. You can train under an apprenticeship, take a diploma course, or pursue a domestic installer program. Electricians have a high earning potential, especially since there is a shortage of them in the UK.
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