Whether you are fresh out of school and wondering what direction to take your career in or you are a little older and want to try out something new, becoming an electrician is a rewarding and interesting job.
Since you will be working with potentially dangerous equipment, training to be an electrician requires a sensible head and a good grasp of everything you will learn. This is a hands-on job that also requires attention to detail and a keen eye for problem-solving. If these sound like qualities you have then this may be the right career choice for you.
Most electricians in the UK need to train between two and four years but qualifications can be earned in a variety of ways. In this guide, we will be talking you through everything you need to know to become a successful and reputable electrician.
Why Would People Want To Be An Electrician?
While becoming an electrician may seem like a popular career choice but in reality, there is a serious shortage of skilled tradespeople in the UK right now. This is an excellent incentive to choose this type of work as there is a good chance that you will easily find a job or be successful in setting up your own business.
The average salary of an entry-level electrician in the UK can be up to £22,000 when working for an employer. However, the more experience you gather, the more you are likely to be paid and in the capital, electricians are earning in excess of £35,000 annually. When you consider that the overall average UK salary is around £31,000, this is quite an attractive figure.
Self-employed electricians with a good level of experience can expect to earn far in excess of the average thanks to the high demand for this type of skill. With new property developments constantly being erected and both domestic and commercial clients in need of reliable tradespeople, you will find that you are hired for a good mix of jobs.
Moreover, being an electrician is incredibly rewarding because you will be challenging yourself on a daily basis and constantly learning new skills. With technology and electrical equipment forever advanced, your career will always have the chance to develop.
What Qualifications Do You Need To Be An Electrician?
One of the most important things that an electrician needs to be aware of are the UK Building Regulations and any work that he or she completes must be compliant with these.
In addition, an electrician must have an appropriate qualification at level 3 or above. It is helpful to have GCSE qualifications in Maths and English at a grade D or above to get onto your chosen course, but this is not always necessary.
We will discuss the different courses and training you can undertake later on in this guide. But for most people, this will involve completing an NVQ, diploma or electrical installation course.
Once you have received your qualifications, you will then need to decide on the right type of employment. It is advisable to register with an organisation like NICEIC which oversees electrical work and assesses applicants on their work and equipment. If you are approved, this ‘stamp of approval’ serves as a qualification demonstrating the quality and reliability of your work.
How To Train As An Electrician
There are several ways that you can become an electrician and depending on your learning style, any of the following are acceptable.
An apprenticeship is a great way for new electricians to gather the training they require through hands-on experience. You will be placed in a work setting and given training by fully qualified electricians, watching how things are done and learning on the job. In addition to this, you will be required to complete some studies.
What’s attractive about this type of training is that you will be paid while you learn. The wage will not be as handsome as when you are qualified, but there is a national minimum wage for apprentices as laid out by the government which currently sits at £4.30 an hour.
NVQ, Diploma or Technical Certificate
A National Vocational Qualification, a diploma or a technical certificate can be completed in various levels. In order to become an electrician, you must reach at least level 3 in any of these. What’s great about these options is that they allow you to continue learning even once you are employed so you can gain further knowledge and experience.
Generally speaking, it can take up to one year to complete each level of training but this will vary from person to person. There are some people who will complete a level in as little as six months but the great news is that as many as 90% of those having completed this type of training are in employment within six months.
Domestic Installer Course
A domestic installer course is potentially the quickest route to becoming an electrician. In many cases, you will be able to complete the course in as little as a few weeks. That said, in order to be considered a fully qualified electrician, you will still need to have gained experience through one of the above courses and a domestic installer course is typically done before moving on to higher training levels.
Self-Employed vs Employed
As we have mentioned, it is not uncommon for newly trained electricians to fall quickly into a job. This is great news if you are looking to be hired by a company. However, there are also perks to becoming self-employed and it is worth considering the pros and cons of each
Being self-employed is an excellent option for people who want to work around existing commitments such as children. You can choose your own hours and take holiday when you want, not to mention that you won’t be stuck in a 9-5 routine. There is also excellent scope to earn a large income if you are willing to put in the hours.
What’s more, self-employed people are given much more exposure to the day to day running of a business and this might include accounting, marketing and project management. In essence, your role is much more varied and therefore, interesting.
On the flip side, however, this can mean much greater responsibility and some may find this to be overwhelming. You are responsible for the success of your business and there is nobody else to pick up the pieces. Moreover, you may find that you go through ups and downs in terms of work and may experience quiet periods which means that your income may not be steady.
Busy Electricians, like most self-employed tradesmen, can also spend a lot of time after work responding to clients enquiries, creating and sending quotes and invoices etc. This can be stressful and put a strain on your home life.
If you take a holiday then you don’t get paid and this means working harder in the run-up to days off as well as making up for the lost time when you return.
Working as an electrician for a company means that you will be given daily jobs and won’t have to consider anything other than the tasks you are allocated. This means far less responsibility and stress. Moreover, you won’t need to worry about things like planning for holidays or where the work is going to come from.
Marketing, accounts, administration and generating new business is also less of a consideration as this is taken care of by your employer.
Electricians who are employed by somebody else have the benefit of being paid a regular, consistent wage. However, you won’t have as much freedom as a self-employed person and will likely be limited on the type of work that you do.
Domestic Electrics And Commercial Electrics
One of the other key things you will need to think about when looking at becoming an electrician is whether you want to work in a domestic or commercial setting. There is a clear cut difference in the type of work you will be doing and you may require additional training to work as a commercial electrician.
This is because there are different wiring regulations when working in a commercial setting and the job is considered to be far more technical. While a domestic electrician will be responsible for installing, maintaining and testing wiring systems in the home, a commercial electrician may be responsible for much more complex systems in places like hospitals, schools and sports centres, among others.
If you are looking to become an electrician, you must be prepared to undergo up to four years of training. However, this training can be completed in one of several ways including an apprenticeship which allows you to earn while you train.
There are options in terms of how you work and many people decide to go down a self-employed path. That said, you must consider the pros and cons of this to ensure that it is the right type of work for you.
Are you looking for a career as an Electrician?
Here at MJP Electrical, we are always on the lookout for quality Electricians to join our team. If you would like to take your career further and progress with a supportive and successful company, then why not visit our Careers page where you can send in your CV and apply for a position.