How to Become an Electrician in the UK

Do you love gadgets? Do you find yourself opening up electronics and figuring out their circuitry? Are you the first person your relatives call when they have an electrical fault? Perhaps you need to turn this passion into a profession. There is no better way to earn a living than doing what you love. This article was written by myself Brenden, I started out over 20 years ago as a local electrician in Sunderland, read more here. 

So, today we are introducing you to the world of electricians. Below is what it takes to become a successful electrician in the UK.

An electrician at work

Qualities of someone bound to become a great electrician

A career as an electrician is not for everybody. So before you embark on this career, you should examine yourself and see whether you have the qualities listed below;

  • Good with practical skills.
  • Highly organised – both with people and work.
  • Ability to solve problems quickly and easily.
  • Flexibility – rarely will you find a similar problem or customer.
  • Soft skills – ability to work with teams.
  • Great communication skills – both written and spoken.
  • Ability to interpret technical drawings such as blueprints and wiring
  • Not afraid to work in closed spaces and high places.
  • Ability to work in any weather.

Training an electrician

To train as an electrician, you need to be clear what you want to. In class, you will do an average of 2,000 hours where you will learn such things as electrical theory, interpretation of wiring blueprints, safety and first aid, electrical codes, mathematics and so on. The course is so wide that you cannot be an expert in everything. Below we have listed some of the most popular branches of becoming an electrician:

  • Domestic Electrical Installer
  • Domestic Electrical Solar PV Installer
  • PAT Domestic Installer
  • Inspection & Testing
  • Science of Electro Technology
  • Electrical NVQ Assessment
  • Renewable Awareness Course
  • Commercial Electrical Installer

Expected incomes from the profession

The following data has been extracted from payscale.com. It gives an average earning of an electrician in the UK. It is however important to note that different places have different rates. The fig. below just captures the national average.

Hourly Rate £7.75 – £16.18
Hourly Tips An average of £1.70
Over time pay £9.75 – £23.03
Average Annual Pay £15,687 – £36,066

Work environment and hours

As an electrician, expect to work in adverse weather, unstable building, closed spaces and potentially dangerous areas. You have to know that you will be working with electricity and therefore safety and precautions are absolutely important. The average electrician works about 37.5 to 40 hours every week. If you have any physical disabilities, this profession may not be suitable for you due to the physical nature of the work that you do.

An electrician’s place of work will range from construction sites to factories to domestic residences. Their work is strenuous as it will involve climbing, heavy lifting, kneeling for long periods, managing cumbersome conduits etc. The risk involved in this profession include electrical shocks, falls from high ceilings, cuts etc.

You should also note that sometimes electrician will have to travel long distances to their work sites. In some cases, they will camp onsite until the project is complete. If you work for a big company, you would normally work 8 hour shifts.

The sort of work electricians do

To become an electrician, you will not only need to attend college and get your diplomas, but also work under supervision during what is known as apprenticeship. Sometimes, this apprenticeship will be paid and will last a period of 2 to 3 years. At first, you will be given the low risk tasks such as fixing the conduits and drilling holes. Later you will graduate to fixing switches, fabrications, wire testing, and switches. After enough experience, you will in charge of the overall project. You will be expected to come up with wiring blue prints, project estimates, etc.

In some cases, an electrician will be trained on more specialised electrical work such as operating and fixing lifts and cranes, fire alarm systems, soldering, and many more.

Electrical industry bodies

  • City & Guilds – This is an examination body.
  • National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contractors (NICEIC)
  • IET Centre of Excellence (Institute of Engineering and Technology)
  • Electrical Contractors Association (ECA)
  • Electro technical Certification Scheme (ECS)
  • National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT)
  • Electrical Safety Council (ESC)
  • EAL
  • BPEC
  • EDEXCEL
  • ELC
  • ISO 9001
  • Renewable Energy Association (REA)

A career as an electrician is a highly rewarding career for those who take their time and learn the best practices. Many electricians end up opening their own company where the financial rewards are uncapped.

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