Working as an electrician in the UK can be an excellent career choice. There continues to be a shortage of skilled tradespeople in the country. As a result, electrician jobs offer great long-term career prospects. Once fully trained as an electrician, you could be working for a variety of different employers, as well as possibly start your own business. Electrician jobs exist in many sectors, including construction, engineering, manufacturing and services.
Typical duties of an electrician
With so many different types of electrician jobs available, your daily duties are likely to depend on what type of electrician you decide to become. In general, you will be involved in installing, inspecting and testing electrical systems in anything from buildings and other structures to manufacturing machinery and automobiles. You could work as an installation electrician for a construction company, or as a traffic management electrician for a local country council. Some of the most common duties include:
- Installing control panels for lighting, heating and other systems in commercial/private properties
- Installing and maintaining tracking systems required in manufacturing and building services
- Connecting wiring to sockets, switches and other equipment in commercial/private properties
- Installing security systems, such as house alarms and CCTV
- Laying cabling connecting devices to power supplies and IT networks
How to become an electrician
There are three main routes you can take to train to become qualified and gain the necessary skills and qualifications, these are:
- Start an apprenticeship (with an NVQ qualification)
- Study a diploma/technical certificate
- Study a domestic installer course
Once fully qualified, you can likely choose from various routes, such as specialising in automobile repair or a specific sector such as manufacturing. Training duration will depend on which route of the above routes you take, with graduation taking anything from a couple of weeks to four years.
Apprenticeships have and continue to be one of the most popular routes taken by people wanting to be qualified. There are now more electrician apprenticeships available than ever before, with approximately half of school leavers believing apprenticeships offer the fastest track to a successful career. Apprenticeships feature practical experience and studying for a Level 3 course and NVQ. Areas studied include health & safety, wiring, testing and basic electrical principles.
Studying for a diploma/technical certificate
Rather than taking an apprenticeship, another option is studying for a Level 2 or 3 diploma/technical certificate. This is an industry-recognised qualification and provides you with the knowledge and skills needed for a variety of environments, including domestic, industrial and commercial sectors. Unlike an apprenticeship, you do not have to work whilst studying, making it one of the most popular courses. Most graduates go on to study for an NVQ once they begin working. The course typically lasts 16-weeks and features a combination of classroom and workshop-based education. You will need to pass an exam and various assessments to be awarded a certificate.
Domestic electrical installer course
This is another popular route to becoming qualified and is the quickest of all electrician courses available. The course takes approximately one month to complete. Whilst you will not be a fully qualified electrician with this qualification, you will be considered a trained domestic electrician. This means you will be able to undertake tasks such as rewiring houses and installing fixtures, such as lights. The course provides all the health & safety knowledge and skills required to work in domestic properties. This can be a great starting point for people wanting to enter this profession but who have no previous electrical knowledge or experience.
Salaries can vary significantly depending on the sector and area you specialise in. Newly qualified electricians working for an employer can expect starting salaries to be around £19,000 – £22,000, with this rising once you have gained more experience. Average salaries for experienced electricians can range between £28,000 to £35,000, with positions in London being amongst the best paid. However, many can earn much more than this by starting their own business, with salaries of £70,000+ not uncommon.
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