How to become an electrician
As the world relies more on electricity, from powering cars to lighting homes, we can always do with more electricians. So, if you’re interested in becoming one, you need to know what steps to take, which courses to qualify in and what routes are available to you. That’s what you’ll find right here in this guide.
What does an electrician do?
Electricians get right into the nitty gritty of electrical wiring systems. From designing to installing and maintaining them. When it comes to sorting out the lights in rooms, heating water and power devices, or testing out electrical equipment, they’re the jobs that electricians work on. Essentially, anything to do with electricity, inside or outside.
What do you need to be an electrician?
Along with the training qualifications (more on that below), to succeed as an electrician, you’ll need a range of skills. These include being able to use, repair and maintain tools, understanding building, construction, and technical plans; have a keen eye for details; problem solving skills; the ability to work with your hands and great customer service.
What qualifications do you need to be an electrician?
If you’re going to be looking after something as important as electrical items, you need to have the proper training. There are many different qualifications you can take to get to electrician status, each with their own requirements and assessments. These include:
- Electrotechnical Levels 2-3 Diplomas (2365)
- Achievement Measurement No.2
- Domestic Installer Course
Electrotechnical Levels 2-3 Diplomas (2365)
Level 2 (2365)
This is the route to go if you want to become a qualified electrician but don’t have a starting job or apprenticeship in the industry. The course lasts eight weeks and trains you in:
- Healthy and safety
- Principles of electrical science
- Electrical installations technology
- Installation of wiring systems and enclosures
- Communicating with others within building services engineering.
Upon completion, you’ll then be able to take on further courses, such as the Level 3 Diploma.
Level 3 (2365)
After you’ve completed the Level 2 Diploma, you can continue your training on this qualification, further progressing your career. Over another eight weeks, you’ll learn more about:
- Fundamental principles of environmental technology systems
- Principles of electrical science
- Fault diagnosis and rectification
- Inspection, testing and commissioning
- Electrical systems design
- Career awareness in the building services.
After completing the course, you’ll then be able to apply for your NVQs and further qualifications. You can also get a job as an Electrical Improver.
Do you have to be an apprentice to be an electrician?
Not necessarily. You can undertake the courses in your own time, but if you’re under 25 and in a work placement with an electrician, you can complete the combined Level 3 course and NVQ. An apprenticeship can take between two to four years, while you study at college. But at the end of it you’ll have gained a Level 3 NVQ.
Level 3 NVQ
This National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) is an assessment qualification. As part of it you’ll work with a senior electrician who guides you through tasks. They’ll take notes and photos as you undertake nine practical and theory units.
Assessors will come to your workplace to make sure you’re getting the right skills and experience and to check out your work.
Once you’ve finished and been assessed on all the tasks, you can move on to the next stage.
Achievement Measurement No.2 (AM2)
After you’ve got your NVQs under your belt, it’s time to take on this practical exam. An assessor will watch you complete given tasks at an assessment centre, over the course of a few days. But once you’ve passed it, you’ll be a fully qualified electrician, with a diploma to put over the mantelpiece.
Domestic Installer Course
This is an alternative route which will see you train as a Domestic Electrical Installer and register with a scheme such as NICEIC or ELECSA. What does that mean? It means you’ll be able to get out and get earning quicker than the “fully qualified” route.
However, it does mean your work will be limited to residential installations, such as flats, houses, and bungalows. And you can work on anything from, and including, the consumer unit coming into a property.
It’s also worth noting that despite being fully qualified, many electricians that often find the most lucrative jobs are in this sector.