Electrician – Installation

    If you are wondering how to become an electrician, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the building and construction industry, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Installation electricians are often referred to as domestic electricians, or simply electricians. As a qualified installation electrician you would fit, test and repair the electrical circuits and wiring found in homes and businesses. Your work might involve anything from fitting a bathroom shower circuit in a customer’s home to laying the equipment cabling in a major new office development.

    Typical responsibilities:

    reading architects’ or contractors’ plans to work out where to fit wiring, sockets and points
    carrying out an initial installation, known as the ‘first fix’ – fitting wiring along wall cavities and through ceilings and floors
    fitting fuse boxes, circuit-breakers and earth terminals
    mounting back-boxes on walls to take plug sockets and points
    carrying out the ‘second fix’ – connecting the wiring to sockets, switches, light fittings and appliances
    laying the cabling which connects office equipment to power supplies and computer networks
    installing fire alarms and security systems like CCTV
    inspecting and testing wiring systems and equipment
    fixing any faults highlighted by inspections, known as remedial repair work.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good electricians include:

    good practical skills to work with hand and power tools
    the ability to follow technical drawings and instructions
    a methodical approach to work and an ability to pay close attention to detail
    a commitment to keep up to date with industry developments
    the ability to work unsupervised and as part of a team
    good communication skills
    normal colour vision
    a thorough understanding of electrical safety rules and regulations.

    How to become an installation electrician
    To qualify as an installation electrician, you must have the Electrotechnical Services NVQ at Level 3, which is awarded by City & Guilds (2356) or EMTA Awards Limited. If you are already working in the industry but do not have the NVQ, please refer straight to the Training section below.

    England, Wales and Northern Ireland
    You may be able to start as an apprentice with an electrical contractor or building company. Most apprentices start at 16 to 19, although entry may be possible over 19 in Wales. For more details, see the apprenticeship contacts for your country in Further Information.

    If you are not eligible for an apprenticeship scheme and not employed in the industry, you can take the City & Guilds (2330) Technical Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology levels 2 and 3 at a local college. The Certificate is open to all ages, although competition for places is strong.

    The technical certificates do not prove that you are a qualified electrician, only the full NVQ can do this; but they do cover the theory and some of the practical skills needed to move on to the NVQ qualification.

    Industry bodies strongly recommend that you gain a placement or employment with an electrical contractor as soon as possible after you start the technical certificate, so that you can complete the NVQ. Your training provider may help with placements but you can also contact companies directly.

    See the SummitSkills website in Further Information for more details about a career as an installation electrician.

    Overseas qualified electricians
    If you have qualified as an electrician outside the UK, you must register with the Electrotechnical Card Scheme (ECS). You will need to do three things to register:

    contact UK NARIC to find out what your qualifications are equivalent to in the UK
    complete the City & Guilds 16th Edition IEE Wiring Regulations (2381)
    complete the ECS Health and Safety Assessment.
    You will also need to contact the self-certification training providers in Further Information for details about of how to meet Part P requirements of the Building Regulations.

    Training and Development
    England, Wales and Northern Ireland
    If you are working in the industry, you can take the Electrotechnical Services NVQ at Level 3, awarded by City & Guilds (2356) or EMTA Awards Limited.

    The NVQ contains several options, depending on your job but for installation work, you would choose Electrical Installation (Building & Structures). This option includes the C&G (2330) technical certificate.

    Your employer may ask you to take two additional awards:

    City & Guilds (2391) Inspection, Testing and Certification of Installations
    City & Guilds (2381) 16th Edition IEE Wiring Regulations – 17th Edition will be replacing these from July 2008. Check with training providers for more details.
    You can also take further training courses for professional development purposes, for example the City & Guilds In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (2377), often known as portable appliance testing (PAT). You can visit the Electrical Contractors’ Association website for details about training in the electrical industry, including contract management, contract law and estimating.

    Electrical Safety and Part P
    Part P of the Building Regulations states that certain types of household electrical work must be approved by a certified contractor or building inspector. You can certify your own work by completing a short Part P training scheme. See the Part P contacts in Further Information for details about certification training, entry requirements and information about the electrical work that requires approval.

    The scheme may have certain entry requirements, depending on your qualifications and experience. Some providers offer extra training if you need it, for instance, 16th Edition Wiring Regulations. Some do not, so please check with the providers.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Salaries for newly qualified electricians start between £16,500 and £19,000.
    With experience, this can rise to between £20,000 and £25,000.
    Experienced electricians with specialist grading can earn up to £28,000.

    Job Prospects
    If you have the right qualifications your opportunities will be very good throughout the UK. For example, in the building sector, industry bodies like ConstructionSkills estimate that an extra 14,000 qualified electricians will be needed over the next two years.

    You could find work with a wide range of organisations, including electrical contractors and building firms, manufacturing and engineering companies, kitchen, bathroom and shopfitting companies, local authorities and public institutions like hospitals.

    Your options for career development would include promotion to supervisory and management jobs in all areas of electrical work. You may also find openings in electrical estimating and contract management. If you are an experienced electrician, you can become self-employed.

    Useful building and construction resources:
    Electrical Contractors Association

    NICEIC Domestic Installer Scheme
    Tel: 0870 013 0382

    Electrical Training Trust – Northern Ireland
    Tel: 028 2565 0750

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