How to become an Electrician
There are excellent opportunities in the UK construction industry for electrician jobs at all levels, thanks to steady investment in infrastructure and many high-profile projects.
Read on to find out more about the skills you’ll need and to discover whether a career as an electrician is the right fit for you.
£14-36k dependent on experience
Hinkley Point C / HS2
NVQ, City & Guilds, ECS
What do electrician jobs involve?
As an electrician, you’ll be responsible for installing, inspecting and testing electrical equipment, to ensure that everything works correctly. You’ll also be responsible for making sure strict safety regulations are adhered to and that all equipment operates safely. Through rigorous testing and inspections, you’ll need to identify and repair anything that isn’t up to scratch.
Electricians are needed on sites of all shapes and sizes, meaning you could be working on anything from bringing power to people’s homes to assisting on huge engineering projects. You could also be involved in technology-focussed projects, like fitting fibre optic cables, or renewable energy projects, such as photovoltaic systems and wind turbines.
What is an electrician’s salary?
Your salary as an electrician can vary, depending on the size, location and scope of the project you’re working on, as well as from one employer to the next. At the start of your career you can expect to earn between £14,000 and £19,000 per year. As you gain more experience and progress, you can see this increase up to between £30,000 and £36,000 per year.
Overtime and extra shifts give you an opportunity to boost your earnings. If you decide to become self-employed you can set your own rates.
These figures are intended as a guideline only.
What skills do I need?
In electrician jobs, it’s important to have good practical skills, hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. You’ll need excellent attention to detail and the ability to understand and follow complex technical drawings and plans.
Working with electricity can be dangerous, so you’ll need the ability to work carefully, precisely and safely, ensuring proper procedures are followed. You’ll also need good organisational and problem-solving skills.
What qualifications do I need?
There are a number of routes you can take if you wish to have a career as an electrician. Apprenticeships are a popular option, allowing you to train and study, all while earning a wage. To gain entry to an apprenticeship scheme you’d usually need at least four GCSEs of grade C or above, including English, Maths and Science.
During an apprenticeship, you would study towards an Electrical NVQ Level 3. It’s also possible to study towards this if you’re not completing an apprenticeship. Alternatively, you could complete the City & Guilds Electrical and Electronic Engineering (8030) course.
If you want to work on a construction site, you may also need to apply for a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) competency card, specifically the ECS (Electrotechnical Certification Scheme) card.
What are the hours and conditions?
You’ll usually work between 30 to 40 hours per week, Monday to Friday. However, some shift work may be required and you may also need to work overtime on evenings and weekends, as and when project deadlines dictate. This overtime gives you an opportunity to boost your earnings.
There is a high likelihood of some travel between jobs, as well as time spent away from home. You need to be prepared to work both indoors and outdoors, often in cramp conditions or at heights.
With the right training, experience and qualifications, you could progress into a supervisor or management role. Alternatively, you could decide to become self-employed, or even to set up your own business, employing other electricians.
Areas of specialism
There are a number of areas you can specialise in as you move through your career. Installation electricians install power, lighting, security and data-network systems into buildings, while maintenance electricians focus on inspecting systems to make sure they’re working safely and correctly.