How to become an electrician in the UK
Choosing the right career is arguably among the most challenging decisions one makes. While long-term benefits are an important factor, personal interest can be a huge motivator. So, if becoming an electrician is your true calling, there are a few things to keep in mind.
To become an electrician in the UK, you must have specific qualifications. You will need to have passed your GCSEs and obtain either a college diploma in Electrical Installation or a technical certificate. If you want to start working and earning while you study, an apprenticeship may be the way to go.
What Do Electricians in the UK Do?
Your job description will vary depending on the type of electrician you train to become. Generally, electricians are responsible for fitting sockets and switches, wiring or rewiring properties, installing traffic lights and streetlights, repairing electrical parts in appliances and machines, and ensuring electrical systems are working in safe and optimal condition.
Home and business owners employ electricians to install and maintain the wiring and other electrical fittings, as well as during the construction phase. In addition, they work with engineers and architects to take care of any electrical considerations. Manufacturing companies, factories, laboratories, and other commercial enterprises also hire electricians for various roles, including electrical technicians, HVAC technicians, and automotive electricians.
Education, Courses, and Certifications Required
You don’t need a university degree to become an electrician in the UK. What you will need, however, is to have completed a few GCSEs and have a college diploma. Ideally, your diploma should be Level 2 or 3 and related to your field, such as a Diploma in Electric Installation. This can take 2-3 years to complete and will likely land you a position as a trainee. You can also complete a technical certificate in place of a diploma. Certificates provide students with less in-depth knowledge than a diploma and tend to be more specialized. They are also completed in a shorter period of time. Though diplomas are preferable, completing a technical certificate can be rather helpful for a student that wants to start working as soon as possible.
Training as an Apprentice
An apprenticeship is a popular option amongst aspiring electricians. It is recognized as a rigorous training program that prepares you to work as an independent electrician. To qualify for an advanced apprenticeship, you must have completed 5 GCSEs- including maths and English- with a grade of C or higher. Apprenticeships usually last four years and combine study with practical skills and experience. The advantage of enrolling as an apprentice is that you work and earn while you study, and the government partly or wholly funds your training. This is especially helpful for students that cannot afford to complete a diploma and want to start earning straight away. An apprenticeship may also lead to a full-time job if your employer is satisfied with your performance and chooses to keep you on after you complete your training and education.
Skills Required to Become an Electrician
Along with practical experience and knowledge, electricians need certain soft skills. Employers usually look for the following skills:
1. Working well under pressure
At times, electricians face pressure situations that can be dangerous and need to be dealt with on an urgent basis. This can be a lot of pressure, and you’ll need to handle it calmly instead of panicking and wasting precious time.
Being an efficient problem-solver is one of the most critical skills of an electrician. At times, you may need to deal with puzzling electrical issues and will need to figure out the source of the problem. You will also need to devise new solutions for problems you might not have studied or dealt with before.
Factors such as geography, weather, terrain, and construction can affect electrical issues in various ways. This may lead to new and challenging situations for which you have not been trained. Adapting to your surroundings is a vital skill that all aspiring electricians should try to develop, as this will make you seem more professional and get more work.
4. Communicating well
As an electrician, you are likely to interact with your clients in person. Most people will not understand technical electrical terms, and you will have to simplify things to help them know what the issue is and how you plan on fixing it. Communicating well and having solid customer service skills are imperative for this. If you plan on working as an independent electrician, you will also need to market your services. This, too, will require strong communication skills and a professional outlook.
Benefits of becoming an electrician in the UK
Electricians are in high demand, and you are likely to find a job after you complete your education and training. As an electrician, you aren’t working the typical 9-5 desk job, which many find monotonous and tiresome. Your days are usually varied with different types of work, and you may even find yourself working fewer hours in a day while making more money than an average office employee at the same level. Experienced electricians in the UK can make up to £150,000 a year due to a skills shortage in the UK.
Another benefit of becoming an electrician is that you learn lifelong skills that may come in handy at any time. You also end up saving money on hiring another electrician since you can do your electrical work yourself.
To become an electrician in the UK, you will typically need to receive education and training in the form of a diploma, certificate, or apprenticeship. For safety reasons, aspiring electricians must receive proper training under experienced professionals in the field. Depending on the nature and intensity of your program, this can take anywhere from a year to four years. However, a career as an electrician in the UK can be quite lucrative, and your working hours tend to be flexible, making it the ideal choice for someone that doesn’t want to conform to the traditional 9-5 workday.