How Long Does It Take To Become an Electrician?
Updated 4 June 2023
If you're considering becoming a skilled tradesman, it's key to be aware of the job requirements and how long it typically takes. To train as an electrician, you need to undergo an apprenticeship and extensive on-the-job training. If you're wondering about the process of becoming an electrician, then learning about each step in the process can help you to effectively plan your career path. In this article, we answer frequently asked questions such as ‘How long does it take to become an electrician?' and outline the essential requirements for a career as an electrician.
How long does it take to become an electrician?
It's important to understand the answer to 'How long does it take to become an electrician?' because the length of time it takes depends on the type of electrician you want to become and the route you decide to take. On average, it can take around three years to complete an apprenticeship program, which typically involves four days working in a related role and one day a week at college. Many colleges also provide a fast-track option for more experienced students, which can take around two years to complete.
There is also the option of part-time study, which can take considerably longer. After the initial training is complete, the student can choose to take a further higher education course or undergo on-the-job training. The advantage of part-time study is the added flexibility of studying while working.
What is an electrician?
An electrician is a qualified tradesperson who deals with a variety of issues with electricity. They're responsible for maintaining, installing and repairing electrical systems. Electricians are also usually responsible for lighting, power and communication systems and for fixing and servicing electrical gear and appliances. To be successful, an electrician is typically practical and focused on solving problems. It's also essential that they're able to follow instructions and understand technical diagrams.
What does an electrician do?
The typical tasks of electricians include:
installing new wiring systems and repairing existing networks
using tools like voltmeters and ammeters to identify problems with electrical systems
inspecting and maintaining circuit breakers and other electrical components
using hand and power tools to repair or replace wiring and electrical fixtures
adhering to safety and standards guidelines
Though it's common for electricians to work independently, some work in teams or with collaborators. As an experienced electrician, you may oversee apprentices. When installing or repairing complex wiring systems, you may also work closely with engineers or other specialists.
Related: How To Become An Electrician
The different types of electricians
There are different types of electricians within the trade, and each requires specific qualifications and experience. Electricians can work or specialise in one of the following fields:
Domestic electrician: Domestic or residential electricians work in private settings. Many domestic electricians are self-employed or independent contractors.
Industrial electrician: Industrial electricians are more specialised and work in agriculture or in an industrial setting that uses large machinery.
Commercial electrician: Commercial electricians handle the electrical issues of commercial buildings.
Installation electrician: Installation electricians are accountable for the installation, testing and maintenance of power systems, data network systems, security and fire protection systems in buildings.
Electrotechnical panel builders: This type of electrician builds and installs control panels to operate electrical systems in a building.
Maintenance electrician: Maintenance electricians inspect the electrical and electronic systems in buildings regularly to ensure they work safely and efficiently.
Highway systems electricians: This type of electrician installs, maintains and replaces traffic management systems and street lighting on motorways and roads.
Machine repair and rewind electricians: A machine repair and rewind electrician refurbishes, repairs and maintains electric motors and machinery.
Related: 14 Self-Employed Jobs in the UK
How to train as a qualified electrician
Here are six steps to follow to become an electrician:
1. Finish your GCSEs
Before you can begin training or start an apprenticeship, you need to finish GCSEs at secondary school. The number of GCSEs you have can define the college courses you're able to take. Having completed these qualifications also ensures you have the basic maths, science and communication skills needed for a career as an electrician.
2. Train as a domestic electrical installer
The quickest way to becoming a qualified electrician is to take a course to train as a domestic electrical installer, which takes around one month to complete. When you complete this course, you become a qualified domestic electrician, although you do not count as being fully trained. This means can carry out domestic jobs like the rewiring of a home and the installation of a light feature. You're also able to register with some industry bodies, which include the ELECSA and NICEIC.
3. Gain work experience
If you're already qualified as a domestic electrical installer, or you would rather not train to become one, you might wish to be fully qualified as an electrician. You may undertake an apprenticeship at the same time as finishing your course at college or undertaking the NVQ. This entails working under the supervision of a qualified electrician.
4. Study for an NVQ or college course
To be a fully qualified electrician, you must first have a diploma in electrical installation at level 2 or a diploma in electrical and electronic engineering at level 3. You may also obtain a technical (T) level qualification if you decide you'd like to be an electrician that can undertake more technical jobs such as maintenance, highway or installation. These courses cover the necessary subjects, including health and safety, inspections, installing wires and the basic principles of electricity.
To obtain your qualification and certificate, you must first pass an assessment of your skills. Then, you must pass an exam. Once you've successfully completed either the NVQ or level 2 or 3 college courses and gained relevant work experience, you are a fully qualified and licensed electrician.
5. Choose a field of specialisation
Once you're fully qualified, you may decide to focus on a specific area. Electricians may specialise in areas like machine repair or in a specific industry, such as agriculture or automobile. To specialise further, you need to undertake further training and additional qualifications successfully.
6. Advance in your field of specialisation
If you decide you'd like to be employed by a large organisation, you could advance to a more senior role as you become more experienced. It's possible to progress from trainee electrician level or a junior electrician to becoming a supervisor, a foreman, manager or an electrical engineer. If you obtain the necessary experience and qualifications, you're also eligible to apply to be a Master Electrician, the highest level of an electrician.
Skills required to become an electrician
Whichever training route you decide to choose, electricians usually possess a distinct skill set that enables them to carry out the essential duties that are involved with this profession in a safe manner. To have a successful career as an electrician, you typically require the following skills:
Manual dexterity: Working with wires, motors, electronic controllers, generators, fuses, electrical components and switches necessitates a great deal of dexterity. Electricians also use drills, saws, pliers, wire strippers, screwdrivers and other specialised tools.
Critical thinking: An electrician needs to test and assess any issues with equipment using expert tools, like an ohmmeter, voltmeter or ammeter. Being able to evaluate assessment outcomes and correctly diagnose issues with electricity requires the ability to think critically.
Problem-solving skills: Electricians need to possess the ability to solve problems to decide how they fix an electrical issue once they have correctly diagnosed it.
Physical strength and endurance: The role of an electrician can be physically demanding. They need to have adequate physical stamina and strength to be able to spend their days carrying out tasks such as installing a replacement fuse box or circuit breaker, wires and cables.
Communication and interpersonal skills: Electricians often interact with clients and other professionals. The ability to communicate strongly and clearly is vital to be able to clarify any issues, and a friendly and approachable demeanour is useful when collaborating.
Coordination: Excellent coordination is vital in this role, as electricians need the ability to work slowly and cautiously to ensure safe working practices.
Adaptability: Electricians need to be adaptable and able to change their way of working as required by a situation or a client.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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