If you are interested in developing a career for life in the electrical sector an apprenticeship is the way to go! In the UK, the best electrical apprenticeships are employer-led, which means you will earn as you learn, gain on-the-job experience/training and have the opportunity to develop workplace skills. The best type of apprenticeship will result in you achieving a nationally recognised qualification; in the UK this is City & Guilds NVQ Level 3.
The NVQ usually takes around four years to complete; during the first two years you will spend half of your time attending classes – studying theory and gaining knowledge of the installation and maintenance of electrical systems, while also spending half of your time on site – gaining essential experience and skills. At the end of your first and second year you will sit exams to show you are progressing and to enable you to continue on to the next stage of your qualification.
You will complete your NVQ portfolio in the third and fourth years of your apprenticeship. This includes writing “Site Diaries” explaining the work processes you carry out and the skills you are learning from different jobs. You also collect “Evidence” throughout your time on the job to back up the statements you are making in your Diaries. Evidence can include photographs, voice recordings, professional discussions and copies of company policies, such as a company Health & Safety Policy.
Some modern and forward-thinking training organisations now offer an online e-Portfolio as an alternative to the traditional paper-based NVQ portfolio, enabling you to have 24 hour access to your work, update work in your own time when you are free and receive instant feedback from your assessor.
There are two prerequisites for joining an electrical apprenticeship; applicants must be tested by their optician to ensure they are not colour blind and must also have proof from their GP that they are fit for work. The job of an electrician is considered to be one of the top trades; the type of electrical work you might do will fall into one of these categories: domestic, commercial, industrial and specialist. The work you are able to undertake as an apprentice electrician will depend on the type of work that your employer does. Some of the duties you will carry out may include:
Work indoors and outdoors Types Of Electricians And Their Salaries and at heights
Develop good working relationships with all relevant people
Understand wiring systems
Select (within limits) materials Effects Of Electric Shock On The Brain and equipment
Inspect and test electrical installations
Diagnose and rectify faults on a range of circuits and equipment
All electricians will have a broad range of similar technical knowledge and practical skills to enable them to carry out their work safely and correctly. However, there are plenty of opportunities within the electrical industry to diversify and specialise in a particular area. Training to become an electrician will help you to develop some very important skills, which can include; planning, maintenance of electrical devices and components and understanding electricity.
An electrician is a vocational career, which does not require the completion of further or higher education before commencement. Traditionally, the career was seen very much as “a man’s job” and also sometimes as trade to go into if you are not a fan of academia. Both ideas are being challenged more and more as time moves on. While there would still be only a minority of female electricians, the industry is encouraging those ladies who have an interest in the subject to come forward and join an apprenticeship programme.
Similarly, while the NVQ route might once have been seen as second rate to a degree, it is now becoming clear how essential practical skills are in the workplace and how challenging a career like an electrician can be. This can be seen by many training organisations now implementing set and standardised entry criteria to gain acceptance onto an apprenticeship programme. This has been proven to increase an individual’s progression, success and NVQ achievement rate as they are more adequately prepared for the theoretical side of the course.
Becoming an electrician can open many doors and create many opportunities for an enthusiastic and hard-working young person. There are areas of specialism, career advancements and teaching/assessor positions available within industry. There would also be many individuals who start their own business once they have completed their training and gained a few more years’ experience. Due to the current economic climate in the UK many electricians decide to travel upon completion of their apprenticeship to countries such as Australia or the USA.
Currently, there is no official licence to practice or register of qualified electricians in the UK; one of the only countries in Europe not to have such legislation or regulation in place. Due to the dangerous nature of electricity and the amount of skill and training required to become an electrician there are some organisations working to change this position and encourage the industry to self-regulate, meaning only qualified and competent electricians will be able to work in your schools, in your businesses and on your homes.