How to Become an Electrician

by Editor on August 25, 2012

What does it take to become an electrician?  Here’s some useful info for anyone wanting to be an electrician or complete their training to become fully qualified.

Whether you’re a school leaver, partly qualified or wanting to retrain as an electrician it can be confusing trying to find the right sort of electrical training to suit your circumstances and to help achieve your ambitions.

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In this article you can find out about the different types of training, which qualifications you’ll needed and how long it will take to become a fully qualified electrician.

As always, your own questions and  opinions are welcome below.  All the best- Steve

Apprentice Electrician Training

Whichever area of electrical work you finally choose to specialize in as an electrician  you’ll need to be fully qualified to be able to take full advantage when applying for jobs. NVQ and City and Guilds 2357 are benchmark qualifications for electricians in the UK.

The key to your success in finding out how to become an electrician will be to select the best training programme to suit your own particular needs or circumstances. The course you choose should depend on the time you have available to study and fitting in around any other commitments you may have.

Training to be an electrician is not best achieved on a part time basis if you want to qualify in the shortest time possible. That’s why apprenticeship schemes are so popular.

Electrical Aprenticeships

An Electrical Apprenticeship scheme is a work based training programme where a trainee attends college whilst also working for a company. This traditional way of training is considered to be the best way of learning a trade skill and an take from 3 to 5 years. By working along side experienced electricians an apprentice gets a real feel for the job and receives genuine on the job training.

Apprenticeships are generally undertaken by school leavers or young trainees and the cost of their courses can often be subsidised by a government funded grant. This is normally arranged by the technical college or training provider when a student enrols on an electrical course.

Many students who want to train to become an electrician find themselves enroling on a course or at college without having first found a job. This can be a good way of kick starting your training and to get to grips with the health and safety and theory aspects of electrical work. Various colleges and training centres have their own schemes and policies but in most cases the student becomes an apprentice of the college and will be able to cover the early stages of training and examinations.

Larger electrical companies may run their own apprenticeship schemes. These will be fully funded and are sometimes ‘in house’ programmes.

Workplace Assessments

The final stages of a fully qualified electrician’s training or apprenticeship must include work based assessments. These can only be carried out in the workplace and generally requires trainees to be working on site.

Workbased assessment can often be arranged by a training provider but as mentioned above, finding an employer to take you on as an apprentice in the first place is the ideal option. This can make the workplace assessment stage of your training much easier.

Mature Students

There is nothing to prevent older students who wish to become an electrician via the apprenticeship route, but they may be asked to pay for their own courses if not backed by a company. Despite this, age shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to electrical training and it can be an advantage. Some employers are keen to support mature trainees in electrical apprenticeships and are sometimes willing to pay for their training.

Other Electrical Courses and Update Training

Once you start looking around for electrical training you’ll discover that there are many options for distance learning and home study. These include various types of online training which can be suitable for both basic and update training.

Video module courses can work very well for electrical training and they can be used to supplement your main course and to increase your understanding of electrical work.

Some training providers offer home study with part-time attendance at a training centre where students can learn the practical electricians’ skills. Anyone who needs to carry on working in their current job whilst studying may find this to be a more flexible way of retraining to be an electrician. It’s important to mention that this method does take a lot longer and is made even more difficult by the requirements for C&G / NVQ Level 3 work based assessments.

Some online or home study courses, such as those for NVQ Level 3 electrical qualifications, take a bespoke approach to training. They are designed especially for distance learning and often have personal tuition support to help students through the course.

Please be sure to check out each course thoroughly. Make sure it meets your requirements and delivers the right qualifications before you enrol.

Which qualifications and skills to start electrical training?

Maths and science are key subjects for a someone who wants to become an electrician to study. Most colleges will ask you to show your previous qualifications and also require you to pass an entrance exam. If you’ve already reached a good standard in these subjects you may be able to take your NVQ Level 3 electrical qualification sooner after some basic training.

An electrician’s course will involve using electrical mathematical formulas and electrical principals as well as studying the wiring regulations and learning practical skills. If you are considering becoming an electrician it would certainly help if you have an aptitude in these areas.

Mathematical skills will help you to cope with the course and to understand certain aspects of electrical design. You’ll need to be able to perform calculations for exams to prove your knowledge. If you struggle in this area I can reassure you that electricians rarely use complicated formulae in their day to day work. This said, Ohm’s Law and simple power calculations form the basis of an electrician’s understanding and are often used.

If you don’t already have qualifications that meet the requirements to apply for an electrical course don’t worry.  There are many colleges and home study courses which can provide the training you’ll need to get up to speed.

Which qualifications does a fully qualified electrician need?

NVQ Level 3 in Electrotechnology which leads to City and Guilds 2357 (*or an equivalent see below*) is the main qualification that a trainee would be aiming to achieve to become a qualified electrician. An electrician wishing to sign off his or her own work under Part P of the Building Regs will need to pass additional exams for the current Edition of the IEE Wiring Regulations and for the Testing and Verification of Electrical Installations.

*The NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 Technical Certificates (C&G 2330) and the (C&G 2356) have combined to form the C&G 2357 NVQ Diploma qualification. The 2365 is still being used as an introductory level qualification leading up to the full 2357.*

A 2356 can be used as a credit towards the C&G 2357 Apprenticeship Diploma standard qualification which includes work based assessments. It’s hoped that government funding is to be made avaiable for 16-19 year old students.

Choose the right course!

Whichever route you decide to take to become an electrician please be sure to check that a course offers the qualifications you need before enrolling.

Additional Certification

Health and Safety forms a large part of an electrician’s course as with all construction trades.  Anyone training to become an electrician will need to learn about electrical safety and good working practices.

At the end of your training it would be an advantage to pass an AM2 assessment exam to prove that your knowledge and practical skills meet industry standards.

It would also be beneficial for a qualified electrician to possess an ECS card which holds a record of their competence and qualification levels.

Holding these additional forms of certification may prove useful when looking for electricians’ jobs and for being able to work on construction sites.

You can find more articles about How To Become An Electrician.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Carl wood January 10, 2013 at 22:33

Hi there I’m 23 years old an I’m looking to get into an Apprenticeship as an electrician but I am very confused on how to go about doing it. I’m currently unemployed an have a lot of time on my hands to dedicate my time to become one. I’m also confused on the funding I would be provided with. Would you be able to advise me as to whom I need to speak to or the first steps I should take. I’m looking to better my future and am being pushed pillow to post as to how to start. Much abliged…..Carl wood

Hi Carl. You might find some useful info here-

Editor August 29, 2012 at 09:14

A bit of info about how the Apprenticeship works:

Although he works for me as a trainee he’s signed up with the college as an apprentice electrician on a funded course. All we had to pay was fees of £300 a year. The rest was subsidised through the college.
As their apprentice he’s covered by their insurance as long as we have the right paperwork sorted out shch as a health and safety policy, risk assessment procedures and public liability.

Editor August 29, 2012 at 09:13

Hi Damien
Yes I agree. My son is at the end of his NVQ level 3 courses on an apprenticeship scheme at Bedford college and they have a student support lady who checks on how he’s doing and chases him up if needed.
She also comes to site every few months to do a progress assessment.

They were thinking about doing away with the support because of the cost and funding etc but I reckon that would be a bad move and the failure rate would probably go up.

*Anyone looking at courses should definately ask what support is offered to students.*

Damien August 29, 2012 at 09:09

As well as good training its important to have good student support.
Theres alot to get thru on these courses and I needed all the help I could get.

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