Jobs in the trades are becoming more and more popular again, which is fantastic news! As the electrician's mate, here at QVS Direct, we're always interested in trying to help those in the trade or those looking to break into it for the first time. However, we know that it can be a little confusing to begin with - how do you train? What qualifications do you need? Should you get an apprenticeship? These are all questions which need to be answered, plus plenty more, so we've done just that!
We've put together an invaluable infographic with links to a whole host of useful articles and websites, which should provide all the information you need to get started as an electrician, and then some essential advice for when you've finally got your foot in the door. So take a look at the graphic below, and good luck on your journey to what can be a very rewarding and lucrative career.
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So you think being an electrician might be the right job for you? It’s a very rewarding career and will teach you some invaluable skills that people will always be in need of. It’s also the highest paid of all the trades, with the average electrician’s salary clocking in at just over £30,000, so there’s plenty of money to be made as well, particularly if you start up your own business.
And don’t think that this is just a job for the boys - being an electrician is a job for anyone, men and women. So whoever you are, there’s potential to have a lucrative and rewarding career.
So how do you become an electrician? That’s what we’re here to tell you, detailing all the important information you need to know, from deciding whether it’s the right career for you right through to starting your very own electrical contracting business.
How to train as an electrician
Is an electrician the right career for you?
The first thing you need to decide is whether being an electrician is the right move for you. It won’t suit everybody, but it’s definitely a career that can appeal to a wide range of people.
There are some relatively simple questions you can ask yourself to get a rough idea as to whether you might be suited to being an electrician. Do you like working with others? Are you physically healthy? Are you good with your hands? Do you have a problem with physical labour? Do you have good vision? Are you OK with heights? If you can answer those positively, then there’s no real reason why you can’t become an electrician.
Understanding the industry
Before you embark on your career as an electrician, it’s wise to understand the basics of the industry so you have a better idea of the direction you want to go in, and so you have a clue what people are talking about within the industry.
It would be sensible to read up on basic electronics so you get your head round some of the terminology and you’re not starting from scratch. It would also be worth understanding the different types of electrician you could become and what each job entails. For example, do you know the difference between an installation electrician and an instrumentation electrician? You will likely have to start from the same point and then branch out further down the line in your desired direction, but it’s good to have an idea at this stage what’s available to you.
Find an electrician course
Now we move onto actually training to be an electrician, and one way of doing this is by going on an electrician course. There are a wealth of training providers online but you need to be a little wary about who you go with as some may not offer the correct qualifications. As a rule, always go with someone that offers City & Guilds qualifications as they’re well respected.
You can also get in touch with any local colleges in your area, as they also might run their own courses, or may be able to point you in the right direction. You may also be able to apply for funding to train, which will help with the costs.
Get an electrician apprenticeship
The alternative to going on a course is to get an electrician apprenticeship. For those who don’t know what an apprenticeship is, it’s essentially where you learn on the job rather than going on a course - plus you earn while you’re doing it. They’re funded by the Government for those aged 16-18, so won’t cost you a thing, and you’ll work towards getting the necessary qualifications.
There are various places that run electrical apprenticeships, from small startups to huge international companies. Have a search around the internet but, again, be wary of those that may not be all they claim. Once you choose a place to do an apprenticeship, ask lots of questions - what qualifications will you get? Can they provide references for other apprentices?
Why choose an apprenticeship?
What to expect as an electrician apprentice
7 Tips for applying for an electrical apprenticeship
What are the benefits of doing an electrical apprenticeship?
Get the right qualifications
There are certain qualifications that you should aim to get so that you’re recognised within the industry. There are various qualifications you can take, and it can be a little confusing, but any decent course or mentor on an apprenticeship will help you. Again, just be careful which qualifications some course claim to offer - some will be next to useless, so ensure you’re getting the ones you really need.
What qualifications do I need to become an electrician?
Register with the appropriate authorities
While you’re training or once you’ve qualified, you’ll need to register with the appropriate authorities. This will help to prove you’re qualified, as well as provide invaluable help and advice, as well as essential things like insurance. There are also various other groups and organisations that might be worth be a part of - again, any course tutor or mentor will help you choose what you should be a part of.
What to do once you’re an electrician
Insurance is absolutely essential for any electrician, whether you’re operating as a business or self-employed. There is a range of insurance options available that cover you, anyone working for you, the property you’re working on, your tools & vehicles, and much more. Do some in-depth research about the insurance you need, and don’t skimp on it - the last thing you want is to make a mistake and then have to fork out a huge sum of money.
Find your first job as an electrician
So you’ve completed your course or your apprenticeship has come to an end, and now it’s time to get your foot on the employment ladder and get a job. Some apprenticeships may offer you a job once you finish, but there’s no requirements for them to do so. As with any other job, you will likely have to craft a CV and attend job interviews - just don’t be disheartened if you don’t get something straight away; it’s all good experience. There are plenty of job sites online you can search for electrician jobs, or you could take the initiative and contact some local businesses to see if they’re looking to employ anyone.
What tools do you need as an electrician?
Of course you’ll the right tools for the job, so make sure you’re fully equipped for the job at hand. Hopefully you’ll have learned what tools you need on your course or apprenticeship, and so you may well have already accumulated a good selection. Decent tools aren’t cheap though, which is why tools insurance is important.
Develop your skills even further
Just because you’re qualified and have secured a job, it doesn’t mean that’s the end of things. As an electrician, you’re always learning, even if you’ve been at it for years, and so you need to constantly be looking at the latest technology, whether there are any other qualifications you can apply for, and even what your competitors are up to - don’t get left behind!
Start up your own electrical business
Many electricians, once they’ve found their feet in the industry, like to start up on their own. It can be tough to begin with, but it’s much more lucrative to have your own business than to work for someone else. There’s a tremendous amount to think about - it’s much more than just setting up a Facebook page and of you go - and it can cost a fair bit initially, but you may be able to get financial help from the bank. You’ll also need to think about insurance, registering your company, accounting, whether you’ll be employing anyone, and much more.
We hope that our guide on how to become an electrician and the extra reading resources will help you on your way to becoming a fully qualified electrician!