How to become an Electrician

electrician careers

What does a Electrician do?

Electricians work in the electrotechnical sector, installing, inspecting and testing wiring systems and equipment in domestic households, commercial buildings and industrial plant. The type of electrical work carried out depends on their training and experience. There are several specialisms within the sector, including:

Installation – electricians install, inspect and test wiring systems in all types of buildings. On renovations, this involves stripping out old wiring and replacing it; on new developments, it involves installing a completely new system. They follow architects’ or contractors' plans showing where the electrical equipment is to be installed. The initial installation, putting in cabling and wiring, is known as the 'first fix', then once the walls have been plastered, a 'second fix' is carried out connecting the wiring to sockets, switches and fittings.

Panel building - electricians work from wiring plans, putting together complex electrical and electronic control panels, using programmble logic controllers (PLCs). As an example, a control panel might be used to manage an office building's infrastructure - typically, the heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems.

Repair and rewind - electricians test and repair electrical components in machinery, such as transformers, motors, compressors and pumps. In the case of motors, they dismantle the defective unit, replace or repair the damaged component, rewind the coils, clean up the part and test it before reassembly.

Instrumentation – electricians deal with the commissioning, installation and maintenance of electrical and electronic systems, used to record and monitor control procedures, for instance, in production manufacturing. Systems are built and calibrated to measure how efficiently or otherwise a process is running. Electricians carry out regular service tests and make adjustments to control instruments as necessary.

Maintenance - electricians test and maintain electromechanical equipment used in factories, for example, in large manufacturing or engineering companies. They use a range of instruments and tools to diagnose faults and carry out repairs.

Highway electrical systems - electricians work from mobile high access platforms, testing circuits and diagnosing and repairing faults on street lighting and traffic management equipment, such as traffic lights and motorway variable message signs.

Electricians often work closely with other professionals such as construction tradespeople and engineers.

What's the working environment like working as a Electrician?

Most electricians work a 37- to 40-hour week, Monday to Friday. Some work overtime, weekends and shifts to minimise disruption to customers.

With the exception of highways electricians, most work is indoors in domestic households, factories, offices or workshops. On new construction projects, electricians will be working in partially completed premises. The work can also involve working at heights or underground. Conditions may be cramped, cold, dirty and dusty.

A driving licence will be useful.

What does it take to become a Electrician?

To be an electrician, you should:

  • have good practical skills and be competent with a range of power tools
  • be able to follow technical drawings and instructions
  • be methodical and pay close attention to detail
  • be safety-conscious
  • be physically fit and able to work at heights
  • have normal colour vision
  • be able to keep up to date with technological developments and changes in electrical regulations
  • be able to work on your own and as part of a team
  • have good communications skills.

Electrician Career Opportunities

Electricians are employed by a wide range of organisations including electrical and building firms, electrical manufacturers, general manufacturing and engineering companies, local government, media production companies, hospitals, and power generating and supply companies. Installation electricians may be self-employed or may work on a contract basis.

There is a shortage of trained electricians at present, so prospects are very good for qualified workers.

Promotion may be possible to supervisory and management positions in all areas of electrical work. With further training, opportunities may arise in electrical estimating and contract management .

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Electrician that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Tel: 08000 688336

Foreign and Commonwealth Office
General enquiries: 020 7008 1500

Apprenticeships: England
Tel: 08000 150600

Education and Learning Wales
Tel: 08456 088066

Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust
Tel: 0131 445 5659

Electrical Training Trust - Northern Ireland
Tel: 028 2565 0750

Part P Self-Certification Schemes
NICEIC Domestic Installer Scheme
Tel: 0800 013 0900

BRE Certification
Tel: 0870 609 6093

Tel: 0870 749 0080

British Standards Institution (BSI)
Tel: 01442 278607

National Association of Inspectors & Testers
Tel: 0870 444 1392

Electrical Contractors' Association