What does a vehicle electrician do?
Vehicle, or auto electricians, are the brains behind the electronic locking system, radio and electric windows in your car. Fitting and installing all types of electrical and electronic systems, if you love cars and the satisfaction of finding and fixing faults, this could be a job for you.
As the technology we put into our cars gets more complex, the need for vehicle electricians increases. Most modern cars and motorbikes will have a wide range of electronic equipment controlling all aspects of its performance, so as a vehicle electrician you will spend a lot of time under the bonnet checking and testing wiring.
From in-car security devices to digital dashboard displays, as a vehicle electrician you will be proficient in dealing with all things electric. Your role will be varied and hands-on, taking readings, repairing faulty parts and reading electrical wiring plans.
As an auto electrician, you can often choose to specialise in light vehicles such as cars, vans and motorbikes, or heavy vehicles like lorries, buses and coaches. Other electricians may choose to concentrate on one particular car manufacturer or vehicle model.
Is this the job for me?
Going on a training course will give you all the practical skills needed to understand electrical wiring diagrams and use the tools needed, however having the right set of skills can help you succeed. If you don’t like being on your feet and aren’t particularly interested in cars then this probably isn’t the job for you. However, if you have good problem solving skills, love working methodically and have an eye for detail, it might be worth reading more! Being a people person also helps, as you will spend a lot of your time dealing with customers, colleagues and the public in this role.
What are the working hours like?
As a vehicle electrician, you will, more often than not, be expected to work a 40-hour week, Monday to Friday. However, it’s worth noting, depending on the garage you work for, you may be expected to work shifts (if they offer 24 hour repairs) on be on-call at the weekends or in the evenings.
Where will I be based?
This is one job that definitely doesn’t involve being sat behind a desk! As an auto electrician, you will spend a lot of time under the car bonnet and in garages, working on the car first hand. By nature, this means if you are not a fan of getting your hands dirty, this might not be the job for you.
How do I get there?
So we’ve managed to convince you to give it a go? Great! In order to become a vehicle electrician, you will need to get qualified. A lot of students enter the field as apprentices, working with an employer to learn on the job and get the skills they need to enter the industry.
If you decide not to go down the apprenticeship route, or are not eligible to apply, there are a number of relevant courses in vehicle repair work you can look into. These include a Level 1 Award/Certificate/ Diploma in Vehicle Systems Maintenance and the Level 1 Certificate in Introduction to Moto Vehicle Maintenance and Repair.
For more specialised qualifications in electrical repairs, there are various qualifications and diplomas available to showcase your skills. These include the Level 2/3 Diploma in Auto Electrical and Mobile Electrical Competence and the BTEC HNC Diploma in Automotive Diagnostics and Management Principles.
It’s also worth noting, if you are thinking of getting into the sector and working first hand with car electrics, you may need a full UK driving license, including one to drives lorries and buses, depending on the garage you work in.
Need more information?
We’ve covered the basics here, but if you need some more information about taking your first steps into the world of vehicle electrics, here are some handy places to look –
Institute of the Motor Industry
City and Guilds
Automotive Technician Accreditation
IMI Awards Limited