Our guide to electricians
Alistair Stafford

Our guide to electricians

First published date April 25 2014 Amended date April 17 2015

It’s scary to think just how dependent we are on electricity for our lives. Whether it’s the fridge storing tonight’s dinner, the TV you’ll be watching your favourite show from later or the computer you’re reading this course guide on right now; none of these would be functioning or useable without electricity.

Electrical appliances go wrong all the time, leaving you in need of someone who knows their blue wire from a red one. An electrician course can be beneficial for everyone, from those wanting to know how to solve those basic electrical faults to those who are looking to make a career as an electrician.


 The importance of training

We’re all dependent on electricity, but each year around 70 people die and 350,000 are seriously injured from electrical accidents – highlighting the need to have trained people maintaining your electrical equipment. While you may feel confident re-wiring a plug or changing a fuse yourself after reading one of the countless ‘how to...’ guides online, without electrical training you’d be doing so at a huge risk to your safety.


Getting started

Many budding electricians begin by enrolling on an electrician apprenticeship, which combines classroom workshops with hands on practical training with an employer, with the majority of assessments taking place on site. These courses can take as long as three years to complete as you’re slowly introduced to all the key elements of working with electrics, although you will finish it considerably quicker if studying full time. Although stereotypically it’s generally school leavers who enrol on apprenticeships, they are open to people of all ages so it’s never too late to start an electrician course.

For those not wishing to pursue a long term electrician career, there are plenty of short electrician courses available to teach you some of the skills needed to safely complete those DIY tasks around the house. Even if you feel you don’t have the time to commit to training to be an electrician full time, there are courses available where you can study flexibly at a time and location to suit you.


Picking the right course

With hundreds of electrician courses available to enrol on, it can be difficult deciding which route is best for you. If you’ve got any interest in becoming a professional electrician, you’ll have to sign up to an accredited training course that offers a NVQ level three qualification in either electrotechnical services or install electrotechnical systems and equipment. Not only will these two courses teach you all the essential electrical skills, but they’ll also give you the chance to take the AM2 (Achievement Measure 2) exams – which is an industry recognised module all qualified electricians must complete.


Danger, danger! High voltage!

Although Electric Six may have been referring to a different kind of current and power in the title of their 2003 hit single, the name of the track does highlight the dangers of underestimating electricity. With electricity travelling at the speed of light and often having the power to kill in an instant, it’s important to work safely to avoid very serious consequences. Here are just five things to consider when around the house to help you avoid a potential electrical disaster:

. Check your wires – You wouldn’t eat out-of-date food, so why use old, unsafe wiring? Sockets and wires should be checked at least every ten years to ensure they still meet UK safety standards, and any sockets feeling hot or smelling of burning should stop being used immediately.

. Turn off unused items – It may seem simple, but leaving an unused item plugged in not only wastes a lot of energy, but can also be a fire hazard as products overheat.

. Don’t squish the socket – Extension leads are great and can prove extremely useful, but overloading the sockets with excess plugs has its dangers, as again it increases the risk of overheating and potential higher. The appropriately name Electrical Safety Council recommend that no socket has appliances totalling more than 13 amps or 3000 watts of energy plugged into it.

. Avoid covering heaters – That red hot fan heater may seem like the perfect place to dry your clothes on, but blocking the air vents on the heater again pose a serious risk of overheating and fire.


Extra advice

If you’re undecided as to whether a career as an electrician is for you, then reading our electrician careers guide will provide you with more information about what to expect working in that field, while our careers section is crammed full of alternative job suggestions in the construction industry. 

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