Do you love problem-solving, challenging yourself and working with your hands? Tempted by the idea of working across a range of different environments? If so, then a career as an electrician might be the perfect fit for you.
In the UK, there are currently 265,000 electricians, and employment rates over the past eight years have remained steady in the face of the financial crisis. Our growing dependence on electrical equipment, as well as its increasing presence in our day-to-day lives, has meant electricians are rarely short of work. Qualified electricians are therefore in very high demand, with more than a quarter of firms reporting difficulty recruiting them.
This all bodes well for your future career as an electrician. However, if you want to get on the ladder, it’s incredibly important that you have relevant, hands-on work experience. An apprenticeship is therefore one of the most popular routes into the industry.
What do electricians do?
The main role of an electrician is to install, test and maintain electrical wiring, equipment, appliances, apparatus and fixtures in properties and businesses. These responsibilities can cover lighting, power, security and many other things.
From bringing power to people’s homes to taking part in big engineering projects, a career as an electrician allows you to work in a diverse range of areas. According to the National Careers Service, the different types of electrician can be divided into five specialties:
- Installation electrician
Installing power systems such as lighting, fire protection, security etc. in buildings. These can be residential or commercial properties.
- Maintenance electrician
Checking all systems work efficiently and safety, usually in a business context.
- Electrotechnical panel builder
Building and installing control panels to operate the electrical systems inside buildings
- Machine repair and rewind electrician
Fixing and maintaining motors.
- Highway systems electrician
Installing and maintaining street lighting and traffic management systems.
Interested? Why not take a look at some of the amazing apprenticeship opportunities out there…
N.B. The apprenticeships listed below were all advertised at the time of writing but may not be available now – we’ve listed them to give you an idea of the kind of opportunities that are often advertised in this sector.
1. Electrical Installation Apprenticeship
- Employer: Sge-Services Ltd
- Length: 48 months / 4 years
- Level: Advanced / Level 3
- Content: You’ll work for an electrical contractor who specializes in domestic, commercial and industrial projects by shadowing a co-worker. Your day-to-day duties will include making sure all equipment and tools are accounted for, making sure your co-worker has everything they need to carry out a task and preparing electrical installations.
- Future prospects: You’ll earn a City & Guilds Level 3 Electrotechnical (Building and Structures) qualification, leading on to an approved Electrician ECS card, which will prove your competence to work to industry standards. The Level 3 qualification will enable you to work as a fully-qualified electrician. Starter salaries for electricians are in the region of £18,000 to £23,000, and highly experienced electricians can earn up to £42,000.
2. Electrical Apprenticeship
- Employer: Southern Water
- Length: 4 years
- Level: School Leaver Programme (SLP) / Level 3
- Content: Southern Water operates in the South East of England and employs over 2,000 people. Your first year with them will be spent completing a residential training programme at a national apprenticeship academy. The remainder will be spent working with a Mentor - an experienced Electrical Technician who will provide you with guidance throughout the apprenticeship.
- Future prospects: On completion you’ll receive an NVQ Level 3, which will enable you to work as a fully-qualified electrician. It’s also very likely that you’ll be considered for any electrician job opportunities with Southern Water.
3. Degree Apprenticeship – Electrical engineering
- Employer: Atkins
- Length: 55 months / 5.5 years
- Level: Degree / Level 6
- Content: Atkins is a design, engineering and project management consultancy. You’ll study and work with a variety of their different teams, whilst developing the skills you need to become a qualified electrical engineer. You’ll create CAD drawings, shadow engineers as they provide electrical support, and support client meetings.
- Future prospects: By the end of the apprenticeship, you’ll have gained a full degree in electrical engineering through the National Apprenticeship Service. This will enable you to pursue full-time employment with Atkins or pursue employment elsewhere. A typical salary for a starter electrical engineer is £21,000 - £25,000, whilst those who are highly experienced can earn £45,000 or more.
What are the advantages of completing an apprenticeship?
- You’ll complete the apprenticeship with an industry-recognised qualification that’ll allow you to practise as an electrician, pursue another apprenticeship or complete education at a higher level.
- You’ll gain valuable workplace experience that’ll look fantastic on your CV and possibly lead to job opportunities.
- You’ll earn while you learn! No student loans, no tuition fees and, hopefully, no debt. You’ll be paid a salary by your employer, and the government tends to cover the cost of the training for most young people.
How much will I be paid?
The current minimum apprenticeship rate is £3.70, which applies to apprentices under 19 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year.
If you’re aged 19 or over and have completed your first year, you’ll be paid at least the national minimum wage for your age. However, many apprenticeships, particularly Advanced and Degree/Higher Apprenticeships, offer more than the national minimum wage.
How do I apply?
If you’re using Unifrog, you can apply by creating an apprenticeship shortlist and then clicking on the green ‘Apply’ button. Most apprenticeship descriptions will explain how to apply, but it can usually be done through the gov.uk website or education provider.
This guide was written with the help of expert contributors from The Electrical Guys – click here to access their blog and learn tips and tricks from specialists in the trade
Did this guide answer your questions? If not, or if you have any ideas for new guides, email firstname.lastname@example.org - we'd love to hear your thoughts!