How do I become an electrician? Time served electrician Ricky Howell tells us how to become an electrician, what to look for and what to avoid.
Our guest author Ricky, time served electrician, husband and father of four, writes for us about How Do I Become An Electrician?
You have decided to turn your hand to a trade and decided electricity is for you, or perhaps you are still deciding which way to go and are looking for advice? The following blog – how do I become an electrician will explain exactly what is required to get that infamous JIB/ECS gold card, things to avoid at all costs and what to expect along the way.
We will be focussing on what I believe are the only 3 true ways to get qualified proper which are:
- Serving an electrical apprenticeship
- Attending electrical “evening classes”
- completing the mature electrical trainee candidate scheme
THERE IS NO QUICK WAY TO GET QUALIFIED AS AN ELECTRICIAN!!! SHORT COURSES ARE A SCAM AND LEAVE YOU WITH NO IDEA HOW TO CARRY OUT YOUR JOB. YOU WILL BE EXPOSED ON THE CONSTRUCTION SITES AND ALWAYS BE THE FIRST PERSON TO BE SACKED! AVOID, AVOID, AVOID!!! SO, HOW DO I BECOME AN ELECTRICIAN?
Serving an electrical apprenticeship is by far the best way to get qualified as an electrician and indeed all trades. You will usually study at college for one day a week over three years whilst working on the tools the other four days and gaining experience on the job, with the final year being used to complete your NVQ and preparing for your AM2.
In the end not only will you have the theory covered but also 4 years’ experience carrying out your job! You will have learnt from other electricians who have been through the same as you and will teach you the tricks of the trade.
The downside is the wage which is aimed solely at school/college leavers and makes it incredibly difficult for anyone not living at home to survive on. For this reason, it’s also difficult for anyone over 18 to even be accepted for an apprenticeship program but not impossible.
Another big pro is the fact that you will not pay a penny for your training with all costs being met by your employer. The reason for this is the grants that the government give to companies to encourage apprenticeships.
If you get offered an apprenticeship grab it with both hands! The pros far outweigh the cons and I can honestly say I have never met a bad time-served spark.
ELECTRICAL EVENING CLASSES
Much like an electrical apprenticeship, evening classes well normally take place 1 or 2 evenings a week over a 3-year period although can be completed quicker depending on how quickly you can complete the tasks required of you.
Unlike an apprenticeship the class well tend to be filled with older students who cannot secure an apprenticeship and are keen on getting their head down and get through the course as quickly as possible. It is important to remember that although you can progress quicker depending on your work ethic and experience there is no short route and the modules will have to be completed to the standard required.
Anyone looking to re-train should look for these courses at their local colleges. Typically, you will earn a better wage doing it this way but may well have to pay for the course yourself.
ELECTRICAL MATURE CANDIDATE SCHEME
Once known as “grandfather rights” this method seemed to disappear then re-appear under a different title. This is aimed at people who have been working in the trade but for whatever reason have not got qualified. This is not always down to the individual but can be companies not willing to invest in getting their employees qualified and is a common problem in our trade.
If you feel confident that you can go into an AM2 test and pass, then this is for you. You will be required to complete an NVQ and AM2 in that order but will not have to go to college as your experience is deemed to be sufficient.
This course seems to keep changing and you could well find that although its accepted now, in the future the goalposts change, and you need to attend college. This is pretty much what happened to most electricians who done their qualifications before the NVQ was a thing, only to be told they now need to complete an NVQ to be deemed “qualified”. A total slap in the face to some who had been working in the trade for 20+ years and still a hot topic today.
SUMMARY – How do I become an electrician?
At the moment 99% of sites in the country only recognise the ECS card for electricians and to gain a gold one you must:
- Provide college certificates or provide the required documents for a mature candidate
- Provide AM2 certificate
- Provide the latest edition course certificate (currently 18th edition)
- Provide NVQ certificate
Failing to provide the above you will be given a white card with a title depending on your experience such as trainee or apprentice.
If you are lucky enough to work on a site that accepts SparkSafe then the requirements are slightly different and more extensive, thus helping to keep rogue electricians out of the system.
Head to SparkyNinja for great training videos
For those training a whole host of videos to help you along the way can be found on YouTube. One of the best is SparkyNinja.
Finally, for anyone looking to start training GOOD LUCK!!!
Written by Ricky in Essex, United Kingdom.
Do electricians need to be registered? Check out our blog post.
How many fraudulent electricians have ECS cards? Find out here.