Electrician Courses & Apprenticeships Explained
What qualifications do I need to become a Fully Qualified Electrician?
It is important to note that not everyone has to become “Fully Qualified”. If you just want to work on domestic projects then there is no need, you can simply qualify as a domestic installer or domestic electrician. If you want to work on all kinds of work including commericial, agricultural, industrial and domestic then you will want to work towards being a fully qualified electrician.
If you want JIB grading as a fully qualified electrician you will need to complete both training at a college or training centre such as Trade Skills 4U plus an NVQ which is essentially a portfolio of work completed whilst working on site.
If you are new to the industry there are 2 different routes to achieving “fully qualified” status and a 3rd route if you just want to carry out domestic installations but this 3rd route means you will not be classed as “fully qualified”:
- Level 2 & 3 Diploma’s in Electrical Installations (Buildings & Structures) This is the most common route into the industry especially for anyone that doesn’t have a work placement. You can complete your Diploma’s (also known as Tech Certs) and then complete your NVQ when you are working at a later stage.
- NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment (Buildings, Structures and the Environment)If you do have a work placement with an electrician and are in a position to study while you work then you can complete the combined Level 3 course & NVQ for apprentices.
- Qualify as a domestic electrician and focus purely on residential installationsYou can train as a domestic electrician and stick with that. If you wish to upgrade at a later stage then routes 1 and 2 are still available to you. This enables you to start working sooner, generate income, gain contacts in the industry and get valuable experience.
The 3rd option to become a Domestic Electrical Installer means you can still start one of the first 2 routes at a later stage however if this is your intention then Routes 1 and 2 are going to be a cheaper and quicker options overall.
Confused? Simply call 01293 529777 or 0800 856 4448 for simple clearcut advice.
Route 1 Explained – Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma’s
For many looking to start out in the industry they can find themselves unable to find a job or work placement without any knowledge or experience. In fact most people that do an apprenticeship or work placement have often found it via someone they know such as a family member or close friend.
If like most you are not lucky enough to have such contacts the best way to break into the industry is to complete the Level 2 and 3 Diploma’s (Also known as Tech Certs or Technical Certificates) and then use this knowledge to gain a job in industry. Once you are working you can then complete your NVQ. We find that almost everyone who completes their Level 2 & 3 Diplomas with us finds employment in the field either during or after their course.
The great thing about this route is it is really open to all. It gives you a way to break into the industry and gain industry recognised qualifications without having to complete the NVQ or find a job first.
Route 2 Explained – The Apprenticeship
If you are lucky enough to find a work placement then you can complete your training and NVQ at the same time. However this is only possible if you have the breadth of work available to you that allows you to check off all the jobs you need to complete. Typically to complete an apprenticehsip will take 2-4 years and you will not gain the full qualification once your NVQ is complete.
As an apprentice you will start learning at Level 3 which for some can make this route a bit harder at first. However it is likely that as you are working in the industry you can spread your learning over a longer period of time.
Trade Skills 4U can help you register on an apprenticeship matching service, however please note that we recommend you take as much action as possible trying to find a placement direct with employers. This means calling them up and sending out CV’s to as many potential employers as possible.
Route 3 – Domestic Electrical Installer Route
This third route is equally valid and open to anyone. You are able to train as a Domestic Electrical Installer and register as such with one of the Domestic Installer Schemes like NICEIC or ELECSA etc. This means you can get out there and get earning in a much shorter space of time compared with the “fully qualified” route however your work will be limited to residential installations such as flats, houses, bungalows and the like. You will be able to work on anything from and including the consumer unit coming into a property. For many electricians despite being fully qualified they often find the most lucrative jobs are in this sector.
What is a National Vocational Qualification and how does it work?
The NVQ is now part of the new Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment. It’s not a training course, it’s an assessment qualification. After completing your 9 practical and theory training units you move onto ‘on site assessments’ the NVQ. Whichever route you take if you want to be fully qualified then at some point you will need to complete the NVQ. If you take route 1 then you will at some point simply transfer into Route 2.
The idea of an NVQ is that you work alongside a more experienced electrician who will guide you through certain tasks that are detailed in the NVQ document (i.e. installing metal conduit, or installing a phase 3 board)
As you undertake the various tasks you’ll take photos and write a few lines about what you have done, this is called evidence.
We will send along an assessor to visit you in your workplace to assess evidence of you gaining skills and experience and complete your portfolio (folder) of work.
When the tasks in the NVQ document are assessed and you have completed all the necessary skills and tasks, you have then formally completed your NVQ. It’s worth noting, if your firm is very active in all sorts of electrical installation, you’ll gather evidence more quickly, and so you’ll complete more quickly.
You then move onto the AM2 to complete your NVQ Diploma.
The AM2 (Achievement Measurement no. 2) is your final assessment. It’s literally a practical exam with an assessor watching you complete given tasks at an assessment centre, under exam conditions.
It takes a couple of days and on successful completion, that’s it, all done, congratulations, you’re a fully qualified electrician, with a Diploma no less!
City & Guilds & EAL seem to do the same courses, which is best?
Frankly there is no best, both are sponsored and well respected within the industry. They contain the same content, but are slightly different in how they are assessed and tested and delivered by us, from your perspective you’d barely know the difference, it’s down to merely which brand you prefer, though some funding organisations may insist on one or the other, so we need to check that for you.
Both Diplomas’ are the new diploma qualifications brought out within the last 2 years, so very much the latest versions.
Whichever Diploma you choose to do and we can help you decide. Call 01293 529777 for advice.
Both enable you to become an electrician; they do exactly the same thing.
Can you do the NVQ on its own? Since the start of 2014 the only option to complete the NVQ on it’s own is to transfer into route 2. You now only do this if you have previous qualifications that map into this NVQ. for more information on this please see this dedicated page.