UK Electrician Qualifications Explained

Qualifications needed to become an electrician in the UK have been a bit of a minefield over the last few years with upheaval in the qualification system has led to much confusion for people wanting to become electricians.

In this article I shall try to explain in a clear and concise manner what qualifications you need to be able to start actual work as an electrician in the home environment, and which courses will allow you to gain the skills needed to achieve these qualifications.

UK Electrician Qualifications Explained

It is first worth noting what it is to be a qualified electrician. As there are different qualifications needed for different tasks. For example if you wish to become an electrician and operates only in domestic properties then you will only need to qualify as a domestic installer or domestic electrician.

But if you have plans to work in industrial, commercial and domestic then there are more qualifications you will need to attain.

Here we will discuss the three main routes to becoming electricians for people with no previous experience.

An apprenticeship

If you happen to be under 25, and a fortunate enough to get on a work placement then you may well be able to start on an apprenticeship scheme. Whereby you will work alongside experienced an electrician while studying theory at a local college. An apprenticeship will usually take anywhere from 2 to 4 years, and at the end of this time you will have gained an NVQ level III. Getting someone to take you on as an apprentice can be hard, so you’d be well advised to ask around your local electricians to see if someone would be willing to take you on as an apprentice. Good luck with that!

Level II and level III diploma

If you are unable to find yourself a work placement, all over the age of 25 and haven’t got 2 to 4 years to learn a new trade then you would be well advised to take a level II and level III diploma course at a local training centre. These training centres are a great way for older applicants or people unable to find an apprenticeship, to end their work in the industry. They will teach you the practical skills needed in mock work environments, as well as all of the theory you will need to start work as an electrician. The length of the course will vary depending upon whether you want to become a domestic installer, or if you would like to go on to more advanced levels. Either way courses usually last from between 6 to 30 weeks, depending upon your course provider.

The domestic electrician qualification

From 2014 a new pathway has opened for people wanting to enter the electrician industry, allowing you to train as a domestic electrician able to start work on people’s homes once you have successfully completed the training. This is great, as this is as far as most people would want to go and it would allow them to start earning an income without faffing about on pointless courses that they would never need. It also gives you flexibility in the future, because if you would ever want to progress further in your knowledge this qualification would enable you to only do the courses that you need to do, and not re-do level I and II again.

What exactly is an NVQ (National vocational qualification)

An NVQ is not a training course it is a qualification based on practical assessment. After completing technical courses that teach you the theory of electrical skills, you will be moved onto the practical assessments in a workplace environment.

Whichever way you wish to become an electrician, you will need to do the NVQ assessments. Each assessment will build up a portfolio of work that is called evidence, for example install a phase 3 board or a metal conduit. Photos will be taken of your work and added to your portfolio. How quickly you can achieve all the required tasks depend upon how much work you can do, for example if you are working regularly then you will build up your portfolio quicker than someone was not at work.

It’s worth remembering that some training providers will provide workplace jobs for you to be assessed upon, ask your training provider if they offer such a service.

Once you’ve completed your portfolio you will move on to something called “achievement measure number two” (AM2). This will be your final assessment where you will need to complete tasks that the assessor gives you, this will take place in an assessment centre with exam  like conditions.

Once you’ve successfully completed the AM2 you would be awarded your NVQ diploma, congratulations you are now a qualified electrician!

Final Thoughts

Wow okay, that’s about it. Looking at it now, it’s still a bit of a minefield isn’t it? But hopefully I have helped to explain a bit more about the ways of becoming an electrician in the UK.

As and when these requirements may change I will update this page accordingly. Until then good luck training to become electricians!