You know electricians work with electricity, but what does that mean exactly? In addition, You’ve often heard terms such as, electrical contractor, electrical engineer, and so on... But what do they do? How do you become one? What does an electrician do?
Electrician is a term that covers many responsibilities. Often electricians are required to maintain, service, install and design electrics. Generally, electricians can be found working in commercial, residential, and industrial buildings. Furthermore, electricians can also be found in the automotive industry or offshore. In this article we will focus on standard electricians, those who work in your home or commercial buildings. Below is a list of some daily tasks undertaken by your electrician:
- Reading and understanding the blueprints of your building’s electrics. Furthermore, the blueprints allow them to locate outlets, circuits, panel boards, and other electrical components.
- Inspection of electrical systems, wiring and equipment to ensure they adhere to safety regulations and function correctly.
- Maintenance or replacement of circuit breakers, faulty wires, and fuses.
- Connect sockets, light fittings, switches, and appliances
- Installation of data network systems or security systems
- Responding to emergency call outs
- Laying cables for equipment that requires power and computer networks
- Design and installation of electrical control panels
- Installing fibre optic cables
- Guiding an apprentice
What are the different types of electricians?
As we previously mentioned, electrician can be found in various walks of life. So, what are the different types of electricians? The list below is a brief description of the four main types of electricians.
Residential electrician: As the name suggests, these electricians work in private homes. These electricians specialise in home systems which are less complex than larger buildings.
Telecommunications Electrician: This type of electrician deals with electrics related to all forms of communication. For instance, network wiring, telephone poles and wiring, computers. Generally, these individuals are referred to as structured cabling engineers.
Commercial Electrician: As the name suggests, these individuals will work within commercial buildings, such as offices, restaurants, and shops. These types of building have more complex systems. As a result, to become a commercial electrician requires further qualifications.
Outside Electrical Engineers: Outdoor engineers are responsible for setting up the cables that go from power plants to buildings and homes.
How do you become an electrician?
There are a number of ways you can become a qualified electrician. Qualifications can be gained by completing an apprenticeship or a college course. All electricians in the UK are required to hold a level 3 certification which can be obtained via courses from EAL and City & Guild. In addition, you must complete the AM2 assessment, this is an industry recognised competence.
College courses/training provider
City & Guild Level 2 – Building services (electrical installation route) or EAL Level 2 Intermediate Diploma in electrical installation
City & Guild Level 3 – Building Services (electrical installation route) or EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in electrical installation
Another way to become an electrician is an apprenticeship. If you’re over the age of 16, apprenticeships are an option for you. Working for an electrical company as an apprentice is a good way into the industry. The company will take you on as an employee and you’re expected to work a minimum of 30 hours each week. Furthermore, your time as an apprentice will be split between manual work and academic work.
Skills required to be successful in the industry
To become an electrician requires specialised training, an electrician needs to have both fundamental knowledge of the industry and the following skills.
Problem Solving: to be a successful electrician, you must have expert problem solving skills. A lot of electrical work is fault finding, diagnosis and resolving issues with minimal information. For this reason, problem solving skills will minimise the time spent investigating issues.
Mechanical Skills: electrical work is very hands-on work. An electrician is often required to take equipment apart and reassemble it. Therefore, mechanical skills are required to complete the work at a high standard.
Strength and stamina: Being an electrician is manual work that can be taxing on your body if you’re out of shape. The job requires a lot of movement and carrying of heavy equipment.
Communication Skills: Often in the industry, Job instructions are given in written form or performance logs. Additionally, electricians need to communicate with co-workers to ensure the job is being done correctly. Lastly, electricians are often required to speak with customers who do not have any electrical knowledge. Having the ability to articulate issues with customers and offer an explanation without using jargon will give you the edge over other electricians.
Colour Vision: Good vision is crucial for daily tasks as an electrician. The job requires you to differentiate electrical wires based on their colour.
Daily precautions undertaken by electricians
By its very nature, electricity is very dangerous and can lead to fatal accidents, fire, and bodily harm. As an electrician you must take certain precautions to ensure the safety of the public, yourself, and colleagues. For example, not touching electrical equipment when your feet or hands are perspiring, touching electrical equipment with the back of your hand only, and draining capacitors before work commences.
The list below shows examples of protective clothing an electrician must wear to prevent accidents.
- (PPE) – Flash Personal Protective Equipment
- (FRC) – Fire Retardant Clothing
- Electrician vests
- Electrical safety gloves
- Industrial safety boots
Please click below to share this article
Please click below to read further articles