How to become an electrician – a step-by-step guide
There are several routes to becoming an electrician, whether you are a school leaver, an A-Level student or someone considering a change of career. You can gain the qualifications you need by completing a college course or an apprenticeship. If you already have relevant experience, you could apply directly to an employer for a job.
Importantly, those who qualify for their career as an electrician through industry-recognised training routes, such as courses from City & Guilds or EAL and apprenticeships, tend to have better job and earnings prospects.
Here we will explore how to become a qualified electrician and the options available to you in England and Wales. Some variations apply in Scotland and these will be highlighted.
Why choose to become an electrician?
If you like fixing practical things and have a methodical, analytical approach to solving problems, becoming an electrician could be the career for you.
Qualified electricians have good earning potential, enjoy a varied working environment and are rarely short of work. There are great opportunities within the electrical industry, from moving into specialised areas of the trade or starting your own business. Skilled electricians will always be in high demand.
The different types of electrician
Domestic or residential electrician
Most electricians handle domestic electrical work – fixing electrical faults in private housing, installing or replacing wiring and electrical systems. Domestic electricians will often work alongside other tradespeople, especially on construction sites.
Electrical testers survey, test and inspect electrical installations in homes and businesses. They identify faults and complete test reports to confirm which equipment is working safely and efficiently, and which are unsafe to use.
Electrical engineers design, develop and maintain electrical systems for buildings, transport systems and power distribution networks. Electrical engineers work in and across many industries. They need a good understanding of engineering science, and strong maths and computer skills.
Your guide to becoming an electrician
Complete your GCSEs and/or A-levels
If you are still at school and want to train to become an electrician, you will need to complete your GCSEs. The City & Guilds domestic electrical course – the first step to becoming an electrician – has minimum requirements for school leavers. You will need the following:
- At least 2 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) (level 2 course)
- 4 - 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) (level 3 course and T Levels)
Complete the domestic electrical installer course
Once you have left school, your first step is to take the City & Guilds domestic electrical installation course. This will help you to find a trainee apprentice position with a company.
This course provides the basics for conducting domestic electrical work and takes 18 days to complete. It includes modules on inspection and testing, wiring regulations and building regulations for domestic installations.
You can choose to take the course in one go or spread it out. 10 days will be spent in a training centre workshop.
Find a college near you that runs this course.
Undertake an apprenticeship or internship
An apprenticeship with an electrical installation company is a good way into the industry.
Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.
As part of your apprenticeship, you can do an installation and maintenance electrician advanced apprenticeship (Level 3 Diploma). You can also train to become an electrician through an apprenticeship in the armed forces.
You’ll generally need 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.
Scotland operates the Modern Apprenticeship scheme.
Complete a college course or an NVQ course
If you are thinking of a career change and wondering how to become a qualified electrician, taking a college or NVQ course would be your first step. You could enrol on the following courses, with the minimum GCSE requirements shown above:
- City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Building Services (Electrical Installation route) or EAL Level 2 Intermediate Diploma in Electrical Installation
- City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Building Services (Electrical Installation route) or EAL Level 3 Advanced Diploma in Electrical Installation
- T Level in Building Services Engineering for Construction
- NVQ Level 3 Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Scotland – SCQF 7 in Electrical Installation
Become a fully qualified electrician
Successful completion of the Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma, combined with work experience as part of a course or apprenticeship, opens the door to your career as an electrician.
Find out more about careers as an electrician in the construction industry
We hope you now know much more about how to train to become an electrician. If you want to find out more about what is involved in working as an electrician, the skills you might need, the salary you could earn and case studies from people doing the job itself, follow the links below: