A worker in a hard hat and blue overall inspecting a fuse board

Ready to spark a future in a dynamic and essential trade? Electrician roles are in high demand. According to a report in 2023, the UK will need around 100,000 more electricians by 2032.

There are a few different routes available to help you become an electrician. Here, we will explore everything you need to know about electrical apprenticeships.


What to expect from an electrical apprenticeship

Electrician apprenticeships combine classroom and ‘on-the-job’ learning. This mix helps you learn the theory of electrics and gain practical experience at the same time.

How your time is split depends on the course and the training provider you are with. But apprentices usually spend a greater period of time doing the practical stuff! A typical week then, might look like one day in the classroom and the other four in the workplace. Some providers might bunch together classroom days in weeklong learning blocks instead. The number of hours you spend in the workplace will depend on your employer but a minimum of 30 hours a week is not uncommon.

Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16. They are organised into ‘levels’ which means you can enter at a level that is right for you and progress from there.

What will I be doing?

What you'll be doing on your apprenticeship will depend on a few things. Namely, what level of apprenticeship you're doing, the curriculum of your training provider and the day-to-day work of your employer.

Broadly speaking, you will learn how to:

  • Read electrical blueprints and technical diagrams
  • Install & maintain electrical systems
  • Troubleshoot electrical issues and repair them
  • Work safely and within regulatory standards
  • Estimate and plan resources and budgets
  • Use trade tools and machine equipment

You can also expect to:

  • Work with experienced electricians and other contractors
  • Interact with clients and customers
  • Work in a range of environments (indoors, outdoors, commercial, residential, etc)
  • Work on a range of tasks and projects (lighting, heating, wiring, etc)

How long is an electrical apprenticeship?

The length of your apprenticeship depends on a few factors. Different levels take different periods of time to complete. The length of your course will also vary between employers and training providers. As well as whether you pursue full or part-time learning.

Generally speaking:

  • Level 2 electrician (intermediate) apprenticeships are 12-18 months
  • Level 3 electrician (advanced) apprenticeships are 3-4 years
  • Level 4 electrician (higher) apprenticeships are up to 4 years

These levels might be called something different in Scotland and Wales, but they will be broadly similar.

What is an apprentice electrician paid?

One of the many benefits of pursuing an apprenticeship is getting paid while you learn! In the UK you earn the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, depending on how old you are. This rate changes every April, so check our apprenticeship wages page for the latest figures.

As an apprentice, you are paid for the hours you complete in the workplace and the time you spend in the classroom. This includes classroom hours spent studying for maths and English qualifications if they are offered by your training provider.


Essential skills and qualities for electrical apprentices

Tradesman in hard hat inspecting wiring in a new building

Electricians have a range of skills and qualities that help them in the workplace. Apprentices will have to show that they have these. Or show that they can develop them when they apply for positions.

Strong mathematical & problem-solving skills

A knack for numbers is an important skill for electricians. They have to:

  • Understand diagrams
  • Measure and calculate current and voltage
  • Stick to budgets
  • Calibrate instruments
  • Troubleshoot problems

And much more. Strong maths and problem-solving skills will help you to work safely and effectively.

Understanding of electrical principles, circuits & safety

It goes without saying that you’ll need the technical ‘know-how’ to be an electrician! You'll need to know:

  • The basic circuit components
  • Ohm’s law
  • Kirchhoff's laws
  • Safety regulations
  • Circuit tracing

As well as much else. A solid understanding of electrics will help you troubleshoot problems and work independently.

Good manual dexterity & hand-eye coordination

An electrician’s work can be intricate and complex. Amongst other things, they have to:

  • Work with small components
  • Use a variety of tools
  • Get into confined areas like electrical panels and crawl spaces

Good motor skills and coordination will help you to work quickly and with precision.

Strong work ethic & commitment to learn

Technology is always changing and improving. Electricians need to stay up-to-date. They have to:

  • Know and follow safety protocols
  • Adhere to industry standards
  • Work to deadlines
  • Be punctual

Continuous learning and a good work ethic will show you are reliable and adaptable.

Good communication & teamwork skills

The gift of the gab is a key skill for electricians. They have to:

  • Share technical and complicated information with clients
  • Talk with, listen to and work with colleagues and contractors
  • Negotiate timelines, budgets, and terms
  • Explain challenges, problems, or safety protocols

And much more. Good communication and teamwork skills will help you build trust and positive relationships.

Ability to work independently & follow instructions

Being able to work independently is an important skill for electricians. They may have to:

  • Work alone in remote locations or on emergency repairs
  • Manage inventory and order supplies
  • Solve problems without supervision
  • Coordinate with other trades
  • Follow safety protocols and regulation codes

And much more. Being able to work alone and follow instructions will help you stay safe and productive.

Types of electrical apprenticeships

Level 2 electrical apprenticeships are your first step into this career. Employers normally ask you to have at least 2 GCSE passes at grade 9-3 (A*-D).

For a Level 3 electrical apprenticeship, you should have 4-5 GCSEs at grade 9-4 (A*-C) or already have achieved Level 2.

There are two types of Level 3 electrical apprenticeships available in England:

  • Level 3 Domestic Electrician
  • Level 3 Installation and Maintenance Electrician

You need a level 3 qualification to be fully qualified. You might have the opportunity to specialise in advanced roles.

Some specialisations will require level 4, or higher apprenticeship qualifications. These apprenticeships can take up to four years to complete.

Level 3 domestic electrician

Domestic electricians install, maintain and repair electrical systems in domestic settings. Electrical apprentices on this course will develop a wide range of skills, including:

  • Installing security, light fixtures and appliances
  • Maintaining electrical installations, comfort and convenience technology, surge protection tech
  • Fix fuses, faults, outlets and wires

Level 3 installation & maintenance electrician

Maintenance electricians install, maintain and repair electrical systems in a range of settings. This might include industrial, commercial, and residential spaces. This means that they may work on bigger or more complex projects. Electrical apprentices on this course will learn a broad range of skills, including how to:

  • Install intercom, solar panels, cooling systems
  • Maintain higher voltage generators, larger electrical networks, and emergency back-up systems
  • Fix complex faults, high-capacity transformers, automation systems

How can I find an apprenticeship?

There are several ways you can find employers that offer electrical apprenticeships. You can use websites like Talentview, apply directly to employers, contact local colleges or ask friends or family members if they know of apprenticeships available at companies.   


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