Electricians are responsible for all aspects of installing and maintaining electrical technology in buildings. They are necessary for a variety of projects, from large engineering undertakings to daily residential work. A job as an electrician may involve commissioning, performing, or overseeing electrotechnical work on any job site.
A wide range of job sites and descriptions are available to the electrician, outside of what might be considered traditional electrical work. He may work with advanced fiber optics systems, computerized building management systems, data cabling, wind turbines, or solar panels. Electrician work generally includes installation, machine repair, instrumentation, electrical maintenance, or the construction of electrical panels or electrical highway systems.
Electricians must be technically adept, safe, and environmentally conscious. Communication skills are extremely important as well, as advice must often be provided to coworkers and clients. Jobs often involve preparatory stages that include testing and evaluation. Therefore, electricians must be capable of rigorous planning and inspection.
Salaries for electricians vary depending on location and experience. However, the following guidelines are generally fairly accurate. New electricians typically earn between £17,000 and £20,000 per year. More experienced, qualified electricians earn on average about £26,000 per year. Long-time electricians may earn more than £35,000 annually. Salaries as well as benefits will of course vary depending on one's employer.
Electricians generally work typical Monday to Friday hours. However, they are often subject to deadlines and may therefore have to put in night or weekend hours. Many electricians work on a freelance or short term contract basis, which means that hours may vary from week to week. It is important for an electrician to be at least somewhat flexible when it comes to working hours.
Working environments also vary for electricians. Indoor and outdoor jobs are common, and often heights are involved. Many electricians spend a good amount of time on ladders or scaffolding. Cramped working spaces are also quite common in this line of work. Many times electrical work may require travel between job sites, making a driver's license a great benefit.
A range of skills, personality traits, and interests are desirable in an electrician. He must be interested in math, electronics, and the use of practical skills. Hand skills, reasonable fitness, full colour sight, and the ability to work at great heights are important as well. Finally, electricians should be presentable, communicative, pleasant to work with, flexible, and analytical.
Before one becomes an electrician, a fair amount of training is necessary. This training includes both off-the-job and on-the-job training. Off-the-job training may be received at a college or training facility. After this training has been completed, on-the-job training with an employer is extremely important in order to learn to apply the skills learned in college or trade school.
An Advanced Apprenticeship typically takes 42 months to complete. Apprentices complete a technical certificate at level three. This apprenticeship also provides certification up to NVQ level 3 in electrotechnical services, electrical machine rewind and repair, or elctrotechnical panel construction. At this point, an apprentice becomes a certified electrician.
Employers of electricians vary in size and scale and are usually in search of both male and female employees. Employers may include electrical contractors, engineering companies, construction companies, manufacturers, local authorities, or the National Health Service. Electricians are also sometimes self employed or employed by individuals or families.
The electrotechnical industry is cyclical, which means that it goes through phases of growth when many new electricians are hired and phases of stagnation where less hiring occurs. During depressions, demand for electricians often decreases. Open electrician jobs are commonly advertised in newspapers, at job offices, or on recruitment agency websites.
The most common entry route to a career as an electrician is an apprenticeship directly after school or college. An apprenticeship consists of structured on-the-job training with an employer. An apprenticeship pays at least £95 per week, with the average national pay being around £170 per week.
For those not ready for an apprenticeship, Entry to Employment programs are often available. Young apprentice programs are also available in many areas for 14 to 16 year old individuals. Some schools and colleges have their own entry programs, but they must include on-the-job training. Regardless of the entry route taken, a qualified electrician must ultimately achieve an qualification of NVQ 3 and receive a technical certificate.
A career as an electrician is a great fit for anyone who enjoys working with his or her hands and using practical skills. It is a job that guarantees many employment opportunities, as electrical workers are always needed. Once an electrician has become qualified, a vast array of job sites and opportunities become available to him, especially if he is pleasant, safe, and technically proficient.