Routes to Becoming an Electrician Explained

There are 3 key ways to become an electrician in the UK: 

  1. A privately funded Diploma and NVQ
  2. An Apprenticeship
  3. Become a domestic installer (Domestic Electrician)
Our unique approach blends routes 1 and 3 allowing you to start on domestic electrics and work you way up to more advanced commercial work and ultimately being fully qualified if you wish.

Route 1 – The Diploma and NVQ

For adult learners many want to get their foot in the door by completing a Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma in electrical installation. This is commonly referred to as the C&G 2365 Diploma but can be certified by other organisation such as EAL. 

Learners will complete the Diploma’s and then start working in industry as an improver, more commonly known as an electricians mate. Once working you can decide if you want to complete the NVQ and gain gold card status. Many people do, however we also find that many adult learners use the Diploma to get a footing in a related industry and never need to become “Fully Qualified”. The great thing about the diploma route is it is flexible, you know where you stand with the training, how long it will take and how much it will cost. We offer the L2 & L3 2365 Diploma course 2 weeks on 2 weeks off over a 7 month period. At the end of this course 33% of most students have found work and within 6 months over 85% of students have found work.

Many then choose to complete the NVQ and get their gold card. The NVQ can take 1-3 years to complete but you will be earning decent money even as an electricians mate while you do so.

Once you have completed your Diploma’s and NVQ (including the final AM2 Assessment) you will have covered the same knowledge training and assessments as someone completing an apprenticeship but you will have structured your qualifications in a different way by front loading the training.

Route 2 - the Apprenticeship

If you are lucky enough to find a work placement then you can complete your training and NVQ at the same time. This usually means training 1 day a week and completing a portfolio of work completed on the job. Typically to complete an apprenticeship will take 3-4 years and you will only gain the full qualification once your portfolio is complete. During this time you will be paid an apprenticeship wage which can be below the national minimum wage.

The difficult bit for those wanting an apprenticeship is you must be matched with an employer in order to complete the qualification. As an apprentice you will start learning at Level 3 which for some can make this route a bit harder at first. However, it is likely that as you are working in the industry you can spread your learning over a longer period of time.

Trade Skills 4U can help you register on an apprenticeship matching service, however please note that we recommend you take as much action as possible trying to find a placement direct with employers. This means calling them up and sending out CV's to as many potential employers as possible. This can help solve the chicken and egg issues that can make it hard to have both an employer and training provider.

Route 3 – The Domestic Installer (Domestic Electrician) Route

This third route is equally valid and open to anyone. You are able to train as a Domestic Electrical Installer and register as such with one of the Domestic Installer Schemes like NICEIC or ELECSA etc. This means you can get out there and get earning in a much shorter space of time compared with the "fully qualified" route however your work will be limited to residential installations such as flats, houses, bungalows and the like. You will be able to work on anything from and including the consumer unit coming into a property. For many electricians despite being fully qualified they often find the most lucrative jobs are in this sector.

Again you can front load your training and cover the key skills in roughly 4 weeks. After this time you can start by working for other people or take on smaller jobs to build up your experience until your competence has reached a point that you are competent to work unsupervised and register with a scheme provider.

What is an NVQ?

An NVQ is not a training programme it is an assessment framework that assess your skills in the workplace. Essentially it’s a bit like bingo in that there is a wide range of skills you will need to show evidence for in order to pass the qualification. When you have completed your portfolio there is one last assessment known as an AM2 assessment which is the final bit to show you really know your stuff. For those training with us on the C&G 2365 course you will need both the Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma, the NVQ and the Final AM2 to gain gold card status. 

Most people take 2-3 years to complete an NVQ however it can be completed much quicker if you have a lot of variety in your job or if you have been working for some time and already have the supporting evidence required from previous jobs.

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