For those of us already working in the industry this will sound like a strange question because every electrician in the UK needs to hold and work to the 17th Edition. However for those changing careers or on the fringes of the industry some initial research will reveal that a 17th Edition Qualification is certainly something you will need to hold if you are planning on working with electricity in the UK. When talking about the 17th Edition people are actually talking about the British Standard BS 7671 "Requirements for Electrical Installations. IET Wiring Regulations." You may find it referred to as:
UK wiring regulations
17th edition wiring regulations
BS7671 wiring regs
All of these terms refer to the same thing.
What is the 17th Edition?
The 17th edition wiring regulations are the latest incarnation of a long line of wiring regulations published by the IET on a regular basis. By regular we mean every few years since it was first published in 1882. Before the 17th Edition every electrician needed to hold their 16th Edition and in a few years time it is likely that they will need to attain and be working to the 18th edition whenever it is released.
These are in essence the standard set for all UK electrical installations in domestic, commercial, industrial and other buildings. The wiring regulations simply put are a set of rules by which all electrical installations must comply.
They state things like where they apply (their scope), how the work should be installed and how to comply with the electricity at work regulations and other health and safety legislation. All new electrical installations in the UK must comply with the latest version of the wiring regulations and as such if you are installing electrics on a regular basis it is an absolute must that you are up to date with the latest version. Although the Wiring Regulations are non-statutory, they are referenced in several UK statutory documents and in most cases, for practical purposes, have legal force and can be used as defence in a court of law.
Who needs to know the 17th Edition?
Absolutely anyone installing electrics should know their 17th edition wiring regulations. By “know” we should clarify that no one has memorised this rather large detailed book back to front (except maybe our tutors), but rather you need to be fully aware of it’s contents and how to refer to them as and when you come across different types of installations. If you are looking for a job in the industry or looking to register as a domestic installer then you will need this qualification, however holding a 17th edition qualification does not in itself mean you are qualified to work as an electrician or register on a domestic installer scheme.
It is also important to note that the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations are also very useful for those working on the fringes of the electrical industry such as maintenance managers, engineers, project managers, architects and so on. For them the course may be harder to pass due to some of the technical jargon but can be invaluable to complement existing skills and give them an understanding of what is needed for electrical installations in a variety of situations.
What are Amendments?
Every so often we get a new incarnation of the wiring regulations which is why we have gone from the 1st to 17th Edition, however these are not amendments these are new editions. Between editions we sometimes have changes and innovations like electric vehicle charging that warrant what is known as an Amendment. Since we have had the 17th Edition there have been 3 Amendments with the most recent coming into force on the 1st July 2015.
Whilst it is generally a requirement that electricians and domestic installers hold a valid qualification in the latest IET Wiring Regulations Edition this is not true of the Amendments. Having said that all installers are still required to install to the latest amendment. Usually when an Amendment is made a new book will be published and it is important that installers update themselves on the changes and hold the latest version of the book. Since the 17th Edition has been in force we have gone from a red to green and now to a yellow book. We have published an online tutorial for anyone looking to find the key changes between the Green and Yellow books here.
When is the 18th edition coming out?
At present we don’t know but there is speculation that it will be published in 2018. When we have a confirmed date you will probably read it here first.
Are there update courses?
Update courses are only required when a new edition is published. When the 17th Edition was first published there was a 1 day update course that helped you move from 16th to 17th Edition. However this has since been discontinued due to the number of amendments. We expect the same to be available when the 18th Edition does finally rear it head.
We have since posted our 2017 Salary Survey with the most up to date data.
Every year we study the data from the Office of National Statistics to let you know what is happening in terms of salaries for electricians, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, tilers and a few other trades.
Average Electrician Salary (£30,444)
So the data is in and following the last 2 surveys it is no surprise that Electricians still earn the most on average of all the trades. Despite increased growth in salaries in a number of different trades electricians still earn around £1300 more than plumbers who are ranked second in this survey. Check out the interactive chart below where you can see the average salary for each trade and also see the percentage change over the last 12 months:
When we last ran this survey interestingly plumbers has seen one of the smallest increases in pay whilst electricians had seen one of the largest. Those roles are now reversed and it looks as if the plumbing industry has been playing catch up over the past year. The really big surprise has been a 10% increase in the average salary for tilers.
How do electricians charge for their time?
When looking at the money each trade earns it is important to note that a "salary" is only really part of the picture. Most of the electricians that work in peoples homes will usually charge a day rate or a fixed rate for particular jobs. Electricians who actually earn a salary are in the minority which the majority working on contract or as a self employed tradesperson. As such it is quite hard to gauge how much an electrician does earn as there are no national statistics for this.
Hourly Rates / Day Rates (£20-£50 Per Hour / £140-£350 Per Day)
Hourly and day rates vary drastically from location to location and electrician to electrician. An experienced electrician in London will most likely charge around £45 per hour or £300 per day, whereas a junior electrician in Newcastle is likely to earn far less in comparison. Most tradesmen tend to charge for a specific job and will include the costs of materials in any quote. As such it can be very hard to gauge how much an electrician is making. A good guide is always how much you are being charged for a new consumer unit. I am based in Brighton and was recently quoted £500 for a new consumer unit. Bearing in mind the units cost around £130 this electrician is likely to take home around £370 for a days work.
What are trainee salaries like? (Around £21K)
Many people start out as apprentices who often earn below the minimum wage. However most Trade Skills 4U customers front load their training and complete their technical certificates first (2365 Level 2&3). This then enables them to command a higher starting salary when they start working as an electricians mate. Most should be able to start out on a trainee wage of around £21k per annum. A quick search online reveals that most jobs for electrician mates start off at around £11 per hour although we have just seen one locally offering £107 per day which comes in at over £25K which is great for a starting salary.
JIB Wage Grades
The JIB publish wage grades on their website here. Whilst the JIB have clear guidelines for what an electrician can earn these are guidelines only and not every employer sticks to these.
As of the 4th January 2016 the JIB suggests you should earn the following hourly rates if you have your own transport:
Trainee Electrician - £11.56 - £13.68
Electrician - £14.39
Approved Electrician - £15.61
Site Technician - £17.57
And if you live in London or the south east you should expect:
Trainee Electrician - £12.94 - £15.33
Electrician - £16.13
Approved Electrician - £17.48
Site Technician - £19.68
In order to qualify for the higher pay grades most people will need to fulfil the following:
1. Trainee Electrician - Apprenticeship or electricians mate usually with C&G 2365 Diplomas
2. Electrician - Relevant qualifications, Level 3 NVQ & AM2 (These days a 2357)
3. Approved Electrician - As per number 2 plus periodic inspection and testing qualification such as the C&G 2394/2395
4. Site Technician - As per number 3 plus over 5 years experience (3 of which in a supervisory role) plus a level 4 qualification such as a HNC
With such a variety of ways to be employed and earn it is very hard to say specifically how much an electrician should earn. We have had students walk out of here straight into jobs installing smart meters earning £150 per day plus a company van and others who end up working on site at £11 per hour. As with any career if you work hard, deliver good quality work and build a solid reputation you should be able to earn a decent salary and have great job satisfaction.