The fact is that a career within the electrical sphere is a frequent alternative for many people. Within this document we will not use the full term of Electro-Mechanical Engineering but use the term Electrical Industry instead. Equally we’ll focus on those credentials that fit the UK domestic and commercial sector rather than those from around the world. Due to the huge list of opportunities available for a career in the electrical industry, we have to begin by focusing on the main areas and look at the ‘add-ons’ later on.
The electrical market has in our opinion two methods of entry. Initially there’s the more traditional apprenticeship approach, but equally there is now an alternative, suited to those who are keen to enter later in their life. There are two sets of people for consideration firstly the ‘Junior Entrants’ and secondly the ‘Mature Entrants’.
Many Mature Entrants enter the market so they don’t have to rely on others, especially when they can work on their own building ideas and not have to pay for anyone else to help them. However, people who join as junior entrants like the fact that they can join a recognised firm to pick up the bulk of their practical and work based skills. Upon leaving school many apprenticeships provide a fast learning curve for young adults looking to boost their auxiliary skills.
Clearly these two options have both differing training styles and methods of entry. Junior entrants go through NVQ training in England and Wales, and SVQ training in Scotland. An NVQ qualification would need to be obtained as part of the training program. New employees gain the necessary course work and testing elements through an apprenticeship or some form of suitable work program.
By opting to work on a freelance basis, many Mature Entrants appear to focus on those areas that provide profitable and practical solutions other than NVQ’s. Having said that, the mature student does aim to gain the necessary skills to do the job, whilst at the same time reducing their training costs at all times. Although this may offer quicker and more commercial options, it does reduce the official requirements set for certain areas of the industry.
Between self-employment and general employment we have two routes to consider in terms of typical income. With self-employment a person may be working on a part-time or full time basis -to that end we will assume they are working full time. The aptitude and talent for getting things done can affect the levels of salary as well as any experience or knowledge gained.
‘Junior Entrants’ can expect a basic salary of 12K at the beginning of their training. With application and experience this figure often more than doubles in time. ‘Mature Entrants’ salaries though are often more difficult to work out, but can rise to 70.000 and above as reported in UK newspapers. Regardless of all that is the need to cover off additional costs such as tools, clothes and even a vehicle and all that goes along with that. Furthermore, professional items such as accountancy, tax and insurance need to be considered to make the business work properly. Whilst there is lots of available work, a severe skills shortage means electricians are very much in demand. If a student wanted to work every day of the week this would be possible in some areas. To be fair, high salaries bounded about by the press do require long working hours or help to achieve them.
It should be noted that the working week for most electricians differs between the Junior and Mature Entrant markets. Most ‘Junior Entrants’ do not work at the weekends. That aside the Mature market is equally affected by when their clients are available – this is especially so within the domestic sector, where evening and weekend work predominates. This alters quite a bit, with lots of self employed electricians gaining much of their income from small office work, which is predominantly Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
Once a career in electrical work has been chosen, a Junior Electrician is often at the mercy of their employer when it comes to learning new skills and expertise. Whereas the mature entrant can gain knowledge from any trade source – even one outside of the core of electrical work. Without a doubt the extra skills help them in their overall employ whether this is commercial or domestic work.
One new, fast growing area – one that invokes a wide array of skills sets and is new to the industry overall – is that of the ‘Green Engineer’. The chance to win some big employment and business advantages within the governmental as well as the traditional growth sector means that this area could be attractive to both Junior and Mature Entrants alike.