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. Also, for ease we will concentrate on those principles that sit within the domestic and commercial markets for the UK. As this is such a wide ranging subject matter we’ll begin by sticking to the main area first and come back to the ‘add-ons’ later.
Basically there are two clear ways to gain admission into the electrical market. Along with apprenticeships for school leavers, students entering the field at a later phase in their life now have an alternative to more traditional amateur routes. Throughout this document we will simply refer to two types of people the ‘Junior’ and the ‘Mature’ entrants.
Mature Entrants who join the industry later on do so with the aim of working for themselves, usually as a one person business. Alternatively, ‘Junior Entrants’ will pick up lots of their work place skills by working with an already reputable electrical company. After they leave school a young apprentice will have many skills to learn during their first few years of working life.
These two distinct types of entry have two separate modes of training: Junior entrants go through NVQ training in England and Wales, and SVQ training in Scotland. The core syllabus is similar to non NVQ commercial training, but the certification is compulsory. 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. i.e. Those certifications that will get them up and running with the best financial return from their training investment. This system, although appearing to reduce the attributes laid out, does allow for a faster and more solid entry into the domestic market.
With regard to regular earning potential we have two clear paths – one for employees and the other for the self-employed. Whilst self-employed people can choose the hours that they work, we assume that they are working full time for the purpose of this review. The aptitude and talent for getting things done can affect the levels of salary as well as any experience or knowledge gained.
With the right level of experience, ‘Junior Entrants’ salaries can rise considerably from twelve to thirty thousand pounds per annum. ‘Mature Entrants’ salaries though are often more difficult to work out, but can rise to 70.000 and above as reported in UK newspapers. However, it should be borne in mind that a self-employed person must meet their own costs for tools, clothes and vehicles (including insurance and petrol.) Allocations for personal/professional insurance will also have to be catered for. That aside, whilst the work is open to market-forces to some degree, the current skills shortage in the UK means that there’s a high work-load available. Therefore, working seven days a week (if a student wanted) is a possibility for most. Although by working very long hours and having assistants to help, the figures of 70-100 thousand advertised in newspapers might be achieved, it wouldn’t be easy.
Firstly, it is worth pointing out that the working week between the Junior and Mature electricians can vary enormously. Monday to Friday 9-5 would be the working week of most ‘Junior Entrants’. 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. Again, this varies considerably, and many self-employed electricians make the mainstay of their income from office and small business installation, testing and inspection, which is Mon-Fri 9-5pm.
To be fair it’s often the boss of a company who states the type of specialist knowledge that Junior Entrants gain whilst in their employ. Whereas the mature entrant can gain knowledge from any trade source – even one outside of the core of electrical work. If they are working mostly in the domestic market, this makes it easier for them to take on larger jobs across a range of disciplines (without having to sub-contract.)
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 opportunity to provide both employment and potential service contracts, especially in the UK and the EEC sectors, mean that this area is of interest to both Junior and Mature electricians.