Lots of people choose a career within the electrical industry because it both appeals and motivates them. Within this document we will not use the full term of Electro-Mechanical Engineering but use the term Electrical Industry instead. As there are a wide variety of global standards, we will focus on those from the UK and in particular those relating to the domestic and commercial markets. 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.
We consider that there are two ways to enter the electrical market. Whilst many candidates opt to join later on in their life, there still exists the more traditional route of the apprenticeship. For the sake of clarity throughout, the first will be known as ‘Junior Entrants’ and the second simply known as ‘Mature Entrants.’
Principally, Mature Entrants join the electrical workplace later on, and focus on becoming self employed. This means working on their own and not having to pay salaries to anyone else. Those who join as Junior Entrants, on the other hand, appear to do so with the aim of joining an established electrical firm – in order to gain further qualifications and experience whilst picking up practical and other work-place skills. During their first years in the working environment, a young apprentice, or junior entrant, will have a host of additional skills to learn.
The two different ways into the industry have two separate methods of preparation. 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. This requires being in a directly-related work program or apprenticeship of some type, so as to meet the testing and course-work requirements.
Many mature students gain entry into the market without the NVQ element, and simply choose the most commercially practical route to self employed work. For example by concentrating on those qualifications aimed at giving them the best return from their training costs. Although this may offer quicker and more commercial options, it does reduce the official requirements set for certain areas of the industry.
We should differentiate the prospective earnings into the two categories of employed and self-employed. Obviously, with self-employment, there is the added issue of whether the Entrant is part-time (working around another job) or full-time; we will concentrate on full-time. Income levels are also dictated by experience and knowledge gained – usually proven via an accredited proficiency or certification level.
Basic salary for Junior Entrants can start at around 12 thousand per annum, often going above 35 thousand after several years in industry. Conversely, the UK newspapers often report experienced mature electricians can expect an income of anything up to 70.000. Often costs such as tools, clothes and even transport need to be assessed and included in the business mix overall. Furthermore, professional items such as accountancy, tax and insurance need to be considered to make the business work properly. 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.
For the most part there is a strong difference between the Junior and Mature Entrants’ working week. Electricians who are ‘Junior Entrants’ would work a simple 40 hour working week. But due to the needs of the domestic market the Mature Entrant is often more reliant upon when their client base gets back from work. With many self-employed electricians the core of their income comes from items such as business testing and installation and as such operates during the main part of the week.
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. Alternatively, the mature entrant can gain other training outside of their chosen field, such as gas and plumbing work. Within the domestic market this allows them to work under a range of headings without having to rely upon sub contract suppliers.
An area that is relatively new to the industry overall, yet requires new expertise is that of ‘Green Engineering’. The curiosity of both Junior and Mature Electricians to this new industry is well founded especially when considering the power of the UK and the EEC markets in areas of growth and governmental projects.