It’s notable that a career within the electrical industry, with its attractive options, remains a choice for lots of people. Whilst the original term is ‘Electro-Mechanical Engineering’ we will simply refer to the subject as the Electrical Industry. 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.
We consider that there are two ways to enter the electrical market. The first is for those wishing to train via a more traditional apprenticeship route, and the second is for people who are entering the field at a later stage in life. To clarify, we’ll label each of them as the ‘Mature Entrants’ and the ‘Junior Entrants’.
Primarily, those who join the industry later on, (the Mature Entrants,) generally do so with the aim of becoming self-employed at some point, or to work on their own building projects etc. without having to pay wages to external electricians. On the other hand, to gain further credentials and experience ‘Junior Entrants’ tend to work for a recognised electrical firm. To be fair, young apprentices leaving school will have a lot of supplementary skills to learn during their early years as a working adult.
The different ways into electrical work have two distinct types of training: Junior entrants go through NVQ training in England and Wales, and SVQ training in Scotland. The training itself is similar to non NVQ training, but completion of the full programme means getting the actual qualifications. ‘Junior Entrants’ will have to be in an apprenticeship of some sort in order to achieve the testing and course work required.
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. Such as obtaining documentation that gives them the best chance to gain from their training endeavours and thereby the best financial rewards. This method allows for a quicker route to the market and does meet the necessary trading elements for the areas concerned despite reducing the overall qualification set.
Between self-employment and general employment we have two routes to consider in terms of typical income. Whilst we will focus on full time employment, there exists the issue as to whether self-employed people are doing this full time or part 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. On the other hand experienced self-employed electricians have been known to earn around 70 thousand or more within the UK. 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.) Self employed people also have to allow for added expenses. With the current skills shortage in the UK, there is a high work load demand available. In light of the above, a full seven day week is available to most people should they want it. To be fair, high salaries bounded about by the press do require long working hours or help to achieve them.
In light of the above, it is often understood that there is wild variance between the working expectations of Junior and Mature Entrants. Electricians who are ‘Junior Entrants’ would work a simple 40 hour working week. To be fair, if the Mature electrician is focused on the domestic market then they often find themselves working out of hours, especially to support their clients when they get home. 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.
If a Junior Electrician chooses an electrical career, then the main business actions of their company often dictate the type of expertise that they gain. But by securing work within the fields of gas or plumbing many mature entrants can gain knowledge outside of their chosen path. Certainly if they are employed within the domestic sector this makes it easier to take on work without having to rely upon other people.
An up to the minute angle – involving a new level of skills – is that of the so called ‘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.