It’s notable that a career within the electrical industry, with its attractive options, remains a choice for lots of people. From here on we will use the phrase of Electrical Industry to explain the more accurate term of “Electro-Mechanical Engineering”. Equally we’ll focus on those credentials that fit the UK domestic and commercial sector rather than those from around the world. By starting on the main subjects and checking the ‘add-ons’ later on we can review the centre of the electrical industry.
Really there are two main 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 begin with we have the ‘Junior Entrants’ and then we have the ‘Mature 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. This could be a young apprentice’s first position since leaving school, so it will be necessary to pick up supplementary working 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. The training itself is similar to non NVQ training, but completion of the full programme means getting the actual qualifications. New employees gain the necessary course work and testing elements through an apprenticeship or some form of suitable work program.
Mature Entrants, with the possible aim of entering the market from a self-employed perspective, seem to focus on attaining the most commercially viable qualifications (without the need for the NVQ element.) 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.
Salaries are often simply broken down to those that relate to self -employed people and those in general employment. For the sake of this document we will assume that everyone involved in electrical employment is 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.
Basic salary for Junior Entrants can start at around 12 thousand per annum, often going above 35 thousand after several years in industry. That said, due to the UK press telling people that electricians can get salaries in excess of 70k p.a., it is more difficult to gauge incomes for ‘Mature Entrants’. Often costs such as tools, clothes and even transport need to be assessed and included in the business mix overall. They will also have to make allocations for personal or professional insurance and accountancy. Aside from that, the current skills shortage within the UK still means that there’s lots of high value work out there. Certainly, working a full week is a realistic possibility for those who want to. Whilst figures of seventy to a hundred thousand are often bandied around in the press, they do not often inform you of the long hours you would need to work to achieve this.
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. Whereas the Mature market can be more dependent on the domestic market for some – i.e. weekend and evening work, when their clients are available and 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.
Any specialist knowledge the Junior Entrant gains whilst in someone’s employ is usually down to the sectors of industry that company works in. Whereas the mature entrant can gain knowledge from any trade source – even one outside of the core of electrical work. Within the domestic market this allows them to work under a range of headings without having to rely upon sub contract suppliers.
An up to the minute angle – involving a new level of skills – is that of the so called ‘Green Engineer’. This could be an area of interest to both Junior and Mature Entrants, and with the expected growth and governmental (both UK & EEC) support, it could provide some highly lucrative employment and business opportunities.