For many people, an interesting and varied choice often means a career within the electrical industry. From here on we will use the phrase of Electrical Industry to explain the more accurate term of “Electro-Mechanical Engineering”. 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.
We consider that there are two ways to enter the electrical market. To being with we have the older apprentice course and then secondly we have the option for those who wish to make a career change to join the industry. There are two sets of people for consideration firstly the ‘Junior Entrants’ and secondly the ‘Mature Entrants’.
People who do not want to pay any extra salaries, but want to enter the industry with the focus of being self employed are who we refer to as Mature Entrants. By contrast, Junior entrants would seek to work with an established electrical firm and build their skill-sets as they train. This could be a young apprentice’s first position since leaving school, so it will be necessary to pick up supplementary working skills.
Entry has two separate approaches to teaching. In essence, the Junior Entrants follow an NVQ syllabus, or SVQ syllabus in Scotland. Whilst the core syllabus is relatively similar to non-NVQ commercial training, there is a particular requirement to attain the actual NVQ qualifications as part of the overall training program. As a result students often have to find their own work programmes to give them the relevant testing and course work covered by most apprenticeships.
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. This system does meet the purposes set out and therefore often provides a faster and more direct route into a trading position.
Salaries are often simply broken down to those that relate to self -employed people and those in general employment. The question remains as to how much work per week a self-employed person puts in – for the sake of this review we assume that it is full time. Skill and knowledge levels can often determine salary levels, although this is equally via a proven ability or certification scheme.
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. That aside, many added costs need to be remembered by self employed people in order to make their business work. They will also have to make allocations for personal or professional insurance and accountancy. Whilst there is lots of available work, a severe skills shortage means electricians are very much in demand. Working 7 days a week is totally achievable for most people if they want it. To achieve the high salaries of 70+ thousand then you will need to put in very long hours and commit yourself fully.
Firstly, it is worth pointing out that the working week between the Junior and Mature electricians can vary enormously. ‘Junior Entrants’ would normally be required to work Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. While on the other hand, the opportunities in the domestic market (where mature entrants often work) can be heavily dependent upon when the clients get home. There are however lots of opportunities for self-employed electricians to do work on small business systems during normal office hours.
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. They can take on larger jobs and do all the work themselves then – which is a particularly great benefit to domestic clients.
An area that is relatively new to the industry overall, yet requires new expertise is that of ‘Green Engineering’. 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.