For many people, an interesting and varied choice often means a career within the electrical industry. Whilst the original term is ‘Electro-Mechanical Engineering’ we will simply refer to the subject as the Electrical Industry. Also, due to a wide variety of qualifications and standards throughout the world, we’ll focus on those that fit the UK domestic and commercial market. 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.
Really there are two main 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. 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. Whereas the ‘Junior Entrants’ train alongside regular electrical employment to pick up practical work place skills as they gain their qualifications. To be fair, young apprentices leaving school will have a lot of supplementary skills to learn during their early years as a working adult.
These two distinct types of entry have two separate modes of training: It is the involvement with NVQ’s (or SVQ’s for Scotland), that differentiate the Junior Entrants. There is a particular requirement to attain the NVQ qualifications as part of the overall program. This means that work programs or apprenticeships have to be sought in order to arrange the necessary course work and testing phases of work.
By working independently and without the need for NVQ assessments, many Mature Entrants can concentrate on those areas that provide the biggest profit and offer the largest practical solutions for themselves. For example by concentrating on those qualifications aimed at giving them the best return from their training costs. This method may appear to reduce the levels of knowledge overall, but it does allow for an increase in the speed by which people enter and become more prevalent within the market.
With regard to regular earning potential we have two clear paths – one for employees and the other for the self-employed. 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. Certainly, whilst salary levels can be affected by knowledge and qualifications, they can also be affected by competence and aptitude.
‘Junior Entrants’ can expect a basic salary of 12K at the beginning of their training. With application and experience this figure often more than doubles in time. ‘Mature Entrants’ salaries though are often more difficult to work out, but can rise to 70.000 and above as reported in UK newspapers. 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. Working 7 days a week is totally achievable for most people if they want it. It should be understood that the 70-100k figures that we see thrown around in newspapers are not easily achieved, and would either require working long hours or having assistants (or both.)
To be fair, most Junior and Mature electricians experience very different working hours to each other. Most ‘Junior Entrants’ do not work at the weekends. 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. Although by testing and installing various business systems, many self-employed electricians manage to work during a normal working 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. They can take on larger jobs and do all the work themselves then – which is a particularly great benefit to domestic clients.
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 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.