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Electricity Distribution Worker

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Electricity Distribution Worker

The Work

As an electricity distribution (or 'transmission') worker, you would look after the network that supplies electricity from power stations to homes, industry and businesses.

You could work in one of three main areas of electricity transmission:

  • overhead transmission or lines work building and repairing overhead power lines
  • work as a cable jointer joining and repairing underground cables, and connecting customers to the electricity supply network
  • electrical fitting installing, repairing and maintaining equipment in substations, to control, protect and monitor electricity flow.

Whichever area you worked in, your duties would generally include:

  • keeping equipment in good working order
  • switching operations
  • installing and dismantling equipment such as transmission cables
  • assembling or removing components
  • adjusting and configuring electrical systems
  • finding and diagnosing faults
  • inspecting and testing cables and other equipment
  • following strict health and safety procedures at all times.

Hours and Environment

You would work a 37-hour week which may include shifts, as you would often take part in a standby rota for emergencies outside normal working hours. Overtime may be necessary.

Conditions can vary. Much of the work takes place outside, in all weather conditions. Overhead lines work is at height, using safety access equipment.

Skills and Interests


  • good practical skills
  • physical fitness and stamina
  • a basic knowledge of physics and maths to understand the principles of electricity
  • good communication skills
  • problem-solving ability
  • the ability to work both as part of a team and also on your own without supervision
  • awareness of health and safety.

Entry

You don't always need qualifications to work in electricity distribution, although you will need a good standard of general education and you may have an advantage with some GCSEs or similar. You should check entry requirements with individual employers.

However, you will often get into this type of work through an Apprenticeship scheme. For this, most employers ask for at least four GCSEs (A-C), including maths, English, and another relevant subject such as science, engineering or design and technology.

The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

If you are not joining the industry through an Apprenticeship, you will find it useful to have previous experience or qualifications in electrical engineering and maintenance.

Training

You will be trained by your employer, through a mixture of learning on the job and taking some formal courses at a training centre.

Your training will usually include the chance to achieve one of the new work-based City & Guilds Level 2 and 3 Diploma in Electrical Power Engineering, with the following options:

  • Overhead Lines
  • Underground Cables.

These replace the former NVQ Level 2 in Electricity System Technology Engineering Support  and Level 3 in Electricity System Technology Engineering.

You could also take short courses in subjects such as high voltage safety, through a training company such as AFAQ-ETA see their website for details.

Many employers will want you to register in an appropriate safety passport scheme to prove that you have the knowledge and safety awareness to work on site. Relevant safety passport schemes for electricity distribution include:

  • Basic Electrical Safety Competence Scheme (BESC) Substations, Overhead Lines or Underground Cables
  • Construction Safety Certification Scheme (CSCS) White Card (Construction-related Occupations).

See the Energy & Utility Skills Register or CSCS websites for more information.

Opportunities

You could work for one of the four national transmission companies (such as National Grid), or a regional distribution company. Prospects are good for skilled workers for example, there is currently a shortage of qualified overhead transmission workers.

Jobs may be advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus or on employers' own websites.

With experience, you could progress to team leader, or choose to study further and become an electrical engineering technician or electrical engineer.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and further reading (links open in new window):

Association of Electricity Producers
Energy Networks Association
JustUtilities.net
Utility Job Search

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income


  • Apprentices can earn between 11,000 and 15,000 a year.
  • Experienced and qualified workers may earn between 20,000 and 45,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.
 

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