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Industrial Electrician

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

Industrial Electrician

The Work

Industrial electricians install, inspect and test wiring systems and components in all types of buildings and machinery. They typically work in the construction, engineering and manufacturing industries.

As an industrial electrician you would usually work in one of four areas:

  • panel building – putting together control panels that operate a building's lighting, heating and ventilation systems
  • repair and rewind – fixing faults in machinery, for example replacing the motors in a lift system
  • instrumentation – installing and maintaining manufacturing systems that measure the efficiency of a production line
  • maintenance – testing and servicing electromechanical equipment found in manufacturing and construction.

You might also specialise in highway electrical systems, testing circuits, and repairing faults on street lighting, traffic lights and motorway message signs. You would often use mobile high access platforms to reach work areas.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work between 37 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with the possibility of overtime. If you work as a maintenance electrician in a factory, you could work shifts, including nights and weekends.

With the exception of highways jobs, you would spend most of your time working in factories, offices or workshops.

Skills and Interests


  • good practical skills to use hand and power tools
  • the ability to follow technical drawings and instructions
  • a methodical approach to work
  • a commitment to keep up to date with industry developments
  • the ability to work on your own and as part of a team
  • good communications skills
  • the ability to make accurate measurements
  • a thorough understanding of electrical safety rules and regulations.

Entry

To qualify as an industrial electrician, you must have the Electrotechnical Services NVQ at Level 3*, awarded by City & Guilds or EMTA Awards Limited. If you are already working in the industry but do not have the NVQ, please refer straight to the training and development section below.

You may be able to get into this career through an Apprenticeship scheme with an electrical contractor. 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. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

If you are not eligible for an apprenticeship scheme and not employed in the industry, you could take the City & Guilds (2330) Technical Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology levels 2 and 3 at a college. The Technical certificates cover the theory and some of the practical skills needed for the job. However, to become fully qualified you must complete the work-based NVQ.

*From September 2010, the 2330 and 2356 qualifications will be replaced by the Diploma in Electrotechnology (working title), course code 2357. For more information, see the announcement on the City & Guilds website.

There is strong competition for places on the courses, and college entry requirements will often include an aptitude test. Due to health and safety regulations, you may not be able to complete a training course if you are colour-blind. Check with your chosen college about restrictions and whether they can offer you a colour vision assessment test.

Industry bodies strongly recommend that you find a placement or employment with an electrical contractor as soon as possible after starting the technical certificates, so that you can complete the NVQ. Your training provider may help with placements but you can also contact companies directly.

See the SummitSkills website for more details about a career as an industrial electrician.

Overseas qualified electricians
If you have qualified as an electrician outside the UK, you must register with the Electrotechnical Card Scheme (ECS). You will need to do three things to register:

You will also need to contact the self-certification training providers for details about how to meet Part P requirements of the Building Regulations.

Electricians with pre-1996 qualifications
If you qualified as an electrician before the NVQs were introduced, you should contact the Joint Industry Board for the Electrical Contracting Industry (JIB), who will assess your experience and qualifications to decide whether or not you sufficiently meet their requirements. They will be able to tell you if you need to take further qualifications.

Training

If you are employed in the industry, you can qualify as an industrial electrician by working towards one of three options on the Electrotechnical Services NVQ at Level 3:

  • Electrotechnical Services, which covers four areas: Installation, Maintenance, Installing Instrumentation & Associated Equipment and Installing Highway Electrical Systems.
  • Electrical Panel Building
  • Electrical Machine Rewind and Repair.

Employers may ask you take two other qualifications:

  • City & Guilds (2391) Inspection, Testing and Certification of Installations
  • City & Guilds (2382) 17th Edition IEE Wiring Regulations.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
If your job involves carrying out portable appliance testing (also known as PAT testing), you will need relevant training to do so. The City & Guilds In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment (2377) course is a common option, however, any course that conforms to the IEE Codes of Practice would be suitable.

You do not necessarily have to be a qualified electrician to carry out PAT testing, however, you would need to be considered a ‘competent person’. This is normally demonstrated by qualifications and/or relevant experience. For more details, visit the PAT Testing Information website.

Electrical Safety and Part P
Part P of the Building Regulations states that certain types of household electrical work must be approved by a certified contractor or building inspector. You can certify your own work by completing a short Part P training scheme. See the Part P contacts below for details about certification training, entry requirements and information about the electrical work that requires approval.

The scheme may have certain entry requirements, depending on your qualifications and experience. Some providers may offer extra training if you need it, for instance, 17th Edition Wiring Regulations.

Environmental Technologies
The government has recently set targets for greater energy efficiency in a bid to combat climate change. With further training, you may be able to install and maintain renewable energy technologies like solar electric systems. To find out more about this growing area of work, see the Environmental Technologies section of the SummitSkills website.

Opportunities

You would find work with electrical contractors, building and engineering firms, manufacturing companies, local authorities and the NHS. You could also set up your own business.

You could also move into domestic installation work. See the Electrician job profile for more details about this role.

With experience, you could gain promotion to supervisory and management jobs, electrical estimating and contract management.

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

Engineering Jobs Network
Directgov (Jobseekers page)
Just Engineers

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

Annual Income


  • Salaries for newly qualified electricians can be around £20,000 a year.
  • With experience, this can rise to between £22,000 and £28,000.
  • Experienced electricians with specialist grading can earn over £30,000 a year.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
 

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