Construction, Mechanical & Electrical Trades

Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical systems in domestic, commercial and industrial buildings, anywhere that requires electricity for power, lighting, heating and other services. Installation electricians install electrical systems into new buildings and conversions of old buildings. Maintenance electricians work on the upkeep of existing electrical systems.

Work Activities

Electricians are responsible for the safe installation and maintenance of electrical systems.

There are different types of electrician:

Installation electricians are involved in getting electrical systems into homes, offices, hospitals, theatres, any type of building. They work both indoors and outdoors.

They install the cables, wiring, meters and other equipment which is needed so as to provide electricity in a building.

They interpret technical drawings to decide how to run cabling to those areas of the building that need electricity and where to place switches, sockets, lights and any other devices.

Installation electricians also work with lighting, heating, air-conditioning and fire alarm systems. They might be involved in designing the electrical systems.

Maintenance electricians take care of electrical systems to ensure that they continue to work properly. This involves regular checks of the system, diagnosing faults and solving any problems. They can work in a variety of locations, such as supermarkets, schools, stadiums and manufacturing companies.

Electrical safety is a very important part of the job. The electrician must ensure that the electrical system is safe to use and adhere to safe working practices.

Working hours are usually 30-40 hours per week. Sometimes electricians have to work in cramped spaces, at height or outdoors. Travel between sites may be necessary.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for electricians:

  • Good practical skills
  • Be able to read and interpret technical drawings
  • Be able to work carefully, methodically and safely
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Be able to work alone and also with others
  • Good communication skills
  • Be thorough and enjoy seeing a job through from start to finish

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of electricians

  • Small businesses
  • Large electrical contracting companies
  • Qualified and experienced electricians can become self-employed.


Qualifications and training required

An apprenticeship is the usual route into the industry. Electrical apprentices work with an employer learning the technical skills of the job, whilst also studying towards an NVQ Level 3, the qualification that is most widely used and recognised by the industry.

After completing your electrotechnical apprenticeship, you could stay with your employer, learning new skills and progress onto larger projects, supervisory roles and design engineering. With experience, you could move into a related area, such as energy generation and distribution, nuclear power, offshore energy distribution and data communications.

You could continue to study while earning, working towards an HND, Degree or Master's Degree in a related area such as Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering or Telecommunications.

In Scotland applicants for electrician apprenticeships are likely to require either National 4 or National 5s depending on the company. Subjects such as English, Maths and a Science/technological subject are likely to be useful.

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