How to become an electrician

An electrician using a multimeter to check the current running through a wire

We rely so heavily on electricity in the modern day, it’s not surprising that electricians are in high demand. For this reason, becoming an electrician could be a suitable choice and career path for you.

Should you choose to become an electrician, you could work in a variety of industries, from construction or renewable energy to agriculture or security. You can even specialise in a particular field or area, like heat pump installation or wind farms. If you’re interested in becoming an electrician in the UK, but don’t know where to start, you can use our guide to find out more about the qualifications you need and how long it can take to become qualified.

What qualifications do I need to be an electrician in the UK?

There are a number of qualifications that you need in order to be an electrician. This is because working with electricity can be dangerous, and it’s imperative that you have the proper training in place to stay safe when at work.

To become a domestic-only electrician prior to September 2021, you used to be able to take a Level 2 diploma in domestic electrical. This would take around a month to complete and would have allowed you to work in residential properties. From September 2021, however, this is no longer the case, and there is a longer list of qualifications you will need, whether you want to become a domestic electrician or otherwise.

To become an electrician in the UK, you will either need to have completed a three to four year electrical apprenticeship (C&G 5357 Electrotechnical qualification) or a diploma/NVQ.

An apprenticeship involves working with a qualified employer while also occasionally taking time out to attend college. Being employed allows you to gain practical experience in the field, while attending college allows you to learn the theoretical aspects of the career. Your apprenticeship may be fully or partially funded by the government, and you will earn money through your employer as well.

Once you have finished your apprenticeship, you would be considered a fully qualified electrician.

How to become an electrician without an apprenticeship

You may be wondering whether you can become an electrician without needing to do an apprenticeship. It is possible, and there are three qualifications you can get instead:

  • C&G 2365 Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installations
  • C&G 2365 Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installations
  • C&G 2357 Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Electrotechnical Technology

You will need to do all three of these courses in order to gain the same qualification as someone who has completed an electrical apprenticeship. The 2357 NVQ is specifically designed for those with less than five years’ experience or for those who have recently completed their Level 2 and 3 diplomas in electrical installations.

Once your NVQ is complete, you will have to partake in an AM2 assessment. This is a final exam or assessment that allows you to demonstrate what you’ve learnt during your NVQ.

Taking this route can be beneficial if you’re an adult who’s looking for a change of career or if you haven’t been able to find an employer to take you on as an apprentice. If you’re able to, you can work as an electrician’s assistant while doing your NVQ to help you gain much-needed practical experience, but also to make contacts in the industry.

Whichever route you choose to take (apprenticeship or diploma/NVQ), you will finish with the same qualifications that are set to the City & Guild standards. The two paths only differ in how they’re delivered and the amount of time it takes to complete them.

How long does it take to become an electrician?

How long it takes to become an electrician may depend on whether you’re taking the apprenticeship route or whether you have decided to get the qualifications without doing an apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship is usually run over three to four years. During this time, you’ll also be working alongside an employer, and by the end of the four years, you’ll be fully qualified.

If you’re doing the individual qualifications instead, it will take approximately:

  • Three months to complete the C&G 2365 Level 2 Diploma
  • Three months to complete the C&G 2365 Level 3 Diploma
  • At least 12 to 18 months to complete the C&G 2365 Level 3 NVQ

This means, should you decide not to do an apprenticeship to become an electrician, it would take you a minimum of 19 to 25 months. Although we’ve noted that it takes at least 12 to 18 months to complete the Level 3 NVQ, this can be nearer to two years, in which case the total time would come to 31 months.

Once your training is complete, you can then decide whether you want to work for another electrician or go self-employed and start up your own electrician business. There is no right or wrong decision here, and your choice may depend on your personal circumstances or simply which path you’re most drawn to.

As a self-employed electrician, you could have more control over the type of work you take on, how much you wish to charge for each project and who completes work for you. Your day-to-day tasks might include fixing existing electrical systems, installing new electrical systems and checking the systems for faults. Part of having your own business involves finance and administration tasks, so these will also need to be completed in a timely manner.

How much does it cost to become an electrician?

If you’re an apprentice, you won’t need to pay anything to become an electrician. Instead, you will be paid a wage by your employer and will be allowed to spend 20% of your working hours in training (either in college or online).

If you decide to become an electrician without doing an apprenticeship, you will need to fund this yourself. A C&G 2365 Level 2 Diploma can cost between £2,300 to £3,300. A C&G 2365 Level 3 Diploma can cost around £3,300. The NVQ will cost between £1,400 and £1,700, though this is the cost without the AM2 assessment. With this assessment included, the price could increase to up to £1,900. This means should you take the diploma/NVQ training route, you could expect to pay up to £8,500 in total.

Once you’re a fully qualified electrician, it’s a good idea to have the right protection and insurance in place if you decide to go self-employed so that you’re covered if an accident occurs while you’re working. At Markel Direct, we provide insurance for electricians that can protect you if an accident occurs while you’re working or if you accidentally cause damage to a customer’s property.

Business insurance from £5 a month