How to become an electrician

Customisable business insurance
22 June 2022
5 minute read

A career as an electrician can be secure and financially lucrative. Reliable electricians will always be in demand, as there’s always a need to fit, service, and repair electrical infrastructure in homes, offices, and beyond. And thanks to that, it also means that an electrician's salary usually comes in above average in the UK.

What skills do you need to become an electrician?

Along with being friendly and approachable, here are some of the practical and interpersonal skills you’ll need to become an electrician:

  • Manual dexterity – the ability to use, repair and maintain equipment and tools
  • A good knowledge of building and construction
  • A head for maths and the ability to understand technical and wiring plans
  • Excellent communication and customer service skills
  • Good problem solving skills
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Great initiative and adaptability
  • Good organisational and administrative skills
  • Ability to carry out basic digital tasks on a computer or tablet
  • A natural inclination to working slowly and methodically to ensure a safe working environment

How much is the average electrician salary in the UK?

If you’re an employed electrician, the average starter salary (working 30-40 hours a week) is £18,000 - £23,000. Experienced electricians can earn around £35,000 - £42,000.

If you’re self-employed, you’re free to set your own rate. Most self-employed electricians work on a day rate, which can range from around £150 to £280 per day depending on your specialism, experience and possibly your location.

For smaller jobs you might decide to charge by the hour. Hourly rates tend to start at around £30 and go up to £50 per hour, read more about tradesman pay rates in our guide.

Calculate your day rate

Use our tool to work out how much you might earn as an electrician

What’s a typical day in the life of an electrician?

This really depends on where you’re working. Electricians can work in lots of different environments including people’s homes, offices, construction sites, factories, indoors or outdoors! It's a varied job. But the day-to-day task list for a self-employed electrician could include:

  • Installing power systems and lighting (this could include lifts, heating, and escalators in buildings)
  • Repairing and rewiring
  • Fixing electrical faults
  • Performing safety inspections
  • Supervising a team of electrical fitters

And depending on your specialism they could also include:

  • Servicing street lights, traffic lights, or display signs on motorways
  • Upgrading rail systems and signalling
  • Assembling, repairing and fitting motors, drives and programmable logic control (PLC) panels.

How to become an electrician

How to become an electrician

1. Electrician qualifications

GCSE’s are a good place to start. Recommended subjects include maths, English and science. But plenty of mature learners don’t have these qualifications so don’t be put off.

There are two key ways you can train to get an electrician certification:

  • An electrical apprenticeship (spreading training over 3-4 years)
  • Or via a City & Guilds Diploma, Technical Certificates, NVQ & AM2 (getting your training upfront, with the option to ‘top up’ with the NVQ while you work)

You can learn at college or via a reputable private training skills provider. It’s important to note that the domestic installer route is no longer recognised by the governing bodies as of September 2021 which is why we haven’t included it. It pays to keep your eye on the rules and regs!

So it doesn’t matter which route you decide to take. Just ensure that you have at least level three electrical or electro-technical qualifications, and that these are awarded by the industry recognised EAL or City and Guilds. Both are required.

2. Gain experience

One of the reasons getting an apprenticeship is such a good idea is that it gives you on-site practical experience. And you can do an apprenticeship to become an electrician while completing your college courses or NVQ. An internship under the supervision of a qualified electrician is another possibility.

When it comes to finding a job, get in touch with lots of electricians and ask about work experience. You may have to send your CV to quite a few people, but if you get just one positive response it’ll be worth it. And the chances are if you make a good impression, you’ll be asked to stay – or at least be at the top of their list of recommendations!

3. Decide whether or not to specialise

Depending on where your strengths and interests lie, you might decide to specialise once you’ve qualified. There’s certainly a wide range of routes you could follow, like design or project management, but depending on your path you may need extra qualifications or industry experience.

Some examples of specialist areas include:

  • Technical electrician – great if you have a good eye for detail
  • Site based manager – if you want to move into a more supervisory role
  • Estimating – one for the maths nerds, as you'll be costing up jobs using specialist software
  • Electrical contracts – if you want to move into contract management and have good organisational and planning skills
  • Electrical design – perfect if you’re you're creative and technical, and know how to turn ideas into reality
  • Senior management – great if your plan is to work your way to the top. Challenging but rewarding!

If you chose to be self-employed, you’ll need to decide on a legal structure. It’s common to operate as a sole trader, but in some cases it might make more sense to start a limited company.

Sole trader

As a sole trader, you are self-employed, run your business yourself, and fill out your own Self Assessment tax returns every year. An advantage to becoming a sole trader is that it’s pretty easy to set up, and you can deduct certain expenses from your income when it comes to working out your taxable profit, including business travel, business insurances, stock, subsistence and so on.

Limited company

A limited company has its own legal identity, so it’s separate from its owners and directors. An advantage to having a limited company is limited liability – meaning that you aren’t personally liable for any financial debt run up by the business. It also has tax advantages. Limited companies pay 19% corporation tax so they tend to be more tax efficient, and they also qualify for more allowances and tax deductible expenses.

If you’re looking to set up a limited company, read our guide for more detail.

5. Sort out insurance

Get covered! As a working electrician it’s super important that you have public liability, tools, and personal accident insurance, just in case an accident happens or something goes wrong. Business insurance for electricians makes sure you're financially covered for these risks, and your business is protected.

To find out more about what’s on offer check out our business insurance for electricians.

6. Market your services

Finally, once you’re up and running it’s time to get yourself some clients. Marketing your services should include:

  • Creating a website, something you can definitely do yourself – check out our guide to the best website builders
  • Setting up social media
  • Making a Google My Business profile (a free tool that enables you to manage and optimise your business profile on Google)

From there you could offer welcome discounts, and encourage positive reviews from happy customers. Which we’re sure you’ll have many!

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This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.

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