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Discuss My Story on How to Become a 'Qualified' Electrician - for Career Changers in the Electrical Courses and Electrical NVQ's area at ElectriciansForums.net

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BP Electrics

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Many individuals ask how to become a 'qualified' electrician (as I once did). But they should really be asking how to become a 'competent' electrician, since competency is the key to success for anyone looking to join the trade. Qualifications are actually only part of the process. It's safe to say that you can't become a 'competent' electrician unless you are both 'informed' and 'skilled' - you will be 'informed' when you have studied and gained qualifications, and you will be 'skilled' when you have suitable hands-on practical experience.

I've been lurking around this site for a couple of years and it has helped me with some of my own decisions to get to where I am today. So, I thought I'd share my story for those who may be in a similar position to what I was when I made the decision to become and electrician.

There are many paths to becoming an electrician, and there is probably no wrong route to the end goal of earning money as a spark. The path you choose is very much a personal decision based on your own individual circumstances. This post outlines how I achieved my goal, based on my own circumstances, which will be similar to others who are looking for a career change, but have not yet taken the plunge.

My career change began in 2010 when I was 35 years old - On reflection, I think I was probably going through a mid-life crisis, questioning my own life choices, blah, blah, etc... My previous job was in I.T. I worked for 10 years in the same office, dealing with crappy office politics and the daily monotony of office routine. Fortunately, the job paid enough to allow me to save a little money in case of emergencies. Having a natural aptitude for science and engineering, I decided to escape the daily monotony and pursue a career as an electrician (without really knowing what to expect from it). So, with just enough money in the bank to cover my mortgage payments for 6 months, and enough money to pay for an electrician 'course', I made the decision to quit my job and force myself into my new chosen career. When my family and friends found out that I threw away the security of my previous job, they thought I had lost my mind. My divorced parents of 15 years were suddenly talking again, trying to establish where they went wrong and how they could fix me. And so there I was - with a worried family, and 6 months to get some text book knowledge, some on-site experience, and ultimately some paid employment before the bailiffs would be knocking at my door.

Here is the path I took to become a competent electrician:

Firstly, I bought a package of C&G courses from a private college. They sent me piles of course materials and I instantly became a book-worm at home. Having no job helped me to focus and learn faster. I took the courses over a period of 4 months in the following order:

C&G 2382 - 17th Edition Wiring Regulations
C&G 2377 - Portable Appliance Testing
C&G 2393 - Building Regulations
C&G 2392 - Initial Verification, Inspection & Testing
C&G 2391 - Inspection & Testing

For each of the above courses, my course provider gave 1 week in-house training prior to sitting each exam, but I spent many hours sat at home absorbing information prior to attending each course. I made it my mission to know as much theory as possible, before receiving any training.

During the fourth stage of my training (C&G 2392), I started hunting around for established electrical firms that might be willing to take me on and help me gain experience in my mission to become a competent electrician. I knew that for someone to spend time showing me how to physically do things would initially cost them money, so I wasn't expecting to be paid in return for their help! I took the view that if I could prove my ability and provide them with some kind of value as soon as possible, they would hopefully offer me some kind of monetary employment. Incidentally, I didn't just wing off a load of CVs to random companies by email and keep my fingers crossed for someone to reply - I decided to take a more direct approach and pick up the phone. Maybe I was lucky, but the first company I spoke to agreed to let me shadow one of their electricians.

After 3 weeks of fast-paced on-the-job experience, the company won a couple of contracts and found themselves needing additional staff, and so offered me a paid sub-contracting position. It's nearly 2 years since that day, and I now have my own electrician's mates and apprentices working for me - some of them in a similar position to what I was. I'm now in a situation where I'm running my own teams on a number of projects and I can look back and smile at my initial fears of the unknown.

I know there is a certain amount of luck to my story, but I believe that luck is greatly increased through taking confident and positive action. I hope that my story inspires others in a similar situation to go forth and do what they know they can do.

If you have a similar positive story, please feel free to share...
 
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Hi BP nice positive post for a change on here and good to hear your doing well but could not help noticing you have not put down any actual electrical training in your list, did you forget to list. As in 2360/2330.
 
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BillyBigBalls

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
Great post BP Electrics. Like you I began training at a more mature age(31). That was 2 years ago, I went down the local college route full-time. Firstly with the 2330 surrounded by 16 to 18 year olds, who spent the day messing around being a total distraction, to me and the other 3 older guys who wanted to learn as much as possible about this new trade we had chosen, before entering the workplace.

I know many people question the fast track courses, but I believe it depends on the person and the amount of homework you are prepared to put in. Much of the two years I spent in college full-time, was a waste of time. Much of it was spent going over the same stuff, these silly kids had not bothered to learn the first time. For example spending months going over ohm's law. When I say 2 years studying, when you count all the holidays, being in college for 2 and a half days a week, it's not exactly full-time.

I think, with the effort I put in at home, I could of learned all of that within a couple of months, and it would still be fresh in memory. I also have still not been able to complete the level 3 NVQ, because you need to be in employment to be assessed. The problem with being older and wanting to complete an NVQ is, that employers only want apprentices 21 years old or less because of the financial incentives by the government towards training/pay. Even though all of the older students were the best on the course by far, we were not moved onto a pathway to apprenticeship route, basically a guaranteed job.

I passed all my exams with a distinction, passed the 2382 this April, during my second year and I am now waiting for my 2391 result which I sat back in June. Some great news last week, I attended my second interview since leaving college, where I had to sit an exam on regs/inspection and testing and the interviewer said how impressed he was with me and offered me the job later that day.
 
B

BP Electrics

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
Nice one, Billy. Congrats on getting the job!

needasparks - As part of the training bundle, the college delivered what they called a 'Domestic Installer' course, which although doesn't earn the student any recognised qualification, is designed to teach the essentials taken from the 2330 (cable selection, cable installation, lighting configurations and the like). The course I took was very much geared toward the more mature career changer, and in my opinion wouldn't be suited to a school leaver. Following my training, I started on-site 'work experience' feeling confident in my knowledge, but lacking the confidence and finesse that comes naturally with time and practice on the job. However, it didn't take long before I made friends with an angle grinder, an SDS and a bolster chisel!
 
Hi BP, that was not a dig BTW but was just interested in the quals accepted these days by the inspecting bodies, as I guess they don't bother to check anyway as long as you pay them their dues.
I just thought you forgot to add the main one to the list.
Hats off to anyone making a leap of faith job wise these days.

Edit
Just re-read your op and i think i misread as no mention of any body your with so pointless question on my part.
 
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I know it'll cost you more but you really need to do the 2330 level 2 and 3 and the nvq level 3 and am2. Then you'll be a qualified electrician.

From the quals you've got, your probably classed as a domestic installer.
 
B

BP Electrics

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #7
I know it'll cost you more but you really need to do the 2330 level 2 and 3 and the nvq level 3 and am2. Then you'll be a qualified electrician.

From the quals you've got, your probably classed as a domestic installer.
Thomas,

You missed the point to my post. It was more about highlighting a proven method of entry into the trade for the discerning business-minded individual. Some of my recent 'commercial' clients include Southend Airport, Fenwicks, Intimissimi, and Baskin & Robbins. To take the 2330 or any more qualifications at this stage would be totally pointless, since I have already achieved my goal.
 
L

liv3wire

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #8
Thanks for the post.

I'm in a very similar situation as you were in 2010.

How long did it take for you to find a suitable college? There's a lot of fluff out there I'm trying to avoid. I would like to avoid taking the route BillyBigBalls took, that sounds like hell.
 
A

alarm man

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
Thomas,

You missed the point to my post. It was more about highlighting a proven method of entry into the trade for the discerning business-minded individual. Some of my recent 'commercial' clients include Southend Airport, Fenwicks, Intimissimi, and Baskin & Robbins. To take the 2330 or any more qualifications at this stage would be totally pointless, since I have already achieved my goal.
your not a spark mate,and the fact your running your own teams on national customer sites is quite worrying not just for the customer but for the trade
 
D

darkstar26

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #10
Hi bp, glad you have achieved your goals, however to be classed as a qualified electrician you need 236/2330 nvq3/am2 in most peoples eyes. To be competant takes longer than 18 months to 2 years and as regards your quals 2391 is top stuff 17th eveyone needs it, but the rest chuck them in the bin !!
 
G

Guest55

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
your not a spark mate,and the fact your running your own teams on national customer sites is quite worrying not just for the customer but for the trade
Agree with this ^^^
An interesting story and i wish you all the best BP
But youre not a qualified electrician.
All your quals are supplementary courses , you have no skills and theory core training.
And the JIB would not give you a grading if you applied for a ECS card.
And to say taking the 2330 is pointless ??? lol , you sound like a Electrical Trainee whos had a lucky break.
 
D

DurhamSparky

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
BP well done, extremely well done and bloody lucky to get a job like that.

as for taking the 2330 i agree with you whole heartedly, your employer has deemed you suitable for employment and knows what you hold. i would however look to take the NVQ 3 before it finishes...!

just to let you know i don't hold the 2330 c&q either!!
 
OP,Take your time, Rome wasn't built in a day!

IMHO you will be a 'fully qualifed electrician' when ever you get that Gold JIB card.

I know alot of people don't like the JIB, but they set the standard.

And well done on getting the 2391 anyway!
 
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B

BP Electrics

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
Naturally, there will always be a number of interpretations and opinions on what makes a 'qualified' spark, but that is missing the point to my post. My opening paragraph was highlighting that 'competency' was, in my opinion, more important than qualifications. The rest of my post was written in the hope for my story to help other career changers feel motivated and positive with their journey to becoming competent at the trade.

The 2330 is certainly not pointless! In fact, all qualifications have their place. However, not all are right for everyone.

Apologies for any misunderstandings. My original post was probably a bit long-winded! :lipsrsealed2:
 
G

Guest55

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #16
Naturally, there will always be a number of interpretations and opinions on what makes a 'qualified' spark, but that is missing the point to my post. My opening paragraph was highlighting that 'competency' was, in my opinion, more important than qualifications. The rest of my post was written in the hope for my story to help other career changers feel motivated and positive with their journey to becoming competent at the trade.

The 2330 is certainly not pointless! In fact, all qualifications have their place. However, not all are right for everyone.

Apologies for any misunderstandings. My original post was probably a bit long-winded! :lipsrsealed2:
Ok , lets put aside the term qualified for a moment and look at your competency ;

You said ,

Quote "..........I took the courses over a period of 4 months"
"..........my course provider gave me 1 weeks in-house training before each exam"
"..........after 3 weeks of fast-paced on the job training"

Still think you're competent ?
 

rmc86uk

-
Arms
To just to add that I think it's great what you have done but do you get paid electricians money at the firm you currently working for? If work was to go slack there and you were to go to another firm/agency you wouldn't get full electricians money because you would not be graded as electrician.

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2
 
B

BP Electrics

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
Ok , lets put aside the term qualified for a moment and look at your competency ;

You said ,

Quote "..........I took the courses over a period of 4 months"
"..........my course provider gave me 1 weeks in-house training before each exam"
"..........after 3 weeks of fast-paced on the job training"

Still think you're competent ?
I certainly wasn't at that point! Another 18 months of continually pushing my own boundaries has led me to become competent. If I had started this thread back then, you'd definitely have a strong argument to battle with me and seek flaws in my otherwise positive contribution.
 
B

BP Electrics

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
To just to add that I think it's great what you have done but do you get paid electricians money at the firm you currently working for? If work was to go slack there and you were to go to another firm/agency you wouldn't get full electricians money because you would not be graded as electrician.

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2
Good question :)

I am self-employed, but have recently partnered with the contractor I first started out with. We get the majority of our business through BNI, which is focused on business networking and earning trust with people of other professions by conducting weekly meetings and referring business to each other. If members prove they offer professional products/services, they continue to get referred - It's worked incredibly well for us so far, so I have no reason to question competency ;)
 
Thomas,

You missed the point to my post. It was more about highlighting a proven method of entry into the trade for the discerning business-minded individual. Some of my recent 'commercial' clients include Southend Airport, Fenwicks, Intimissimi, and Baskin & Robbins. To take the 2330 or any more qualifications at this stage would be totally pointless, since I have already achieved my goal.
I haven't missed the point at all, you said how you become qualified, well your not. You think your competent? After 2 years being in the trade I very much doubt you are. 2 years you will know absolutely nothing trust me! It's not until you qualify you realise how much you dont know and how much you still have to learn. But you wouldn't know that.. Because your Not qualified and not competent. Like alarm man said its worrying that you "supervising" you shouldn't even be allowed to work on your own yet.
 
After 2 years in the industry there was no way in hell I was competent to be let out on my own and I worked bloody hard for me C&Gs
 
B

BP Electrics

  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #22
After 2 years in the industry there was no way in hell I was competent to be let out on my own and I worked bloody hard for me C&Gs
It's not always easy, that's true. Do you feel competent now, Trev?
 
Isn't the BNI the acceptable centre middle arm of the Moonies ....................once your in you'll never get out
 

ExArmy

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Arms
After 2 years in the industry there was no way in hell I was competent to be let out on my own and I worked bloody hard for me C&Gs
maybe not, but there are different circumsrtances from the OP and you. after 2 years you were still an apprentice, and under 20 i'm guessing? and the OP is mid thirties or something? theres a big difference there.
 
maybe not, but there are different circumsrtances from the OP and you. after 2 years you were still an apprentice, and under 20 i'm guessing? and the OP is mid thirties or something? theres a big difference there.
Absolutely no difference, at 20 or 50 with 2 years experience you cannot be competent.
 
I was trying to make the point about learning curves mate, after 2 years would it not be reasonable to assume that no matter what the age the position on those curves would be pretty much the same?
Unless of course the OP has spent those 2 years on one type of installation in which case it could be thought that a greater depth of knowledge in that installation type could be assumed. Mind you 2 years in to my time I was just starting to be allowed to connect up.
All of my posts on this thread have so far been intended to stimulate discussion, I've worked with some 5WWs who were bloody fantastic
 
Actually there is a difference, I would think a second year apprentice would be more competent.... At least they have had proper training in college and are working along side a spark who is showing them right from wrong. A Electrical Trainee is let out on their own, hasn't a clue, rough as a dogs dinner, electrically unsafe, and think they know it all.
 
A Electrical Trainee is let out on their own, hasn't a clue, rough as a dogs dinner, electrically unsafe, and think they know it all.
Not necessarily mate, some do the short course route and realise they don't know enough and go on to 2330 just like Glennspark did.
Do you think Strima would be as you describe above? I don't. He freely admits he's a Electrical Trainee but he knows his stuff
 
Bottom line is that OP has made a choice to get into the electrical field, and I take my hat off to him.

But, he is on the first rung of the ladder and as we know there are many more to climb.
His currently employer may be just taking advantage him and he just dosen't realise yet.
 
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