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What is an Electrician?



It would be expected that someone regarded as an installation electrician by the Joint Industry Board (JIB), and entitled to hold an Electrotechnical Certification Scheme (ECS) Gold Card, would have the necessary experience, knowledge and qualifications required to carry out electrical work in domestic, commercial and industrial environments, although in some cases commercial and industrial environments may require some additional specialised training.


An electrician is commonly someone who holds a combined Level 3 technical and vocational qualification having completed their training through a recognised apprenticeship (refer to the 'Apprentice' section below) and in addition will have succesfully completed the required 3-day end point assessment, commonly known as the AM2, at an independant approved centre.


For those new to the world of electrics, or those who are already working within the industry but are not being employed on an apprenticeship framework, there is an alternative that is commonly referred to as the 'Electrical Improver' route (refer to 'Electrical Improver' section below).  


Technical certificates that satisfy the required underpinning knowledge (Electrical theory and scientific principles) and craft skills (Practical skills) such as the EAL Level 2 and 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation qualifications (refer to our Level 2 Electrician and Level 3 Electrician (Option 1) information pages) can be achieved without going through an apprenticeship or for the need to be working within the industry.


This is the most popular route for new entrants looking to become fully qualified electricians, However, successful completion of the Level 2 and 3 Diploma  in Electrical Installation qualifications will not fully satisfy the requirements to become an 'Electrician' but will satisfy the requirements for the status of an 'Electrical Improver'.


For an 'Electrical Improver' to now progress towards becoming a fully qualified 'Electrician' they will now be a need to be working within the electrical industry. This is essential in order to satisfy the requirement to assess that the levels of competence (refer to 'Competence' section below) are to the required standards when performing electrical installation activities in real working environments. 


Competence will be assessed through a separate vocational qualification (refer to our Level 3 Electrician (Option 2) information page) more commonly known as a portfolio of evidence. Once the required levels of competence has been proven through the vocational qualification the final part of the jigsaw will be the AM2 end point assessment and upon successful completion the status of a fully qualified 'Electrician' will have been achieved.


In simple terms, for someone on the 'Electrical Improver' route the following would need to be completed to become an 'Electrician':



It is worth noting that the final vocational qualification stage will need to commence no later than 5 years after the previously achieved Level 2 and 3 Diploma's for the knowledge embedded within these qualifications to remain current and valid.


Experienced Worker

For those currently working in the electrical industry without holding the required formal qualications may be in a position to fully qualify as an 'Electrician' through another alternative route. This route is only available to those that have evidence to show that they have been working in the electrical industry for at least 5 years (contact us for details of the Joint Industry Board (JIB) Experienced Worker route).


Electrical Improver

This is the title given to someone who has completed separate techinical certificates such as the EAL Level 2 and 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation but has yet to complete a vocational qualification.


There are often many employment opprtunities for 'Electrical Improvers' within the industry as they have all the knowledge and skills required to work as an electrician but without the proven competence through a vocational qualification or the AM2 at this stage of their training. However, this makes it an attractive proposition for those employers who have adequate qualified electricians available to supervise as an 'Electrical Improver' is a cheaper alternative to employing an additional 'Electrician'.


Typical qualifications held:



Electrician’s Mate

An 'Electrician’s Mate' is the title usually given to  a person working in the electrical  industry while not fully qualified but having gained the fundamental practical installation skills, knowledge and understanding of electrical installations through the achievement of a recognised qualification such as the EAL Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation. 


It would generally be expected that an Electrician’s Mate would be instructed to carry out work by qualified electricians and would not usually be permitted to work unsupervised. To reduce overall cost, it is common to find several 'Electrician’s Mates' working, under the supervision of qualified electricians, on large industrial and commercial sites.


Typical qualification held:



Apprentice (the traditional way)

A well known title in the construction industry, an apprenticeship is known as the traditional method of becoming a fully qualified electrician. Apprentices benefit from having on-site experience from the outset with guidance from experienced electricians along with technical training at a college or training centre.


An 'Electrical Apprentice' will usually be studying to achieve a combined Level 3 technical and vocational qualification. They will generally be working under the supervision of qualified electricians and supervisors. The qualification gained from an apprenticeship consists of two key parts, these being technical training and vocational onsite assessments.


Apprentice's would usually be expected to have at least math’s, English and Information Communication Technology (ICT) qualifications at grade C or above. An apprenticeship is expected to last between 3 and 4 years and on satisfactory completion the apprentice will become a fully qualified electrician.


Approved Electrician

You may often hear the title ‘Approved Electrician’. But what does this mean? Well the term is given to an electrician who has met all the required criteria to be awarded this status from the Joint Industry Board (JIB).


To gain the JIB status of 'Approved Electrician' an electrician must satisfy many requirements. They would, of course, be expected to have completed an apprenticeship or hold the equivalent qualifications through alternative routes. 


Further to this they will have had sufficient experience working as an electrician (more than two years after completion of qualifications is usually acceptable). In addition, it is usually expected that a Level 3 qualification in inspection and testing has been achieved, such as the:



Approved Electricians would usually be expected to have the ability to design, install and verify a wide range of electrical installations in the most efficient and economical manner. They will be capable of supervising projects, setting out good systems of working from drawings and specifications. They will also have an extremely good understanding of the requirements of BS 7671.



What is a competent person?


The short answer would be 'somebody who can complete a specific task safely and effectively'. However, this can be very difficult to assess especially with regards to an electrician as the work they will be doing may vary significantly. Some of the basic expected requirements are that the person carrying out electrical work has had sufficient training and experience.


This does not mean that a person who holds a Level 3 qualification in electrical installation is competent to carry out work on all electrical installations. There will likely be areas that they are unfamiliar with. However, experience and training will have given them at least the ability to work safely and assess if they are in fact competent to carry out a specific task.







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