How to upskill as an electrician

How To Upskill As An Electrician In this article

Whether you have many years of experience as an electrician or are newer to the trade, adding to your skills, plugging gaps in your knowledge or simply updating what you already know is worth considering to boost what you can offer to customers and your earnings.

Electricians are already in big demand as there’s a shortage in the UK. The UK Trade Skills Index 2023, carried out by research firm Capital Economics for tradesperson directory Checkatrade, found that construction and trade vacancies are at a record high, with electricians one of the trades in shortest supply.

The total number of electricians employed is expected to rise by 22,900 over the next 10 years and 104,000 new electricians will be needed to meet demand. There’s an ageing workforce so many are due to retire and there are fewer EU workers than before so new recruits are needed.

So, while you’re likely to continue to have plenty of work for the foreseeable future, investing in yourself by learning new skills means you can fulfil your potential and put yourself in the best possible position for getting the jobs you want.

NICEIC (the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) assesses electrical businesses’ policies, procedures and technical competency to ensure their work meets certain standards and is the largest voluntary register of electrical firms in the UK. 

If you’re registered with NICEIC, potential customers can be confident that your work will be done to a high standard and keep them safe. Developing your skills will increase your chances of passing the assessment you need to have to become registered.

Your options for upskilling

There are a number of routes you can take to increase your qualifications depending on your previous experience, training and interests. 

If you’ve been working as an electrician for more than five years but never formally completed an apprenticeship or equivalent Level 3 NVQ (National Vocational Qualification), you can get your experience recognised by being assessed according to the Level 3 standard through the Experienced Worker Assessment. 

Your existing experience, skills and qualifications can count towards the qualification. Once these have been assessed, you’ll need to fill in any gaps with a training provider. This will be done through on-site assessment and building a portfolio of evidence of your competence and working practices. 

You’ll also have to complete an AM2E assessment where you have to carry out a series of practical tasks. These cover safety, installation, fault finding and fixing, and inspection and testing.   

Inspection and testing is a specific area where you might be able to boost your knowledge and skills, as you may not have been able to spend enough time on it to gain qualifications if you had training in the past. There are a range of courses you can take, from short courses in safe isolation to longer ones focusing on initial inspection and testing of domestic installations or advanced inspection and testing allowing you to provide periodic inspection services, such as for landlords, as well.

Training to work with new technologies

Gaining the skills to install new technologies is another way to add to the services you can offer customers. Electric vehicle charging points are a great example of this as demand is set to surge in the coming years with the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans due to be banned in the UK from 2030. Hybrids will stop being sold from 2035.

The number of home charging points is forecast to grow from around 3 million in 2025 to 15.7 million by 2035 according to a 2022 report from the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, and electricians will be needed to install them. Three quarters of the total charging demand for EVs is expected to be done at home. There will also need to be more public charging points, including for on-street charging.

You can take courses in all aspects of installing domestic EV charging points as well as ones for commercial vehicles. Courses also cover fault finding and fixing, and inspection and testing. As with many courses, they can be online, with assessments completed at a centre, in person or a combination of the two.

Solar panel installation

Solar energy is also a growing area as we transition to net zero carbon emissions – the government’s goal by 2050 – which will mean phasing out fossil fuels to power our homes.

You can train to become a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel installer and then apply to become MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certified, which shows customers that you can install solar panels to a high standard.

Courses cover the different types of solar PV technology, installing solar PV systems, and testing and maintaining them. You’ll do a combination of theory and practical training and assessments. Qualifications are normally valid for five years.

Another new technology, which goes hand in hand with solar PV, is battery storage as this allows any solar energy that isn’t needed at the time it’s generated to be stored for later, minimising the amount of electricity people with solar panels need to buy from the grid so maximising the savings they can make by generating their own electricity.

Taking a battery storage course will give you the skills you need to design and install battery storage systems in homes or small commercial premises. It’s usually recommended that you do solar PV training first. Read more about what we say about solar panels.

Become a Which? Trusted Trader

Being a Which? Trusted Trader demonstrates to potential customers that you are a reputable business offering a top-notch service and helps you stand out from your competitors.

Once you’ve honed your skills and passed the NICEIC assessment to become registered with it – if you haven’t already – you can get a discount on becoming a Which? Trusted Trader, as we know you already meet high standards. We’ll give you a free application (usually £240) and 50% off your first six months of membership. Find out more about the benefits of joining the scheme.