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Wired to succeed


06 Dec, 2017

Confused by the huge array of electrical-related qualifications offered by training providers? Find the direct current route to Qualified Electrician status with Electrical Courses Ltd

Electrical Courses Ltd specialises in helping people who may have been made redundant or are changing career to become a qualified electrician, by offering the correct industry-recognised qualifications. One of the most frequent questions asked by potential students (or other aspiring electricians) is, ‘What qualifications are needed to become qualified?’ This seems to be a bit of a minefield for newcomers to the industry due to the amount of electrical-related qualifications offered by training providers. This article explains the correct qualification routes to achieving that ‘Qualified Electrician’ status.

Main aim

The main aim for anyone aspiring to become a Qualified Electrician is to achieve Qualified Electrician status with the Joint Industry Board (JIB) – see This allows you to obtain the Gold ECS Card and gives you recognition as a Qualified Electrician on any construction site in the UK.

What is the JIB?

The JIB is the most recognised body in the electrical industry. It is an impartial organisation that sets the standards for employment, welfare, grading and apprentice training in the electrical contracting industry. Its work is targeted at improving the industry, its status and productivity.
The JIB has a strict grading process that allows only those who have achieved a level 3 NVQ in Electrotechnical Systems and passed the final AM2 assessment to hold the status of Qualified Electrician. It no longer takes experience and age into account, and does not recognise other qualifications that are not part of the level 3 NVQ Electrotechnical Technology route.

How to achieve the level 3 NVQ Diploma in Electrotechnical Systems

There are two main routes to achieve the level 3 NVQ in Electrotechnical Systems (5357). These are the:
1.    Electrical Apprentice route
2.    Electrical Improver route.

The Electrical Apprentice route is the most traditional route that any young aspiring electrician will take. Electrical Apprentices first have to find employment in the electrical industry and then enrol on a four-year apprenticeship scheme. This involves attending an FE college one day a week for three years, while the other four days a week (for four years) will be spent working under the supervision of a qualified electrician, learning the practical skills of the trade, which is a great benefit of this route. In the final, fourth, year of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will focus on completing a portfolio of work – done on-site (or other place of work) – and passing a two-day final assessment called the AM2. An Electrical Apprenticeship can be government funded for apprentices up to the age of 24.

The Electrical Improver route is an alternative route to the apprenticeship and, while it is not known as the traditional route, it does still achieve the same outcome and offers some additional benefits to those who do not wish to be an apprentice for four years. These include:

  • a higher pay rate for Electrical Improvers
  • achievement of the level 3 NVQ in a shorter time
  • two highly recognised diplomas to help secure employment in the industry
  • basic installation skills, which offer a huge head start over a newcomer or apprentice applying for the same role
  • level 3 underpinning knowledge to give a good understanding of the daily tasks an electrician undertakes
  • no industry employment needed to attend the course.

The Electrical Improver route to becoming a Qualified Electrician to JIB status requires three qualifications, in the order shown below.

  1. City & Guilds level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installations (2365): this course can take eight weeks, five days a week, at a training provider like Electrical Courses Ltd, or one year on day release (one day a week) at an FE college. The course involves a lot of practical learning as well as underpinning knowledge of electrical installations. It teaches students how to install the main basic circuits such as ring finals, radials and lighting circuits, using various types of cable, such as PVC twin and earth cable, steel wired armour and PVC singles. The course also teaches students how to form and install wiring enclosures such as trunking, tray and conduit, and the basics of inspection and testing of dead circuits.
  2. City & Guilds level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installations (2365): this course can take eight weeks, five days a week, at a training provider like Electrical Courses Ltd, or one year on day release (one day a week) at an FE college. The course involves a lot more learning of advanced underpinning knowledge of electrical installations and electrical science principles. It also teaches advanced inspection and testing of dead and live circuits, fault finding and electrical design.
  3. City & Guilds level 3 NVQ Diploma in Electrotechnical systems (5357): this qualification is almost entirely carried out on-site, where the student is required to build a portfolio of practical evidence of his or her work. The duration is purely down to the student and how long it will take them to meet the required evidence criteria set by City & Guilds. The student is required to be employed within the electrical industry to complete this NVQ portfolio. The final step once the portfolio is complete is to then pass the AM2 two-day assessment.

Apart from an Electrical Apprenticeship the Electrical Improver route is the most recognised and only other alternative route to becoming a Qualified Electrician according to the JIB.

Other routes into the electrical industry

There are some course packages that last five weeks and have names such as ‘Part P course’ or ‘Domestic Installer course’. While these courses are OK for more experienced electricians without any qualifications to prove their competency, they are less than ideal for someone looking to become a JIB Qualified Electrician from scratch. The qualifications obtained are not recognised by the JIB to allow a person to achieve Qualified Electrician status and therefore require anyone holding them to undertake either of the two aforementioned qualification routes before being granted the Gold ECS Card.

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