Becoming a Sparky
There is only one way to become a fully qualified electrician and that is to gain a Level 3 NVQ in electrical installation and this involves at least the equivalent of 2 years of study at a recognised City and Guilds or EAL centre. You start by enrolling on a Level 2 course which gives you all the basics of electrical science, fitting techniques etc and are tested at the end of the year with a multichoice science test (among others) and a practical project done over 8 hrs to qualify for the Level 3 year.
In Level 3 all the stuff you learnt in Level 2 will be expanded upon and much of the year is taken with assessments (there are a lot of them including a big written science paper). Additionally, you’ll do an extensive design project which will take you 20+ hours of drawing and calculation.
Having done all that you’ll have to go on an AM2 course (Achievement and Measurement) run by NET. There are test centres all over the country and your centre will advise. Don’t forget we run AM2 training courses (1 day) to help you through the assessments (5 of them).
Additionally, you’ll need to register during or after your course (depending on whether you are working as an electrician on site already) for an NVQ. This involves building a portfolio of work which is fully evidenced and assessed by a qualified assessor.
And lastly, you’ll need to gain a certificate to prove that you are competent in your ability to work within the Regulations (BS7671 latest version), a 3 day course that we offer.
Now you can apply for your JIB (Joint Industry Board) card and call yourself a sparky. As a bonus you can apply to the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) for letters after your name which will be in the form of: John Smith TMIET (Technical Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology).
This is all very straightforward but quite long winded and supposes that you have the time to go to college either during the day or on an evening course while you are trying to earn a living in your old job. Ideally you would be working as an electrician’s mate while studying which will help with your studies and enable you to start building that valuable portfolio of work for your NVQ.
Ideally you will get a job during or after your Level 2 studies (most people do) which will set you up for your Level 3 studies. Colleges can offer courses either full or part time and there are evening courses. Other independent centres can offer Full time, Part time at weekends or home study. Whichever you choose and however short the course (typically 14 weeks and up) you will receive the full course hours.
Be warned that the shorter the course the harder the work and it may sometimes seem daunting and some subjects (particularly the maths) can leave you wondering if this is the course for you. Stick with it and with a patient tutor and support from your peers you will get through it. It’s tough, it’s supposed to be, but during my time in colleges and private training centres nearly all who put in the work got through!
Periodic inspection and testing is a demanding, difficult and responsible part of the job. In principle the job is simple, inspect the installation to ensure it is safe for continued use then perform some basic tests, however you are often looking at older installations built to previous versions of BS7671, many are suffering deterioration or damage and of course various additions and modifications done sometimes by amateurs and diyers. Your knowledge of the current regs needs to be good and a knowledge of earlier regs is helpful. Then there is the coding for deviations and departure from the regs and your final assessment after sometimes arduous testing, confirming whether it is actually safe or not.This