Training To Become An Electrician

Electricians play an important role in ensuring that things work and continue to run smoothly, both within our homes, in factories, and out in the field at sub-stations and pylons.

If you’re looking to change career or want to start your career as an electrician, where do you even think of starting?

What Sector Do I Want To Work In?

There are two main areas of expertise for electricians – Domestic and Commercial – both of which come with their own specific ways of working especially with regards to the environment you’ll be working in, so what does each involve?

Domestic Sector

Domestic electricians are those who attend jobs at homes and businesses, and usually work as sole traders or for small businesses. Their main roles can include the installation, testing and maintaining of electrical systems and the maintenance of appliances, lighting and security systems.

The types of job they deal with can include anything from repairing fuse boxes, rewiring light switches to PAT testing appliances and connecting network cabling for home computer systems.

Commercial Sector

Commercial electricians are usually those who have worked in the domestic field and have moved onto working with more powerful voltages and more specific equipment that could be sensitive to even small changes in resistance.

Clients and employers can include more industrial locations such as factories, warehouses, and power stations, and additional training will be required to accommodate factors such as working at height or with extremely high voltages.

Qualities And Requirements

So what qualities do you need to be able to work effectively as an electrician?

  • Good manual dexterity – some wire work can be very intricate, so being able to keep a steady hand when working with wires and tools is essential to becoming a good electrician.
  • Ability to effectively analyse technical drawings – including CAD drawings and technical manuals – and to interpret measurements of electrical charges, such as voltage and resistance.
  • Ability to problem solve – the ability to identify and solve problems is vital to the job, including when rewiring and laying cable.
  • Communication and interpersonal skills – electricians should be able to clearly explain what is required to customers and clients, as well as be friendly and approachable when dealing with enquiries.

Get Trained

The most important part of becoming an electrician is knowing your stuff, so if you want to get your foot in the door, you need to learn all you can – both in theory and through practice – and there are a number of different avenues you can go down to gain qualifications.

College courses can help you obtain the qualifications you will initially need, including City & Guilds qualifications to get you started on your journey. There are a number of qualifications available for those looking to start in the business – including NVQs – and you’ll need to have one of these at least before you can even think of getting your foot in the door.

It can be worth looking into local colleges to see if they offer these entry-level courses, and there are some which offer part-time study, allowing you to train as you work if you want to.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships can be handy for getting yourself started in the industry, the availability of them will depend on the jobs market at the time and they are usually quite well sought after. If you have an existing skill set you want to top up, apprenticeships can be a good way of diversifying into another area of electrical work – such as starting as a home installer and then moving into commercial.

In-Work Training

Once you’ve secured a job as an electrician, your employer may then offer you some further training as part of your employment – including the following which is essential for any electrician:

  • Periodic Inspection and Testing – a periodic inspection is used to check and ensure that electrical items are safe and in a satisfactory condition to do their job. After testing, an electrician would be required to produce an Electrical Installation Condition Report detailing any damage found.
  • 17th Edition (IET) Wiring Regulations – this is a national standard for electrical installations in the UK and ensures that electrical wiring in domestic, commercial and industrial buildings are of good quality.
  • PAT testing – PAT testers carry out basic safety checks on electrical equipment, both to check current flows safely and a resistance test, leading to either a PASS or FAIL status for that piece of equipment. Advanced PAT testers, when trained up, can also test fuses and insulation resistance, especially in industrial settings.

You’ll also need to complete a Part P certification in order to be able to check your own installations to check if they are within standard. Part P of the Building Regulations determines that some household electrical has to be approved by a certified contractor or building inspector.

Who Can Advise Me?

If you’re looking at starting out as an electrician, it can be worth looking into joining organisations such as the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) – which is privately owned and can provide useful resources for those looking to move into working as electricians.

Through NICEIC, you can gain qualifications – from City & Guilds to ELECSA – in a variety of subjects including PAT testing and data cable installation.

Variety Is The Spark Of Life

Once you’ve gained your qualifications, there are a number of different areas in which you can work as an electrician or electrical engineer, including:

  • Planning – producing plans using CAD systems to map wiring in potential build sites and for rewiring jobs in existing premises
  • Maintenance – regularly checking systems to ensure safe running
  • Installation – installation of wiring and electrical equipment in a variety of buildings
  • Electrotechnical panel builder – building, installing, and maintaining operating panels and control panels that regulate electricity or operate electrical systems
  • Repair and rewind – repairing and maintaining motors and transformers of electrical equipment to ensure safe and efficient running
  • Highways – maintaining and repairing street lighting, traffic signs, and traffic management systems

Whatever route you want to go down, ensuring that you are properly trained is essential before you start working as an electrician, and once you get started in your career, you may find more opportunities opening up for you.

Training To Become A Hairdresser

Barbers and hairdressers provide us with a chance to smarten up and try a new look by colouring or curling our hair. Located on every high street, salons these days can also include additional services such as nail bars, skin treatment or even sunbeds.

Hairdressing is a popular profession for those who like to be creative but can also be responsive to their customers’ needs and wants. And with the world of fashion and celebrity changing constantly, trends will mean that there’s always something new to try or another ‘in’ look to try and replicate, especially after events such as film premieres and awards ceremonies.

So what road do you need to go down if you want to become a hairdresser, and what sort of training will you need before you’re qualified enough to cut hair?

What Qualifications Will I Need?

To qualify as a hairdresser or beauty therapist, you need to look into courses which will help to get you prepared for life in the profession. These will usually be available as City & Guild qualifications and can help you gain NVQ level qualifications which can be a good entry point for a trainee position.

Only after they’ve completed training in college will trainees then get the opportunity to start off doing basic hair cutting, progressing to more complex styles as their training progresses.

Hairdressers can even specialise in particular cuts or types of hair, including perms, plaits, afros or even hair extensions. Some may also specialise in the colouring of hair, and be called upon to try anything from a complete bleach to more complicated layered colouring.

Where Can I Train?

NVQs and City & Guild qualifications in subjects such as Hairdressing, Barbering, and Beauty Therapy are available at colleges and adult training centres all around the UK.

Courses can range from full-time, degree-style courses, to part-time night school courses that you can fit around your everyday work which can be particularly useful if you are considering a career change but wish to keep working while you train.

Whichever timeframe you choose to study in, remember that you’ll need a good amount of practical experience of cutting hair before being allowed to cut a customers’ hair. Many courses make use of models for trainees to practice on, which in itself can be good for earning a little extra cash (and get a haircut while you’re at it).

Can I Gain Work Experience?

Gaining some experience while you are training is important, you’ll need to eventually practice on customers, but it may be some time before your employer allows you to. It can be a long process, but once you’ve gained the experience and confidence, you can start working on your technique and start dispensing advice, in which case, you will need a professional indemnity insurance.

SEE: Why Do I Need Professional Indemnity Insurance?

Apprenticeships are another option for getting your foot in the door of a salon, especially if you are combining them with studies. Apprentices will usually start off by performing tasks such as restocking supplies, greeting customers, shampooing hair, and keeping the salon clean and tidy in between cuts, eventually building up to being trusted to cut customer’s hair on a day-to-day basis.

How Far Can I Train?

Like with many professions, practice makes perfect, and as you learn along the way, you’ll find yourself improving in all aspects of the job and maybe even find a special or preferred technique and procedure that you particularly excel at.

Your course and work experience will give you the chance to train in all aspects of hairdressing, and as you get more experience, you may get the chance to diversify into other areas like barbering.

Once you become a senior hairdresser, not only will you get the chance to use more advanced techniques and take on more complicated hairstyles, but you’ll also get the opportunity to advise customers on particular styles and products that your salon may cross-sell as part of the service.

City & Guilds qualifications in hairdressing go up to Level 4, covering advanced aspects such as working with coloured hair. A large part of your experience is going to come from practical experience gained while working in a salon. So the sooner you start snipping, the sooner you can gain the skills necessary to be confident enough to cut customers’ hair unaccompanied.

What About Starting On My Own?

Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt by working at a salon, you may want to strike out on your own and either become freelance or set up a salon of your own design.

Much like setting up any business, you’ll have costs of equipment, products, and shop rent to think about unless of course, you decide to go mobile and use a car or small van to make visits to customers’ homes.

In either case, you’ll need to make sure you have all the relevant business licences, business insurance, liability cover, and hair and beauty insurance to cover yourself and your business should something go wrong, either to your premises or to one of your customers as a result of your treatment.

SEE ALSO: What is a Business Insurance?

Whether you’re starting at a college or considering going back to school as part of a career change, hairdressing can be a good way of meeting different kinds of people with different sorts of hair, as well as a passion for delivering a good service and maybe even getting creative with style at the same time.

Training To Become A Chauffeur

Chauffeurs are usually associated with arranged night outs and bussing celebrities to and from events.

Becoming a chauffeur can be a career change for some who have been driving throughout their career, such as taxi drivers in which the hours can vary depending on the work involved. If you work for an individual, your shift will depend on your employers’ schedule; whereas if you work for a private hire limousine company, your working pattern will be determined by how many bookings you get.

READ: How Can You Become A Taxi Driver?

If you’re thinking of a career change and think becoming a chauffeur may be for you, there are a few things you need to ask yourself:

What Does A Chauffeurs’ Work Involve?

Chauffeurs are employed by individuals and companies to ensure that their clients get from A to B safely and in time, all the while maintaining an air of professionalism – both for themselves and their vehicles –  excellent time-keeping and smart dress.

Other than driving, tasks for a chauffeur will include unloading luggage, aiding clients with getting in and out of their vehicle, making sure the vehicle itself is clean and well maintained, and providing information about the journey itself, as well as waiting for long periods of time before taking their client or employer home again.

What Kind Of Clients Do I Get?

Chauffeurs can be privately employed by individuals or households, or for private hire companies that will rent out vehicles on a nightly basis.

Tasks for the day can include anything from bussing clients or family members to various events during the day – including school runs, picking up from workplaces and social events – as well as ensuring that the vehicle itself is pristinely clean both inside and out.

What Kind Of Vehicles Could I Drive?

Depending on the employer, chauffeurs can drive a range of vehicles; from limousines to prestige cars such as a Rolls Royce and even more unusual vehicles such a horse-drawn carriages.

Do I Need A Special Driving License?

Whilst you don’t need to make any changes to the type of driving licence you have, you will need to change the way you drive in order to become a chauffeur, and taking a course is essential if you want to train as a chauffeur.

What Training Do You Need?

Chauffeurs have to undergo rigorous training in various aspects to do with their work:

  • Advanced and defensive driving methods
  • Car etiquette and professionalism
  • Attitude and mindset and ability to react to certain situations
  • Time management
  • Car maintenance
  • First Aid

Not only must you be knowledgeable of your client but also the vehicle in which you will be driving, so car maintenance will be included in your training, which can involve changing tires and basic maintenance to keep the vehicle moving should you break down.

Advanced driving techniques will also be taught during these courses, including techniques such as:

  • Evasive and defensive driving techniques

These are designed to test your driving ability in reaction to certain situations and conditions, including :

  • Reacting to and driving safely with a burst tire
  • Driving in inclement weather conditions, including stormy and severe weather
  • Having to react to other external factors which may lead to sudden braking, including outside of events
  • Driving in a convoy

Depending on the client, driving in a convoy might be necessary for the journey, and you will be given training in aspects such as:

  • Two-way radio use
  • Keeping in line during a convoy
  • What to do if the convoy is broken and rejoining a convoy as a result
  • Protocols on picking up from various locations

This helps to train you for picking up from a variety of locations, including airports, events and outside schools and hotels, as well as the etiquette requirements.

Trainee chauffeurs will also have to train in a short course of first aid which is usually included in the price of your course and helps to prepare you for dealing with clients in the event of accidents and the correct procedures for reporting incidents.

Where Can I Train?

A good place to start if you’re thinking of training to become a chauffeur is a course from RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), which could help you to get started initially. The course can be taken either at a central location or through your current employer.

When it comes to practical practice there are a number of companies who offer training for chauffeurs. These are usually in the form of a course, normally with modules in vehicle safety, personal etiquette and protocols for pickup at various locations including airports and events.

Remember as well that training to be a chauffeur is not cheap, courses can range from £1000 and can take up to two weeks to complete.

There will also be an element of role-playing involved during your training, usually setting up some situations whereby the safety of yourself or your client may be compromised, you will be trained as to how to react to certain potentially confrontational situations in a safe and effective manner.

Can Anyone Become A Chauffeur?

You must initially have driving experience before even thinking of becoming a chauffeur, having a clean driving record can help you to succeed as employers will be looking for safety as well as professionalism.

Chauffeurs are usually associated with older drivers who may be very accomplished drivers from many years behind the wheel and are just looking for new opportunities to further their careers and do something a little different. Younger drivers can apply to be chauffeurs but might find it a little more difficult to get the relevant chauffeur insurance due to their lack of experience.