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Topic Title: Electrician Career Progression
Topic Summary: Career Guidance
Created On: 27 June 2016 08:30 PM
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 27 June 2016 08:30 PM
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RichardH1978

Posts: 9
Joined: 27 June 2016

I'm looking for advice on my career progression and what steps I should take.

I am a JIB graded Approved Installation Electrician. I am currently 38. I didn't get into electrics until my early thirties when I decided to have a career change. I went to evening classes and studied:

C&G 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology Installation Level 2
C&G 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology Installation Level 3
C&G 2356 Electrical NVQ Level 3 Electrical Installation
C&G 2382-20 BS7671 17th Edition Update
C&G 2391-10 Certificate in Inspection, Testing and Certification of Electrical Installations
AM2 Certificate of Electrotechnical Occupational Competence
C&G 2377 Certificate in Portable Appliance Testing
and most recently C&G 2396 Design, Erection and Verification.

I paid for all my own courses and took my holiday to complete them. Incidentally I put a lot of effort in my college and scored a Distinction in every unit I studied. (Sorry Bighead).

I currently work for a building contractor with its own M & E division. Working mainly on large commercial building sites. I enjoy the work and I am always getting a good deal of experience but I am looking to the future and want to plan a path both educationally and professionally.

I really enjoy the studying and exams. I'd to study more by not sure what courses to do. I have seen there are HNC/HND courses but it is unlikely I would be released from work to attend. Are there positions where I could work and release me to study? Should I be looking to do Electrical and Electronic Engineering or Building Services Engineering? Are distance learning courses viable?

Thanks

Richard
 27 June 2016 10:04 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22583
Joined: 23 March 2004

Do a degree

Building services isn't a bad career and there are plenty of "sparks" doing OK at it

Find a practice that will sponsor you part time - 2 years should do it

Coupled with your craft experience you won't be out of work (much)

Good luck

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 27 June 2016 10:22 PM
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Parsley

Posts: 1366
Joined: 04 November 2004

Getting the bse degree will make you much more attractive to consultancies. I think CIBSE now recognise the OU's engineering degree so that may be a distance learning option if you can't afford to lose short term income.

Congrats on your qualifications you should be very proud.

If all fails you could try out for the new England managers job.

Regards
 27 June 2016 10:26 PM
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leckie

Posts: 4678
Joined: 21 November 2008

Blimey, out of Europe for the second time this week!
 27 June 2016 10:29 PM
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Parsley

Posts: 1366
Joined: 04 November 2004

Yes being English at the moment feels rather depressing Leckie
 27 June 2016 11:27 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22583
Joined: 23 March 2004

That's why every day I thank the Lord I'm Welsh

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 28 June 2016 10:28 AM
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RichardH1978

Posts: 9
Joined: 27 June 2016

Hi. Thanks for the comments. I would like to do a degree but the distance learning HNC and HND look more appealing st the moment. I found an Electrical Engineering HNC with Logistech online that sounds interesting. Also HND/HNC Electronic & Electrical Engineering with Unicourse sound interesting to. I could complete these programs of study relatively quickly. But would there be a job at the end of it for me? Who would be likely to employ me? And what could I be doing? Sorry to sound a bit naive but to the electricians i've been working with, doing anything but site (on the tools) work would be extremely unconventional.
Thanks

Richard
 28 June 2016 12:11 PM
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mawry

Posts: 327
Joined: 26 April 2004

Where are you based Richard?

The Logitech you mentioned above used to do a DL Building Services HNC/HND.
If you are looking at staying within the construction environment then the BSE would serve you better than an Electrical/Electronic qualification(I know that's what I started with).
Definitely a job at the end of it, just dependent on where you want to start/what you want to do. The company I currently work for take on a fair few trainees/graduates each year. As mentioned above craft experience plus the Building services quals will serve you well.
 28 June 2016 01:30 PM
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RichardH1978

Posts: 9
Joined: 27 June 2016

Hi. Thanks for getting back to me.
I am currently based in Canterbury Kent.
Yes you are right I should probably stick with BSE, especially as I have not long completed the C&G 2396 Design and Verification ( Level 4). Found the HNC on the Logis-tech website, but not the HND. Will give it some serious consideration.
Just feel like I really need to get studying. Not getting any younger. Came into the electrical proffession quite late. I have done alright, but will always be playing catch up.

Thanks

Richard.
 28 June 2016 03:32 PM
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biwirustla

Posts: 23
Joined: 17 April 2015

Hi Richard,

I'm so glad you have listed your qualifications and given a rough breakdown of your history. The reason for this is yours is almost identical to mine! I began studying/working in the electrical trade in my mid 20's and almost exactly copied the route you have taken, with the exception of competing two courses in 2D and 3D CAD design after the electrical quals. Anyway, I was working as a spark and had been hoping and attempting to gain some recognition from larger design consultancies with the idea that moving away from the tools and expanding my electrical experience was the ultimate goal. This was to no avail so I decided to take the next step on my education route and after much discussion with my electrical college tutors, I decided to begin an HNC in building services. I was told that this would open loads of doors and would be the beginning toward my desired path to everything I wanted!! It turned out this course would be utterly boring and for me personally had no relevance to the electrical background/career I had hoped for. This course in my opinion was irrelevant because it was teaching me how to lay drains and sewers in the road, while forcing us (Students) to complete assignments in topics that had not yet been taught in the classroom.

Safe to say I binned this course off and continued looking for a better solution. Out of the blue I received a phone call from an agency claiming to have seen my CV and found it to be very impressive and that a design consultancy was very interested in hiring me straight off the tools. To my surprise they hired me without an HNC or Degree, despite finding things a little difficult to adjust from a site environment to office, it has become very obvious to me that many of my new colleagues (With all their degrees/HNC, etc) could not wire a socket, nor carry out the task of installing something they have actually designed. My point is you do not need the HNC or degree, just keep making yourself known to agencies and keep studying in the mean time. A break may come your way!

Additional to the points above, I would like to note that I attempted to begin an HNC in Electrical/Electronic engineering last September (2015) at my usual college and was told that despite all my previous electrical qualifications, numerous years at that college, and having previously started an HNC in building services at that college!!!!!! my math level was not high enough (Despite the proof) to allow me to complete this HNC without first completing a bridging course in advanced mathematic and science. This may be because I chose the Btec route straight out of school so never completed an A level in mathematics, but that is the excuse my college chose to use on me. Despite this setback, I found the advanced math/science course to be excellent and did provide a lot of refreshing insight in many topics that will no doubt come up on the HNC Elec course, now due to start this year (2016).

There are many paths to take, just chose the right one for you! good luck.

Billy
 28 June 2016 08:51 PM
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Inrush

Posts: 743
Joined: 19 December 2007

Do a degree

Building services isn't a bad career and there are plenty of "sparks" doing OK at it

Find a practice that will sponsor you part time - 2 years should do it

Coupled with your craft experience you won't be out of work (much)

Good luck

OMS


I agree, do a degree.

Just to add, having undertake a part-time honours degree in Electrical Engineering myself you'll be looking at around 5 years part-time without HNC/HND.
 28 June 2016 09:18 PM
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nad

Posts: 410
Joined: 14 January 2005

How-do Richard,

Your electrician background is similar to mine. Though, I never got around to attempting the design course. Though, perhaps I should as its part of my current job description.

Building Services Engineering is the further education courses the MEP consultancies look for when recruiting Engineers. If you go on one of these courses (HNC, HND, BSc, BEng or MSc), expect that you will know 10 times more about electrical installation than your lecturers.

But you will be taught very basic mechanical and public heath engineering. And importantly how to use word processing, spread sheets, presentation and computer aided drafting (AutoCAD) tools. These are the skills you'll need to get a job in the office. They may even give you a light introduction to the likes of Amtect and Hevacomp.

If you are interested in doing electrical design work in an office for an MEP Consultancy then I'd recommend looking into the HND at LSBU. You can take it part-time, at one day a week, over 5 semesters. Though, those days are long. You'll meet lots of people on the course who are day release, paid for by their employers, who you can hobnob with.

Now when I enquired, I was told that I could try before I buy, by someone managing the course. In other words, enrol and only pay if you want to continue, when they come looking for the first payment around Christmas.

Having said all this, I'm so bored of office work; I'm contemplating a move back to the tools. Either that or joining the Hare Krishnas.

Good Luck,

-------------------------
Nad

*Regularly edited due to spell cheque misdiagnosis
 29 June 2016 01:25 PM
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RichardH1978

Posts: 9
Joined: 27 June 2016

Hi. Thank for all your comments.  All very helpful.

I have sent off for an Engineering prospectus from the Open University. Will have a thorough read through that.

Billy: Interestingly enough I have been looking at a C&G 2d Autocad course at a local college at evening class. I think that would be worth doing. I think the design area is the field I want to move into. Actually when I left school (a long time ago) I did a BTEC in Art & Design, aiming to become a graphic designer. My circumstances changed however and nothing came of it; perhaps now I am coming full circle.

Nad: I think your right and should get up to speed with office software;  a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) sounds suitable but course prices seem to vary massively. I have used Microsoft Office but I wouldn't say I was professionally proficient with it.

I think home study and evening classes are the way forward for me.

Still, I like the idea of starting a job and my employer investing in my education. It is not something I've been lucky enough to experience. Maybe I could become the new Prime Minister.  What quals do you need for that?

Regards

Richard.
 29 June 2016 04:19 PM
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nad

Posts: 410
Joined: 14 January 2005

You'll get a bit more than just being up to speed with the Office software from a HND. They'll teach you how to present your work. Useful for condition surveys, Client reports, technical drawings, design workshops, Site meetings, etc.

However, there were no fees for fulltime mature students when I went. There's no way I'd have paid 9K/yr. With a fulltime FE course you can get student loans to pay for it but still, 9K! Maybe you'll be able to do something about that when you're PM?

A HND could lead to a Degree, Masters, research placement and then a Professorship, if you're that way inclined. Could open up load of areas for you. And you'll end up very good at Maths- though I've forgot all that now.

Another thing to consider is learning REVIT. It's being used to create 3D models of buildings for BIM (see another current thread). The big consultancies' are paying contractor workers up to £50/hr for it. Worth a look if you think you'd be happy doing 3D drafting all day.

-------------------------
Nad

*Regularly edited due to spell cheque misdiagnosis
 05 July 2016 07:40 PM
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RichardH1978

Posts: 9
Joined: 27 June 2016

Hello.

Right, I have received the prospectus form the Open University for the Engineering BEng. I think this might be for me. I can study part time only and it will take a minimum of six years to complete. Finance options are also satisfactory.
I have also signed up for a C&G 2D AutoCAD (Level 2) with a local college.
With any luck I'll get the career progression I'm looking for!

Thanks

Richard.
 05 July 2016 08:47 PM
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OMS

Posts: 22583
Joined: 23 March 2004

Good luck

OMS

-------------------------
Let the wind blow you, across a big floor.
 05 July 2016 09:01 PM
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carlosalt

Posts: 8
Joined: 09 September 2011

Too late for qualifications. You need to get into management. Get industrial electrical controls experience. The industry is crying out for them. Become a good team leader then later into department management. You do all this by moving jobs.

Oh you need to have an apprenticeship. Most companies won't let you in the door without.
 05 July 2016 10:07 PM
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RichardH1978

Posts: 9
Joined: 27 June 2016

Carlosalt,
Too late for qualifications? How so?
What sort of apprenticeship are we talking?

Regards

Richard
 06 July 2016 03:42 PM
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billingham

Posts: 11
Joined: 19 April 2012

Hey Richard.

I came sort of the same route, started out as an apprentice electrician at 16 and fortunately was able to work abroad as a spark in the mining industry. I felt at some point I'd need to get myself off the tools. I looked at many courses directly after my apprenticeship and decided to go down the HNC/HND route in electrical engineering through Teeside University distance learning. I then returned to the UK at the age of 26 and I'm now finished a 1.5 year building services engineering top-up degree.

C&G 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology Installation Level 2
C&G 2330 Certificate in Electrotechnical Technology Installation Level 3
C&G 2356 Electrical NVQ Level 3 Electrical Installation
C&G 2382-20 BS7671 17th Edition Update
C&G 2391-10 Certificate in Inspection, Testing and Certification of Electrical Installations
AM2
C&G 2377 Certificate in Portable Appliance Testing
Australian SA electrical A Licence
Canadian IP Red Seal Electrical ticket
HNC/HND Electrical and Electronic Engineering
BSc Building Services Engineering................Pending

The HNC/HND was very difficult distance learning and can take up to 5 years to complete. If I could go back, I feel the quickest way of achieving a degree is via a four year part time one day a week course. At your age a University will accept you into the first year as an adult learner without any additional Maths course.

What you will find between the Electrical and Electronic Engineering degrees and the Building Services Engineering degrees are the Electrical ones are more Electronic bias and the Building Services ones are more mechanical bias. You'll struggle to find an electrical building services degree course.

Good Luck
 12 July 2018 01:44 PM
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RichardH1978

Posts: 9
Joined: 27 June 2016

Hi.

Well it has been two years since I started this post. I am now 40!

So here is what I have been up to and how I am progressing. 

Not long after I started this post the company I was working for went into liquidation. I became a sole trader electrician and went to work on a large hospital project. After a few weeks there I was picked up as being a competent sort of fellow and was made a supervisor, looking after the first and second fix and a whole bunch of electricians. This meant also that I would have to complete the SSSTS. (Site Supervisor Safety Training Scheme). Which I took and passed ok. Progression.

Going into the autumn 2016 I enrolled at the local college and completed two terms of evening class, the C&G 2D Auto CAD. Which I completed with distinction. This course I enjoyed but as it is building design I think I would like to get involved in I thought if I were to continue more CAD studies it would need to be in Revit or something like that.

In the spring 2017 I completed the IPAF 2a 2b which actually came in handy when the hospital job finished. And I ended up working at a local cinema spending all day up in the gods on a MEWP. 

In the autumn of 2017 I enrolled on the Open University Bachelor of Engineering BEng. I felt this was the most logical step to take in my education. I can study in my own time and it suits my needs best. This should keep me pretty busy study wise over the next 4-6 years. Yes, I am getting very good at mathematics and am learning about a very broad range of engineering disciplines at the moment.

Got the 18th edition just released, another expensive course. Something I can add to my CPD.

Now the cinema has finished, I am working on a new build office block as a subcontractor. In a way I suppose I have regressed as I am not supervising anymore. It has all been good experience. 

I enjoy site work and it is very rewarding but I think in the long term I think I would like to venture into electrical system design and BIM. The winters just seem to get colder and longer and I am not getting any younger! I think with my experience of electrical installation, I would make me a pretty good designer. 

Hopefully by constantly learning I will gain a sort of esoteric knowledge and would like to become a specialist in an area of design expertise.

I joined the IET. As a JIB gold card holder I could apply to join and recieve the letter TMIET after my name. Woohoo. So far this has not been particularly useful but may do one day. I read in a recent copy of the IET magazine that I could also with my experience and qualification meet the criteria for the Electrical EngTech accreditation. I am currently working through the application. Again if my application meets the criteria I will get more letters to my name. Useful? Hopefully.

Anyways, until next time!

Richard.
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