How to become an electrician: Ryan's story

Meet Ryan, 19, from Tyne and Wear. Find out about his life as an electrician for a ship repair company. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Ryan at the shipyard
"Health and safety awareness is a big skill that I use every day. Alongside that is teamwork."

What is your job?

I'm responsible for all the electrical equipment and maintain it. Any welding sets that need repairing get sent to my department and I’ll fix them. I’ll look after anything else, such as lighting.

What skills do you use at work?

Health and safety awareness is a big skill that I use every day. Alongside that is teamwork. We’ll always have two or more people on the job because we need enough people to make sure the electrical circuit is safe. Time keeping is also important – I have to make sure I'm here at 7 o'clock in the morning.

What GCSEs did you take to become an electrician?

For my GCSEs I did the core subjects as well as Religious Studies, Sport Studies, Public Services, and French. After that I went to sixth form where I studied English Literature and Engineering. Within Engineering, I did Electronics. The electronics we studied at sixth form gives me good knowledge of how to repair and maintain electrics.

Is this the job you always wanted to do?

I used to wonder 'do I want to do something to do with sport?' but as I grew up I took Engineering at sixth form and I got an insight into the electrical side. I really enjoyed that. I thought, this is what I want to do, to be hands on.

How did you get the job?

I got an interview from Tyne North who help provide training in engineering. They looked for electrical companies that offered apprenticeships, and they found one that interested me. I did a health and safety test, and then an interview, and then I got the job!

Ryan working on a fuse box
Ryan at work.

Top tips

  • You have to put the hard work in to get where you want to be

  • It’s all about the experience

  • The electrical department is massive, and you’ve got so much to learn, so starting young and doing an apprenticeship is really helpful.

What to expect if you want to be an electrician

  • Electrician salary: £18,000 to £42,000 per year
  • Electrician working hours: 30 to 40 hours per week
  • Typical Entry requirements: You can become an electrician through a college course or an apprenticeship. At college you can take a Level 2 Diploma in Electrical Installation, which may help you to find a trainee position with a company, and you’ll usually need two or more GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a Level 2 course. You can do an advanced apprenticeship as an installation electrician. Some GCSEs (or equivalent), usually including English and Maths, are needed for an intermediate apprenticeship.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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