Electrical Engineering Technician

The Job and What's Involved

Electrical engineering technicians build, operate and maintain electrical equipment, such as generators and transformers, that produce and distribute electricity to homes, offices, factories, schools and hospitals.

The work may include:

  • Maintaining and repairing electrical equipment used in factories or by large manufacturing and engineering companies.
  • Preparing, installing and testing equipment and wiring systems in commercial and industrial premises.

Electrical engineering technicians also work as production technicians, assembling electrical and electronic appliances, such as control panels and electric motors. Working from wiring diagrams, production technicians use a range of equipment to test the finished products and check that they work correctly. Some may also be involved in the maintenance of machinery and equipment used in production.

Safety is extremely important, and some technicians are specifically responsible for the safety of electricians and electrical engineering craftspeople, as well as the users of the equipment.

Electrical engineering technicians usually work standard daytime hours, but may have to be flexible if there are deadlines or special projects. Weekend and night shifts are sometimes necessary, while some technicians work shifts on a permanent basis.

Electrical engineering technicians may work indoors or outdoors, in offices, factories, workshops, power stations or research facilities.

Some bending, climbing and lifting may be required. Technicians may need to wear protective clothing and safety equipment for some of their work.

A technician in their final year of training may earn around £15,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are opportunities for qualified electrical engineering technicians across a wide range of industries, throughout the country. These include the aerospace, marine, railway, agricultural, chemical, civil engineering, energy and medical industries.

Employers include local and central government, the Armed Forces, manufacturers in a wide range of industries, research and development companies, IT companies and public utilities, such as water, gas and electricity companies. Manufacturers employ electrical technicians in product design, marketing, selling and customer support.

Jobs are advertised in the local press and at Jobcentre Plus offices. Many large employers have details of vacancies on their websites, and a large number of specialist engineering recruitment agencies advertise on the internet.

Education and Training

A common entry route is to train with an employer as a technician apprentice.

Applicants typically need five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English, maths, and science or technology, or the equivalent qualifications. Candidates should check entry requirements with individual institutions or employers.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Other possibilities are to take a college course in an engineering subject before applying directly to an employer. GCSE's and A levels in electronics and engineering are available. Other courses include:

  • BTEC HNC's/HND's, and national certificates and diplomas, in engineering and electrical engineering subjects.
  • City & Guilds certificates in a range of engineering subjects.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is normally via an Apprenticeship, which usually takes about four years. Apprentices get work experience on the job and spend time at college on day or block release.

Apprentices work towards technical certificates and NVQ's/SVQ's. These may include, for example, City & Guilds Certificate in Inspection, Testing, Design and Certification of Electrical Installations, and NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Installing and Commissioning Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment. Technical certificates and NVQ's/SVQ's are chosen by the employer to suit their business, so they vary.

Apprentices training as maintenance technicians may work towards City & Guilds Engineering Systems Maintenance, a BTEC National Certificate in Engineering, SQA national certificate modules or an NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Engineering Maintenance.

People training as production technicians may work towards City & Guilds Electronics Servicing, SQA national certificate units or an NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Engineering Assembly.

There is a growing demand in a wide range of engineering-related fields for registered engineering technicians (with the title EngTech). Registration provides professional accreditation and the title is recognised internationally.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Electrical engineering technicians need:

  • To have an analytical mind and be good at problem solving.
  • To be good at maths.
  • To be able to use computers.
  • Technical and practical skills.
  • To be able to use a range of tools.
  • To work well in a team.
  • To be able to take responsibility.
  • Good communication skills.
  • To have normal colour vision.

Your Long Term Prospects

With further study, electrical engineering technicians may progress to posts as engineers and, with experience and additional qualifications, may become chartered engineers.

There are also opportunities to work overseas.

Get Further Information

Engineering Connections, St James' House,
Frederick Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 1JJ
Tel: 0800 917 1617
Website: www.apprentices.co.uk

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET),
Michael Faraday House, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 313311
Website: www.theiet.org

SEMTA (Science, Engineering and
Manufacturing Technologies Alliance),
14 Upton Road, Watford WD18 0JT
Tel: 0800 282167
Website: www.semta.org.uk

SummitSkills, Vega House, Opal Drive,
Fox Milne, Milton Keynes MK15 0DF
Tel: 01908 303960
Website: www.summitskills.org.uk

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