Becoming and electrician at 32

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by <<Stu-C>>, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. <<Stu-C>>

    <<Stu-C>> New Member

    Hello, I'm 32 years old. I am employed in a completely unrelated industry but now I'm looking to retrain as an electrician. I have a young family and financial commitments so I am looking for part time study options (evening / weekend).

    My understanding is that I need to complete level 2 and 3 city and guilds qualifications, and ideally have placement / work experience.

    I have weekend work lined up, as a sparkies mate. But I haven't been able to get onto any college courses to complete the qualification.

    I have contacted city and guilds who told me how I can find local training centres in my area, but other than the fact none of them ever call me back, these training centres seem to have mixed reviews and or only deliver EAL courses.

    Does any one know of any other alternative ways to get the qualification and break in to the sector?

    Any help or advice is welcome.
  2. camels toe

    camels toe Member

    1st don't do it. Too much paperwork.
    2nd become a plumber. No paperwork.
  3. unphased

    unphased Screwfix Select

    I did exactly that at the age of 44 (14 years ago). My circumstances were slightly different as I did a C&G 236 Part 1 at college full time and a 236 part 2 day and evening, then set up as a soletrader. I joined NAPIT and also got 16th edition, 17th edition and 2391 inspect and test. I couldn't get anyone to take me on as a mate or an apprentice so I pretty much dived in and went for it. It is not an easy profession to be in, though, very clique orientated (NICEIC/JIB) and it takes an enormous amount of frustrating long hours, dealing with customers, getting enough work to make a living at it.
  4. Dr Bodgit

    Dr Bodgit Well-Known Member

    As a DIYer, I can imagine being a sparky can be a thankless job with loads of regs to contend with and having to explain sometimes complex situations to the lay man in words of two syllables or less. And having to explain why a simple job (adding in a couple of sockets) will cost £££. But I'd enjoy doing electrical work a lot more than plumbing just because that's the way I'm made - I'm very technical and like to get into the details and understand them. Electricity is also very simple (volts, amps, ohms, that's about it) but dangerous at the same time.
  5. MGW

    MGW Active Member

    Both my son and I started late, but in both cases we have relatives in the trade who helped, and worked in allied trades, as time has gone on it has become harder and harder to swap trades, back when I did it there were night classes one could take, but as time gone on, firms have started giving people time off in the day now, so there are very few courses running at night now.

    My son had to arrange with his employer to have time off in the day to do course, then to work extra hours on other days plus use holidays to be able to attend the courses.

    I found the maths was the hardest thing, it does not matter if you don't use maths in the branch of the job your doing, it is required in some branches so it is required for the courses, I found calculus hard but imaginary numbers easy, others doing the course were the other way around. Age helps with some things, when I was a kid we had pounds shillings and pence plus pounds and ounces so counting in 12, or 16 was not a problem, plus binary.

    I worked all over the world as an electrician and have had a good life, Algeria, Falklands, Hong Kong all flights paid for by the firm, but it was more down to a lucky break and moving over at the right time and right place. My son did it with my help, I was working for a firm who decided to drop wages and put in a bonus instead, I immediately found another job, they rang trying to get me to come back, and a job for my son was part of bargain. It was his hard work which kept him the job. Now an electrical engineer with a large glass firm, but the way up was hard work and low pay, and he had done maths at Uni so had a good start.

    I would say what clinched my change was to work 12 hours a day plus over time 13 days a week living 12 to a container in the Sahara at 130 deg F with out wife or children, it was more down to putting up with the hard life than being a good electrician, by the end however I was a good electrician.
  6. JP.

    JP. Screwfix Select

    Plumbtrician - the ultimate money earner
  7. camels toe

    camels toe Member

    Also once your a plumber you can go and do your gas safe then charge for annual service of boilers.
    Easy work easy money.
    No one has their electrics serviced. Not until it goes bang , you turn up and say you need a full rewire and will cost £££££. Not interested my mate will sort it out thank you. Always got a mate who use to be a sparks. Also when someone got a leak they want it sorted there and then.
    I become a sparks , and then trained as a plumber. My passion is sparking my money is plumbing.
    nigel willson likes this.
  8. JP.

    JP. Screwfix Select

    Rewires/electrics in general and ch installation combined - pacman-emoticon.png ..aye thats where the dosh is.
  9. Bob Rathbone

    Bob Rathbone Active Member

    Keep away from EAL. I ran C&G courses at Shrewsbury College around 10 years ago, often we had mature students in with the apprentices, they completed NVQ 2 and 3 in college and by working with friends who were electricians as you have suggested. If you want a course I suggest you phone the college and ask to speak to one of the electrical lecturers about your course. Go in and talk direct to the people who will be doing the training.
  10. nigel willson

    nigel willson Well-Known Member

    Yer but twice as much s--t to deal with!!!,
  11. <<Stu-C>>

    <<Stu-C>> New Member

    Thank you for you help. I work as a project manager handling data everyday so I thought becoming a spark would be the natural trade to move into. But after reading your commitments I might revise my decision and look into alternatives. Cheers for your help. Really appreciated.
  12. retiredsparks

    retiredsparks Well-Known Member

    what you dont seem to realise is that you can learn to be a plumber, tiler, painter, plasterer.....but to be a good electrician is a gift from God.

  13. Dr Bodgit

    Dr Bodgit Well-Known Member

    What about becoming an atheist electrician? :rolleyes:
  14. retiredsparks

    retiredsparks Well-Known Member

    When the Supreme Being, in his munificence,.. sends the Grim Reaper to insert his red hot scythe half way up you, we will see how your eyes roll then !
  15. unphased

    unphased Screwfix Select

  16. MGW

    MGW Active Member

    I think every trade has variations, as an electrician you may only work on new build houses following a pre-set plan and have some foreman do all the inspecting and testing so you are doing about the same as a monkey could do, then next job your main tool is a laptop and you are fixing production lines where every minute down is costing £100 so the pressure is really on.

    I have seen the pipe fitter grinding the 36 inch heavy walled pipe so when it is lifted by the crane it fits spot on. It was clearly a very skilled job, yet also seen pipe fitters using copper water pipe all day.

    Where it all goes wrong is when after 3 years in a site like Sizewell 'B' where the apprentice never worked on a live wire, well many of the electricians didn't either, then you move firms and find your expected to work out volt drops and design systems and problem solve.

    Even the so called electrical engineers can get it wrong. And you ask ones self how could they make such a mistake, a 9 kW automatic voltage regulator fed from a 6 kW transformer it seems so basic how could they get it wrong? I have been out of my depth at times, however I have some how managed, I remember a crushing plant, the motor was tripping, I was sure it was mechanical, but I needed to prove it. I was considering how to measure the torque output of the motor, I still don't know how I would have measured it, then another guy arrived who was sure it was over greased and insisted the fitter removed the bearing cover took out a hand full of grease and replaced it, no simple job when it weighed around 5 cwt. He was right, nothing wrong with motor just over greased.

    It seems simple now, it didn't then, a new motor would take around 2 months by sea, no access to dynamometer so no real way to 100% test. The number of times I have heard "Your an electrician fix it." trying to explain I had never worked on a photostat machine before was met by, you have all the instructions so what's the problem. Turned out very easy to repair had built in self diagnostic system.

    The things I have been dragged over the coals for, not having a length of overhead power track in stock at a cost of £1500, as it turned out being down cost £2000 an hour. Nearly got the sack for that. And when I was told the guy writing the PLC program for that press has had a heart attack, you will have to write it, I nearly had kittens. However I did write it and I did get it all running.

    Even domestic has it moments, central heating stopped working and new baby in the house, old Y plan clearly not boiler as domestic hot water still working, the wiring centre turned out to be a 12 way chock block strip and who ever had wired it up left no plan, it's done to you to fix, Sunday so your only guy on call, if you need spares you must get them by 4 pm. It turned out to be a micro switch in the motorised valve, however the plan showed the valve had one micro switch, where it really had three, failure is not an option.

    Big jobs are not so bad, working on the installation of a gas plant there were some 250 electricians if you have a problem, some one will have had it before and they can help you out, but that woman's central heating it was me and only me, not even some one to bounce ideas with. Same in Algeria, freezer failed, all the meat for month in that container sized freezer, if I don't fix it in time, we all have no food. Fact I had never worked on one before did not matter, there were only 10 people on site, it was down to me. Yes I fixed it. But you have to go back to basic training and work out first how it works before you can start to test to see what is wrong. I was defrost timer stuck on defrost.

    I enjoyed the challenge, but it is not an easy job.
    Squashrobinson and Dr Bodgit like this.
  17. 14th edition

    14th edition Well-Known Member

    I agree with a lot of the above but I dont know any poor electricians tho! I think there is a lot to say about plumbing instead of the electrical route although both will be a long training path. You could always consider plastering or bricking...? Both much quicker to learn and earn and pretty much zero paperwork!
  18. <<Stu-C>>

    <<Stu-C>> New Member

    Thanks again for all of your comments. Really appreciate it. A lot of food for thought. I'm not really looking for any easy quick path. I want to get skilled up, have a trade / specialism and eventually become self employed. I've had 20 years of office politics and commuting into the city and I'm ready for a change.
  19. c0d3r

    c0d3r Member

    This is a good post, it hilights that different areas of employment will present different challenges, new builds can be easy because the plaster's not up and the way they build houses today is very much systemised what with all the building regs, but other area's like fault finding in existing systems (plumbing, electrical & gas) can be harder either because you cant always trace the pipework/runs without crawling all over the house and theres the potential for more bodge work because you dont know whose uncle has worked on it before!

    I'm not even trained for a trade but I can spot bovine excrement when I see it from trades because much of it is just logical thinking with knowledge of the properties of what you are working with which you would have got from chemistry for building mixes, physics for electrical, plumbing, gas & general building. E.G. bleeding radiator's of two gases (not air because air is another gaseous mix) can be caused by the electrical pumps causing cavitation which will pit the blades of the pump when the blades split water back into the two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms, if you have ever had a power boat, or experience of powerful outboard motors you will see the same on the boat/ship propellers. So if you have also kept you eyes & ears open you'll see many similarities in other walks of life, like in this case motor boating and plumbing. Eventually caviation will destroy the blade's with lots of hole's and in extreme the blade can eventually disintegrate.

    I'm sure with plumbing for example, they will probably teach you things like why copper is used, it kills 99.9% of bacteria which is why bacterial studies use copper plates in labs, its also why the liver when born has the highest concentration of copper in it, and why for centuries "3rd" world countries continue to store water in copper vessels. Its also why hot water should be a minimum of 60 Deg C and funnily enough a solution with a minimum of 60% alcohol also kills bacteria which is why if you ever went into some parts of the military they tell you things like use surgical spirit on your feet (rubbing alcohol if you are US based) as it reduces the incidence of things like athletes foot. Water doesnt compress very much either which means devices shutting off/closing a valve quickly can help to cause things like water hammers, make sure you clean up the flux from the outside of copper water pipes where its been used to join pipes or bends as these can react with the copper leading to little pin holes which drip water, ie found this one in a 1930's house which was 13metres long, the plumbers hadnt cleaned the newly installed pipes in a downstairs toilet at one end of the house as it was keeping me awake in the upstairs bedroom at the other end of the house. Why, because at night to compensate for lack of sight due to it being dark, your hearing over compensates much like deaf people experience. See how theres many parallels in other parts of life?

    Having spent the best part of my life renting & living in different properties from old cob built on natural water supplies to modern new builds, flats, semi's and bungalow's I also have a good idea of what works, where to expect problems in a property, for example some new builds will find their cavity walls filled with rubbish as it was cheaper to dispose of it there than officially, same with contaminated soils on brown field sites. Being a programmer you are also privy when you work for many different firms's what tricks they get up to from how contaminated soil comes in one door and goes back out as good quality top soil, to how the pricing libraries used by all the major construction and infrastructure firms helps keep inflation going.

    Plus when is it worth while rewiring an existing building because the old cable is not the latest Low Smoke Halogen Free (LSOH) sheathed, possibly armoured, and shielded (what type of shielding to reduce leakage of magnetic flux which can also be used to hack systems), when to consider adding some trunking for future changes to making a property a smart property emitting little to no radio frequency which hackers can then exploit, when to build in a level of contingency in preparation for the predicted grand solar minimum which no one in living memory has ever experienced because this is a 500 year old event which no met office on this planet has data for, just contemporary data; would make having all the certs for all trades a worth while time to have it, especially as the housing market is slowing, Brexit has caused a slow up in the work, money velocity (Bank of England measure) has yet to get back to pre 2008 levels, house prices are now declining so many trades scratching around for work and will suggest more work than necessary to keep themselves afloat, so now is the time as the tide goes out, to see who is naked below the water line.

    At least you wont be ripped off if you have the cert's in all the trade's and some of it, is just staying current to what the Govt via its various arm's say's is now the current practice. Govt's are very good at keeping people busy.

    However until you sign up to learn & sit the exam, you wont know for sure what the current requirements are and whats expected of you, but its probably best to view it as an investment and diversification exercise.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017
  20. Jiten

    Jiten Member

    I have had similar experiences. I'm now 33 I started electrics in 2013. I was in an admin job which was always agency work.

    I thought about trade and I wanted something that would challenge me. Yes i have to agree the principles of electrical science is difficult. But the worst if it is in level 2. I've added some sample questions so you can see for yourself.

    I've done my 2330 and 2392 and also my part P and 17th edition. I'm now working towards my commercial quals.

    Did i make the right decision? Yes I think I did. Even though the work is picking up slow, I now have a profession that will stay with me and I can make my own work load. It all depends on what motivates you... how far are you willing to go to get custom... such as a web page, social media, local advertising and are you willing to travel and stay on a project away from family for weeks or months?

    All in all its not an easy profession, but nothing in life is easy but you do eventually learn the trade and once you do it's worth while.

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