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How Long Does It Take To Become A Qualified Electrician?

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Entering the trades is a significant step, whether you’re soon leaving school or stuck in a job you don’t love. And becoming a qualified electrician is an excellent career choice. With a massive demand for skilled workers, it’s not only a rewarding job but a profitable one as well.

However, you may be unsure of the best way to get there, wondering ‘how long does it take to become a qualified electrician?’ among other things. Don’t worry; we’ve covered that and more.

Whatever age you are or where you are in your current job, leaving that behind for a new career can be daunting. There’s a lot to consider, with availability, flexibility, and cost being just some of them. 

How long it will take to train is a significant deciding factor for many people. And it’s no different for those looking to learn a trade.

What Are Your Options To Become A Qualified Electrician?

How long it takes to become a qualified electrician depends on the route you take to get there. To work as an electrician, you can complete a level 3 electrical or electrotechnical qualification – or the equivalent. But ultimately, the most important thing is finding the best route for you and your current situation. Thankfully, there a few different options are available.

Electrician’s Mate

As an electrician’s mate, you’ll work on-site for an unspecified period. You’ll learn about the trade and gain new skills and knowledge during this time. However, you won’t be qualified, so you will need a qualified electrician to mentor, assist you and sign off work.

There is no qualification at the end of this, as it is not an official route into the industry. Instead, many people who’ve worked as an electrician’s mate will undertake an apprenticeship or training course after gaining significant experience. 

Working as an electrician’s mate, even just for a short time, will introduce you to the industry and give you a better understanding of what it entails. From there, you can decide if it’s the career path for you and begin to explore your options to become qualified.

Student taking notes at a work bench while another works on a lighting fixture as they work towards becoming qualified electricians


As an apprentice, you’ll train in college, on-site and online, with a minimum of 20% of your working hours being hands-on. Typically, apprenticeships can take anywhere from one to five years to complete and are generally aimed at those aged 16 and over. During your time as an apprentice, you will be able to earn as you train:

  • 16-18: £4.81 per hour 
  • 19+ (first year): £4.81 
  • 19+ (second year onwards: National minimum wage for your age

(Source: Gov.UK)

Apprenticeships can be an excellent choice for those who don’t have significant financial responsibilities, hence why they’re attractive to those just leaving education. 

New Entrant Training Course

The final and shortest duration option is an electrical training course. You’ll begin training with practical and theory learning for six weeks before going to work on-site as an ECS Electrical trainee. At this stage, we aim to find you employment where you’ll earn £10+ per hour. The duration of this stage varies depending on often you’re on-site and how soon you can build up your portfolio. 

Training courses are particularly popular with mature students looking for a career change. While they require an initial investment to cover the cost of training, the return on that investment can be significant. For example, after six weeks, you could earn at least £10 an hour – meaning you could earn back the cost of training before you even complete your course.

This learning style also allows for flexibility, meaning working around existing commitments such as childcare is easier.

Electrical student working in a workshop bay connection sockets as he works towards becoming a qualified electrician

Experienced Worker Training Course

If you already have experience and qualifications within the electrical industry, you may be eligible for the Experienced Worker Route, which significantly cuts down training duration.

Experienced Operative

As an experienced operative with a minimum of five years in the industry and older qualifications, you can undertake an initial suitability assessment. If successful, you’ll be enrolled on the course, where you’ll complete an on-site portfolio of eight performance units and one knowledge unit. 


As a part-qualified electrician (e.g. you hold electrotechnical Level 2), you can benefit from accelerated training to gain your NVQ Level 3 – allowing you to apply for your ECS Gold Card.

NVQ Level 3

Here at Options Skills, we deliver our NVQ Level 3 Electrical Training Course to people all around the country. Made up of three easy-to-follow steps, it won’t be long before you’re a qualified electrician.

  1. Centre Led Training: 6 weeks 
  2. Portfolio Building: 1 – 3 years*
  3. AM2/Gold Card: 2.5 days

* In step two, you are required to work on-site. Our in-house career development team can help you find employment if you need assistance finding work. Step two varies in duration simply as it is down to the student how long it takes to complete their portfolio.

Student working in the workshop bay on electrical installation as he trains to become a qualified electrician

How Long Does It Take To Become A Qualified Electrician?

Motivation and hard work are essential when training to become a qualified electrician. Regardless of how long you may take to qualify, remaining committed is crucial.

If you can focus solely on training and complete your course full-time, you could become a qualified electrician within 12-18 months.

However, it may take longer if you’re planning to train around existing commitments, whether that’s another job or family responsibility.

For more information, visit our Electrical Training Course page, or call one of our advisors today at 0800 802 1306.

All data correct at time of publication.