How Hard It Is To Be An Electrician – 5 Key Points

When becoming an electrician one of the first questions you may be asking is, is being an electrician hard?

Working as an electrician in the UK for many years has given me a unique insight into the challenges we face as a trade. Whilst I love my job, being an electrician can be hard at times.

In my experience being an electrician is incredibly rewarding but can also be quite hard. It is a demanding career requiring a high degree of responsibility and a specialised skill set. There are also a number of challenges which may not appear obvious at first.

So that’s my opinion in a nutshell. Of course different people are suited to different challenges so what one person finds hard another may find easy! Continue reading so you can make up your own mind as to whether or not you will find being an electrician hard.

1. Do Electrician Follow Lots Of Regulations?

As you would expect from a career with the high potential for injury, Electricians are governed by a strict set of regulations, commonly referred to as the regs. We must follow these regs so that the work we do meets required industry standards.

The regs book runs to hundreds of pages long and it is our job as electricians to study and learn these regs so that we are always complying with them. 

To make matters more tricky, the regs are constantly updated. Keeping up with the changes is a constant learning process throughout our careers.

We most also follow many working procedures to minimise the dangers we face on a daily basis. (The greatest dangers faced by electricians)

Following the regulations is a sometimes hard, but important part of the job. We often find on site that our choices are limited because some installation options wouldn’t meet regs. This can sometimes lead us to having to do a more difficult installation method in order to comply.

Whilst constantly learning regulations may seem daunting to some, to others it is an interesting part of being an electrician. I find that it keeps the job fresh and is a welcome new challenge.

If you enjoy the job, learning the latest wiring regulations can be hard but is actually quite rewarding.

2. Do Electricians Have To Deal With Customers?

Some Electricians focus on domestic properties, like customer’s houses, whilst others move towards the more commercial side of the industry, shopping centres for example. Whichever career path an electrician takes they will have to deal with customers on a regular basis.

The customer may be the home owner, or it could be the building company that has employed them. Anyone who has worked in a customer facing will know that the general public can be challenging to say the least.

Dealing with customers, both happy and negative ones, can be a hard part of the job for an electrician.

Sometimes explaining to a customer why we have to use one type of installation method over another can be tricky. The customer does not know the regs therefor they are relying on you explaining the situation to them in terms they can understand.

The majority of customers I have faced are very polite and happy to listen to your expert opinion. Unfortunately at times, I have also had the challenge of dealing with difficult customers which can be hard.

You learn pretty quickly as an electrician to develop a laid back attitude towards customers. I find a smile and a chat taking the time to explain often complex situations works wonders.

If you are of a shyer disposition do not let that deter you! As an apprentice, the electrician you are training under will do most of the talking. The more time that passes the more comfortable you will become talking to customers.

Many apprentices start of as shy wallflowers then after a few years become chatterboxes that you can’t get to be quiet!

3. Do Electricians Work In Different Locations?

One of the great benefits of working as an electrician is that you can work in a huge variety of environments and locations. I have personally spent time working in locations ranging from domestic properties to wind turbines and everything in between.

As an electrician working in different locations all the time is great, but it can also be a hard part of the job.

It can be very difficult to get into a routine at work. In an office based career, you have your regular desk, parking space, canteen, commute, the list is endless. This all helps to give the employee a sense of feeling comfortable.

Working in multiple locations removes a lot of this comfort level. I have seen some electricians really struggle with this part of the job, they like to get settled and do not enjoy the constant disruption to their lives.

The length of time we spend at a location varies greatly. We may be somewhere for a few hours or a few years it all depends on the job we are doing. 

A big challenge when changing work locations constantly (and why being an electrician can be hard), is that it can be difficult to plan activities outside of work.

If I where to book in an evening activity for a few weeks time, I may have to cancel at short notice because my location that day is too far away for me to make it back in time.

I always enjoy the changing locations part of being an electrician. To my mind it is a great perk of the job that we are not tied to an office all day long!

There are also many electrical roles, such as maintenance electrician, which mean we can be based at the same location each day. For some this is the best of both worlds. They know where they will be working each day in the macro sense, but the actual role and specific location is different each day.

Regardless of where we work it is important that we always maintaining exceptionally high standards. This is one reason why electricians carry so much equipment on their vans.

4. Do Electricians Have Lots Of Responsibility

Being an electrician carries enormously high levels of responsibility. Working with electricity can be incredibly dangerous and the responsibility that we must shoulder can be a hard part of the job.

The points we have mentioned so far are the external factors. Perhaps one of then hardest parts about being an electrician is the internal responsibility we must carry.

Electricians are trusted professionals that must ensure any work carried out is to a high standard and safe. This safety aspect is so important. Electrical safety relates to us whilst we are working on the system and also for years afterwards, long after we have packed up our tools and left.

As readers would expect, the certification requirements in place in the UK are thorough. Whenever we turn up to work we are working to a strict set of laws and guidelines.

After completing a job it is our responsibility to certificate the work and sign our names, known as ‘sign it off’. This demonstrates that it is safe for continued use.

The law in the UK is very clear that if we are negligent, either accidentally or not, then as an electrician we can personally face prosecution.

This is an important point that all tradesman are aware of. The penalties for errors (such as imprisonment) are life changing and should not be underestimated.

The high responsibility level can be a hard part of the job. We manage this pressure by always working diligently, following all regulations and ensuring that we are confident with the final standard of work.

We can see that it is so important, no matter how quickly the completion deadline is looming, never to cut corners.

5. Do Electricians Have Time Pressures?

As an electrician we often have to work to strict deadlines. There can be severe financial penalties, as well as unhappy customers, if we do not deliver as promised. These time pressures can be a hard part of being an electrician.

With the ever changing nature of the job, it can be very difficult to provide accurate timescales for work. When assessing a job, we are always working on a ‘best estimate’ scenario.

In reality, until we begin a job and start lifting floorboards, drilling through walls etc we are estimating timeframes and costs based on experience and calculations.

Often unexpected challenges will come up that delay the finish time or incur additional costs. These delays can cause a lot of stress to an electrician and this pressure is handled by people in different ways.

Depending on the nature of the contract we may end up incurring the financial costs for the delay ourselves.

  • If we have quoted a price to a customer, we may end up delivering the job at a financial cost to ourselves.
  • Some contracts (particularly large building companies) have incredibly high penalty charges for delays, sometimes thousands of pounds a day.

As electricians we will always come under time pressures. What matters is how we handle these. Some get incredibly frustrated and try to rush harder which generally results in making matters work.

The best approach I have always found is to accept that we are going to have to work extra hours, staying on late, working the weekends etc, in order to meet the promised deadline. (do electricians work weekends?)

What is vital is that we never allow the standard to drop, as this has a huge impact on our reputation and could even result in us finding ourselves getting prosecuted if the standard becomes exceptionally poor and dangerous.

In Summary

I hope this article has given readers a sense of the challenges faced by electricians and an overall picture of how hard it is to be an electrician.

It’s worth remembering that each person handles each challenge differently. What is a hard part of the job for one person is actually a perk and enjoyable part to another person.

By learning correctly and applying ourselves, being an electrician does not have to be as hard as it appears.

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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