I’m worried! I’m worried by the race to the bottom on price in our industry. How do you know that the cheap electrician that has just arrived at your home or office is experienced, qualified and insured? He may have a qualification, but you can now become a ‘qualified’ installer in four weeks with no prior experience. Would one month’s training satisfy you that he or she is qualified enough to work with electricity in your property?
The only route to becoming a qualified electrician, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many of my colleagues, is a four-year, time-served apprenticeship backed up with training at college. Once the apprenticeship is finished, it is usually several years further down the line before electricians are competent enough to undertake and understand some of the work required as part of the day-to-day job.
Most electricians who have worked on reputable building sites or for building companies will have a CSCS card. This shows their competence and experience and has their name, photograph and qualifications embossed on the card. These cards prove a level of knowledge in the industry based on verification of certification and experience and they are renewed every five years with a current health and safety test thrown in.
The other concern you should have as a customer is what happens if something goes wrong? Reputable electricians will be a member of a governing body/assurance scheme such as the NICEIC or NAPIT which protects your rights in the event of electrocution, fire or damage caused to your property. These organisations audit the individual or company on a yearly basis and check things like making sure qualifications are up to date, test equipment and adequate tools are owned, and that insurances meet minimum requirements and are in date. They also verify the technical knowledge required to carry out safe installations.
Of course, these organisations are not statutory and those that choose to join them pay for the service on behalf of their customers in order to give them reassurance of their skills. Many electricians and companies do not join and can therefore offer their services cheaper but arguably at more risk to the customer.
In short, when looking for an electrician for any type of work, always check that they are qualified for the work in hand, are prepared to prove their accreditations and insurances and are able to give you all of the required certification for their work upon completion.