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As an electrician you could run your own business, work for a small company or be part of a crew keeping large industrial sites running 24 hours a day.

While an electrician can do a large variety of work you could find yourself specialising in domestic, commercial or industrial work. Your skills will ensure that you can work safe, competently and the work you do will comply with New Zealand legislation.

Your job will always keep you challenged from designing electrical installations for clients, installing electrical equipment and fault finding even the toughest problem.

What jobs will I do?

An electrician’s workplace can change day to day. You could be working inside, outside, atop a skyscraper or in places you never thought existed. You can build or repair people homes, businesses, factories and even power stations.

As an electrician, you may do some or all of the following:

  • Install electrical wiring and equipment; communications systems; air conditioning or lighting
  • Install renewable energy systems
  • Maintain and repair electrical installations, parts and equipment 
  • Plan the layout and installation of electrical wiring, equipment and fixtures
  • Test electrical work for safety
  • Work at power stations, substations and other places where high voltage equipment is being used
  • Work with other trades to complete projects

Self-employed electricians will also need to run their own business and may even take on and train an apprentice.

What's the job outlook like?

Electricians are in demand, you could be in Christchurch helping with the rebuild, wiring new houses in Auckland or spending the summer at Scott Base in Antarctica. The options are endless, wherever there is electricity an electrician is not far away.

You can choose to take your trade further and upskill, you could move onto the advanced trade qualification or move up to become an electrical inspector.

How do I become one?

To become an electrician, you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain the National Certificate in Electrical Engineering (Electrician for Registration) (Level 4). Your apprenticeship will involve on-the-job training as well as theory or off-job training. You are supervised by a registered electrician during your apprenticeship. 

The National Certificate in Electrical Engineering (Electrician for Registration) (Level 4) training programme includes the requirement to pass the Theory and Regulations exams. Your exams are set and assessed by the Electrical Workers Registration Board (EWRB), and are usually attempted once all your other off job unit standards have been completed. When you have completed your level 4 certificate, you will be eligible to apply for registration as an electrician with the EWRB.

For information on registering to be an electrician visit the Electrical Workers Registration website

Secondary education and essential skills

It is useful if you have studied maths, English and science in secondary school as these are essential skills of an electrician. It is generally preferred that you have achieved at least Level 2 NCEA.

What qualifications do I study?

You will need to complete the following qualifications:

How long will it take?

An apprenticeship should take approximately four years to complete provided you regularly work through your study and attend the theory courses.

It’s really important that you don’t fall behind in your study. The government funding for your apprenticeship is only available for three and a half years so if you take longer you might put your apprenticeship at risk. It's important you talk to your account manager if you start to experience any difficulties.

What does it cost?

Your employer pays an industry contribution fee of $525 per year and you pay a weekly training fee. The costs of the training fees vary between $20-$42 per week, depending on if you have any previous experience doing a pre-trade electrical course. These fees cover your off and on job training fees.

If you are interested in a career as an electrician, check out the video below for some first hand insight!