Electricity Distribution Worker

The Job and What's Involved

Electricity distribution workers install and maintain the equipment and machinery that supplies electricity from power stations, through electricity distribution systems to industry, businesses and people's homes.

They work as jointers, linespeople or electrical fitters:

Jointers - work on underground cables, joining lengths of cable together, repairing them and connecting them to overhead lines or other parts of the system. They also connect homes, business premises and factories to the main electricity supply.

Linespeople - install and repair overhead lines that are supported by wooden poles or steel pylons.

Electrical Fitters - install, repair and maintain equipment in electricity sub-stations. They also maintain the machinery that controls, protects and monitors the electricity flow.

Distribution workers are also responsible for other sub-station equipment such as batteries, compressors, and gas and oil installations.

Safety is extremely important and an electricity distribution worker is responsible not just for their own safety but for other members of the team and users of the equipment.

Electricity distribution workers usually work 37 hours a week. They may have to work some weekends, and are likely to perform overtime and standby duties.

It can be strenuous work, with lifting, bending and carrying, often in dirty, muddy and oily conditions. Depending on the particular job, workers could be out in all weathers. Jointers work in trenches, often in cramped conditions. Linespeople work up poles and pylons. Electrical fitters are often indoors in sub-stations, but may also have to work outdoors.

Starting salaries for Apprentices are likely to be around £8,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Electricity distribution workers usually work for one of the regional electricity companies or large electrical contractors. Each company is responsible for its own recruitment, so it is best to contact them directly for details of vacancies. Electricity companies' offices are listed in local telephone directories and on the internet.

There are several websites that specialise in electricity, gas and water jobs, including www.utilityjobsearch.com and www.justutilities.net. Jobs may also be advertised at Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices.

This is a growing area of employment across the whole of the UK and there is a shortage of skilled people.

Education and Training

It is possible to start work as an Apprentice straight from school, with no formal qualifications. Some companies do ask for some GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent qualifications, though, to show that new starters will be able to cope with the Apprenticeship training.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training through an Apprenticeship can take up to four years. Trainees do on-the-job practical training combined with time at college on day or block release. They work towards an NVQ/SVQ in Electricity Systems Technology Engineering at Level 2 or 3.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) could lead to the qualification of EngTech. To achieve this, electricity distribution workers must register formally with The Engineering Council as an engineering technician. They will need:

  • An appropriate qualification such as a relevant NVQ/SVQ at Level 3, BTEC national certificate or diploma, or an SQA national certificate group award.
  • At least three years' work experience with responsibility, including suitable further training and development.
  • To be a member of the relevant professional institution, such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) or Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
  • To take a final test called a professional review.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

An electricity distribution worker should:

  • Have good practical skills and be able to use a range of tools.
  • Be physically fit.
  • Be good at solving problems.
  • Be extremely safety-conscious.
  • Pay attention to detail.
  • Be able to work on their own without supervision.
  • Have a good head for heights (in the case of linespeople).
  • Be computer literate.

Your Long Term Prospects

Electricity distribution workers may progress into other craft jobs within the industry, and eventually to supervisory jobs.

Get Further Information

ECIS (The Engineering Careers Information Service),
14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0808 100 3682
Website: www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

Energy & Utility Skills, Friars Gate Two,
1011 Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull B90 4BN
Tel: 0845 077 9922
Website: www.euskills.co.uk

The Engineering Council UK (ECUK),
246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Website: www.engc.org.uk

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET),
Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL
Tel: 020 7240 1871
Website: www.theiet.org

Joint Industry Board (JIB) for the Electrical Contracting Industry,
Kingswood House, 47/51 Sidcup Hill, Sidcup, Kent DA14 6HP
Tel: 020 8302 0031
Website: www.jib.org.uk

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