Electrical engineering technician

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Sharon Murray is an electrical apprentice with a petroleum company working at a refinery near Southampton. She is looking forward to completing her apprenticeship and going on to study for a degree.

What does your electrical engineering job involve?

The electrical maintenance of the refinery. This includes dealing with breakdowns, testing pump motors and planned maintenance. It also involves diagnosing equipment faults and circuit testing. The equipment is high voltage and can be up to 11,000 volts.

Do you have a typical day?

I may be asked to help with a breakdown, which involves investigating the equipment. Then I repair the equipment and put it back in service. My job is also to assist the process technicians and carry out any electrical work that needs doing, such as disconnecting motors so they are safe to work on. I work 7.30 am to 3.30 pm, Monday to Friday.

What equipment do you use if any?

I carry a standard tool kit with spanners, screwdrivers and pliers. I also use electrical test equipment and meters.

What was your route into this job?

I joined SETA (Southampton Engineering Training Association) after leaving school to gain my NVQ Level 2 in Electronics. They passed my application through to this company to apply for the electrical apprenticeship.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I enjoyed doing more practical work, and I like problem solving and fault finding.

What training have you received?

During my apprenticeship I have received training in hazardous areas, rigging and slinging, fire fighting, breathing apparatus, permit training, first aid and manual handling. It all counts towards an electrical NVQ Level 3. I am also studying for an HNC in Electrical/Electronics.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy working in a team, and fault-finding on equipment can be both interesting and challenging.

Any disadvantages to your job?

Working outside on a cold winter's day can be a disadvantage, but the summer days outweigh this?

What are the skills and qualities needed to be an electrical engineering technician?

Good communication skills are important. You also need to work well in a team, have strong electrical knowledge and think logically and safely when working on electrical equipment.

What are your long-term career goals?

I would like to further my education and get my degree, which may open up new career opportunities.

Sharon's route

  • GCSEs.
  • Apprenticeship.
  • BTEC National Certificate in Electrical/Electronics.

Sharon's tips

  • Choose a career you find interesting and enjoyable.
  • Be willing to learn and don't be afraid to take on new challenges.

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Salary of an electrical engineering technician

  • New entrants start at around £12,000 a year.
  • An average basic salary is £18,000.
  • Experienced electricians with approved status can earn £25,000 or more.
  • Electricians may be paid extra for overtime and shift work.

How to become an electrical engineering technician

  • Young people wanting to become qualified electricians in industry should look for employers or organisations offering Apprenticeships.
  • It is an advantage to have GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) in maths, English and science. Some employers insist on these grades, but they are not mandatory and others may accept applicants for training on the basis of an interview and aptitude test.
  • Employers include electrical and building firms, electrical manufacturers, general manufacturing and engineering companies, local government, hospitals, colleges, power generating and supply companies, shops and rental companies of domestic appliances such as cookers and washing machines.
  • There is a shortage of trained electricians at present, and very good prospects for those with experience.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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