Domestic Installer

In recent years, an increasing number of individuals have decided to become domestic installers, rather than fully-fledged electricians. There is a myriad of different reasons as to why prospective electrical workers have chosen this pathway. Some are financially motivated, and others may be related to job satisfaction, capability, and personal circumstances.

This article intends to shed light on the role, function, and importance of domestic installers within the electrotechnical industry. Furthermore, it will offer discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing this as a career. Lastly, it will provide information on the available training routes that enable individuals to become fully accredited domestic installers.

What is a domestic installer?

A domestic installer can be loosely defined as a person who can competently deliver various electrotechnical tasks within a domestic dwelling. Due to skills limitations, domestic installers cannot operate in commercial or industrial environments. Therefore, these individuals work exclusively within domestic contexts. Despite this limited location scope, the breadth of work that a qualified domestic installer is able to perform is still relatively extensive.

For those who want to quickly enter the electrical sector in a respectable capacity, and start registering an income within a few short weeks, becoming a domestic installer may well be the perfect option. The role’s training timeframe is immensely shorter than the one endured by electricians. This is due to reduced module content and based on an understanding that its candidates desire rapid industry integration. However, the short-term advantage of swift training completion is somewhat offset by longer-term limitations on career progression.

Weighing up the opportunity

This concept also lends itself to financial considerations. True, domestic installers start to accrue earnings much quicker than those studying to become electricians. However, after successfully navigating their training, newly-qualified electrical professionals, providing they subsequently land a role in the industry, will attain much higher salaries over a prolonged period of time. Nevertheless, given the increasing reliance on electrical equipment within the home, domestic installers still have potential to generate lucrative revenue streams. This notion is further strengthened by the current shortage of electrical professionals throughout the country. In accordance with a study published by electrical wholesaler, ERF, it’s believed that over half of UK regions are 50 electricians short of the numbers required to meet demand.

Furthermore, there are also training costs to factor into the equation.

Types of learners

Those aiming to become electricians may or may not pay for their training courses. This is highly dependent on their profile as a learner.

Apprentices, who are part of a fixed programme that mixes collegiate study with employment experience, do not finance their own learning journeys. Their employers pick up this bill, as training is ultimately a long-term investment for those who hire apprentice personnel. The government offer schemes to help subsidise this training cost.

However, for those undertaking ‘front-loaded’ paths, the landscape is a little different. The term ‘front-loaded’ simply refers to students not in apprenticeship programmes. These individuals engage in some form of training prior to entering any kind of industry employment. This could relate to the completion of just one required qualification, but most will progress at least some way through their electrical level 3 NVQ before seeking a paid role in the sector. These candidates self-fund their training, and therefore progress is partially dependent on having sufficient financial resource. Furthermore, in order to generate funds, some ‘front-loaded’ trainees, who are often career-changers from other professions, may have to retain an alternate income source.

The harsh reality

But what level of importance does this have to those looking to participate in domestic installer training courses?

Well, frankly, a lot. Apprenticeship schemes are exclusively focused on fully-qualified electrician career paths. Therefore, all prospective domestic installers belong to the ‘front-loaded’ learning community. Thus, any individual who engages in a domestic installers course will be required to pay for their training (with the exception of a very small number of government-sponsored individuals, who may receive funding due to challenging personal circumstances). So, ultimately, some candidates may opt for a career in domestic installation purely due to financial reasons. Indeed, pursuing a career as an electrician may be simply too expensive.

Therefore, there is a substantial volume of moving parts that one must consider when honing in on their career direction.

Domestic installer vs electrician: consider your options

Indeed, individuals should take ample time to mull over which electrical occupation pathway suits them best. In this analysis, they should consider potential future salary, current financial status, personal commitments, and job specification.

This decision becomes even more important when considering the financial impact of initially selecting the wrong option. To become an electrician, candidates must navigate a series of compulsory courses. This commences with a level 2 diploma, progresses to the NVQ level 3, before finally arriving at the last mandated step, the NVQ/AM2 assessment module. Domestic installer courses duplicate the vast majority of the themes found in the level 2 diploma. Therefore, if candidates originally opted for a domestic installers course, but then changed direction on their career ambitions, individuals would be obligated to sit two almost identical qualifications. Moreover, they would also have to clearly play for the privilege to do so.

Therefore, making a rushed, misinformed decision initially, could waste time, money, and energy in the long run. If unsure, try to seek out someone who currently works in either capacity. This way, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to glean the positives and negatives of operating in each role.

Domestic installer course

If your decision is to pursue the domestic installer pathway, then your first move should be to secure a place on a domestic installer course.

Unlike most electrotechnical disciplines, the City and Guilds body does not sponsor a qualification in this area of focus. The City and Guilds, across most industries, are generally accepted to be the UK’s leading skills and certification body. Therefore, their courses are deployed by the vast majority of learning providers operating in the electrical sector. However, as the City and Guilds does not run their own version of this module, prospective delegates should take time to review other certifying organizations, and select one accordingly. Please don’t overthink or worry about this! There are plenty of alternative bodies out there that have orchestrated professional, reputable, and trustworthy qualifications.

Costs

An average domestic installer course will cost students around £2000-£2500. This may seem fairly expensive, but this does a host of supportive features. For this price, students will receive dedicated tutor support, access to official learning materials, workshop practice sessions, and the raft of assessments candidates must sit. Also, this is a one-off payment, which secures long-term status as a qualified domestic installer. The only additional training required is refresher-based, and is linked to any newly publicised versions of the wiring regulations. More on this to follow.

Again, with reference to the point made earlier with regards to comparison of costs, electricians are charged significantly more for their learning enterprises. To complete their full training obligations, electrical professionals may shell out over £10k in course fees. This is before any consideration is given to any supplementary, non-compulsory qualifications, or indeed refresher training.

Structure

Typically, a domestic installer course spans over eighteen days, but clearly this is variable based on learning provider. However, candidates do not need to necessarily conduct this qualification over a string of consecutive working days. Due to the profile of most domestic installer learners (as referenced earlier), course facilitators will tend to offer a high degree of flexibility in their training schedules. Indeed, many even offer weekend and evening sessions. This may be more preferable for those still committed to alternate, full-time roles.

Therefore, individuals may decide to spread their training out over several months. However, as alluded to previously, most delegates in this situation are eager to enter the industry swiftly. Therefore, most work through course content relatively quickly.

As the effects of the recent coronavirus pandemic alerted more people to the merits and validity of working remotely, most providers will also offer fully online courses. This may be extremely useful to particular individuals. However, unless you have no other option, its advised that delegates engage in at least some level of hybrid training. This would involve both remote and ‘face-to-face’ learning. This is because of the substantial advantages of tutor interaction, interactive peer group debate, and experience of practical working.

On average, most candidates complete this training, and navigate its associated assessments, within one month.

Learning format

Learning providers will usually deploy three types of learning. These are represented by practical, classroom-based (in the flesh or through virtual means), and online learning. Based on an eighteen-day framework, candidates should expect these approaches to be applied within the timescales articulated below.

Practical learning: 10 days

Tutors will utilise on-site workshops to support with technical upskilling. This allows candidates to practice techniques, and build experience of using relevant equipment and tools used in the electrotechnical industry.

Classroom-based learning: 5 days

In these sessions, delegates will be coached on electrotechnical theory. These themes will be discussed and debated with their tutors and fellow students alike. Here, candidates should take the opportunity to field any questions they may have, and ensure they build a robust understanding of the topics covered.

Online learning: 3 days

This will be most reflective study, revising the concepts discussed in the classroom, and building confidence in these areas. As this is delivered online, candidates will have more freedom to complete this at their own pace, and at a time which best suits them.

Qualifications

As well as its own, specific, subject matter, domestic installer courses also facilitate the undertaking of three separate, crucial qualifications. These training modules cover a range of electrotechnical skills, theory and disciplines. Attending these courses is essential for learning how to complete domestic electrical tasks in a safe, compliant, and competent manner. Most course providers will embrace the City and Guild’s edition of these qualifications. Therefore, its worth utilizing the framework of their respective courses to support our review.

To emphasise the point made earlier with regards to duplication, the C&G 2365 module, which has a level 2 diploma course grading, also integrates all of these qualifications into its curriculum. So, ensure that you don’t pay twice for the same thing!

The three courses, with accompanying information on their content, structure, and resultant assessment(s), are referenced below:

The C&G 2391-52 Level 3 Award in Inspection & Testing

This qualification merges the key topics covered in the C&G 2392-50, and the C&G 2391-51 modules. It was recently updated in 2020, and is now positioned in reference to the new landlord inspection legislation introduced in July of that year. It replaces the legacy C&G 2394/95 module. This previous title may still referenced by more experienced peer groups.

Delegates will learn about the various commissioning stages involved in setting up an electrical installation. Therefore, this course covers the skills involved with the initial verification, inspection, periodic testing, and certification of circuits and instalments.

Initial verification

Initial verification alludes to a sequence of inspections and tests that conspire to ensure that a new installation is safe, and can deliver its intended function. When this check is complete, an Electrical Installation Report will be composed to note any issues, and certify the works. This should be appropriately filed away by the on-site leadership team for auditing and due diligence purposes.

Periodic testing

Periodic testing refers to the act of assessing pre-existent circuits and instalments. Again, installations should be rigorously inspected and tested for any faults or defects before the certification process is concluded. When this has been suitably delivered, an Electrical Installation Condition Report will be produced. This will detail similar types of information to that captured in an Electrical Installation Report.

A challenging qualification

This is a fairly complex course, and therefore its encouraged that delegates have a reasonable level of electrotechnical knowledge prior to attending. Therefore, domestic installer course facilitators will ensure candidates are equipped with the relevant information before commencing this qualification.

The difficulty of this qualification is also reflected in its challenging and intensive assessment section. Delegates must successfully navigate three testing formats in order to acquire this level 3 award. There is a multiple-choice test, a narrative-based written examination, and a detailed practical assessment. Each presents its own specific challenges. Therefore, on conclusion of the course material, students should comprehensively revise the subject matter, gain an understanding of how best to address each testing format, and squeeze in as much technical practice as possible. If you require further support with your revision scheduling or approach, then please consult your course tutor. And, do so well in advance of your examinations! These are tricky assessments, so make sure you prepare appropriately.

The C&G 2382-18 Level 3 Award in Requirements for Electrical Installation (2018: bs7671)

Regarded as one of the important qualifications in the electrotechnical sector, the C&G 2382-18 covers, in detail, the information contained in the IET’s Requirement for Electrical Installations, 18th edition (bs7671: 2018). This book is colloquially known in the industry as ‘the wiring regulations’. This text provides guidelines on how to approach the planning, execution, and commissioning of any electrical installation. Therefore, its contents are vital for educating electrical workers on how to safely and compliantly manage the instalment process.

The term ‘bs7671’ is the term used to describe the regulatory standards included in the wiring regulations guide. Despite their clear importance, these are not statutory measures, and therefore are not enforceable through any governmental legislation. However, given their status in the industry, and ability to provide transparency on worker conduct and competency, examples of adherence (or lack of adherence) to these rules can be submitted as evidence in a court of law.

The wiring regulations are periodically updated in order to keep pace with new research and schools of thought. This also means that guidance on new and developing technologies, such as EV charging, can be included. The latest version of this book is the 18th edition (hence course title), and was released in July 2018. It’s vital that electrical workers acquire a working knowledge of the latest volume of the wiring regulations. The City and Guilds establish new courses each time a guide is published in order to accommodate this pursuit.

Get hold of a copy- but make sure it’s a valid one!

Prospective delegates should purchase a copy of the wiring regulations prior to attending this course. This documentation will be heavily referenced throughout this training module. Furthermore, students are permitted to bring this literature into the course’s multiple-choice exam, positioned at the end of its training framework. Ensure that your book is an official version of the text, as ‘copied’ documentation often omits or misquotes key information. If yours is authentic, you’ll see an ‘IET’ hologram on the inside cover of your guide.

The C&G 2393-10 Level 3 Award in the Building Regulations for Electrical Installations in Dwellings

This qualification is concerned with the ‘Part P’ section of the Building Regulations (2010) legislation. The Part P guidelines determines electrical workers should have advanced knowledge of the impact their work could have. This specifically refers to the risks generated through work in domestic dwellings, and how this could affect the health and wellbeing of building occupants. For electricians, hazard prevention is largely focused on reducing the threat of injury caused by fire or electric shock.

Work in domestic properties is categorised as either ‘notifiable’ or ‘non-notifiable’. Any notifiable work, which is usually more complex and dangerous than non-notifiable tasks, should be communicated to the Local Build Authority Control (LABC). This is an organization fronted by local councils, whose role is to ensure that all Part P regulations are abided by. Installers will need to liaise with this body before, during and after any notifiable project has been delivered.

However, if the electrician or domestic installer is registered to a Part P membership scheme, there is no requirement to inform the LABC prior to commencing works. Furthermore, on completion of the task, the LABC will not deem it necessary to inspect and test any of the work carried out. This is because those in possession of a Part P license have already demonstrated their capability to conduct electrical tasks in compliance with the Building Regulations. These individuals will therefore design, execute, and self-certify the works independently of the Local Building Authority Control. Their only correspondence with the LABC will be to confirm that an electrical task has been completed.

This course is designed to support individuals in gaining acceptance on a Part P scheme, and therefore equips its delegates with all of the necessary skills and technical knowledge to address this type of work in the field.

Different course options

Learning providers will often facilitate two courses in these disciplines, with each targeted at a different level of experience and capability. An extended course, intended for beginners or relative novices, will include coverage of a host of works that take place in domestic environments. This will give individuals an insight into the type of tasks delivered in this space, prior to consulting the Building Regulations. Therefore, when the legislation is covered later on in the course, delegates can cross-reference task examples with the regulatory guidance, and gain a better overall understanding of the Part P process.

A shortened version of this qualification is available for more experienced electricians. This will assume delegates have already grasped the technical skills, and will jump straight into regulatory content. At the conclusion of the course, students will sit a twenty-question multiple-choice test. As per the other modules, they must pass this to acquire their qualification.

Course Content

The remainder of the qualification is focused on filling any knowledge gaps, and ensuring delegates are ready to successfully integrate into the industry from Day One. As we know, the information covered on the course is suitably wide-ranging. There is no requirement for individuals to engage in further training on completion of this qualification, so the detail and breadth of content need to be accordingly extensive.

This enterprise is split between learning new technical skills, and understanding required behaviours and competencies. The lists below identify these various learning milestones. However, it should be noted that these are not exhaustive guides, and other subject matter may be covered.

Technical skills

  1. Replacing a consumer unit
  2. Designing and installing a lighting system
  3. Servicing and installation of an electric cooker
  4. Installation of a shower unit, with respect to the bs7671 standards for conducting work in Special Locations.
  5. Conducting a full, domestic re-wiring (this refers to the upgrading of a building’s wiring systems and enclosures to assimilate with modern designs. This is a procedure that is usually undertaken on a domestic dwelling every 25-30 years).
  6. Selecting and utilizing the correct tools for any given electrical task.
  7. Selecting the right cable dimensions for any given electrical task.
  8. Installation of a CCTV system
  9. Installation of fire protection systems, such as alarms and smoke detectors.
  10. Installation of underfloor heating systems and smart heating controls and configurations.
  11. Installation and termination of twin and earth cables
  12. Fixing bonding to gas and water pipes

Competencies

The following competencies are derived from studying the application of electrotechnical theory. These elements supplement the learnings picked up on the C&G 2391-52 Inspection & Testing, the C&G 2382-18 Requirements for Electrical Installation, and the C&G 2393-10 Building Regulations for Electrical Installations in Dwellings qualifications.

  1. Understanding how to compliantly approach tasks that involve entry into Special Locations. We’ve already discussed relevant examples within a domestic context, but candidates will also be given exposure to other instances where Special Location rules apply. This could be in medical environments, campsites, or areas where bodies of water exist (marinas, harbours etc). Covering this information provides candidates with a more inclusive view of this type of work, aiding them to approach work with a stronger understanding, and more assurance.
  2. Understanding the role of specific formulas and algorithms within an electrotechnical context. This includes learning how to apply different SI measures, and having an awareness of Ohms Law. For example, candidates will emerge from the course able to calculate an installation’s maximum demand, or account for the level of diversity in a circuit. In both instances, they’ll learn how to tailor their technical approach accordingly.
  3. Understanding the role, importance, and application of Health & Safety measures. Reference to mitigating risk is a consistent theme throughout the course. Delegates should readily absorb this critical information, which serves to protect clients, the public, and themselves. Remember, domestic installers work in hazardous conditions, and appropriate care and attention should always be taken to reduce the threat of injury.

Summary

Domestic installers have a varied and challenging daily routine, and often enjoy high levels of job satisfaction and lucrative financial reward. Therefore, particularly given skills shortages in recent years, it has become an increasingly attractive occupation for many individuals.

Course considerations

However, prospective candidates should weigh up their long-term career aspirations prior to engaging in any form of training for this role. Electricians are empowered to perform a greater variance of electrical tasks, and can also work in commercial and industrial environments. Contrastingly, domestic installers are restricted to work conducted in domestic dwellings. Nevertheless, these individuals are still equipped with a considerable level of expertise.

Furthermore, if students initially opt to pursue the domestic installer pathway, before reverting to an electrician training route, they’ll find themselves incurring a significant avoidable cost. Remember, a fully-qualified electrician must undertake an appropriate level 2 diploma, the content of which is duplicated in the domestic installers course. Therefore, do not run the risk of completing two courses when one would be sufficient!

Although this qualification doesn’t come cheap, one should remember that no additional training is required further down the line. The only exception to this rule is the necessity to attend wiring regulations refresher courses. However, this only needs to be addressed each time a new edition is released (usually every 10-15 years).

Course length is clearly dependent on personal circumstances, but most individuals can rapidly progress through this module. Therefore, this is perfect for students who want to progress quickly, and start earning in very near future.

Importance of the integrated qualifications

As we’ve learned, the course presides over three separate qualifications, which support delegates to acquire robust knowledge of electrotechnical theory, and gain the required technical skills for practical work. However, their ability to also provide essential information on the key features of the electrical industry should not be under-estimated, particularly in context of the C&G 2393-10 learning module. Remember, a mixture of assessment formats is positioned at the conclusion of these courses. Therefore, delegates should ensure they revise thoroughly, and approach each style of test in accordance with its specific characteristics.

This is complemented by a focus on Special Locations, a detailed review of health and safety considerations, and upskilling on the measures and formulas used to calculate various pieces of electrical information.

Therefore, attending an appropriate course is an essential activity for those wanting to qualify as a domestic installer. Its all-encompassing nature allows individuals to feel extremely for the work they’ll encounter on entry to the industry.

If you require any further information on this qualification, then please link in with a suitable industry stakeholder, or if viable, a qualified domestic installer. Alternatively, a simple google search will return some additional guidance on courses, job descriptions, and key watch-outs.

If you do decide to opt for this rewarding role, then best of luck in your training, associated assessments, and onward future career!