ECS Gold Card

The ECS Gold Card is the most universally renowned standards pass in the electrotechnical industry. Ultimately, this demonstrates that the holder has successfully completed all required courses and assessments to become a fully trained electrical professional.

Gold Card Occupations

The standard gold card covers workers operating in many positions. These following roles allude to those primarily concerned with electrical installation and maintenance:

Installation Electrician

These individuals are concerned with the installing low-voltage electrical circuits, fuses and equipment, in both commercial properties and domestic dwellings. They are also involved with commissioning, testing and inspecting these installations.

Maintenance Electrician

Tasked with ensuring electrically-safe performance of installations and relevant equipment.

Building Controls Engineer

These engineers are empowered to implement and sustain building controls systems. A BCS is designed to support the comfort and welfare of a building’s occupants.

Electrical Fitter

An Electrical Fitter will need to identify required equipment for low-voltage electrical installations, and their component electromechanical and electronic parts. They will then look to assemble, implement, and regularly check the quality and performance of this equipment.

Electrical Winder

The contents of this job role is similar to that of an Electric Fitter. However, this role specifically relates to equipment that use electrical winding as a key part of their work.

Household Appliances Electrician

Household Appliances Electricians serve the same function as Installation Electricians. However, unsurprisingly, they’re mainly associated with the processes relating to household appliances. Part of this role will also include coaching consumers on how to safely and competently use specific household electrical equipment.

Distribution Networks Electrician

Individuals who have acquired this specific card will work in the supply distribution industry. They will test, install and regularly inspect high-voltage electrical networks. These networks may be located either above or below ground. Usually, their work is done during the creation or renovation of relevant sites.

Instruments Mechanic

These are mechanics who install, test and repair measurement and control devices associated with plant and factory production processes.

Marine Electrician

As the name suggests, these electricians are concerned with aquatic electrical functions and systems. This includes conducting works on water vessels (both surface-level and underwater), and offshore rigs and drilling equipment.

Telecommunications Fitter

This is an individual who works on the installation, testing and repair of telecommunications equipment. This includes conducting activity on telecom towers and fibre-optic cables.

Wireman/Panel Builder

These operatives install and review the internal wiring or equipment into panels. These offer power distribution services or systems control for any given installation. They often work in collaboration with Installation Electricians during the commissioning, testing and inspection phases of their task.

Auto Electrician

In this trade, individuals carry out works relating to electrical systems in automotive vehicles. This is largely refined to the installation and maintenance of electrical systems which are separate to the motor of the vehicle itself. This will also include covering entry-point mechanical repairs.

Specific Roles

Within the ‘gold’ bracket of ECS cards, there are also a number of different card types that relate to particular roles outside of standard electrical installation. These variable gradings cover the following construction industry areas and specific occupations:

Datacomms Roles

Positions concerned with the installation, design, and maintenance of wiring in datacomms systems, such as network and data solutions and services.  These could be:

Advanced Datacomms Specialist, Datacomms Technician

Fire Detection & Alarm Systems Roles

Positions concerned with the installation, design and maintenance of fire detection & alarm systems, such as life protection automated systems, smoke detectors and fire alarm notification devices. These could be:

Fire Detection & Alarm Systems Installer – Level 3, Fire Detection & Alarm Systems Commissioning – Level 3, Fire Detection & Alarm Systems Designer- Level, Fire Systems Technician – Level 3.

Emergency & Security Systems Roles

Positions concerned with the installation, design and maintenance of emergency & security systems, such as monitored alarms, home security systems, and commercial CCTV equipment. These could be:

Emergency & Security Systems Installer – Level 3, Emergency & Security Systems Maintenance – Level 3, Emergency & Security Systems Surveyor

Qualifications Required

There are three available pathways for acquiring an ECS Gold Card. These are dependent on experience and qualification type.

  1. Applicants who have completed an accredited NVQ Level 3 course within a relevant sector will automatically qualify for a card.
  2. Those who have achieved qualified supervisor status through passing a related ECA or Certsure course are also able to instantly acquire a card. For reference, ECA (or Electrical Contractors Association) are a body which represents electrotechnical industry professionals, and are concerned with the consistent improvement in competency levels across the sector. Certsure are a private company who offer certification and building regulation programmes, as well as providing products and services across the construction industry.
  3. If neither of the above options are available, qualifying individuals will be able to progress through a third route. This is via an assessment known internally to the trade as the ‘Mature Candidate Assessment’. The official title of this qualification course is the C&G (City & Guilds) 2346 L3 Experienced Worker NVQ. This has recently replaced the previous C&G 2356 NVQ. Individuals can go down this route if they have worked in the electrotechnical sector in a competent capacity for over five years, and have not completed a relevant industry apprenticeship or equivalent Level 3 NVQ course. The major advantage for those eligible to take this route, is that current qualifications, skills and experience will be factored into your course programme. Therefore, candidates will just need to fill any existing gaps in knowledge.

No other routes to acquiring a ECS Gold Card are available.

Those who do not currently meet the required standard

For those who unfortunately do not hit the aforementioned criteria, official ECS advice is to apply for a different, less-intensive card scheme. Individuals can then look to join the gold card registry whilst picking up further industry experience. This will also allow the candidate more training time, and acquire at least one of the listed required qualifications. When this has been achieved, persons should submit proof of any certification, and request an upgrade to the gold card.

Risks of purchasing fake cards

Unfortunately, as with any desirable product, a black market has formulated which conspires to produce fake ECS Gold Cards (amongst other cards from ECS schemes). There are a range of risks associated with purchasing a fake card. However, most importantly, is the danger you could pose to the safety of yourself and others. If you’ve not studied the relevant courses and attained the qualification required to acquire a gold card, then there’s every chance that your competency level is not where it needs to be. Therefore, in subsequently engaging with tasks that should be completed by a trained professional, you could effectively be putting lives at risk.

Furthermore, given the severity of the contravention, you may face criminal prosecution or imprisonment. This is because such fraudulent activity is subject to legal legislation. Indeed, individuals who knowingly acquire a fake card could be sentenced under the Fraud Act of 2006.

The chances of getting caught are extremely high. Unbeknown to some in the industry, ECS works in partnership with a range of bodies to reduce this threat. The City & Guilds, EAL (skills partner and qualification regulator for the electrotechnical industry) and CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme – a similar body to the EAL) have fraud investigation teams. They work with the ECS to root out those who contravene the rules.

It’s not worth it!

As well as criminal prosecution, the ECS will also subject any offending individuals to their own punishment practices. This will include their ECS Gold Card application being instantly withdrawn, and a six-year re-application ban on your account. Even if candidates manage to successfully hoodwink the ECS in the first instance, they will face the same consequences should they be exposed further down the line. Individuals should also consider the damage they are doing to the industry’s brand, reputation and integrity. Many people, both in commercial and domestic spheres, rely on electrical professionals to carry out dangerous and difficult work every single day. Trying to attain a fraudulent card is, in essence, helping to fuel an underground criminal system. This significantly undermines the trust that people need to place in electricians to protect themselves and their buildings.

The ECS offers a reporting channel for anyone with information pertaining to suspicious or fraudulent activity. If you have discovered any cases of this, please notify the ECS by sending an e-mail to the following address: administration@ecscard.org.uk

Don’t pay the ultimate price – apply for an ECS Gold Card using the appropriate avenues, and by acquiring the correct qualifications.

In Summary

Hopefully the above information serves to make you feel more confident about the ECS Gold Card application scheme. Remember to sense check your current qualification level, understand which application route is most suitable for you, and, most importantly, not to purchase a fraudulent card. This card is a distinguished hallmark of the electrotechnical industry integrity – help keep it that way!

For any other information on the gold card, or any other ECS scheme, please either visit their website, contact your course convenor, or speak to an industry professional.

If you’re successful in applying for an ECS Gold Card then congratulations – you are now a fully-fledged electrician!