Electrician or Construction Electrician

Electricians are involved in the generation, transmission, distribution and usage of electricity. They install, repair and maintain electrically operated equipment such as generators, geysers, refrigerators and stoves.

They detect electrical faults and repair them. Repairs may involve replacing fuses, switches, or wires. Once the repair is complete the electrician tests the equipment to ensure that it is working properly. By law, only qualified electricians are allowed to connect cables to electric motors and switchgear and to handle the electrical wiring of all electrically equipped buildings. During the building, for example, of a new factory, an electrician must ensure that the electrical cables are installed.

In the distribution of electricity, electricians supervise the erection of pylons, the connection of high-tension cabling on pylons and ensure the thorough insulation of the pylons. Suitable transformers and switchboards, which reduce the current, must be installed at sub-stations.

Electricians working at power stations install and maintain power generators, including the servicing of electrical meters and transformers. Some perform regular inspections on motors, switchgear and transformers to ensure safe functioning.

Personal Requirements

  • at least 16 years old
  • responsible, alert and cautious
  • enjoy working with your hands
  • inventive, self-reliant and accurate
  • able to work under pressure
  • communicate effectively with others
  • good health and stamina
  • good eyesight and colour vision
  • manual dexterity and some mechanical aptitude

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 9 Certificate. Some employers prefer higher qualifications

What to Study

There are 3 ways to qualify as a registered artisan:

1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.

2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.

3. TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.

Prospective construction electricians must complete a course of study in the subject SABS Code of Practice for the Wiring of Premises, with a minimum pass of 50 per cent. Universities of technology offer this course.

To be registered as a construction electrician, a completed course in Specialised Electrical Installation Code, at least 2 years practical experience after registration and a full N3 Certificate are required. This qualification is for the “top of the range/specialist” electrician and it allows the registered person to work in all fields of electrical work.


  • government departments
  • transportation services
  • municipalities
  • factories
  • mines and industries
  • private electrical businesses
  • private companies employing electricians
  • such organisations as: SA Post Office, Sasol Mittal Steel, Eskom, SABS, SABC, Telkom
  • self-employment, with enough experience initiative and capital, can start own business

Further Information

ECA(SA) House
91 Newton Road
Meadowdale Ext.2
Germiston, 1401
Tel: (010) 271-0686

Getting Started

  • read as much as you can about electricity
  • arrange to speak to an electrician about this type of career and ask to observe their work
  • try to obtain vacation work as an assistant to an electrician

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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