How to Become an Electrician in South Africa

by Staff Reporter

So, you want to become an electrician in South Africa? It’s a great career choice! Electricians are in high demand, and the work is exciting and challenging. To become a qualified electrician takes not only practical work but long hard hours of theory, so be prepared.

If you’re interested in becoming an electrician, there are a few things you need to do first. 

You’ll need to find an accredited (SETA or SAQA) school that offers electrician training courses and then complete the required coursework. After that, you’ll have to pass the relevant exams and get your electrical trade qualification. Once you have all of that, you can start looking for jobs! 

This blog post will outline the steps you need to take to become an electrician in South Africa.

Keep reading for more information.

Table of Contents

What does an Electrician do?

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An electrician is a tradesperson who installs, repairs and maintains electrical systems. They are the people you call when the power goes out (and it’s not load-shedding);  they also constantly work on other projects such as rewiring equipment or fixtures, inspecting electrical components for safety, installing wiring and lighting, and troubleshooting electrical problems.

Electricians may be involved in various aspects of the construction industry, including residential, commercial and industrial work. They may also work in the maintenance department of a company or organisation.

Depending on an electrician’s experience and licensing, electricians are classified into three categories:

  1. electrical tester for single phase;
  2. installation electrician and 
  3. master installation electrician

An electrician can register across these three specific categories, each one allowing for them to work on different phases of installation with regard to electricity. 

Each of these phases will impact which documentation you hand into the Department of Labour and which qualifications and testing you will undergo.

Let’s take a look at each category.

Electrical Tester for Single Phase

A single-phase electrician usually works on homes and electrical supplies of 220 volts. This is the most relevant qualification if you want to work in residential homes, from wiring newly constructed homes to addressing any issues that may arise.

Installation Electrician (Wiremans Licence)

Installation electrician can handle both single-phase and three-phase installations, but isn’t qualified for specialised installations. This is the most relevant qualification if you want to work across residential homes as well as in commercial and general industrial environments.

Master Installation Electrician

A master installation electrician is licenced to handle single-phase and three-phase installations, but specialises in hazardous locations and specialised electrical installations.

What are the minimum requirements to start studying to become an electrician in South Africa?

The minimum requirements to start studying to become an electrician in South Africa vary at the different institutions across the country. But generally, the basic minimum entry requirements are:

  • You must be at least 16 years old with a Grade 9 Certificate (NQF Level 1), although some employers prefer higher qualifications and
  • You will need to have good results in Maths and Science.

Each institution has their own minimum requirements, so it’s best to contact the institution of your choice directly for accurate, detailed information.

What Qualifications do I need to Become an Electrician in South Africa?

Electrician instructor sitting with students

Electricians in South Africa are subjected to a number of requirements when it comes to their qualifications. 

To become a qualified electrician in South Africa, you have practical, theoretical, and integrated study options available to you (you can read more about the requirements for installation electricians and master installation electricians here). 

To qualify as a single-phase installer, you have the option to:

  1. Obtain practical experience: complete a five-year electrician apprenticeship.
  2. Obtain a practical qualification: complete an electrician apprenticeship and complete the relevant trade test as well as achieve at least an NQF level N2 qualification.
  3. Obtain an integrated theoretical and practical qualification: complete a three-year electrical engineering diploma (NQF levels N1 – N3) at a technical college combined with a year of apprenticeship.

In addition to one of the above, you will need to hold a valid electrician’s licence (wireman’s licence) and have passed the electricians licensing exam and lastly, they need to be registered with the Department of Labour (DoL). 

An electrician is only recognised as a legal electrician when they have met the above requirements.

Complete a five-year Electrician Apprenticeship

An electrician apprenticeship is a great way to get started in the electrician field. Electrician apprenticeships provide on-the-job training while also allowing you to earn money.

What is an electrician apprenticeship?

An electrician apprenticeship is a training programme that electricians can complete in order to gain experience and qualifications. Electrician apprenticeships usually last for five years, and electricians will be paid a salary while they are completing their apprenticeship.

What does an electrician apprentice do?

Electrician apprentices will shadow experienced electricians and will help them with their work. Electrician apprentices will also attend college to learn theory.

What are the electrical apprenticeship entry requirements?

Anyone can become an electrician apprentice, however, you must be at least 16 years old and possess a Grade 9 Certificate (although some employers prefer higher qualifications). The most important requirement is that you must be dedicated to the process.

How do I apply for an apprenticeship?

If you meet the minimum requirements, you can apply for an electrician apprenticeship with a registered training institution such as the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa (ECASA).

Apprenticeships typically last for five years, and during this time, you will complete on-the-job training as well as some basic theoretical study.

Can I reduce the length of my apprenticeship?

If you complete an NQF N2 level qualification and pass the relevant trade test you should be able to reduce the length of your apprenticeship.

Complete a three-year Electrical Engineering Diploma

An electrical engineering diploma is a three-year qualification (NQF levels N1 – N3) that you can complete at a technical college. Once you have finished your electrical engineering diploma, you will need to complete an apprenticeship year and take the electrician’s licensing exam in order to obtain your electrician’s licence. 

Students can then study further NQF levels such as N4, N5 and N6 and qualify for a National Diploma.

Wireman's licence (Electrical CoC)

You will need your Wireman’s Licence to ensure that you operate legally in South Africa. It is a valuable piece of paper that not only affirms the hard work you put into your studies, but proves that you know exactly what you are doing. 

With this licence in your hands you will be allowed to issue a CoC (Certificate of Compliance) and prove your competence to test and inspect electrical installations.

Electricians can apply for a ‘restricted’ or ‘unrestricted’ wireman’s licence.

Electricians with a ‘restricted’ licence can only work on low-voltage systems (up to 1000 volts), while electricians with an ‘unrestricted’ licence can work on all voltages.

Electricians must have at least three years’ experience before they can apply for a wireman’s licence.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

A Wireman’s Licence is not the same as your DoL registration to become an electrical contractor, that’s the next step in the journey.

How to obtain a wireman's licence

Electricians who wish to apply for a wireman’s licence must submit an application form to the Department of Labour (DoL). The application form can be obtained from the Department of Labour website, or from any office of the Department of Labour.

Be sure to read the requirements for registering as an electrician.

After the application form has been submitted, the Department of Labour will issue a date for the trade test.

All electricians will be required to complete a written test, as well as a practical test. Once electricians pass the trade test, they will be issued with a wireman’s licence.

electrical tools

Electricians Licensing Exam (SANS 10142-1 National Exam)

SANS 10142-1 stands for the Code of Practice for the Wiring of Premises. This is a national South African standard and electricians are required to pass this national exam before they are allowed to operate as electricians in South Africa.

SANS 10142-1 is listed in the Electrical Installation Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) as a mandatory safety standard.

Register with The Department of Labour (DoL)

Now it is time to register with the Department of Labour (DoL). Electrical contractors in South Africa are required by law to register with the Department of Labour (DoL). This is to ensure that electrical installation work is performed by accredited persons, meets minimum safety standards and complies with relevant legislation and regulations.

Registered training institutions such as the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa (ECASA) and The South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) are a great source to guide and assist electricians with this process. They can assist you with completing and submitting the DoL application form, additional paperwork and the application fee. Currently, the fee is R120 for one year, but you may apply for up to three years. 

There can be significant delays at the DoL and you want to ensure your contractor’s registration remains valid.

How long does it take to become a qualified electrician in South Africa?

become electrician South Africa

It usually takes electricians between four and five years to complete their electrician apprenticeship and become qualified electricians in South Africa.

This includes the time it takes to complete an electrician apprenticeship, as well as the time required to study for and pass the electrician’s licensing exam.

Where can I study to become an electrician in South Africa?

There are a great number of different institutions where you can study to become an electrician in South Africa, including technical and vocational colleges, private colleges, and universities

Electricians who wish to study for additional qualifications may choose to study at a university. 

To learn more about technical and vocational studies, look at All you need to know to start studying at trade schools in South Africa.

Funding your studies at a TVET college in school in South Africa.

Now that you have everything you need to know on how to become an electrician in South Africa, you can pursue your career!

Becoming an electrician in South Africa can be a rewarding and lucrative career choice. It offers job stability, good pay, and plenty of opportunities for advancement.

There are many TVET Colleges, as well as bursaries and apprenticeship programmes, that offer qualifications as an electrician, but if you need financing to pay for your tuition, we can help you get the money you need! Fundi provides student financing for tuition costs, study material, accommodation and more.

Contact Fundi today to learn more about how we can help you develop and enhance your trade skills to achieve your goals!

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