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One of the most versatile and exciting roles that anyone can become involved with is that of an electrician. With the skills, training and expertise you gain as an electrician, you can work across a multitude of industries and you can even start your own business, working the times and hours you want. However, the process that you need to follow to become an electrician who is legally allowed to work in South Africa is complex. You must be registered with the Department of Labour as an electrical contractor and you need to undergo rigorous testing to prove that you have the skills and attributes that the role demands. You are legally recognised as a qualified electrical contractor only when you have your Wireman’s License and your DOL Registration Certificate.

The hurdles and hoops you need to be prepared for to become a professional registered electrician

Achieve a recognised qualification

There are numerous institutions that offer training courses to become an electrician but do your homework and ensure that it is SETA recognised, that your organisation is accredited, and that your training includes the certification required to register with the Department of Labour. You must pass a trade test, have a NQF level 3 minimum that includes a Technical Senior Certificate, and you have to pass the national exam on SANS 10142-1.

According to the Department of Labour, your educational requirements need to be relevant across whichever phase of testing you are applying for. In other words…

…know what the phases are and how these affect your application

An electrician can register across three specific categories, each one allowing for them to work on different phases of installation with regards to electricity. A single-phase electrician usually works on homes and electrical supplies of 220 volts, a three-phase electrician works with 380 volt three-phase supplies, and a master electrician specialises in hazardous locations. Each of these phases will impact on which documentation you hand in to the Department of Labour and which qualifications and testing you will undergo.

Apply for three years on your DOL, it will save you time

Registration for your DOL needs to be done every year. However, many individuals have applied for their DOL certificates and are still waiting for their paperwork more than a year later. The process is slow. To avoid frustration, it’s a good idea to invest in a DOL Registration Certificate that’s valid for up to three years. You are allowed to do this and the application form clearly indicates what you need to do.  

Don’t get annoyed, get proactive

The length of time it takes to receive your DOL is infamously long and obviously frustrating. However, there are organisations that can help you to find your feet and get the process moving. The following organisations are committed to providing you with support and insight into your DOL:

1. The Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa (ECA)
The ECA helps people to prepare what they need to get their DOL and they offer ongoing training courses to help you expand your skills.

2. The Department of Labour (DOL)
There’s an array of supporting documents on the Department of Labour’s website designed to help you learn more about your registration and the paperwork required. However, this can be out of date with the paperwork asking for one thing, but the person behind the desk asking for another. In our next article we will go into more detail around the exact route you need to take for your DOL, starting with your wireman’s license. If you are stuck, take a look through this list of contacts to see if you can get hold of someone in your area.

3. Forums and publications
There are also publications and forums that often provide insight into the challenges of being an electrical contractor and getting registration right. Consider reading through ESI Africa, the ECA publication Wired, and Sparks Electrical News.

In our next piece, we will be taking an in-depth look at the first step on the road to your DOL – the wireman’s license – and giving you the insights, links, and details you need to get started properly.