Posted by Cory List on 14th Sep 2015

​Electrical Licensing Information in Australia

Australia's electrical industry continues to thrive with the growing number of customers looking for utility service providers for fixing electrical issues. The industry reports a need for more electricians to meet consumer demand. 

Licenses are required for electricians to carry out their responsibilities. The licensing information, job descriptions as well as other statistics in the following sections should introduce the industry to aspiring electricians.

Electricians' Responsibilities

An electrician's responsibilities in general include electrical system assembly, installation, maintenance, testing, and repairs for residential, industrial and commercial purposes. Depending on his license, an electrician may also perform equipment, appliances and facilities testing and repairs.

An electrician is classified differently from an automotive electrician, an expert in automobile electrical systems. Automotive electricians require a specific license to work in their field.

Skill Requirements

General electricians need to be qualified for a specific skill level and meet work experience requirements before getting to work in this field. In Australia, the basic qualification is having Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) III with a minimum of two years on-the-job training experience. AQF is the classification of educational qualification standards in Australia. AQF Certification III holders possess both knowledge of theories and hands-on procedures needed in the field they're planning to enter. They also possess required skills for their work or further studies.

AQF Certificate IV holders can also become licensed electricians. Aside from possessing theoretical and hands-on knowledge, they possess specialized skills that prepare them for further skilled work or advanced learning.

In New Zealand, aspiring electricians must possess NZ Register Level 4 qualification, which is also equivalent to ANSZCO Skill Level 3. ANZSCO stands for Australian and New Zealand Classification of Occupations, a skill-based classification system to group all job types in both Australia and New Zealand.

The aforementioned requirements are considered formal qualifications. Those who lack these qualifications may use three years of relevant on-the-job training or actual work experience in the field for licensing purposes.

International electrician license holders who plan to work in Australia and New Zealand needs to obtain country- or state-specific licenses. They would need to undergo skill assessment conducted by Trades Recognition Australia (TRA). New Zealand authorities also require similar skill assessment test for licensing. License regulators would look for skill assessment certificates from these authorities together with other license documents required in their legislation.

License Types

The main licensing authority in Australia is the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC). It works closely with interstate licensing authorities to regulate license distribution. An individual applying for electrical license must go to his preferred jurisdiction's local licensing authority to file for a license. Licensing authorities may give out different license classes, but they generally give the following license types:

Electrical Contracting Work Licenses

Getting this license allot a person to engage in electrical contracting. A contractor may be allowed to offer electrical contract according to specific condition. License and registration is offered for sole proprietor, partnership, and corporation. People applying for this license are often to hold electrician's license or electrical mechanic's license.

Electrical Installing Work Licenses

This license is commonly known as general electrician's license, electrical fitter license, or A Class-A/E license valid for five years. License holder are the electricians servicing electrical systems installed in residential and commercial properties. Licensed electricians specialize in different electrical systems like heavy coil winders, armature winders, railway signals, and others. People with this license can also get sufficient experience to become licensed contractors.

Electrical Training Licenses

This license is provided to electrical trainees and apprentices or individuals. People with this license can carry out electrical jobs under the supervision of a Class A license holder. License validity is up to three years or throughout the training period. An apprentice can apply for general electrician's license after training completion to carry out jobs independently.

Restricted Electrical Work Licenses

A restricted electrical license is handed to individuals working from another trade, but need to carry out electrical-related work in the field. People with this license work as mechanical engineers, diesel fitters, electric motor service expert, marine mechanics, and others. License is still required although electrical work is done occasionally. Licensees must remember that this license doesn't make them eligible to carry out electrical work conducted by general electricians.

Each license type has its respective requirements, which means applicants must know what the license require first to know their eligibility.

Licensing Authorities in Australia

Each state jurisdiction has its own licensing authorities. Applicants must visit these offices if they want to be licensed electrician in their preferred area. They have unique license requirements and terminologies used for license application. The following offices handle licensure in their respective states.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Environment and Sustainable Development

Commonwealth of Australia (AUS Comm)

Australian Greenhouse Office Department of Environment & Heritage

New South Wales (NSW)

NSW Fair Trading

Department Trade and Investment; Division of Resources and Energy

Northern Territory (NT)

NT Worksafe

Queensland (QLD)

Electrical Safety Office Queensland Treasury

Department of Mines and Energy

South Australia (SA)

Office of the Technical Regulator

Office of Consumeer & Business Affairs (Licensing Only)

Tasmania (TAS)

Electricity Standards and Safety, Department of Justice

Victoria (VIC)

Energy Safe Victoria

Western Australia (WA)

Energy Safety WA

New Zealand (NZ)

Energy Safety Service, Ministry of Consumer Affairs

Electrical Workers Licensing Group Department of Building and Housing

License Recognition

Electricians can use License Recognition, a website allowing licensed electricians and other tradesmen to know work licenses available for them in another location. They can place their current license then see their eligibility to apply for another license. The website also has license application details for those applying for license.

Employment Statistics

The Australian Government's Department of Employment Occupational gathered report for its Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades to show current trade statistics. This data is limited to general electricians servicing the entire country collected in 2014.

According to reports, all states except for Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania didn't experience tradesmen shortage. It implies they have sufficient skilled electricians servicing their states. Employers may face specific difficulties like employee retention, but they don't pose significant problems to the state.

The other four states experience regional difficulty or regional shortage in electricians. Employers experience high electrician vacancies. Victoria and Tasmania went from no shortage rating in 2013 to regional shortage and recruitment difficulty status in 2014. In Tasmania, there's a good percentage of general electrician filling up job vacancies, but employers who need specialized electricians are having problems finding the right people for the job.

Victoria is experiencing regional shortage in electricians, but its metropolitan area doesn't have any issue with manpower. Its regional employers experience this issue with the low percentage of skilled and experience electricians needed for their job openings.

Queensland and New South Wales have ongoing problems in the electrical trade since 2013. Queensland had metropolitan shortage in 2013, but picked up towards 2014. The problem then shifted to regional market as employers began to experience recruitment difficulties. They claim their inability to match qualified applicants' wage expectations cause continuous vacancies.

New South Wales' metropolitan and regional sectors experience difficulties. Recruitment difficulties in the metropolitan areas include the lack of qualified applicants for residential properties and specialized electrical fields. The entire regional area is reported to experience electrician shortage in general, resulting to continuous vacancies.

Looking at the recent reports, several parts of the country experience shortage in having experienced and skilled electricians. It's a good industry to venture in for individuals looking for a good field to work.