What Qualifications do Electricians Need in South Africa?


Electricians in South Africa are subjected to a number of requirements when it comes to their qualifications. Firstly they need to pass all three electrical engineering NQF levels (N1 - N3), secondly, they need to obtain a wireman's license which requires them to prove they have the necessary skills for the job, thirdly, they need to pass the SANS 10142-1 national 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.

The steps below give further details on the qualifications, exams and registration process required by electricians: 

Step 1: Electricians need to pass NQF levels N1, N2 and N3 for Electrical Engineering

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in South Africa provides an important framework for determining the levels of training required across different areas of study. The NQF was created by the South African Qualifications Authority. The framework allows students to track their academic achievements and ensure that qualifications are recognised. The NQF consists of various levels starting at N1 (General certificate) and ending at N10 (Doctoral Degree).

The N1, N2 and N3 national certificates for electrical engineering are three distinct certificates that provide sufficient hours of training and learning for electricians. The duration of each level is three months and completing all three levels (N1 - N3) takes one year. The student can then study further NQF levels such as N4, N5 and N6 and qualify for a National Diploma.

In addition, an electrician can choose to study and register for three classifications that enable them to work with different electric installation phases: Single-Phase (220 volts), Three-Phase (380 Volts) and a master electrician who is qualified to work with higher voltages and in more challenging environments.

Depending on the classification chosen above, the electrician will need to determine what documentation should be sent to the department of labour and therefore which qualifications and testing are required.

NQF Levels and Qualification Types from SAQA:

SAQA NQF Levels

Step 2: Electricians need to obtain a Wireman's license

A wireman's licence is a valuable certificate as it proves that the electrician (registered person) put hard work into their studies and has the necessary skills to perform electrical work. These skills include the ability to conduct verification and certification of the construction, testing and inspection of electrical installations. Once the electrician has their wireman's license, they can issue electrical compliance certificates (ECOC). Additionally, the wireman's license proves an electrician is competent to inspect and repair electrical installations.

To obtain a wireman's license, the electrician must submit proof that he or she has completed the necessary standards for inspection, testing and certification as prescribed by EWSETA. This proof is obtained by using an assessor who is registered with EWSETA.

The assessor must establish if the electrician has the necessary skills as determined by EWSETA for electrical installations. The applicant will need to prove to the assessor by way of test instruments and inspection reports that they grasp the necessary electrical concepts and are able to interpret the readings of the test instruments. Additionally, the applicant would need to determine if an electrical installation aligns with a given electrical compliance certificate (ECOC).

If the applicant is found to be competent by the assessor, the assessor sends the necessary details to EWSETA who will then issue the applicant with a letter that can be used for the registration with the Department of Labour (DoL) - See Step 4.

Step 3: Electricians need to pass the 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.

Step 4: Electricians need to register with The Department of Labour (DoL)

Electricians are required by law to register with the Department of Labour (DoL). Electricians have the option of registering for one or three years. To  register as an electrical contractor with the DoL, firstly, an electrician must pass a trade test and have an NQF level 3 qualification as a minimum. Secondly, they must obtain a wireman's license and thirdly they must pass the SANS 10142-1 national exam.

When registering with the DoL, there are three registered person categories: Electrical tester for single phase; installation electrician and master installation electrician.

You can find further information below on the three registered person categories:

Electrical tester for single phase

  •  Firstly, registered as an electrical tester for single phase in terms of regulation 11 (2) 
  • Secondly, for the verification and certification of the construction, testing and inspection of electrical installations supplied by a single-phase electricity supply at the point of control.
  • Thirdly, it excludes specialised electrical installations.

Installation electrician

  •  Firstly, registered as an installation electrician in terms of regulation 11 (2) 
  • Secondly, for the verification and certification of the construction, testing and inspection of any electrical installation.
  • Thirdly, it excludes specialised electrical installations.

Master electrician

  •  Firstly, registered as a master installation electrician in terms of regulation 11 (2) 
  • Secondly, for the verification and certification of the construction, testing and inspection of any electrical installation.
  • Thirdly, it does not exclude specialised electrical installations.

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