Electricians often ask me for information on how to obtain a Wireman’s License and on the ‘unit standards’ they have heard so much about.

Firstly, let me explain the difference between an unlicensed electrician and an electrician with a Wireman’s License. The electrician with the license, known as the Registered Person, has applied to the Department of Labour (DoL) and has demonstrated his knowledge, skills and ability to conduct verification and certification of the construction, testing and inspection of the electrical installations for which they have been registered. The Registered Person is permitted to issue a Certificate of Compliance (CoC), which proves that the electrical installation is compliant.

In South Africa, we have three categories of Registered Persons:

Electrical Tester for Single Phase

This is an electrician who has been registered as an electrical tester for single phase in terms of regulation 11 (2) 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, excluding specialised electrical installations.

Installation Electrician

This is an electrician who has been registered as an installation electrician in terms of regulation 11 (2) for the verification and certification of the construction, testing and inspection of any electrical installation, excluding specialised electrical installations.

Master Installation Electrician

This is an electrician who has been registered as a master installation electrician in terms of regulation 11 (2) for the verification and certification of the construction, testing and inspection of any electrical installation.

For each of the registration types, there are three options – practical knowledge, theoretical knowledge and knowledge of statutory requirements – and each contains criteria or conditions that the applicant has to fulfil before applying for registration.

 Let’s look at the conditions that have to be met by a person who has done a trade test and wishes to apply for registration as an installation electrician – what used to be known as the three-phase wireman’s license.

A person applying for registration as an installation electrician must have a trade qualification as:

An electrician; an electrician (engineering); an electrician (construction); a millwright (electro-mechanical); a lift mechanic; or the Electric : Chemical Electrical NQF level 4 qualification issued by the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA). You would not be accepted if you have any other trade.

The next step is to submit documentary proof of successful completed ‘unit standards’ on inspection, testing and certification of three phase industrial/commercial installations as prescribed by the ESETA.

These ‘unit standards’ mean that an assessor, registered with the ESETA, must assess the applicant to establish that they have the ability to interpret the codes of practice in various electrical installations. The applicant would also have to use test instruments and inspection reports to show the assessor that they know how to use the test instruments and interpret the readings. The applicant would also have to correctly evaluate a CoC against an electrical installation.

Once the assessor has found the applicant to be competent, the details are sent to the ESETA, who will then issue the applicant with a letter for the DoL.

The minimum theoretical qualifications needed by a person applying for registration as an installation electrician is an N3 certificate issued by the Department of Education, with minimum pass of 40% in each of the following subjects: mathematics, engineering science, and electrical trade theory or Electro-technology. Also acceptable is a Grade 12 certificate with a minimum pass of 40% in mathematics, science, and Technica – electrical or an equivalent subject that may include an N3 subject.

Finally, the applicant will have to submit proof of knowledge of the legislation and relevant health and safety standards applicable to electrical installations by having passed the subject, Installation Rules, as administered by the Department of Education through a FET campus or college. There are two examinations for this subject and the applicant must have a minimum of 50% for each paper. Although both papers do not have to be written at the same time, the second paper must be passed within 12 months of passing the first.  However, if a candidate obtains 75% of 100 marks in any one of the examinations, he or she will be permanently exempted from rewriting that examination.

Remember that having a Wireman’s License means that you carry a great deal of responsibility and should you issue a CoC but have not done what is expected of you by law, the DoL will prosecute you.

Application for a Wireman’s License is made to the Department of Labour. Their brochure that gives all the criteria can be obtained from them or you can copy it from my website www.pandttechnology.co.za, or email me at nick@pandttechnology.co.za or telephone (011) 827-4113/6 and we will forward you the brochure or other detail.