Becoming an electrician in Queensland: What you need to know

In Queensland, it’s necessary to have a license to do professional electrical work. While there are four types of licenses available to electricians, three of them are for specialty work like repairing overhead lines, working on switchboards and motors, and working with high voltage cables. Most people in Brisbane get an electrical mechanical license, which enables them to do all electrical work, including the work covered by the other licenses.

How long do licenses last?

Electrical work licenses are valid for five years, after which they must be renewed. To renew a license, you’ll need to prove that you’ve kept your skills current, or take a skills maintenance course at an accredited school. There is a processing fee of about $75 for renewal.

How do I get an electrical mechanical license?

In order for someone to get an electrical mechanical license, they have to finish an apprenticeship as an electrician and take a series of courses. There’s some wiggle room that allows the certifying board to accept people under different circumstances. If you’ve completed an apprenticeship or worked as an electrician in a different state or country, there are special rules to allow you to skip the apprenticeship in some cases. You can also apply for a learning permit after completing coursework and a few exams.

There is a significant number of registered training organisations in the Brisbane area through which people can gain an electrical mechanical license and take skills maintenance courses.

What if I have training from a different state or country?

If you are an electrician moving to Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland, it is possible to get your existing certifications transferred over. People with prior experience or training in electrical work can gain a license via one of two common routes. Under the first route, if you have a license from another Australian state or New Zealand, regulations can streamline the licensing process. You’ll be able to apply for an electrical work training permit, allowing you to immediately begin work under the supervision of another electrician. In order to gain a full license yourself, you’ll need to work with a qualified school and complete a brief training program and pass some exams.

I don’t have a license from an Australian state

If you’ve worked in another country entirely, you can contact a qualified training organization and prove to them that you have the skills necessary to work as an electrician in Queensland. If you do, they’re able to issue you an Offshore Technical Skills Record. Once you’ve gained one of these, you can qualify for a work training permit and complete some training in order to gain a full license. After acquiring an OTSR, the process is very similar to what you would have to do if you had an electrical license from a different Australian state.

Only a small number of training organizations are qualified to issue OTSRs. Currently, the list is limited to these two schools that have locations in Brisbane:

  • Future Skills Limited
  • TAFE Queensland

Do I need any other licenses?

An electrical contractor’s license is necessary if you want to sell your services to other people. If you’re hired by a company, you’ll be covered under their contractor’s license. If you want to work alone, however, you need to apply for a license yourself. You’ll need to prove that you have a qualified electrician and business person (you can be both), and you’ll need to show that you’ve purchased insurance with some specific requirements. The necessary policy ensures that any mistakes or accidents caused by your work will be covered with a very high indemnity limit. Your business insurance provider can work with you to deliver a plan that satisfies these requirements.

Electrical contractor’s licenses are valid for one year. As long as you don’t let the license lapse for more than 12 months or made major changes to your business, renewing your license is an easy process. If you affirm that you still have an appropriate insurance policy, you’re pretty much set.

Contractor’s licenses in Queensland are processed by the Electrical Safety Office, which is located in the Brisbane suburb of Lutwyche.

How do I become a qualified Business Person?

In order to qualify as a business person for a contractor’s license, you need to have either five years of business experience, pass an exam, or take a qualifying class. Most electrical schools offer these courses as part of their training programs. If you don’t want to meet these requirements yourself, you can always hire a manager or business person and use their services instead.

Should your company lose access to either the electrician or businessman for a whole month, your contractor’s license will expire. This isn’t usually an issue, but if you rely on the services of someone else to fulfil the business requirement you may want to make sure the other person is reliable.