A new career?

26 April 2019 by David Murffit, FIA, Marketing Group Chairman

There has been a lot of qualified electricians who have left the electrical contracting industry to build their careers as Fire Detection and Alarm Maintenance Technicians. This has been a regular occurrence over the years and the fire safety industry now employs many people who have chosen to follow the same route out of contracting into specialising in fire detection and alarm system testing and maintenance. 

Having spoken with a good number of those individuals it was very interesting to find out why they had taken this route, read further to see the common reasons for this change.

Electrical contracting tends to be an industry where sub-contracting is common, so many people are self-employed, which initially sounds attractive, until you start to discover the pitfalls.

Under self-employment you don’t get paid holidays, mostly you won’t get a company vehicle, no sick pay, no paternity or maternity leave, you need to keep accounts so need an accountant. You will need to submit a tax return annually and ensure you have the funds each year to pay your tax bill. You will need to carry liability insurance, have operating polices such as health and safety etc. 

Generally; Fire Detection and Alarm and Maintenance Technicians are directly employed so the pitfalls suddenly disappear, making life much easier, and with todays fast pace many find this very attractive. 

Company vehicle provided, paying tax monthly directly from your earnings, no tax returns, no need for own insurances, policies etc.

Then of course come the operational issues, contracting will put you into building, refurbishment and development sites much of the time, working in amongst other trades and having little or no contact with the customers. Working conditions are sometimes harsh, particularly in the cooler months of the year.

Becoming a Fire Detection and Alarm Maintenance Technician is a vastly different role, where you will be dealing directly with the client, building relationships and taking responsibility directly for the end result. The conditions under which the maintenance and testing are carried out are generally preferable to working on building, refurbishment and development sites.

Specialising in Fire Detection and Alarm maintenance can be very rewarding and interesting, you will rarely repeat any day as you will be working amongst many client types, at differing locations within many types of business and organisations. This gives those who have taken this route much enjoyment as their work varies in many ways and life in general is far easier, and finally, the overall earnings are much the same.