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How I became an Electrical Trainer

4th June 2019

The post: Electrical Trainer/Assessor, Northern Regional College

The post holder: Ciara Rooney

Ciara Rooney has worked her way up from an apprentice electrician to an electrical trainer and assessor at Northern Regional College.

Give a brief outline of your career to date.

After leaving school I served four years as an apprentice electrician with Williams Industrial Services, (four days on site, one day at Belfast Met) to become one of the few fully qualified female electricians in Northern Ireland.

Since completing my apprenticeship, I have worked as an electrician on a variety of projects in different work environments and locations, including heavy industrial sites. I have travelled the length and breadth of the country as a field service engineer, carrying out repairs, compliance testing and preventative maintenance work to essential electrical equipment in public and private buildings including schools, hospitals, hotels, retail outlets and amusement arcades.

What were your favourite subjects at school?

Drama and music. I always loved to perform and as a young child I appeared on TV with Charlie Landsborough and sang You’re my Forever Friend.

Did you go on to further/ higher education, if so what did you study and where?

As part of my apprenticeship training I attended Belfast Met. I also completed a National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health Training at Northern Regional College in Newtownabbey.

How did you get into your area of work?

Through a family connection. My cousin is an electrician and he seemed to enjoy his work, so I thought I’d give it a go. When I was still at school, I got a work placement in the maintenance department of Belfast City Council. My younger brother has since followed in my footsteps and is now also an electrician.

Is this what you always wanted to do?

I liked the idea of doing something that was ‘hands on’ and practical but didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I did the work placement. That helped me make up my mind.

Were there any particular essential qualifications or experience needed?

For my current role, you need to be a fully qualified electrician.

What are the main personal skills your job requires?

Good communication and interpersonal skills and a lot of patience.

What does a typical day entail?

At the minute, I’m responsible for 66 second year electricians at Northern Regional College’s Ballymena campus. They are in college one day a week and spend the other four days with their employer. When they are in the college, I help them with their portfolios and prepare them for their City and Guilds exams. When they are with their employers I visit them to assess their work on site so there is always plenty of variety and no two days are ever the same.

What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

The best part is getting to know the apprentices and knowing that you can make a difference. Seeing them progress and grow in confidence can be very satisfying, especially when they realise for themselves just what they are capable of. One of the more challenging aspects of the job is trying to motivate someone who just isn’t interested in learning. Fortunately, that’s the exception rather than the rule though.

Why is what you do important?

By providing support and encouragement for the young apprentices, you’re helping them get a trade that will help them secure work at home or abroad. There is always plenty of work for good electricians.

What advice would you give anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

It can be hard work and at times physically demanding but it’s very enjoyable with great job satisfaction. There are lots of interesting opportunities at home but being a qualified electrician could be your ticket to working anywhere in the world.

If you weren’t doing this what would you like to do?

Something to do with health and safety in the workplace.

If you could go back, what is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?

I don’t think I’d change anything, I love being an electrician and my journey that’s brought me to this point.

Describe your ideal day off.

I’ve two boys, aged nine and four so I don’t really switch off!

For current job opportunities with Northern Regional College click here.

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