Is Being A Data Centre Electrician A Good Job?

If you are starting or looking at transferring to a data centre, we answer if its a good place to work and also cover:

  • Can a domestic installer work as a data centre electrician? 
  • Are data centre electricians more qualified than regular electricians?

Domestic installers serve a niche that survives the electrical needs of residential properties. They are not more qualified, just trained in a different niche which is highly demanding and requires high standards. Domestic installers may have to retrain to become data centre electricians (depending on the work).

What does a data centre electrician do?

The role of a data centre electrician is a little different, too, say of an industrial electrician or a domestic installer.

Data centre electricians are responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting the electronics in a data centre.

Sounds easy? Not so fast. They work on mainframes and critical infrastructure that is required to function 24/7, 365 days a year.

The work can be varied, such as pulling data comms cables through flooring ducts and ceiling ducts to a central control area.

Although you can be working on individual servers, your role also consists of maintaining backup equipment and UPS (uninterruptible power supplies).

Who uses data centres?

Google, Microsoft, most silicon valley companies, banks, governments, and stock exchanges through to Amazon. It’s a burgeoning market and has only been around since the 1950s, making it a babyface in terms of technology.

Data centres control much of our day to day life, and without them, the average person would be thrust back decades and back to using the humble Biro for most of our business transactions.

What qualifications do you need to be an electrician in the UK?

You will need to have attained at least 5 GCSEs with the lowest grade being a “C” and then continue on to do a recognised 4-year electrician course as an apprentice.

After completing the 3-4 year apprenticeship, you should have gained an NVQ Level 3 diploma in electrical installation.

A further 2 years of working supervised until becoming an accredited competent electrician.

What is the environment like for a data centre electrician?

Unlike industrial electricians, the environment is clean and almost sterile due to the levels of cleanliness of air quality required to keep banks of servers operating efficiently.

However, the data centre electricians can find themselves working in floor spaces where cables are run from one side of the building to the other.

The infrastructure side of the job will be familiar with large power sources coming into the premises via 3 phases.

Does a data centre electrician work on servers?

Yes, but the servers are different from what you may find in an office, there can be 1 or 2 servers that run a single application, whereas the data centre server runs multiple applications.

However, the electrician’s role is only to do with a continuous power supply, so the servers and infrastructure keep working.

Do data centre electricians work on air conditioning?

Yes, but only the electrical side of the air conditioning. Data centres use vast amounts of air conditioning to remove the heat generated by the servers. This is part of the critical infrastructure that keeps the data centre functioning.

The electrician works as part of a close-knit maintenance team and can respond to any situation that could jeopardise the facility’s operation.

Are data centre electricians in demand?

Yes, there is a shortage of electricians in the UK, which makes electricians sought after in any professional sector.

It is estimated that there will be an additional requirement for 15,000 electricians over the coming 5 years.

These 3 thousand electricians will be needed in all sectors.

Is a data centre electrician a good career for the future?

Yes, the data centre electrician can carve out a unique niche in this sector through further training and knowledge of the job.

Electricians are hard to find, and as more electricians retire from the industry, the demand for qualified electricians will increase.

This makes being an electrician in any sector a secure position.

How much do electrical technicians make in the UK?

If you start on the bottom rung as an electrician at a data centre, your salary will be approximately 45k per year.

As you move up the ladder, your salary will increase to approximately 55k per year.

There are other benefits to working in a data centre as an electrician. You will receive around 5 weeks of annual paid leave plus statutory holidays.

Overtime could see your salary jump significantly.

How does the salary of a UK electrical technician compare with a google equivalent?

It’s significantly higher, but hard to compare apples with oranges. The Google electrical technician will have a salary of up to $90,000, which converts into £70,000.

However, he may need to know some software, and on top of that, our US counterparts hardly get any holidays each year, so when all is taken into consideration, they may earn slightly more, but the quality of life is less.

What other types of things do electricians do?

Well, you are not confined to a data centre, that’s for sure. There is no need to be confined to working indoors in a data centre.

Electricians have varied jobs from being on the high power end of the scale where electricity is made and distributed to the domestic installer who works in homes around the country.

The sector you specialise in very much depends on your personality. If you like being outdoors and meeting people, then the domestic installer route is perfect for those who love to interact with customers.

If you like their idea of being outside in all weather and leading a solitary existence, then the lineman’s job is calling.

Is being an electrician tough?

Being an electrician can be mentally and physically challenging at times, but in terms of being tough, you nearly work most of the time indoors, and you get plenty of breaks.

So compared to the other trades, the electrician’s job is not considered to be tough. However, you need to be smart and be aware that electricity can kill you if you are careless.

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