Electrical work can be dangerous if not conducted properly and with due care and attention. Dealing with electricity of course poses a risk of electrocution to yourself, but a faulty connection or exposed wiring could also create a fire hazard – putting your entire family at risk.
Accordingly, it is illegal for any person without an appropriate licence to do electrical work anywhere in Australia. Even if you know what you’re doing, if you conduct unlicensed work, you are liable for a heavy fine and you may void any home or contents insurance on your property. So you’ll need to hire the services of a trained, qualified electrician.
When you’re looking for an electrician in your area, the natural go-to source of information is probably your favourite internet search engine. However, anyone can pay to be at the top of Google – it’s not difficult for potentially dodgy, unlicensed operators to get their name out there, particularly if they’re willing to do the work on the cheap.
It’s in your best interests to insure an electrician is correctly licensed before choosing to hire them. Licencing requirements are managed by state Governments and vary (usually marginally) from state to state. Here is a guide to what you need to know.
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New South Wales
New South Wales electricians must hold a licence under the Fair Work Commission in order to conduct any electrical work, regardless of the size or type of premise. When the electrical work required is incidental to another trade (i.e. computer technician), the worker may need to hold a restricted electrical licence.
Keep in mind there are a number of stringent licencing requirements in New South Wales and some specific electrical installations will require workers to hold multiple licences. For example, if you’re having an air conditioner installed, in addition to an electrical licence, the tradesperson will require an air conditioning and refrigeration licence from Fair Trading (NSW), as well as a refrigerant licence from the Commonwealth Government.
An electrician must by law issue a compliance certificate or CCEW after the work is completed. This is an insurance the work has been completed to the required safety standards. You can search licensed electricians using the New South Wales service licence search.
All standard electrical work, such as installations, repairs and wiring requires an electrician’s licence. If you are shown an electrician (supervised) licence, that tradesperson is only able to carry out electrical work under supervision by someone fully qualified. To carry out electrical installation work, a licensed electrician must also be registered as an electrical contractor.
After your work has been completed, you must be provided with a Certificate of Electrical Safety (COES), which you should hold onto. This is recognition by the installer that they have operated in accordance with safety guidelines in Victoria. It is also used by Energy Safe Victoria as evidence of negligent conduct by the tradesperson if it is later found that the electrical work did not in fact comply with safety standards.
You can contact Energy Safe Victoria to find out if your electrician is licensed.
Electrician licencing in Queensland is a bit less clear-cut compared to some other states. There are two types of electrical licences – electrical contractor licences and electrical worker licences. A tradesperson must hold an electrical workers licence in order to carry out electrical work. To contract their services, the tradesperson must also hold an electrical contractor licence.
Electrical contractor licence
The work a tradesperson can contract depends on his or her licence category. There are two levels of contractor licences – Gold and Silver.
Gold: An electrical contractor with a gold licence is permitted to perform all types of electrical work for the public. For example, installation and wiring of electrical equipment.
Silver: The holder of a silver electrical contractor licence is restricted to the testing, maintenance and repair of the type and voltage of electrical equipment printed on the reverse of the licence. This licence does not allow the person to install electrical equipment.
Electrical worker licence
Similar to contractor licences, there are two types of electrical worker licences – Blue and Green.
Blue: The Blue licence is the standard licence, allowing the holder to perform electrical work. The electrical work the licence class permits them to perform will depend on the one or more licence classes listed on the front of the card.
- Electrical mechanic
- Electrical linesperson
- Electrical fitter
For the purposes of home electrical needs, the worker will only need to be licensed as a fitter/mechanic.
Green: A Green licence means the worker is restricted to particular types of equipment and types of work, usually given to those whose electrical work is minor and incidental to another trade. A restricted electrical work licence does not cover the installation of electrical equipment.
When an electrician has finished work on your property, he or she is required by law to supply either a ‘certificate of testing and safety’ or a ‘certificate of testing and compliance’ depending on the type of work they performed.
You can search licensed electricians using the Queensland Governments trade person search.
Electrical work in South Australia requires a tradesperson to hold an ‘electrical licence’. In order to contract services as an electrician, the person also requires a contractor licence.
Electricians must issue a certificate of compliance to the consumer on completion of any electrical work. Similar to the other states, this is a statement by the electrician to say the work has been satisfactorily completed.
You can search licensed retailers using the South Australian Government occupational licences search.