How to Become a PAT Tester UK:
Essential Steps and Requirements

See also: Developing a Business Idea

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is an essential aspect of ensuring electrical safety in various establishments across the UK. It involves the inspection and testing of electrical appliances to ensure they are safe for use. As a PAT tester, one would be responsible for performing these tests, identifying potential hazards and ensuring compliance with safety regulations. This article will outline the necessary steps to becoming a PAT tester, including the relevant qualifications and training courses available.

To become a qualified PAT tester, one must complete a PAT tester course, available from a range of providers. Certain courses may require previous electrical experience, though this is not always the case. Completing a course, such as the PAT Testing Competency Course, combines both theory and practical work, equipping individuals with the skills needed to safely test portable appliances in the UK.

Taking an online PAT testing course is considered to be the easiest way to gain the necessary skills for this profession. These courses often take around one study hour to complete and usually offer self-printed certificates. However, it is crucial to select a course that provides sufficient depth and hands-on training, as well as accreditation, to ensure a successful career as a PAT tester.

Understanding PAT Testing

  • Purpose and Importance

    PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) is a safety procedure carried out on electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe for use, reducing the risk of accidents such as electric shocks or burns. This testing procedure involves a series of electronic tests and visual assessments that help identify potential hazards associated with electricity.

  • Regulations and Standards

    In the UK, PAT testing regulations ensure the safety of electrical appliances in the workplace and other public environments. You can become a qualified PAT tester if you complete a PAT tester course. The IEE Code of Practice provides guidelines for PAT testers, requiring them to have an understanding of the different types of electrical, mechanical, or thermal damage that may occur to electrical equipment and their flexes in a work environment.

    With proper PAT testing, employers can comply with:

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
    • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
    • The Electricity at Work Regulations (EAWR) 1989

    To become a PAT tester, one must undergo training that covers the necessary knowledge and skills required for conducting PAT tests. Several courses are available online or in-person, providing industry-leading training for those interested in learning how to perform PAT testing from scratch or to refresh their existing skills. Upon the completion of the course, a PAT tester will have a comprehensive understanding of electrical appliances and equipment, their potential hazards, as well as the proper application of relevant regulations and standards.

Becoming a Qualified PAT Tester

  • Training Courses and Certification

    To become a qualified PAT tester in the UK, one must complete a training course. There are various courses available, such as 1-day or online courses, that cover the fundamentals of portable appliance testing (PAT) and provide certification upon completion. These courses are offered by training providers nationwide and are taught by expert tutors who introduce learners to PAT testing equipment and relevant regulations.

  • Skills Required

    A competent PAT tester should have the following skills:

    • A good understanding of electrical safety and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
    • Ability to recognise the types of portable appliances and select the appropriate testing methods
    • Knowledge of test schedule and frequency needed for different types of equipment
    • Competency in using PAT testing equipment correctly and interpreting the results
    • Strong attention to detail to ensure equipment is safe for use and that the test documentation is complete
  • Investing in Equipment

    PAT testers should invest in quality equipment to ensure accurate and reliable testing. This includes:

    1. A PAT tester: A device designed to carry out tests on portable electrical appliances. Choose a tester that meets your testing requirements and has a trusted reputation.
    2. Test leads and adapters: Ensure you have the necessary test leads and adapters for different types of electrical equipment, such as IEC leads, extension lead adapters, and a selection of test probes.
    3. Labels and tags: Invest in labels and tags to mark the tested appliances with their test results, dates, and the tester's ID. This is essential for maintaining a record of inspections and ensuring compliance with regulations.
    4. Protective equipment: Acquire the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for conducting electrical tests, such as gloves, safety goggles, and insulated tools.

    By completing a relevant training course, developing the necessary skills, and investing in quality equipment, individuals can become competent, qualified PAT testers in the UK.

Finding Work as a PAT Tester

Employment Opportunities

There are various ways to find work as a PAT tester in the UK. One option is to search for job openings in companies or organizations that require portable appliance testing services. These may include electrical companies, building contractors, schools, offices or other establishments with a significant number of portable appliances. Job boards, company websites, or recruitment agencies can be a good starting point for finding such opportunities.

Another option is to look for vacancies in large corporations or facilities management companies that require in-house PAT testers. These may offer more stable, long-term employment and provide opportunities to gain further qualifications or move up in the organisation. Furthermore, government departments, hospitals and local councils may also have opportunities for PAT testers.

Freelance and Self-Employment

Becoming a freelance PAT tester or starting your own PAT testing business is another viable option. This can provide more freedom and flexibility in terms of working hours and clients. To establish yourself as a freelance PAT tester or start your own business, consider the following steps:

  1. Get trained and certified: Whichever route you choose, it is essential to become trained and certified to ensure your competence and credibility. Completing a PAT testing competency course or obtaining a City & Guilds 2377-22 PAT Training qualification can be a good start.

  2. Obtain necessary equipment: You will need to invest in suitable PAT testing equipment. Find devices designed for the level of work you will be conducting, and check they are compatible with the type of portable appliances you will be testing.

  3. Prepare your paperwork: This includes setting up invoices, business cards, and promotional materials, as well as familiarising yourself with testing requirements and regulations.

  4. Network and advertise: Join industry forums and online communities, attend local events and PAT testing trade shows to build connections and market your services.

  5. Set competitive rates: Research the pricing structure of other PAT testers in your area to ensure your rates are competitive, but not undervaluing your services.

By following these steps, you can establish a successful freelance PAT testing business or secure work as an independent PAT tester in the UK.

Continued Professional Development

Keeping up with Industry Changes

Continued professional development (CPD) is crucial for PAT testers, as the industry is constantly evolving with new technologies and regulations. To stay up to date with these changes, PAT testers should:

  • Regularly attend industry conferences and workshops to learn about the latest trends and best practices.

  • Stay informed about changes in legislation and industry standards, which may impact their work.

  • Subscribe to relevant newsletters, magazines, or websites that cover PAT testing news and updates.

Networking and Associations

Building a strong professional network is essential for PAT testers, as it can keep them informed about industry developments and provide valuable support in their careers. To network and connect with other professionals, PAT testers can:

  • Join PAT testing associations, such as the Portable Appliance Testing Trade Association (PATTA), to attend events, seminars, and workshops where they can meet and learn from experts in the field.

  • Participate in online forums and social media groups dedicated to PAT testing, where they can ask questions and share their experiences with fellow professionals.

  • Attend local meetups or networking events for electricians and other professionals in the electrical industry to build connections and stay current on industry trends.

By investing time in continued professional development and building a robust network, PAT testers can enhance their skills, stay updated with industry changes, and ensure they deliver a high-quality service to their clients.

About the Author

Supon Chakma is a freelance writer with five years of experience writing in various niches. He is passionate about educating and helping people solve daily problems through easy to read and digest articles. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle.