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Fast track training courses for tradespeople

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Traditional apprenticeships can take years, while intensive or fast track training might offer a quicker route to being a tradesperson - but is it right for you?

What are fast track courses?

You can spend four or more years training to be an electrician, earning a low apprentice wage. And while that might be ok when you’re 16, things change when you get older, want to retrain and have mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay.

Fast track training involves squashing all the learning that would happen over years into just a few weeks. The risk is, you don’t get to spend time with other experienced people actually doing the job. You also need to check what accreditation is on offer and whether or not it is nationally recognised. Even with accreditation, it’s unlikely to give you the same depth of knowledge as on-site experience would.

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Should I do a fast track course?

If you’re prepared to do the research, the answer might be yes, if…

  • You’re an adult who wants to retrain but you’ve got bills to pay and can’t wait years to earn. But because you’ll have less hands-on experience it can still take a while to start earning decent money.
  • You’ve got tons of motivation and want to go for a career change. This isn’t an easy option and you’ll need some serious dedication - you’ll probably have to sacrifice some trips to the pub, days out and holidays for as long as it takes to do the course.
  • You’ve got the money to invest in the course.
  • You’ve checked the course leads to a recognised qualification in your industry, one that employers have in their job adverts.
  • You can get experience elsewhere - experience is always king, and although your course may give you a decent footing with their practical training, you’ll want to get time on site as soon as possible.
  • You already work in a trade but never got an official qualification. Or you’re working in a trade and want to upskill in another area.
  • You’re a bit of a DIY whizz. You’ve got lots of experience and doing a fast track course in something like painting and decorating would give you the extra know-how to work in someone else’s home.

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What will it cost me?

You’ll need to pay for fast track courses and they often run into thousands of pounds.
Some basic courses may only run for a few sessions and cost a couple of hundred pounds, however, these will only give you a taste of what’s involved in a trade, with perhaps a few DIY level skills.

More comprehensive courses which will give you Level 3 plumbing skills will cost something in the range of £3,000 to £4,000 depending on the provider.

Remember that your earning potential will also be tied to your skills and experience. A quick course might get you up and running on your own, but you might only be able to take on smaller, simpler jobs while you build up real-life experience and familiarity with your trade. That means your earning potential will be limited to that end of the market until your confidence and experience grows.


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Where can I take one?

There are hundreds of private training companies offering fast track courses in different trades. Before you sign up to a course and spend your precious savings make sure you research:

  • What qualifications you actually need to work in the job you want, from a good source like the National Careers Service.
  • What experience and certifications employers are looking for – check out their recruitment pages and job requirements.

Fast track courses aren’t a magical key to success. While they’re undoubtedly useful in some circumstances, they can’t really replace more traditional paths to becoming a tradesperson - there are no shortcuts to success.

Training and skills