The experience ladder of an electrician is as follows: electrical apprentice, journeyman, and master electrician.
As an electrical apprentice, you work as an electrician in training under the tutelage of a master electrician.
A journeyman and a master electrician have similar roles, but they differ in a few major ways.
- A journeyman electrician title is what comes after you’ve completed your apprenticeship and you’re able to work independently with only basic guidance from a master electrician.
- Once you’re a master electrician, you’re the head honcho, and can work any job on your own.
Becoming a journeyman isn’t a short process. It’s 8,000 hours of training as an apprentice spread out over a four-year period. The good thing is, this process begins right away during your first job after electrician training. Hours automatically accrue as you work as a state-registered apprentice, and you'll report all 8,000 hours at once when you apply for your journeyman license.
As a journeyman electrician, you are not yet able to supervise other journeymen or apprentices; that’s a job strictly for the master electrician. But the more time spent in your training, the more tasks you’ll be able to complete without supervision.
Working as a journeyman, you’ll follow the permits, plans, and directions that are issued by the master electrician. You are, however, licensed to work without any supervision if you’re:
- Installing outlets, wiring, and fixtures
- Addressing breaker fails or non-functioning lights
- Completing service work
To become a master electrician, you must gain all the additional experience. Find local electrical trade school now.
To become a master electrician, you will need two more years of supervised work beyond those you received to become a journeyman. After completing your supervised training, there is a test you must pass if you’re to become a licensed master electrician.
You’ll be educated in electricity fundamentals, building codes, project management, and safety regulations. Your responsibilities as a master electrician will include:
- Laying out wiring systems
- Determining the type of wiring, connections, or terminations needed
- Designing the routing of circuits
- Supervising apprentices and journeymen
Once you are a master electrician, you will be able to run your own company or work as a contractor. Keep in mind that by law, you will have to maintain your own insurance coverage if you’re a contractor.
Whether you’re a journeyman or a master electrician, you'll have extensive work experience. You will take several advanced training courses, along with completing a required number of field hours.
There are also continuing education courses you’ll need in order to keep up-to-date on any advancements in technology, regulations, and other educational information necessary to the career. Certification and licensing requirements all vary by state, so check with your licensing board to find out what you need to do to earn these additional certifications.
When it comes to electricity, both the journeyman and the master electrician are capable of handling the power — how far do you want to go with your career? In 2021, the average electrician pay was $63,310, and the top 10% of electricians made $99,800 the same year (bls.gov).
Find an electrical trade school near you.