Journeyman vs. Master Electrician

What are the differences, and how do you become either?

There are three basic categories under which electricians can fall: apprentice, journeyman, and master electrician. An apprentice is an entry-level electrician who works under the instruction of a master electrician. A journeyman is a skilled electrician and can work independently under the general direction of a master electrician. The master electrician has additional freedom and responsibilities. A journeyman and a master electrician have similar roles, but they are different in a few major ways.

Journeyman Electrician

A journeyman must complete roughly 8,000 hours of training under the supervision of a master electrician over a four-year period. Working under the permits issued to a master electrician, a journeyman follows the master electrician's plans and directions. However, a journeyman is licensed to work by himself without direct supervision while:

  • Installing outlets, wiring, and fixtures
  • Addressing breaker fails or non-functioning lights
  • Completing service work

A journeyman is not certified to play the role of supervisor to other journeymen or apprentices. To become a master electrician, the journeyman must gain additional experience.

Go to: Electrician Training Courses

Master Electrician

To become a master electrician, two additional years of training are needed beyond those of a journeyman. After completing supervised training, a journeyman can take classes to earn a master electrician certification at an educational institution or through an industry training program. A journeyman must also pass a test to become a licensed master electrician.

Educated in electricity fundamentals, building codes, project management, and safety regulations, a master electrician’s responsibilities include:

  • Laying out wiring systems
  • Determining the type of wiring, connections, or terminations needed
  • Designing the routing of circuits in the house
  • Supervising apprentices and journeymen

A master electrician has the ability to run his own company or work as a contractor. However, by law, a master electrician is required to maintain insurance coverage as a contractor.

Train the Same

Journeymen and master electricians are similar in that they both have extensive work experience, need to take several advanced courses, and must complete a required number of hours in the field. Both are required to take annual continuing education courses to keep up to date on the latest technology, regulations, and educational information. And both journeymen and master electricians are very knowledgeable about and capable with electricity.

Study help: Skilled Trade Practice Tests (including electrical/electrician/HVAC)

Further reading: Becoming an Electrician: Journeyman and Master

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