journeyman electrician inside panel

What is a Journeyman Electrician (And How To Become One)?

Last updated on February 27th, 2024.

What is a Journeyman Electrician?

A journeyman electrician is a trained, skilled, and adaptable tradesman. They have spent years under the direction of another journeyman or master electrician learning about the electrical trade.

A journeyman can install and maintain multiple types of electrical systems found in homes, apartments, and facilities such as high rise condominiums, strip malls, schools, hospitals, wastewater and manufacturing industries.

This includes installing and or replace new lighting and lighting control systems, receptacles, motors and motor controlling equipment, heating equipment, and building automation systems that control the operation of all of a facility’s energy usage.

How To Become A Journeyman Electrician

Embarking on a journey to become a Journeyman electrician marks the start of an exciting career path. The outdated stereotype of electricians — disheveled and unprofessional — has been replaced by a highly skilled, knowledgeable, and essential workforce.

Every Journeyman electrician begins his or her career as an electricians’ apprentice. An apprentice is an entry-level position for someone with the desire to become an electrician.

Journeyman Electrician Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeship programs with IBEW, IEC, and ABC span three to five years, meticulously designed to ground you in electrical theory, construction, blueprint interpretation, wiring schematics, adherence to the National Electrical Code (NEC), and safety practices, among other crucial skills.

Apprentices receive on-the-job training as well as regular classroom education throughout their apprenticeship.

Towards the end of training apprentices have accumulated enough hours – either 4,000 or 8,000 (depending on program) – required to test for their Journeyman electrician license.

Journeyman electricians typically fall into one of three specialties: Residential, Commercial, and Industrial

Commercial Electricians

journeyman electrician jobsiteCommercial electricians or Inside Wireman work on a construction job site or for a company’s service department.

Working in service means responding to customer’s immediate needs for electrical repairs or installations (which means you may be a lone wolf and you get a service van)

Every day can be different.

On Monday they could be inside installing a lighting control system in a high-rise building and Tuesday it’s on to installing conduit (pipe) in a ditch on the outside of the building to bring in power for a transformer.

They are responsible for but not limited to:

  • Compliant with local, city, state, and national electrical codes
  • Properly reading blueprints, schematics, and wiring diagrams
  • Gathering appropriate material for daily tasks
  • Installing conduits using a hand, mechanical, or hydraulic bender
  • Install new wire in existing systems or repairing old wiring
  • Providing power and controls to motors, HVAC, and other equipment
  • Installing fire alarm, security, lighting control, data/telecom, and energy management systems
  • Mounting panel boards, transformers, switchgear, transfer switches, and other various types of equipment
  • Troubleshooting and repairing all systems (VERY IMPORTANT!)

If you’re a great worker and deliver constant results, you may become a foreman.

Foreman is responsible for delegating tasks to crews, ordering materials, working with other trades, reviewing electrical plans, maintaining a safe working environment, and more!

There’s also a pay increase with this position, typically 5% of Journeyman’s wages. 

Industrial Electricians

journeyman electrician industrialAn industrial electrician, holding either a Journeyman or Master license, possesses specialized expertise in installing and maintaining electrical systems within various industrial settings. This role is critical for ensuring the seamless operation and safety of complex industrial equipment.

These individuals are employed by maintenance departments of factories, plants, mines, shipyards, oil and gas rigs, as well as platforms, and other industrial environments. They may hold specific certifications on the equipment they maintain. 

An industrial electrician may be responsible for but is not limited to: 

  • Understanding how the facility’s electrical system operates under normal and emergency conditions
  • Performing preventative maintenance on variable frequency drives (VFDs), motors, pumps, generators, etc.
  • Installing or repairing faulty equipment, wiring, or control devices
  • Troubleshoot equipment failures using a variety of meters
  • Ability to read blueprints, schematics, and diagrams 

What is the Difference Between a Journeyman and Master Electrician?

Master electricians represent the pinnacle of the profession, with extensive experience and skills that qualify them to supervise projects, lead teams as foremen, and secure electrical work permits. They also have the unique privilege of starting their own electrical businesses in many states.

To become a master electrician you must have worked enough hours to take your state’s or municipality’s master electrical exam.

In most states the requirements are a combined total of 12,000 hours – the average is 2,000 per year – and 2 years working as a journeyman

Once you meet the requirements – 12,000 hours – you’ll need to study for the exam. Preparatory courses are available for purchase online or in book stores or check your local library for study material.

About Thomas Hawkins

I run Electrician Apprentice Headquarters, a one-stop-shop for learning how to become a licensed electrician in the USA. I'm a licensed Master Electrician with over 20 years experience working in the Mining & Construction industries. Why do I do it? Well, because even plumbers need heroes.

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