How to Become a Journeyman Electrician

Becoming a journeyman electrician is a rewarding career path that offers stability, a good income, and the opportunity to work in a variety of settings.

As a journeyman electrician, you will have the skills and knowledge to work on electrical systems in homes, factories, and businesses, ensuring these vital systems function efficiently and safely.

The journey to becoming a journeyman electrician starts with obtaining the necessary education and training. This typically involves completing a paid, multi-year apprenticeship during which you’ll gain hands-on experience and valuable tutelage under the guidance of a skilled journeyman or master electrician.

After successfully completing your apprenticeship, you may be required to pass an exam to obtain your journeyman electrician license or certification, depending on your region’s regulations.

Don’t underestimate the commitment and dedication required to pursue this occupation, as it takes both time and effort to become proficient in all aspects of the trade.

Understanding The Role of a Journeyman Electrician

Working Environments

As a journeyman electrician, you are likely to work in various environments, including residential, commercial, and industrial settings. You’ll be tasked with installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems in homes, factories, and businesses.

Your adaptability and skills will be essential in these diverse settings, ensuring that you can handle the different challenges and responsibilities that come with each environment.

Job Duties

Your job duties as a journeyman electrician will primarily consist of the following tasks:

  • Installing electrical systems: You will be responsible for installing wiring, conduits, and other electrical components in line with local and national electrical codes.
  • Troubleshooting and repairing: When issues arise within an electrical system, your expertise will be required to troubleshoot and diagnose the problem, then carry out necessary repairs to restore proper functioning.
  • Maintenance: To ensure the prolonged safety and efficiency of electrical systems, you will perform regular maintenance checks, replacing any worn-out components and making necessary adjustments.
  • Reading and interpreting blueprints: As a journeyman electrician, you need to be able to read blueprints and technical drawings to understand the layout of electrical systems and execute the work accordingly.
  • Compliance with codes and regulations: It’s crucial for you to stay current with local and national electrical codes, as well as any relevant safety regulations in the industry.

Required Education and Training – Apprenticeship Program

To become a journeyman electrician, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship program. This typically involves a combined 4-5 years of on-the-job training and classroom hours. During your apprenticeship, you’ll gain the necessary skills and knowledge to work independently in the industry.

Participating in a pre-apprenticeship electrician training program at a local trade, technical, or vocational school is an optional but recommended step before starting an apprenticeship.

The apprenticeship program will provide you with a mix of hands-on experience and classroom instruction. This ensures that you develop the practical skills to perform electrical tasks, as well as a solid understanding of electrical theory and safety practices. Some of your coursework may cover topics like electrical code, blueprint reading, and wiring.

Obtaining License and Certifications

Understanding National Electrical Code

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is a crucial aspect of becoming a journeyman electrician. It’s a set of guidelines that regulate the safe installation and maintenance of electrical wiring and equipment. As an aspiring journeyman electrician, you must familiarize yourself with the NEC as it sets the foundation for your career.

Certification Process

To become a journeyman electrician, there are specific state licensing requirements and certifications to obtain. In general, the process from is as follows:

  1. Pre-Apprenticeship Program (optional): This can help get you noticed by employers and also gain some general knowledge that could be useful during an apprenticeship.
  2. Apprenticeship Program: Begin by enrolling in an approved apprenticeship program that typically takes four to five years to complete. This hands-on training is essential in providing you with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the field.
  3. Journeyman License Exam: After completing your apprenticeship, you must pass the Electrical Journeyman Exam to obtain your journeyman electrician license. This exam tests your understanding of the National Electrical Code, electrical theory, and safety practices.
  4. Master Electrician License: If you wish to advance your career, consider obtaining a master electrician license. To do so, in many areas, you must work for two years (about 4,000 hours) as a journeyman electrician and pass the Master Electrician Exam.

Remember to regularly update your knowledge of the National Electrical Code and stay informed about new technologies in the field. With the right certifications and dedication, you can pursue a successful career as a journeyman electrician.

Skills and Experience Needed

As an aspiring journeyman electrician, you will need a specific set of skills and experience to ensure success in your career. In this section, we will discuss the essential abilities and knowledge you should possess, focusing on three main areas: Interpreting Blueprints, Installation and Maintenance.

Interpreting Blueprints

Interpreting blueprints is a crucial skill in your journey as a journeyman electrician. To do this effectively, you will need:

  • Strong understanding of electrical theory to determine circuits and components
  • Experience reading and interpreting schematic drawings as well as construction blueprints
  • Solid communication skills to collaborate with architects, engineers, and other tradespeople

Developing these skills will not only help you execute projects smoothly but also contribute to your overall efficiency on the job.


When it comes to installing electrical systems, the following abilities and knowledge are critical:

  • Proficiency with hand tools and experience using power tools for connecting wires, installing outlets, and mounting fixtures
  • Familiarity with building and electrical codes to ensure safe and lawful installations
  • Demonstrated problem-solving abilities for effectively troubleshooting any issues that may arise during installation
  • Completion of on-the-job training such as apprenticeships that combine classroom instruction with hands-on experience

These skills, along with relevant experience, will help you excel in the installation process as a journeyman electrician.


In the area of maintenance, your duties as a journeyman electrician will demand specific abilities and expertise:

  • In-depth knowledge of various electrical systems and their components used in different industries
  • Ability to troubleshoot and diagnose problems, particularly with the aid of specialized testing equipment
  • Familiarity with preventive maintenance procedures and practices to prevent system failures
  • Physical strength and endurance, as this job often involves manual labor and working in various environments

By honing these skills, you will be well-prepared to maintain and repair a wide range of electrical systems in your career as a journeyman electrician.

Workplace and Safety Regulations

As a journeyman electrician, you need to be well-versed in the National Electrical Code (NEC), which is the standard for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection. This code aims to protect people and property from potential hazards posed by electricity. You can expect to follow the NEC guidelines throughout your career when working on various electrical projects.

In addition to the NEC, you’ll need to adhere to local, state, and federal regulations that govern the installation and maintenance of electrical systems. Familiarize yourself with your jurisdiction’s specific requirements, as they can vary from one region to another.

Electrical safety is a top priority in this field. You will need to consistently apply good working practices and precautions while on the job. For example, always de-energize equipment and circuits before starting work, use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), and follow lockout/tagout procedures to prevent inadvertent activation of the system.

Remember to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in safety standards by participating in ongoing training programs. This could involve attending workshops, taking classes, or earning certifications, such as the NFPA Certified Electrical Safety Worker (CESW) credential. By staying informed about best practices and industry advancements, you can enhance your safety knowledge and reduce the risk of accidents.

Career Path

Becoming a Master Electrician

As you embark on your journey to becoming a journeyman electrician, remember that this is just the first step toward a rewarding career in the electrical field. After gaining experience as a journeyman, you may consider advancing to a Master Electrician, which typically requires additional education and work experience. Master Electricians often take on more complex projects, oversee job sites, and can train and supervise apprentices and journeymen.

To become a Master Electrician, you’ll generally need to meet specific state or local licensing requirements, which often include passing a comprehensive exam. Gaining experience in both residential and commercial settings will give you a well-rounded skill set and increase your overall marketability in the field.

Working as an Electrical Contractor

Another option for your career path as a journeyman electrician is to become an Electrical Contractor. This role involves running your own business, bidding on projects, and managing a team of electricians to complete jobs. As an electrical contractor, you’ll be responsible for ensuring all work meets necessary codes and safety standards.

Before becoming an electrical contractor, it’s crucial to gain hands-on experience in both residential and commercial settings, completing various projects, and building a reputation for quality work. You may also need to obtain additional licensing or certification as an electrical contractor in your state.

Throughout your career as a journeyman electrician, focus on expanding your knowledge and staying up-to-date with industry trends and advancements. Increasing your expertise in job training, safety practices, and specialized electrical work will help you advance your career and achieve your goals.

Income and Job Outlook

As an aspiring journeyman electrician, it’s important to know the facts about your potential income and job outlook. The median pay for an electrician in 2021 was $60,040 a year, or $28.87 an hour, but note that your starting pay may be considerably lower until you have some experience.

The job duties for a journeyman electrician can vary, but typically include installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems and equipment. You may also be responsible for interpreting blueprints and following safety protocols while working on construction sites, homes, or commercial buildings.

When considering job prospects, it’s reassuring to note that the demand for electricians is about average, with a projected growth of 7 percent between 2021 and 2031. The U.S. Bureau of Labor also predicts around 79,900 job openings for electricians each year over the decade. This means you can expect a stable career with opportunities for growth as you gain experience and skills in this field.

Advanced Opportunities and Specialties

As you progress in your journeyman electrician career, you will come across various advanced opportunities and specialties. One of the significant aspects to consider is choosing a specialty in your field. Journeyman electricians typically fall into three primary specialties: residential, commercial, and industrial.

  • In residential settings, you would primarily work on home electrical systems, including installing and maintaining wiring, lighting, and home automation systems.
  • In the commercial sector, you would work in offices, retail spaces, and other commercial buildings, focusing on more extensive electrical systems, including building automation systems and energy management systems.
  • Industrial electricians, on the other hand, handle electrical systems in factories, warehouses, and other industrial facilities and often work with complex machinery and heavy-duty equipment.

Developing your skills in a particular specialty area can enhance your career prospects and help you stay current with the latest industry trends.

  • For instance, you can diversify your skillset by focusing on the installation and maintenance of building automation systems, which control various aspects of a building’s operations, such as lighting, heating, and cooling.
  • Another advanced opportunity to consider is specializing in energy management systems, which help to monitor and control a building’s energy usage more efficiently, ultimately reducing operational costs and environmental impact.
  • Additionally, you can further specialize in the installation and maintenance of security systems, such as access control systems and video surveillance. Offering these services can help you stand out in the industry while also keeping homes and businesses safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps to become a journeyman electrician?

To become a journeyman electrician, you need to complete an apprenticeship program, which includes hands-on work and training classes. This process usually takes about 7,000 hours, or roughly four years, in most states. After completing the apprenticeship, you’ll need to pass a licensing exam that tests your knowledge and skills in the electrical trade.

What are the educational requirements to be a journeyman electrician?

Requirements vary by jurisdiction, but you typically must complete 500 to 1,000 hours of classroom training and 8,000 to 10,000 hours of supervised on-the-job experience during an apprenticeship (source).

How can I gain the required experience in the field?

The best way to gain the required experience is to participate in an apprenticeship program. These programs provide an opportunity to work and learn under the guidance of experienced electricians, ensuring you receive the proper training and hands-on experience needed to progress toward a journeyman electrician position. You can find apprenticeship programs through local trade schools, unions, or online job postings.

What are the differences between a journeyman and a master electrician?

A journeyman electrician has completed their apprenticeship and is licensed to work independently, while a master electrician has typically accumulated additional experience and passed a separate exam. Master electricians hold a higher level of responsibility and can lead jobs, offer training to apprentices, and direct electrical teams.

How can I prepare for the journeyman electrician exam?

You can prepare for the journeyman electrician exam by reviewing the study materials and resources provided by your state or local licensing authority. This may include state-specific laws, codes, and regulations, as well as general electrical knowledge, theory, and safety practices. In addition, you can attend prep courses offered by trade schools and vocational centers to reinforce your knowledge and improve your chances of success on the exam.

Do I need a license to work as a journeyman electrician in different states?

Electrician licensing requirements vary by state, so it’s essential to learn about the specific guidelines in the state where you plan to work. Some states have reciprocal agreements that allow licensed journeyman electricians to work in other participating states, while others require you to obtain a separate license (source). Always be sure to check the licensing requirements for each state you’re considering working in.

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