What’s The Difference Between Master And Journeyman Electricians? News & Opinion

What’s The Difference Between Master And Journeyman Electricians?

We realize that some of our readers might be considering work in the electrical trade. What does the process look like? Where does all your work lead you? All of these questions are legitimate, and worth considering when getting into a trade. Well, we can help! In this brief overview, we’re looking to highlight the difference between master and journeyman electricians to help you map out your next career move with a little bit more foresight.


So, where to begin? The local state government, rather than the national government, will license electricians. The state does, however, follow the National Electrical Code, which recognizes electricians by three broad categories: apprentices, journeymen, and masters.

The Difference Between Master and Journeyman Electricians Starts with an Apprentice

Apprentice Electrician

Master and JourneymanAn apprentice is basically a trainee who works under the direct supervision of a Master Electrician. He or she will spend three to six years training in this role.

At the end of the apprenticeship, this new, green electrician needs to pass a journeyman test. The test basically covers foundational electrical knowledge and the National Electrical Code. It will require some time in the classroom, studying up on the best ways to do the job right the first time.

Apprentices can fulfill this requirement either through a technical school or through a program affiliated with the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Council.

Journeyman Electrician

Apprentices who pass the requirements will graduate to Journeyman status. A Journeyman can work on his own, and without direct supervision. He’ll still operate under the guidance of a Master Electrician, but he’ll be licensed to tackle wiring, outlet, and fixture installations by himself. He’ll do any service work and troubleshoot electrical problems that come up. Depending on the master electrician that the journeyman works under, he could focus on either residential or commercial and industrial installations.

A Journeyman, should he desire to continue his education, will typically work for another three to six years, gaining experience and training along the way. He’ll continue to be educated in the fundamentals of electricity, but he’ll also pick up training for building codes, project management, and safety procedures and regulations. Classes for Master certification are available at various vocational and technical schools. These classes are designed and run jointly by the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Master and Journeyman

Master Electrician

Master and JourneymanAfter passing Master certification, training will have equipped an electrician to originate projects, pull permits for new construction and installation, and oversee apprentices and Journeymen. He lays out and selects the type of wiring and connections according to electrical code. He can route circuits and choose the location of circuit breaker panels. A Master Electrician can operate his own company or work for a private contractor.

Continuing Education

The state requires that both Master and Journeymen Electricians take annual continuing education courses to keep current with new codes and regulations in electrical fields. Electricians can take these classes, like the ones taken for certification, either through trade schools or online.


As you can see, a lot of work goes into learning the electrical trade. Masters and Journeymen have to spend quite a bit of time learning it. After all, working with electricity poses a lot of inherent risk, and not just any dum-dum off the street should go rooting around with wires, power lines, outlets, and breakers. To reach the tippy-top of the electrical food chain, a person can expect to invest between 6 and 12 years keeping themselves and others safe and powered up.

So, to answer the initial question, the basic difference between a master and journeyman electrician comes down to experience on the job, a whole lot of education, and state certification.

For more information about master and journeyman requirements by state, take a look at https://www.electricianschooledu.org/state-by-state-licensing-guide

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