journeyman electrician

What is a Journeyman Electrician and How to Become One

We are currently in the midst of a resurgence of interest in different trades, and the electrical trade is no different. A shortage of electrical professionals combined with ongoing demand means there are many opportunities to enter a lucrative career field with great future prospects, without the need for a college education. In fact, there’s a potential to make six figures as an electrician, given time, but what is a journeyman electrician?

However, to get into that level of earning power, it’s essential to go through different electrician licensing stages. Journeyman electrician jobs are the intermediate portion of that three-phase process and understanding what that job entails is key to finding out whether or not it is the right fit for your business.

What Is A Journeyman Electrician?

As mentioned before, journeymen electricians are the second major step of an electrician’s career path, after the apprentice stage. National information shows that ten percent of all electricians are self-employed, while others work for national electrical contractors. Some may opt to learn through an apprenticeship, while others attend technical school instead. The work they do on a daily basis culminates into graduating to a master electrician, however, at this stage of training, they generally narrow their focus into one of three specializations: residential, commercial, or industrial.

what is a journeyman electrician

Residential Electricians

Residential electricians are probably the easiest to understand for those outside of the profession. These professionals work to install, inspect, and maintain wiring, electrical systems, and other components in a residential building. This can include both outdoor and indoor installations. Some of the basic job duties here include:

Reading blueprints and technical drawing

Replacing non-working components

Connecting residential electrical systems to the greater grip

Putting in new wiring or lighting installations

Diagnosing and fixing electrical problems that their clients report

Commercial Electricians

A commercial electrician is slightly different. Rather than being part of a company or an independent contractor that offers their services to residential customers, these professionals generally work either on a construction job site on an as-needed basis or in the service department of a company. As a service worker, you basically just need to fulfill the needs of customer jobs versus larger projects.

This means that on a daily basis, you could have two very different jobs. For example, one day, you may need to do a repair in the company headquarters, while the next, you could be on one of their other sites, installing a new electrical system.

Part of the work of this position includes:

Knowing and adhering to local, city, and state codes

Gathering the materials and gear you need for your daily tasks, sometimes solo

Installing various systems in buildings, including lighting control, security, and energy management

Troubleshooting and repairing systems as needed

Industrial Electricians

Lastly, there are industrial journeymen electricians. These professions focus on the skills and experience related to the installation and upkeep of electrical equipment in industrial settings. Most of the time, these professionals are part of the maintenance departments of installations like:


Power plants


Oil rigs


Depending on where they are, industrial electricians may also need additional certification and training.

Their work includes:

Understanding how facility systems work in both normal and emergency settings

Performing preventative upkeep on key pieces of equipment, like generators, pumps, and motors

Identifying and troubleshoots faulty equipment or wiring

Interpreting blueprints and diagrams

Working As A Journeyman: Where Does It Begin?

— The National Electric Code (NEC)

— Maintain electric systems

— Properly read and interpret blueprints

— Manage circuit breakers and other electrical components

— Best practices for electric safety

The exact details you will learn may vary by state rules, but you can expect them to fall into some of these categories. Earlier on, tasks may be more menial in nature as you learn the fundamentals of the business. There are a variety of different apprenticeship programs available, but some of the most acclaimed are offered by organizations like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or International Electrotechnical Commission. These organizations offer three, four, or five-year programs. Alternatively, you can look to a local union or try and seek out a master electrician to work under on your own.

Over the course of this program, apprentice electricians need to log their work hours. This is because when they reach either 4,000 or 8,000 hours (based on what program you are taking), they are eligible to take a journeyman’s test. Passing this test allows you to progress to a journeyman, and begin gaining experience as you work towards a master electrician’s license.

Generally, 4,000 hours of practice as a journeyman are needed before meeting the requirements to take your master electrician exam. Being a master electrician proves that you:

Have a great deal of experience and training

Extensively know the national electrical code

Can install, design, repair, and alter all manner of electrical systems

Master electricians also have a variety of other capabilities at this stage in their careers. These include:

— Pulling permits

— Designing wiring systems

— Being team leaders/job site supervisors

— Supervising new journeyman electricians and apprentices

Photo by welcomia

One thing that journeymen electricians should be thinking about is the impact technology has on their job. While they work independently, different field apps for construction can benefit their efficiency a lot. eSUB is a great example. This can help you with essential tasks like tracking your time and documenting any electrical work that you do. 

These tools are also essential for accessing key files and documents in the office while you are out on a job site. This can range from checking building codes and safety procedures to revisiting project plans. Technology is a great asset to make your job easier and your work more effective.

How eSUB Can Help

eSUB is a cloud-based project management platform built especially for subcontractors. It seamlessly integrates with leading construction software systems so you can easily switch from your current document process to a cloud-based system to upgrade your construction project management process.

eSUB organizes all of your project information in one place, allows for smooth collaboration, and streamlines communication through its intuitive interface. It also works on your mobile, so you can track projects on the go—no matter where or when—and stay up-to-date.

FAQs: What is a Journeyman Electrician and How to Become One

What is the role of a journeyman electrician in the electrical trade?

A journeyman electrician is an intermediate-level professional in the electrical trade, situated between an apprentice and a master electrician. They play a crucial role in the installation, inspection, maintenance, and repair of electrical systems in various settings, with a focus on either residential, commercial, or industrial applications.

What are the primary responsibilities of a residential electrician?

Residential electricians specialize in installing, inspecting, and maintaining wiring, electrical systems, and components within residential buildings. Their tasks range from reading blueprints to diagnosing and fixing electrical issues, making homes safe and functional.

How do the roles of commercial electricians differ from residential electricians?

Commercial electricians primarily work in commercial and business settings. Their responsibilities include adhering to local codes, installing various systems (e.g., lighting control and security), and troubleshooting and repairing electrical systems. They often transition between customer job sites and larger projects.

What distinguishes industrial electricians from other types of electricians?

Industrial electricians focus on the installation and maintenance of electrical equipment in industrial settings such as factories, power plants, and mines. They often work within maintenance departments, ensuring the functionality and safety of key equipment and facilities.

How does one begin a career as a journeyman electrician?

To become a journeyman electrician, individuals typically start as apprentices. They can enroll in apprenticeship programs offered by organizations like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or International Electrotechnical Commission. Alternatively, they can seek employment with a local union or work under a master electrician. During the apprenticeship, individuals accumulate work hours and experience.

What is the journeyman electrician’s licensing process?

After completing the required work hours during the apprenticeship (usually around 4,000 to 8,000 hours), aspiring electricians are eligible to take a journeyman’s test. Passing this exam enables them to advance to the journeyman level. Subsequently, they gain hands-on experience working towards becoming a master electrician.

What skills and responsibilities are associated with being a master electrician?

Master electricians have extensive experience and knowledge, including a deep understanding of the national electrical code. They can design, install, repair, and modify electrical systems. They may also oversee projects, lead teams, and supervise journeyman electricians and apprentices.

How can technology enhance the work of journeyman electricians in the field?

Technology tools, such as construction management software like eSUB, offer valuable assistance to journeyman electricians. They help in tracking time, documenting work, accessing essential files, and enhancing overall efficiency in the field. These tools ensure that tasks are executed more effectively and that all necessary documentation is readily available.