Journeyman licensing marks the second step in the apprenticeship-journeyman-master electrician licensing process, which most licensing boards adhere to. Becoming a journeyman electrician is an exciting step on your career path, as it reflects the successful completion of a long period of education and training as an electrical apprentice and passing scores on the journeyman licensing exam.
Journeyman electricians have acquired the experience, knowledge, and training necessary to work independently, allowing them to gain even more experience and training in order to qualify for a master electrician license down the road.
These competent tradespeople work in commercial, industrial, and residential settings, where they are qualified to install, alter, add, and/or repair electrical systems, conductors, and associated materials and equipment. They have a full comprehension of the National Electrical Code and electrical theory.
Journeyman electricians work with many types of systems, including:
- Power and Lighting Systems
- Power Distribution and Metering Systems
- Motor Control and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
- Building Automation Systems
- Energy Management Systems
- Backup Power Generation Systems
Journeyman Electrician Job Description
Journeymen electricians perform all electrical tasks with little supervision. They often supervise the work of apprentices.
Their experience allows them to:
- Connect circuit breakers, switches, transformers, and outlets
- Diagnose and resolve problems in electrical circuits, systems, and equipment
- Handle wire and conduit sizing
- Inspect and test existing wiring systems
- Install and troubleshoot wiring
- Install feeders
- Install lighting and security systems
- Read blueprints
- Terminate cable
- Troubleshoot motors and controls
The scope of their job also includes:
- Inspecting jobs to ensure work areas are safe and clean
- Maintaining accurate records regarding material and labor
- Maintaining inventory of tools, equipment, and material
- Selecting material and hardware for time and materials estimates
Journeyman Electrician Career Paths
Journeyman electrician jobs generally fall into two categories: outside lineman or inside wireman. Each of these categories comes with a set of unique job duties and responsibilities:
Journeyman linemen maintain electrical power systems, from the point of generation to the power meter. Their job duties also include working on street lights and traffic signals.
Their job duties include:
- Assembling and erecting substations
- Installing and maintaining insulators
- Installing and maintaining transformers and other equipment
- Installing and maintaining underground distribution systems
- Maintaining and repairing overhead distribution or transmission lines
- Setting electric towers and poles
- Stringing new wire and maintaining existing wire
Inside Journeyman Wireman
Inside journeyman wiremen distribute and connect electrical equipment to the power source for commercial and residential customers. They also maintain all types of electrical systems within industrial and commercial facilities that connect to lighting, receptacles, heating equipment, motors, etc.
Inside journeyman wiremen also install and maintain fire alarm and security systems.
Their job duties include:
- Building and assembling power generation equipment
- Establishing and maintaining power distribution equipment, including transformers, breakers, and switches.
- Establishing grounding systems
- Installing and maintaining main service panels, including circuit breakers and switching gear
- Installing and maintaining power feed and control wiring systems
- Installing and maintaining process control systems, including energy management systems
- Installing and repairing telephone and data systems
- Installing conduit and junction boxes
- Installing new wiring and repairing existing wiring
- Installing receptacles, lighting systems, and fixtures
- Installing service to buildings and other structures
- Maintaining and repairing temporary power systems during construction
- Troubleshooting and repairing electrical systems
Qualifications You Must Meet During Your Apprenticeship to Qualify for a Journeyman License
To become a journeyman electrician, you must complete a rigorous course of education and training in the form of an apprenticeship consisting of between 500 and 1,000 classroom hours and between 8,000 and 10,000 hours (5-6 years) of supervised work experience and on-the-job training. Each licensing jurisdiction determines the required number of hours an apprenticeship must last in order for an apprentice to qualify to become a journeyman.
For example, applicants for a journeyman electrician license in Colorado must complete at least 8,000 hours (earned in no less than four years) of electrical construction wiring experience for lights, heat, and power. At least 4,000 of those hours must be in commercial and/or industrial work.
Some states also have different requirements for those seeking a license as a journeyman lineman. For example, to qualify for the competency examination, Texas requires candidates for a journeyman lineman license to possess at least 7,000 hours of training through an apprenticeship program (approved by the Department of Labor) or 3 ½ years of experience working as a journeyman lineman for an electric utility, electrical cooperative, municipally owned utility, or electrical contractor.
You may also choose to satisfy the required classroom hours by completing an electrician diploma or associate degree program before beginning your apprenticeship.
Your electrical apprenticeship may be through a union or non-union organization or employer, including private employers, labor unions, the U.S. military, apprenticeship training centers, and community colleges. The largest apprenticeship program is the Electrical Training ALLIANCE, a joint program established under the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
It is during your apprenticeship that you will accumulate the on-the-job experience and classroom instruction required to become eligible for journeyman licensing. Although general journeyman licensing requirements vary from one licensing jurisdiction to the next, most require candidates to pass a written examination based on the National Electrical Code, electrical theory, and local electrical codes after completing an apprenticeship.
Completing Practice Hours as a Journeyman as You Work Toward Your Master Electrician License
Your time as a journeyman begins once you have completed all the requirements of your apprenticeship and have been approved for a journeyman electrician license through your jurisdiction’s licensing board.
The next couple of years under this title will allow you to gain valuable experience working as an independent electrician as you work toward meeting the requirements for a master electrician license.
Once you have worked as a journeyman for about two years (Most states/jurisdictions require about 4,000 hours of practice as a journeyman.), you are eligible to take a competency examination to achieve the highest professional title in the electrical trade: master electrician.
Master electricians have extensive experience and knowledge of the National Electrical Code, all applicable laws and regulations, and the installation, design, repair, alteration, and construction of electrical systems and related equipment.
Master electricians also have the authority to pull permits, design wiring and lighting systems, serve as team leaders, and supervise job sites, journeyman electricians and apprentices.