Master electricians are at the top of their field. Earning the title “master electrician” means you have spent a number of years demonstrating and improving your skills as a journeyman, and have achieved master electrician licensure, which comes with a significant pay hike, not to mention the respect of your fellow tradesmen.
Master electricians have the experience and the expertise to install, maintain and repair some of the most complex electrical systems. As leaders in the field, they also often supervise apprentices and journeymen electricians.
Your experience and training have allowed you to grow from a journeyman electrician, capable of installing and maintaining electrical equipment, to a master electrician, capable of planning and organizing complex electrical installation projects.
The master electrician designation shows employers and customers that your advanced experience has resulted in a wider breadth of knowledge related to safety regulations, building codes, project management, and, of course, wiring itself.
Job Duties and Responsibilities Unique to Master Electricians
As a master electrician, you are able to develop and oversee wire system installations, acquire permits, and design the routing of circuits for installation.
Although as a journeyman electrician you were licensed to work independently, you were not permitted to obtain permits or supervise others on a job site. Master electricians are able to pull permits, serve as team leaders, and complete a wide array of tasks involved in supervising other electricians.
In fact, one of the most important differences between a journeyman electrician and a master electrician is the ability to serve as a supervisor to other journeymen or apprentices.
Other job duties unique to master electricians include:
- Supervising, consulting on, and troubleshooting complex electrical equipment issues
- Determining the cause of control and power system failures and taking the necessary corrective action
- Supervising and consulting on complex installations and repair projects
- Monitoring and evaluating work productivity
- Monitoring and evaluating equipment operation and energy efficiency
- Overseeing other vendors and contractors and serving as their technical point of contact
- Monitoring any changes in the National Electric Code and identifing training requirements for subordinates
- Supervising subordinate employees – includes coaching, counseling, training, and evaluating
- Planning and coordinating work with other trades to ensure seamless installations and minimal disruptions for all parties concerned
- Monitoring all processes and procedures to anticipate future needs
Master electricians have a unique set of skills that allow them to serve in a supervisory manner. These include a thorough knowledge of:
- Standard practices, tools, and equipment of the electrical trade
- Applicable county, state, and national electrical, NFPA, and safety codes
- Electrical controls and motors
- Interpreting diagrams, schematics, blue prints, and manuals
- Safety regulations and procedures
Becoming a Master Electrician: Training and Exam Requirements
As an electrician apprentice, you were required to complete between 500 and 1,000 classroom hours and between 8,000 and 10,000 hours of on-the-job training. The successful completion of state and/or jurisdictional requirements, along with passing a state competency examination, allowed you to earn the title of journeyman electrician.
But your progression in this vocation doesn’t end there. Once you have another 4,000 hours of experience as a journeyman electrician under your belt (about two years of full-time work), you can qualify for a master electrician license in most states and/or jurisdictions. Some states also require passing an examination to achieve the master electrician status.
For example, in Texas, journeyman electricians must work for at least two years and pass the Texas Master Electrician exam to qualify for the master electrician license.
A master electrician examination tests a candidate’s skills, knowledge, abilities, and experiences in the installation, design, repair, alteration, and construction of electrical systems, related equipment and apparatus, and all applicable codes and regulations. It also tests a candidate’s ability to supervise and direct others engaged in such activities.
Some states, however, require less training at the journeyman level to become a master electrician. For example, in Virginia, journeyman electricians qualify for the master electrician license after practicing for just one year.
Some states/jurisdictions have different levels of master electricians, each of which requires a different level of experience.
For example, in Michigan, there are two different master electrician titles: Electrician Master Licensed – E (experienced) and Electrician Master Licensed – A (advanced). While both are licensed to obtain permits, perform electrical work, and perform a full range of technical electrical work, only the Electrician Master Licensed – A is allowed to function as a crew leader, overseeing the work of lower-level licensed electricians, providing instruction and training, and reviewing job performance by observing and critiquing techniques and completed work. In this scenario, it takes one year of experience as an Electrician Master Licensed – E to qualify for the Electrician Master Licensed – A classification.