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Difference Between Journeyman & Master Electrician

While both journeyman electricians and master electricians spend their time working at construction sites, homes, or businesses installing or repairing electrical systems, a master electrician bears additional responsibilities beyond that of a journeyman, which require additional training and certification. Read on to learn more about the differences between these careers.

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Difference between Journeyman and Master Electrician

Both journeyman electricians and master electricians focus on installing, maintaining and repairing electrical wiring, equipment and fixtures in homes and offices. Their jobs are similar to a large degree; however, a master electrician performs additional work beyond that of a journeyman electrician, and is thereby required to have additional training and certification. This additional work involves planning projects, coordinating with other parties involved such as general contractors, and supervising the work of journeyman and apprentice electricians.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Annual Salary (2019)* Job Growth (2016-2026)**
Journeyman Electrician High school diploma or equivalent $55,342 9% (for all electricians)
Master Electrician High school diploma or equivalent $65,532 9% (for all electricians)

Sources: *Payscale.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Journeyman vs. Master Electricians

Journeyman and master electricians both work on job sites installing, updating, or fixing electrical equipment and wiring. This involves reading blueprints; installing wiring, fixtures and appliances; testing currents, voltages and other technical aspects of the installed equipment; and troubleshooting problems. They use a variety of different tools to perform their job tasks, such as screwdrivers, wire strippers, conduit benders to install wiring, and voltmeters, ammeters, and cable testers to troubleshoot electrical current issues. While there is a good deal of similarity in their responsibilities, a master electrician also has additional responsibilities, in areas such as scheduling, supervision of other employees, and oversight and approval.

Journeyman

A journeyman electrician installs, updates, and troubleshoots electrical wiring and equipment. To become a journeyman, a high school diploma is usually required, and usually some form of certification or licensing. The certification or licensing varies by state, and is typically earned at the end of a paid apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program can last up to four years and require up to 8,000 hours of supervised electrical work. Once rated journeyman, an electrician can work independently, without oversight or approval from a master electrician. Journeyman electricians determine the appropriate kinds of wiring, cable and fixtures to install, following local building codes to do so.

Job responsibilities of a journeyman electrician include:

  • Reading blueprints or diagrams and plan actual installations or updates
  • Installing wiring and electrical components in walls, floors and ceilings
  • Repairing and replacing old wiring or fixtures
  • Installing fixtures and appliances, and hook them up and test them

Master Electrician

Like a journeyman, a master electrician installs, updates and troubleshoots electrical wiring and equipment. In addition, a master electrician often acts in a supervisory or administrative role, focusing on maintaining the workload and schedule of members of the electrical crew. To become a master electrician, it is first necessary to become a journeyman. This is followed by two years of additional training, as well as classes and testing to earn certification.

Job responsibilities of a master electrician include:

  • Performing standard electrician duties including installation and repair of electrical wiring and fixtures
  • Meeting with general contractors to determine the overall scope and details of projects
  • Coordinating with other interested parties, such as suppliers or code enforcement personnel
  • Scheduling and assigning on-the-job tasks for journeyman and apprentice electricians

Related careers

If you are interested in the work an electrician does, other careers that may be of interest to you include an electrical drafter, a wireless communications technician, or an electronic engineer. All these roles involve working with electrical systems, either in construction or machinery.

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