The 4 Differences Between Journeyman and Master Electricians

Electricians are skilled professionals who provide essential services for us all. Without them, we’d have no one to power our lights, refrigerators, televisions or cell phones.

From the moment a student begins their quest to become an electrician, they’re given a title. An apprentice studies and trains to become a journeyman, who can then choose to pursue master status.

Journeymen have spent years perfecting the skills which allow them to work in domestic, commercial, and industrial facilities. They are fully capable professionals.

The difference between journeyman and master electrician is actually quite significant. If you’re an aspiring electrical worker, or a company wondering which type of electrician to hire, this guide will answer all your questions. Let’s get right into it…


  1. Experience & Training

Journeyman electricians are required to have 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience, which they do over a 4-year apprenticeship. Aspiring journeymen learn how to:

  • Interpret blueprints and mechanical drawings
  • Install and maintain electrical equipment and power supplies
  • Follow electrical codes and regulations
  • Understand fire alarm systems
  • Ground, bond and use protective devices


Once licensed, journeymen can then work towards becoming master electricians. This is done by completing an additional 4,000 hours of work experience over the course of 2 years, and passing the journeyman to master electrician exam. Masters need to show proficiency in:

  • Creating electrical blueprints and building plans
  • Solving complex electrical system failures
  • Monitoring, evaluating and coaching other electricians
  • Being the point of contact for owners and vendors
  • Planning and executing projects alongside architects, engineers, general contractors, and other tradespeople


Although journeyman and master electricians begin with the same training, this evolves as their careers progress. Master electricians need to understand a larger scope of electrical concepts, which is why journeymen need additional training in order to assume more responsibilities.


  1. Pay

Wages vary quite a bit depending on location. An electrician in Oregon makes significantly more than one in Florida, for example. This is partly due to the fact that salaries, regardless of industry, closely mirror local costs of living.

New York, Illinois, and Alaska are among the highest paying states for electricians, while Southern states are known for having more anti-union policies. The region is definitely something to consider for aspiring electricians, so do your research.


Journeyman vs Master Electrician - Salary


The national average wage for a journeyman electrician is about $27.73 per hour or $64,554 yearly.

Master electricians make an average of $31.95 an hour, or $74,408 a year.

As with any industry -- the more experience and training you have, the more money you’ll make. Master electricians need to be able to solve complex issues, train journeymen, and shoulder more responsibilities.

Which brings us to the next point...


  1. Responsibilities

While a journeyman and master electrician perform many of the same job duties, there are particular responsibilities that are specific to each of them. Certain functions require specialized training only a master can perform because they’ve spent the extra time to learn it.

Responsibilities of a journeyman electrician include:

  • Standard electrician duties, such as installing and repairing wires or electrical fixtures
  • Installing electrical components in walls, floors, and ceilings
  • Replacing or upgrading older electrical systems
  • Installing and testing electrical appliances

Responsibilities of a master electrician include:                          

  • Standard electrical duties, like installing and maintaining electrical systems
  • Working with general contractors to design blueprints and electrical plans
  • Overseeing electrical project management
  • Co-ordinating and negotiating with suppliers
  • Obtaining permits and ensuring electrical systems follow current building codes
  • Scheduling job tasks for journeyman and apprentice electricians
journeyman electrician vs master electrician



As you can see, there is quite a bit of extra training master electricians need to go through. Building the confidence to design entire electrical frameworks and mentor other electricians takes dedication but will benefit those willing to learn.

4. Entrepreneurship

One great perk about becoming a master electrician is that it allows you to open your own business.

You’ll first need to prove you have the capability to follow strict building codes, solve intricate electrical problems, and be able to tackle almost any job. Again, becoming a master electrician takes years of experience, problem-solving, and hard work.

Once you pass the master exam, you can run your own company and hire other electricians, or become a general contractor and operate independently.

While it’s true some journeyman electricians can work on their own, in a limited scope, the rules get murky depending where you are. It’s important to check local labor laws to determine what you can or can’t do as a journeyman.

Of course, it’s best to just work towards your master designation -- you’ll gain more skills, demand higher pay and it’ll open up more career opportunities in the future.

Journeyman vs Master Electrician -- What Employers Need to Know


If you’re looking to hire an electrician, you need to understand a few things before deciding on a master electrician vs journeyman and starting your search. Here are some key points you’ll want to consider:

  1. Do you need to create blueprints or mechanical plans? Although journeyman electricians are capable of reading and interpreting electrical drawings, they don’t create them. You’ll need a licensed master electrician for this.
  2. Do you require building permits? Whenever you make structural changes to a building or build from scratch, you have to apply for building permits. Regulations vary by state, but as a general rule, it’s best to hire a master electrician when permits are involved.
  3. Do you want someone involved with project management or to take a leadership role with other electricians? These are tasks suited to a master electrician.

Don’t let these points discourage you from hiring a journeyman. They’re certified, highly-skilled workers capable of handling most jobs. But when it comes to local laws, there are certain skill sets you’ll have to seek out that master electricians are best suited for.

Understanding rules and regulations can get confusing.

To make life easier, consider using a construction-specific electrical staffing agency like Elite Force when hiring an electrician.

Why worry about the little details when we have OSHA-certified experts to do that for you?

Over the past 5 decades, we’ve specialized in electrician placement. With a qualified pool of candidates to choose from, we’re able to match you with a qualified electrical worker to fit your unique project needs.


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