What is a journeyman electrician? A journeyman in any trade is someone who has put in his time to become proficient at that trade and is able to do the work in a professional manner. A journeyman electrician today is that person who has mastered his trade and knows the job well. To get to this level as an electrician you must pass a licensing exam as well as having the required experience along with some formal education.
The first thing to consider when starting out is to evaluate what knowledge that you already have, having a basic understanding of electricity is helpful but not always required as you will be taking formal classes in electricity anyway, especially if you are able to get into an apprenticeship program of some type. The courses that you will be taking will cover all of the basics and everything leading up to the NEC code exams. If you do get into an apprenticeship program you will be required to take additional classes depending upon which electrical field that the apprenticeship is in, such as construction, maintenance or industrial fields.
The electrical field is one occupation where you are required to have experience in the field to become licensed. “Wait” you say, “how can a new guy start out if you are required to have experience”. Well this is where that apprenticeship program comes in handy. You can get your experience by working as an apprentice, or if not an apprentice then maybe as an electricians helper. As long as whoever is in charge will sign off on you work experience then that can be used to satisfy the requirement. Getting that experience however is very important it teaches you things that you cannot learn in a class room like being able to work safely with others.
When I went through the apprenticeship program we were required to have 8000 hours of on the job training as well as 600 hours of formal class room training, and part of that class room training was preparing for the NEC code test. This is what just about all licensing tests are based upon. The NEC code book, put out by the NFPA or national fire protection association, covers just about everything that you are allowed to do as an electrician and how to do it. You will probably be referencing quite a bit during your studies and later as an electrician.
So all in all that is a glimpse of what it’s like getting to the journeyman electrician level. If you enjoyed this article you may want to have a look at our Q and A article where we interviewed an electrician and got a few answers about electrician training and what is required.