Becoming a master electrician means reaching the very top of your profession. A master electrician means being your own boss. It means being able to pull permits and bid on jobs. It also means a lot more money, whether you plan on starting your own company or working for someone else. But becoming a master electrician is no short order. It takes years and lots of hard work. Still, if you do aspire to reach the top of your field, here's how you do it.
The first step of course, like with any profession, is to start learning your trade. This begins either in the classroom, or with on-the job training. Most community colleges and vocational schools offer 1-year educational courses. In some high schools these days they even offer vocational training.
Classes in becoming an electrician will teach you the basics, but there's no way to learn a trade quite like doing it yourself. Whether you opt for classes or not, you're going to have to enter into an apprenticeship position for an average period of four years. This of course varies by state, but in most places your one year in the classroom will be counted toward your apprenticeship.
As an apprentice, you must be under the direct supervision of a master electrician. Landing a job as an apprentice, or an electrician helper, is easier these days than ever before. You can either start at your local union, or simply call on an independent master electrician in your own area. In most cases, you'll find these master electricians to be quite open you. Remember, they had to go through the same thing themselves.
As your apprenticeship enters its final year it's time to start think about taking your exam for your journeyman's exam. You'll need the right books (see 5 Steps to Becoming a Journeyman Electrician), but most of all you're going to need to learn the codes. The NEC (National Electrical Code) is the bible of the industry.
But taking the test is just one of steps. You'll also need to prove you've been working in the industry for anywhere from 6000 to 8000 hours. You can do this with your W-4, pay stubs, and even a letter from your boss.
While in your apprenticeship you will be what is known a "Helper." Getting started as a helper means basically being a gopher at first. You will be required to run errands, gather materials, really just basic introduction work, but it will help you to get to know the business first hand.
After your apprenticeship is up, it's time to hit the books and hit them hard. Never underestimate the degree of difficulty of the exam. Some must take the exam several times before they pass, but if you have the proper study guides (see below) you should be able to pass the test on the first try.
Once you get your journeyman's license, then you're ready to start your path to becoming a master electrician.
Reaching the top
Just as you had to put in your time as an apprentice, so too will you have to make a substantial time investment in your journeyman status. This means anywhere from 5-8 years as a journeyman electrician. But don't be despaired. Life as a journeyman is good. The pay is good and you are able to work on your own without supervision.
The final step in getting your master electricians license is once again the exam. Again, be sure to put in your time when preparing for the exam. In some states, applicants can only take the test twice and if they wish to take it again are subject to review.
The good news is that once you become a master electrician, that's when the good money starts rolling in. Master electricians make well over $100,000 per year, and that's just working for someone else.
As a master electrician you can now start performing all the tasks that could lead one day to you owning your own business. As stated before, being a master electrician means the ability to pull permits, bid on jobs, draw-up plans, and so much more. Really, now as a master electrician the sky is the limit.
Here are some of the books we recommend when studying for your master’s exam.