So you want to be an electrician?
If you're thinking of becoming an electrician, it's important to note the three different stages and skill levels.
There is of course the journeyman, an electrician licensed to work on his own, and the master electrician, licensed to acquire permits and knowledgeable of building codes. but before you can get to either of those stages, you must first work as an apprentice.
The apprenticeship stage
Whether you take courses or not, you're still going to have to cut your teeth as an apprentice. An apprentice works typically four years in the position and must be under the direct supervision of a master electrician. You can either apply for the position with the National Contractors Association, with a local union, or you can seek out your own independent master electrician.
In the beginning, tasks may be more menial like running errands, delivering materials and just getting to know the business. As time goes on and you get ready to take your journeyman's test, you will find you need to prove your logged hours on the job, w-4 forms, perhaps even a signed letter from your boss.
The journeyman electrician
A journeyman electrician is someone who has logged the proper hours as an apprentice and has passed his certification test. A journeyman is licensed to work on his own without the direct supervision of a master electrician. Tasks include: installing wiring, outlets and fixtures.
A journeyman can also do service work and troubleshoot, but one thing a journeyman cannot do is pull permits. A journeyman must still follow the plans of the master electrician, whether that be in a residential, commercial, or industrial setting.
As a journeyman, you will start seeing the good money coming, perhaps $30 per hour or even better. You may also be tasked by your master electrician to supervise apprentices as they advance in their training. The most important aspect of becoming a journeyman is that you now can work on your own without supervision.
The master electrician
A master electrician of course is the one who calls the shots. A master electrician is not only permitted to work on his own, he is the one who can bid for jobs, pull permits, lay out wiring systems and installations. He is responsible for routing circuits and determining the types of circuit breakers needed. A master electrician can own his own business or work for another company.
A master electrician can have a limited or an unlimited license. In a limited roll, the master electrician can perform only specified types of work. One example ight be that he can perform tasks on heating and cooling systems only.
The unlimited license allows the master electrician to perform any electrical work needed as long as he is in his local area. An unlimited license means that the electrician has already demonstrated a mastery in all types of electrical work.
Here are some of the books we recommend when studying for your journeyman’s exam.