With the construction industry experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, electricians have been in high demand. This is great news for electrical professionals, who benefit from a lucrative career with many future opportunities. Becoming an electrician requires no formal college education and they’ll always be a crucial part of the industry, which equates to a steady and consistent stream of work.
But what exactly is a journeyman electrician? Here’s what you need to know about their level of responsibility, their salary range, and how to become one.
What is a journeyman electrician?
To be a journeyman electrician means to be on the second level of seniority in a three-phase electrical career. The stages are as follows: apprentice, journeyman, and master electrician. While some journeymen work for electrical companies, others are self-employed.
Journeymen may work on residential, commercial, or industrial properties, each of which comes with its own set of responsibilities.
Those who work on residential buildings operate indoors and outdoors as independent contractors or as part of a company, working on apartments, houses, and cottages to install and maintain electrical systems.
Meanwhile, journeymen on commercial properties are usually hired to work on construction job sites or in a company’s department on an as-needed basis for offices and retail spaces. Commercial work can include both repairs and installations, with a variety of responsibilities.
Industrial work for journeymen takes place in factories, mines, and power plants, involving installing and maintaining electrical equipment and infrastructure.
What is an electrical journeyman responsible for?
The exact responsibilities of a journeyman can vary depending on their location. Regardless, all electricians are expected to carry out the best practices for electrical safety and adhere to the National Electric Code (NEC).
Most of a journeyman’s work involves installing, connecting, inspecting, repairing, and maintaining electrical systems and components, including wiring, outlets, appliances, electrical switches, circuit breakers, security systems, and lights.
Some more specific responsibilities include:
- Diagnosing and communicating issues with electrical systems
- Reading and implementing blueprint plans
- Upkeeping power lines and poles
- Maintaining records of labor and materials
- Monitoring inventory, including equipment
- Training, mentoring, and providing support to apprentice electricians
- Sending customers quotes for electrical work
How to become a journeyman electrician
Thinking about becoming a journeyman electrician? Here’s what you’ll need.
Experience and training
All journeyman and master electricians must be licensed to legally work. Some attend technical school, while others are trained through an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships often last three to five years and are offered by various organizations, local unions, or licensed electricians willing to mentor and have someone work under them.
Apprentices must track their hours and complete 4,000 to 8,000 hours on the job (depending on the program) before qualifying to take a journeyman’s exam. After that, 4,000 additional hours of working as a journeyman are needed before progressing to a master electrician through another test.
Skills and traits needed
Besides technical skills (i.e., being familiar with electrical codes/systems and practical things like wiring, power tools, and safety procedures), journeymen should also possess a few traits to ensure that they’re successful and can carry out their day-to-day tasks. Here are a few of them.
- Physical strength and endurance – Electrical work requires a lot of standing and physical exertion, including operating in small spaces and carrying heavy equipment, so it’s important for journeymen to remain physically fit to reduce strain.
- Attention to detail and problem-solving abilities – Troubleshooting and repair are a large part of the job. For this, journeymen should have an eye for detail while being able to solve complex problems as they arise.
- Organization – Maintaining records and having a filing system for things like inventory lists and job logs is crucial, making organization another important aspect of the job.
- Communication skills – While some projects allow electricians to work alone, many require correspondence with customers, supervisors, and apprentices, so a journeyman should know how to work and collaborate with others.
- The ability to mentor – Although it’s not required, at some point or another, you may find yourself with an apprentice working under you, so it helps if you’re someone who’s willing to train, teach, and offer advice to less experienced workers.
How much does an electrical journeyman make?
According to Indeed, journeyperson electricians in the United States make an average base salary of around $61,000 per year based on data reported by users and job postings from companies. Glassdoor shows an average base pay of $68,000 for journeyman electricians, fluctuating based on years of experience and location.
Pay can also vary depending on the industry. For example, journeymen can work in construction, power generation, telecommunications, and manufacturing. Here are the industries with the highest-paying rates:
- Governments – Government electrical jobs involve working with public power structures.
- Construction – Construction jobs see electricians implementing plans from blueprints for new buildings. Government construction jobs pay especially well due to adherence to prevailing wage laws.
- Energy – Working in the energy industry as an electrician means working with wind turbines and power lines.
- Automobile – Electricians in the automobile industry work primarily with auto electrical systems.
- Technology – Electricians in technology work with robotics and other innovative machines.
Journeymen working for an electrical company also benefit from generous overtime pay, paid holidays and vacations, and medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, making this trade quite attractive for its benefits.
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