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How to Get an Electrical Journeyman's License

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You don't have to have a college degree to get an electrical journeyman's license. However, electricians are highly skilled technical workers, and they must complete a multiyear apprenticeship and related technical training. Most states require electricians to be licensed. The specific requirements vary from state to state.

Journeyman Electrician Job Description

Journeyman electricians are responsible for safely installing, repairing and maintaining the electrical wiring and devices that power our homes, offices, businesses and factories. Electricians use a variety of hand and power tools like wire strippers and drills. An electrician must be able to read blueprints to locate wiring and equipment. She has to know the applicable building codes and safety regulations.

In new buildings, journeyman electricians install wiring, light fixtures circuit breakers, control systems and devices such as motors and elevators. Electricians often have to work in cramped quarters in existing buildings to replace or repair all of these devices. Some electricians work as building inspectors. A journeyman electrician is also responsible for supervising and training apprentices and electrician's helpers.

Electrician Education and Training

The training for an electrical journeyman combines four to five years of full-time work as an apprentice with classroom technical courses in electrical theory, building codes, mathematics and related subjects. You need a high school diploma or GED, with one year of algebra, to qualify for most apprenticeship programs. You must also pass an aptitude test and a drug screening test. Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by unions and electrical contractors' associations. Some prospective electricians take classes at a technical school and receive credit toward an apprenticeship. An electrician's helper may move up to an apprenticeship program.

Getting the Journeyman's License

An electrician's license is mandatory in most states before you start working. To receive the license, you must pass a written examination. Exams are specific to each state because they cover that state's regulations. You can find a link to your state's licensing regulations on the National Electrical Contractors Association website. After you get a journeyman's electrician license, you can expect ongoing training through continuing education programs. These are usually required so electricians stay current on regulations, safety procedures and changing technology. Some electricians take extra training and earn certifications to work with specialized equipment like fire alarm systems and elevators.

Electrician Career Prospects

The median salary for electricians in 2016 was $52,720. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the lowest paid 10 percent earned less than $31,800 annually. The best-paid 10 percent were paid more than $90,420. The BLS also says that apprentices usually start at 40 to 50 percent of the going rate for journeyman electricians. There is plenty of opportunity if you want to become an electrician. The number of jobs is expected to grow by 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the national average for all types of jobs.

  • License process is for the State of Texas, and other states' processes may vary. See the Resources section for information about other states.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.