How Long Does It Take to Become a Master Electrician?

Type of Electricians

There are three levels of electricians: apprentices, journeymen, and masters. Many electricians are happy to remain at the journeyman stage, but for those who are interested in a master electrician salary, know that there are some good reasons to put in all that hard work.

Let's compare the three stages:

Apprentice

In this stage, you gain hands-on skills under the supervision of more experienced people. As an apprentice, you will be paid, though certainly not as much as a more qualified electrician. You may or may not also be taking courses at a trade school, and some electricians skip trade school altogether and go straight to an apprenticeship. However, you will need at least a high school diploma or GED to become an apprentice.

Journeyman

If you've been an apprentice for at least two years, you can move on to become a journeyman. As a journeyman, you will have an electrician's license and be able to work without very much supervision. You will be able to work for others, and journeymen can make a comfortable living.

Master

A master electrician has accomplished both of the previous two stages and has a master electrician's license and extensive skills. A master electrician has been through extra coursework and is qualified to do the highest-paying jobs and supervise journeymen and apprenticed electricians.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrician?

Becoming a licensed electrician will take about four or five years. If you have attended trade school or any similar program, or if you have experience in construction or the military, you may be able to shortcut some of the steps. If you finished a technical school program, for example, you will be able to be an apprentice for a shorter time.

Most people need about six years to become a journeyman, and the average to reach master electrician is seven years, though it may be as many as 10 for some people.

The Master Electrician Exam

Even if you have a trade school degree and have put in all the time as an apprentice and journeyman, you cannot claim the title of master electrician until you have passed the master electrician exam. This exam will vary by state, but it will test your knowledge of building codes and overall competence as an electrician.

You will need to be very familiar with at least one of these three codes:

• National Electrical Code (Developed by the NFPA)
• National Electrical Safety Code (Developed by the IEEE)
• The International Building Code/Fire Code/Energy Conservation Code (Developed by the ICC)

The best way to prepare for your test will depend on your learning style. There are test prep courses, and though they cost some money, they are usually worth it. These courses vary from intensive and highly directed to largely self-taught, so be sure to explore your options.

Reciprocity

If you have certain areas of the country where you definitely want to work, or areas where you definitely do not want to work, it's worth considering getting your exam in a state that will give you the right to work in your area of choice. For example, the master electrician exam in Connecticut does not have reciprocity with any other state. In contrast, the master electrician exam in Colorado is accepted in 12 other states. The Florida exam is accepted by three other states, and so on.

So, for example, if you know you really want to work in New England but aren't sure exactly where and want to keep your options open, rather than take the test in Connecticut, even if you live there, you might want to consider taking the test in Maine. Then your test will be valid in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Oregon.

Is It Worth It?

Becoming an electrician ensures a stable job future for yourself, but one of the biggest reasons people move on to become a master electrician is because it allows them to become their own boss. Once you have the master electrician's license and the skills and experience that comes from years of work, you can open your own electrician business.

Specialties to Consider

There are numerous types of electricians, so it's worth considering what interests you most as well as what is in the highest demand in your area.

Residential and Commercial

Residential and commercial electricians are probably the most well-known, as they work on homes, apartments, and businesses to install, maintain, and troubleshoot electrical systems.

Construction

Electricians at a construction site are responsible for installing electrical systems in brand-new buildings. To work in this area, you need an especially excellent grasp of all the building codes; not just those that are specific to electric work.

Industrial

Industrial electricians command some of the highest salaries because they can install highly complex systems in chemical plants, manufacturing facilities, and other large and complex industrial buildings.

Automotive

Automotive electricians specialize in the ignition systems, lighting, and other electronics of modern vehicles. As vehicles become more complex, these systems do, too, and this is an area of expertise with a lot of promise for the future.

Avionics

Avionic electricians know all about the electrical systems on aircraft and install, inspect, and troubleshoot these important elements of modern aircraft.

A master electrician salary is high compared to other lines of work, and the other rewards for reaching this level are equally enticing. Once you are a master electrician, you can open your own business, and, when you do, you'll want software optimized to support electrical contractor businesses. Contact Servicebox today to learn more!

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