Written by Kacie Goff
As a licensed electrician, you get a bunch of benefits. You can work largely independently and you get paid pretty well. Plus, you work in an industry with lots of growth potential and a low unemployment rate.
If you’re in the electrical field for the long haul, you might be curious about upgrading your license from journeyman electrician to master electrician. How to become a master electrician varies from state to state, but there are some general things you can expect. Plus, once you get your master license, the process for maintaining it is usually pretty similar to the journeyman one. So, really, the only big hurdle is getting your master status in the first place.
If you’re wondering how to become a master electrician or the benefits of a master license, you can use this guide. We’ll teach you everything you need to know to decide if becoming a master electrician is right for you.
The title of master electrician will come with different perks depending on your state. Generally, though, you can expect:
As a master electrician, you won’t have to rely on anyone else to get or complete work. As a master electrician, you can work completely on your own. You could even hire a team beneath you if you wanted to.
As a journeyman, you do get some level of independence. You can most likely work for yourself (although that varies depending on state laws). But there are some limits.
Journeymen, for example, usually can’t pull certain types of permits or design or supervise the installation of a full-scale system. For bigger projects, a master electrician needs to be involved. And if you’re a master electrician, you can meet that need — and earn more money for it. This brings us to another perk of acquiring your master license.
Because master electricians have more experience, they can get paid more for their work. Indeed reports that journeyman electricians earn about $28 an hour, while master electricians earn more than $31.50. Those extra few bucks add up throughout the year. By getting the higher license level, you basically give yourself a raise.
It depends on your state’s requirements, but we have good news. If you’re wondering how to become a master electrician, there’s pretty much one thing you need to do and it’s really easy: wait.
That’s because most states won’t let someone get a master electrician license until they have a certain number of work hours or work years. Some states require about 10,000 experience hours, while others say you need a certain number of years working in construction or as an electrician in particular. Some states require that you have hours focusing on certain tasks, like layout planning and installation, in recent years, too.
All told, the experience you need really depends on where you live. Generally, you’re looking at somewhere between two and six years of experience. But don’t worry. You can get that experience with your journeyman license, earning a solid living while you let your hours add up.
Again, it depends on your state. If you’re wondering how to become a master electrician, we recommend checking with the state authority that issued your journeyman license.
In some cases, you might need to prove your hours or years of experience in a certain way, like with a signed form from your supervisor. You also might need to pass a master electrician exam or take some pre-license education.
Your state might also have tiers or classes of master electrician licenses. Look into them to decide which tier is right for you. That way, you can be prepared to meet those specific requirements.
As you learn more about your state's requirements, you might notice that not all states issue master licenses. (In fact, Kansas doesn’t offer statewide licenses at all.) As we’ve said, regulations and license offerings really vary depending on what your state department has decided is right in your jurisdiction. Even if they don’t offer master licenses, they probably offer different license types. If you’ve got plenty of industry experience, look into getting the highest license type to get the autonomy and better pay we mentioned above.
We hate to sound like a broken record, but we’ll say it again: it depends on your state.
Research your specific requirements, but know that you don’t need to be too worried. Several states only require a bit more electrician CE to keep your master license in place, and some states require the same number of CE hours whether you have your journeyman or master electrician license.
What’s more, the actual renewal process is probably more or less the same no matter your license type. In most states, both masters and journeymen renew by:
More good news: even if your state does require more CE hours if you have a master license, getting those hours can be really convenient. Several states have approved online, on-demand electrical continuing education. That means you can take your hours whenever you have spare time, and you can even knock them out from your phone.
All told, figuring out how to become a master electrician will require you to do a little homework so you can understand your state’s specific requirements. But once you do, assuming you have the required experience, the actual process to get your master license shouldn’t be too strenuous. You’ll probably just need to prove your work hours, although you might be required to complete extra steps, like passing an exam. And once you get the master status, don’t forget to stay on top of the renewal process so you can keep it.