Most electricians start as apprentices and earn the rank of journeyman electrician after completing four years of training. At that point, they're usually competent enough in blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical codes, safety and first-aid to apply for state licenses. As a journeyman electrician, your primary responsibilities will be installing electric wiring in homes and buildings. In this job, you can expect to earn first-year wages averaging above $40,000 annually.
Wages and Qualifications
Journeymen electricians usually get paid by the hour. Some may earn overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week, for example. The average annual wages for a first-year journeyman electrician was $42,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. This equates to $20.19 per hour, based on a 40-hour week. In comparison, electricians averaged $53,030, or $25.50 per hour as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The minimum education requirement for this job is a high school diploma. To become a journeyman electrician, you must complete a four-year apprenticeship, which then qualifies you as a journey worker or journeyman electrician. During your apprenticeship training, you must complete 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid job training, according to the BLS. Other important qualifications are physical strength and stamina, color vision, and critical thinking, management, customer service and troubleshooting skills.
Wages by Region
In 2013, average annual wages for first-year journeymen electricians varied most significantly in the South, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the highest incomes, $67,000, in Washington, D.C., and lowest, $33,000, in Mississippi. Those in the West made the most in California and Alaska and least in Montana, at $48,000 and $34,000 per year, respectively. If you worked as a first-year journeyman electrician in Maine or Massachusetts, you'd earn $38,000 or $51,000, respectively, which represented the lowest and highest wages in the Northeast. In the Midwest, your income would range from $33,000 to $45,000 in South Dakota or Massachusetts, respectively.
Apprentice electricians' hourly and annual wages are usually 30 to 50 percent of fully trained electricians, reports the BLS. They then get raises as they become journey workers, and earn additional pay raises the longer they work in the industry. Those who start their own businesses likely have the greatest potential to earn more money. You may also earn more in certain industries as a first-year journeyman electrician. They made the highest annual wages, $81,800, working for business and computer schools, based on 2012 BLS data. They also earned relatively high wages, $75,430, in the natural gas distribution industry -- versus the industry average of $53,030 annually. As a first-year journeyman electrician, you'd also likely earn more, working for a business school or natural-gas distribution company.
The BLS projects a 23 percent increase in jobs for electricians, including first-year journeymen, from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than the 14 percent growth rate for all occupations. Homes and businesses in the 21st century require more wiring, which may increase job opportunities for you. Homes and businesses which use solar or wind power require the services of electricians for installation. Electricians will be required to link alternative energy sources to homes, businesses and power grids.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outllook Handbook: What Electricians Do
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outllook Handbook: How to Become an Electrician
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Electricians: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Electricians
- Bonner Electric, Inc.: Job Description: Journeyman Electrician
- Simply Hired: Average First-Year Electrician Journeyman Salaries
- Simply Hired: Average First-Year Electrician Journeyman Salaries in ME, NY and MA
- Simply Hired: Average First-Year Electrician Journeyman Salaries in MT, AK and CA
- Simply Hired: Average First-Year Electrician Journeyman Salaries in MS and DC
- Simply Hired: Average First-Year Electrician Journeyman Salaries in SD, IL and MN
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images