What Is a Master Electrician? How Do You Become One?
March 17, 2021
Master electricians are leaders in the field—they oversee the installation, maintenance, and repair of some of the most complex electrical systems. Both journeyperson electricians and electrician apprentices work under the supervision of a master electrician.
The typical path to becoming a master electrician requires training and extensive experience. Typically, someone just starting out is classified as a trainee electrician or an apprentice electrician—depending on whether you’re bound to a specific employer or not as part of your training—before becoming a journeyperson. After you complete the required hours and get the experience you need, you can become classified as a master electrician, the highest job status in the trade.
Master electricians supervise the job site, applying their years of accumulated electrical knowledge and hands-on experience.
After completing tens of thousands of hours of on-the-jobsite experience as an apprentice and journeyperson, master electricians have the skills and knowledge to supervise a job site. While journeyperson electricians may have similar abilities, a key difference is that only master electricians can pull work permits and supervise the entire job site. In California, only C-10 licensed electrical contractors, the equivalent of a master electrician, can bid on jobs worth more than $500. Master electricians can also own a private electrical business.
In general, master electricians have a thorough understanding of:
- Practices, tools, and equipment of the trade
- Interpreting and developing diagrams and schematics
- Local, state, and federal electrical codes
- All safety regulates, policies, and procedures
If you want to become a master electrician, you’ll first need to get the required training and on-the-job experience as a journeyperson.
You can’t become an electrician overnight—and you definitely can’t become a master electrician overnight. But not to worry! If you decide to pursue a career in the electrical field with hopes of becoming a master electrician, there is a very clear career path.
We mentioned above that your first start out your career as an electrical trainee or apprentice, so your very first step is finding a state-approved electrical trade school. Once you apply and become a student, it’s just about getting the required training hours out of the way. In California, you must complete a minimum of 720 hours to finish the course and receive your electrical training card. Then you are eligible to take the California General Electrician’s Certification Exam, also known as the journeyperson’s test.
So now you’re a journeyperson electrician. What next? You need on the job experience—at least one year of it, as a journeyperson, before you can apply for a C-10 license from the California Contractors State License Board. You’ll also need to pass a law and business exam, as well as a trade exam. If you want to own your own business, you will need to submit documentation proving you have workers’ compensation insurance.
No matter the stage of your career—whether you are just starting out, or you have worked in the electrical field for a few years now—with some hard work and dedication you can become a fully licensed master electrician. At that point, you will be your own boss of sorts, supervising the job site and managing journeypersons and apprentices who have less experience than you.
If you are ready to begin your electrical career, I-TAP is the place to start! We offer flexible 6-month electrical trainee and 5-year apprenticeship programs that get you the education needed to take the electrical industry by storm. Contact us today to learn more and apply!
Ready to learn a skilled trade and work on some of the most exciting commercial construction projects in California and beyond?
I-TAP is an electrical apprenticeship program that helps you find your passion, grow your skills, and place you in the perfect electrician job.