The trades world is just as rewarding as it is complex. With the various avenues available to learn a given craft, the industry jargon, and the different tiers of a specific job—starting your “journey” can be a bit overwhelming.

To aid you in this endeavor, we’re here to explain the answer to the question, “What is a journeyman?” Additionally, we’ll explain the “standard” processes someone goes through to become an apprentice journeyman and then eventually a master. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. First things first.

What is a journeyman?

In regulated trades (think electricians, carpenters, plumbers, etc.), it’s imperative that you learn the job the right way. And, while you’re learning, your technical title is an “apprentice,” or:

“A person who is learning trade skills from a licensed and skilled mentor, having agreed to work at low wages for a fixed period.”

Once this training period and the apprenticeship program is over, and you’ve learned the fundamentals of the craft, you become a “journeyman.” Speaking generally, a journeyman can work anywhere within their state and can do so with autonomy. Many are unionized, and the official title of a “journeyman” means they can also train apprentices.

The journeyman… journey

To use electricians as an example (and is often the case, as the word “journeyman” is often tied to that specific trade), there are three different rankings within the trade. They go as follows:

The apprentice – This is someone that is learning beneath a journeyman or a program, still in the throes of fundamentals. Typically, they will learn through being at the job site and get hands-on training while simultaneously doing some form of school (in person or online).

The journeyman – This is someone that has completed their apprenticeship, acquired the right certifications, passed their licensing exam, and can now work in their state (as well as take on an apprentice journeyman themselves).

The master – A master craftsman is someone that employs journeymen and who has experience and skill that far surpasses their counterparts. While journeymen do not need direct supervision (within the confines of the electrician trade), they cannot work independently of a master.

This ranking hierarchy is quite common within the trades and is used as the roadmap for the “tradesmen journey.”

How do I become a journeyman?

The path to becoming a journeyman usually goes as follows:

The apprenticeship

Depending on the type of craft you want to learn, there is an apprenticeship for virtually every type of trade. Additionally, all “official” apprenticeships are registered through the U.S. Department of Labor.

To name a few, there are apprenticeships for:

  • Carpentry
  • Welding
  • Painting
  • Roofing
  • Flooring
  • Landscaping
  • Electrical work
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

Additionally, you can expect an apprenticeship to last around two years. Most “official” apprenticeships require that you’re at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma (or GED), and that you have a solid foundation of mathematics.

Pro tip: Almost every trade relies on some degree of mathematics, if only, at the very least, to make accurate measurements. As you embark on your journeyman quest, then pay particular attention to this subject. It will come in handy (pun intended.)

Lastly, the cost associated with a given apprenticeship differs from state to state, profession to profession, and program to program. Should you want to find an apprenticeship near you, use the countrywide “apprenticeship finder.”

Completing the apprenticeship

The effort and processes involved in completing an apprenticeship will also vary from state to state (even county to county). For instance, let’s take California into consideration. If you want to become an electrician in The Golden State, then:

You have to complete 4,800 hours of work to become a residential electrician You need to pass a state-mandated written exam to obtain your license And you’ll need at least 8,000 hours to become a master electrician

The license is then provided by the Electrical Contractors’ State Licensing Board.

Note: This is only one form of an apprenticeship process, of which there are thousands. It’s paramount that you research your specific craft, how to become an apprentice within that field and the requirements of your state. This will give you a better idea of what you can expect throughout the training program journey and what skills you need.

Stepping into the journeyman role

Make no mistake, despite journeyman being that middle tier of the hierarchy, they are typically well-paid, respected, and extremely knowledgeable. Usually, a journeyman will work tirelessly to become a master craftsman, or they’ll stick to a few (if not just one) contractors and work with a couple of apprentices.

Another perk of being a journeyman is that, often, to join a union, you must first achieve this rank. If you’re someone who wants to unionize—no matter what trade you choose—you’ll need to be considered a journeyman for eligibility.

Thimble: coverage for you

Being that you want to work in the trades, it should be no surprise to you that the industry is inherently risky. From chaotic and volatile job sites, power tools, to working with electricity, the reality is that things can and do go wrong.

That’s why we’re here. At Thimble, we offer general liability insurance for the journeyman that wants to help protect their practice in the case of third-party

  • Bodily injury
  • Personal Injury
  • Property Damage

Additionally, considering that you’re just starting out and probably spent a nice chunk of change on your apprenticeship education, we structure our policies so they only work when you work. What does that mean, exactly? It means that you can choose policies by the hour, day, or month, ensuring that you’re only ever paying for coverage exactly when you need it. Download the Thimble mobile app, input some information relevant to your business and the coverage required, get a quote, click ‘Purchase’, and have a Certificate of Insurance in your inbox, all in 60 seconds.

Lastly, you can add as many Additional Insureds as you’d like—completely free of charge. If your job falls through, you can cancel your policy an hour prior to when the terms are set to begin (penalty-free).

We know that the journey of journeymen is no easy feat. You’ve sweat. You’ve bled. There have probably been tears involved. You’ve given hours upon hours to your craft—let Thimble start working for you as you become a master.