The Journeyman Electrician Exam

If you have found yourself reaching the end of your apprenticeship as an electrician, you might be excited to start a new phase of your career by becoming a journey-level electrician. Journeyman electricians are the bridge between apprenticeship and master electricians. It’s a stage in your career where you begin to work more independently, while still under the auspices of the master.

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However, before you can begin your career as a journeyman, you will need to take specific steps in order to earn the title. Although the regulations can vary by state and locality, you will not be considered a journeyman in most locations unless you have passed an examination and acquired a license

The journeyman electrician exam is designed to test the knowledge and competence of a journeyperson. Because journeymen have a lot more independence and responsibility than apprentice electricians, it is essential to demonstrate that knowledge prior to becoming authorized to perform electrical work independently. These exams are primarily based on electrical codes, which can vary from location to location. However, you can expect all of the exams to reference the National Electrical Code (NEC), upon which many local electrical codes are based. Having a solid knowledge of the NEC is the best way to prepare for your test, no matter where you intend to practice. 

In addition to the NEC, which is regulated by the National Fire Protection Association, other organizations have established specific electrical codes, which could be included on your examination. These include codes developed by two other organizations. One of these is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which publishes the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) every five years. The other is the International Code Council (ICC), which provides codes and resources for building safety professionals through the development of the International Building Code (IBC), the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). 

It will be critical for you to know which of the above standards you will be tested on in the areas where you wish to become qualified to practice, so that you can adjust your studying to your specific test. In order to find out which codes you need to know, you can start with your local or statewide licensing agency or oversight board. If you have acquired training through an electrician union such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or the National Electrical Contractors Association, you may already have access to the information through their resources. Additionally, those who have trained through a local trade school or community college may be able to attend a locally focused review course as a part of the curriculum. For more information on the state by state guidelines, keep reading below.

State-By-State Requirements for Journeyman Electricians

As mentioned above, you will want to research the exam requirements in the areas in which you plan to work. Some information about the various codes you need to study to pass the exam given in your state or local area is included in the chart below. It’s recommended that you supplement this information by consulting your local professional licensing board for particulars.

StateExam Required?Statewide or Local?Exam ReferencesReciprocity With Other States
AlabamaYesStatewideNEC, IBC, IFCAK, GA, LA, NC, SC, TN, VA
AlaskaYesStatewideNEC, NESCAK, CO, ID, MN, MT, NE, ND, SD, UT, WA, WY
ArizonaYesLocalNECCA, NE, UT
ArkansasYesStatewideNECAL, LA, MS, TN
CaliforniaYes, in specialty areas (general, residential, fire/life, non-residential lighting and voice-data-videoStatewideCA Electrical code (based on NEC), CA Fire code (based on IFC), CA Building Code (based on IBC)AZ, NV, UT
ColoradoYes (Exam is open-book)StatewideNECAK, AR, ID, MN, NE, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
ConnecticutYes (Exam is open-book)StatewideConsumer Protection Department, Electrical Board of Occupational Licensing (both are similar to NEC)Not Applicable
DelawareYes (Exam is open-book)StatewideNECNot Applicable
District of ColumbiaYes (Exam is open-book)StatewideNECNot Applicable
FloridaYesLocal (county jurisdictions)NECAL, GA, NC
GeorgiaNoNot ApplicableNot ApplicableAL, FL, NC, SC
HawaiiYesStatewideNECNot Applicable
IdahoYesStatewideNECAK, CO, MN, MT, NE, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
IllinoisYesLocalNECNot Applicable
IndianaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECNot Applicable
IowaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NEC, IBCNot Applicable
KansasYesLocal, but the Block and Associates exam is recognized statewideKansas City Fire Prevention Code, NECNot Applicable
KentuckyYesStatewideNECOH
LouisianaYesStatewideNECAL, AR, MS, NC, TN, TX, UT
MaineYesStatewideNECMA, NH, OR, VT
MarylandYesLocalMaryland Building Performance Standards (MBPS), Maryland Building Rehabilitation Code (MBRC)   (Both follow NEC)DE, VA
MassachusettsYesStatewideMassachusetts Electrical Code (based on NEC)ME, NH, OR, VT, WA
MichiganYesStatewideMichigan Electrical Code (based on NEC)Not Applicable
MinnesotaYes (to become an “A” journeyman electrician)StatewideMinnesota State Building Code, NEC, NESCAL, CO, ID, MO, NE, ND, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
MississippiYesLocal (some jurisdictions)Based on code requirements in each jurisdictionAL, AK, LA, TN
MissouriYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECNot Applicable
MontanaYesStatewideNECAL, AK, CO, ID, MN, NE, ND, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
NebraskaYesStatewideNECAL, AK, CO, ID, MN, MT, NH, NM, ND, OK, SD, UT, WA, WY
NevadaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECNot Applicable
New HampshireYesLocal jurisdictions require a written or oral examNEC, NESCME, MA, VT
New JerseyNoNot ApplicableNot ApplicableDE
New MexicoYesStatewideNEC, New Mexico Electrical CodeNot Applicable
New YorkYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECNot Applicable
North CarolinaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NEC, North Carolina Building Code CouncilAL, FL, GA, LA, MS, SC, VA, WV
North DakotaYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, ID, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, OK, UT, WA, WY
OhioYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECKY, WV
OklahomaYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, SD, UT, WA, WY
OregonYesStatewideNEC, Oregon Electrical Specialty CodeAK, ID, ME, MA, MT, UT, WY
PennsylvaniaYesLocal (some jurisdictions)NECCT, plus reciprocation may be recognized locally
Puerto RicoYesStatewideNECNot Applicable
Rhode IslandYesStatewideNEC, Rhode Island State Building CodeNot Applicable
South CarolinaNot required, but optional through the Municipal Association of South CarolinaStatewideNECAL, GA, MS, NC, TN, TX, UT
South DakotaYesStatewideNEC, NESCAL, AK, CO, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, OK, UT, WA, WY
TennesseeYes
Local (some jurisdictions)NEC, State fire Marshall Regulation No. 15AL, AK, LA, MI
TexasYesStatewideNECNot Applicable
UtahYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, ID, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, OK, OR, SD, WA, WY
VermontYesStatewideNECME, NH
VirginiaYesStatewideNEC, ICCMD, NC
WashingtonYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, ID, MT, NE, ND, MA, MN, SD, UT, WY
West VirginiaYesStatewideNECNC, OH, VA
WisconsinYesStatewideNEC, Chapter 16 of Wisconsin Administrative RulesNot Applicable
WyomingYesStatewideNECAK, AR, CO, MN, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, OK, SD, UT, WA

How to Pass the Journeyman Electrician Test

Acquiring journeyperson credentials is an essential step in your career; therefore, it is vital to study extensively prior to taking your examination. This may mean investing in journeyman electrician test prep classes, taking a journeyman electrician practice test or buying a journeyman electrician study guide. When you’re considering your best options for exam preparation, you should consider your preferences, learning style and test-taking abilities in addition to the type of test you will be taking.

Since most tests and local building codes are based on NEC standards, it’s likely that any journeyman electrician study guide you purchase will help you be prepared to answer questions based on NEC standards. However, you may want to specifically research how to study for the NEC test, take an NEC practice test or attend classes for NEC exam prep if you think your test will only include NEC-specific questions. Also, if you live in a state that tests on local building codes, you may be able to acquire study guides and practice tests that are specific to the regulations you need to learn.

Although enrolling in preparatory training can be costly, it is worthwhile if it helps you to pass your exam successfully. Also, there are some lower-cost or free resources you can access, especially if you are a self-directed learner. However, if you are someone who needs individualized attention, it may be best to invest in a full training course.

A few of the potential resources for those preparing for a journeyman electrical examination include the following:

  • Electrical Exam Seminars offers seminars for journeyman electricians and is one of the only programs to provide students with live support. They boast a 95 percent first-time pass rate, with free repeat attendance until you pass. The program promises personalized, instructor-led sessions scheduled in the daytime or evening and includes online practice testing. Training can be tailored to local and state examinations. 
  • Mike Holt Enterprises offers a self-paced examination prep course. In addition to textbooks and DVDs, the program provides simulated practice exams and an exam workbook. Training for local and state journeyman exams is available, with additional training in basic techniques and NEC guidelines. Books include illustrations and instructions for various methods, which can be coupled with the DVD instructions. 

  • Jade Learning offers resources for exam review with practice questions and full-length practice exams. Since courses are self-paced, this is a good choice for self-directed learners. Additionally, state-specific exam prep is available for those in California, North Carolina and Texas, with 600-question, state-specific modules available for 17 states. 

  • AE Tech Electrical Training Center offers a five-day course for journeyman electrician examination prep. The course is based on the Electrician’s Exam Preparation textbook by Mike Holt and promises to prepare students to obtain a passing score through comprehensive instruction on code calculations and tables. 

  • Electrical Exam Academy offers a study guide, practice exams and online resources to help you study for your exam. The site includes instruction on the various calculations needed and laws governing work in the electrical field as well as instructions for exam preparation. 

Your Journey to Becoming a Journeyman Electrician and Beyond

Although moving from your apprenticeship to journey-level takes work, the transition is well worth it. In fact, according to payscale.com, journeyperson electricians can expect to make, on average, over $10.00 more per hour than apprentices. Journeymen can also expect to work more independently, supervise apprentices and carry more responsibility on the job. In addition, the in-depth knowledge of building codes you need to pass your exam will be useful as you advance through your career.

Becoming a journeyman is a step along the way to becoming a master electrician. In general, you should expect to complete at least two years as a journeyperson and take an additional exam before you are qualified to become a master electrician. Masters are the only tradespeople who can work with complete independence and own a business. So, if business ownership is part of your future plans, taking the step into journey-level work is crucial to your career.

According to payscale.com, master electricians make an average of $4.00 more per hour than journeymen electricians. However, business ownership has the potential to increase earnings substantially.

Regardless of where you want your career path to take you, this next stage is an exciting time. As a journeyperson, you will be simultaneously testing your independence while still able to turn to the master electrician for additional learning and advice. As difficult as the testing process can be, it is a necessary first step on the road to a successful career as an electrician.