What Is a Journeyman? (Plus Skills and Career Paths)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 8, 2022 | Published May 3, 2021

Updated June 8, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

Skilled tradespeople can work in a variety of different settings. Those with journey-level experience, historically known as journeymen, have expertise in their trade that can help them earn career advancement and build transferrable skills. Learning what a journeyman is can help you better understand if gaining trade experience is the right choice for you.

In this article, we discuss what a journeyman is and explore different careers for your consideration.

What is a journeyman?

A journeyman is a professional who is skilled in a specific trade and works for a company. They also are known as journey-level workers and journeypersons. These professionals complete an apprenticeship within a trade and gain certifications and licenses required to work on job sites independently.

Journeymen can choose to work for a company or as independent contractors. As an independent contractors, they can work for several companies or start their own company.

Related: Becoming an Independent Contractor: Pros and Cons

Levels of experience

Here is the order of career advancement for skilled trade employees:

Apprentice

You first must complete an apprenticeship before you can become a journeyman. Typically, journeymen train apprentices to show them the fundamentals of the trade, like daily responsibilities and important techniques. Apprenticeships can involve on-the-job training and classroom education, allowing them to gain a license or certification.

Journeyman

After you complete an apprenticeship, you can become a journeyman. Journeymen typically report to a master tradesperson like a master electrician or master craftsperson. Journeymen possess required licenses and skills needed to perform their job well.

Related: What Are Certifications? Definition, Benefits, Types of Certifications and Examples

Master

A may become a master tradesperson once they gain extensive experience and demonstrate important skills. Masters supervise journeymen to ensure they are completing their work in an efficient and safe manner. You can qualify for a master exam after you've logged 4,000 hours of working experience in your trade.

Types of journeymen

Here are several types of journeymen, including:

Electrician

A journeyman electrician is a tradesperson who completed an apprenticeship and is now a certified electrician. Like most journeymen, they generally report to a master within their trade, like a master electrician. However, they can complete their work independently while on site. Journeyman electricians can work in residential, commercial and governmental facilities. Their duties include collaborating with other journeymen to complete projects, installing and inspecting electrical wiring, repairing problems within electrical systems and consulting with customers for electrical work.

Related: What Is an Electrician's Journeyman?

Plumber

A journeyman plumber is a professional plumber that has completed an apprenticeship within their trade. They can work independently or on a team of other journeyman plumbers while they complete plumbing projects. These professionals have gained license and certifications through their apprenticeship program and can train apprentices on plumbing techniques and skills. Journeyman plumbers can work in residential or commercial facilities. Their responsibilities include unclogging drains, replacing pipes, installing plumbing equipment and repairing broken pipes.

Related: How To Become a Journeyman Plumber

Pipefitter

A journeyman pipefitter is a tradesperson who builds and repairs piping that has high-pressure components within their systems. Their duties include installing pipes, handling piping systems, performing maintenance on pipes and assembling complex piping materials. Journeyman pipefitters can work for pipefitting companies, or they might work for larger companies that employ several kinds of trades, like utility companies and construction companies.

Welder

A journeyman welder uses specialized equipment to fuse metals together using extreme heat. Their duties include operating equipment for welding, following safety regulations and reading blueprints. Journeyman welders have completed a welding apprenticeship and have the licensure needed to work in a welding shop or on a worksite completing welding operations.

Roofer

A journeyman roofer is a specialized tradesperson who builds and repairs roofs on buildings and structures. Their duties include inspecting a roof to determine what repairs it needs, working with blueprints and roofing sketches, providing cost estimates to customers and gathering the materials they need for building and repairing procedures.

Painter

A journeyman painter prepares and paints the interior and exterior of surfaces. They may work in residential and commercial settings. Their duties include covering nearby surfaces to protect them from paint, mixing paint, applying primer to surfaces to prepare for painting, consulting with clients to see how they want their surfaces painted and collaborating with other journeyman painters for larger jobs.

HVAC

A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) journeyman is a tradesperson who installs and maintains heating units, air conditioning systems and ventilation systems. HVAC journeymen typically consult with customers to offer the best heating and cooling options. They also identify issues within HVAC systems, perform necessary repairs, clean heating and cooling units, diagnose risks related to HVAC systems and use specialized HVAC equipment and tools.

Journeyman skills

Here are several skills that journeymen use daily:

1. Problem-solving

Journeymen often diagnose issues and identify problems within the equipment they're working on, so they must possess strong problem-solving skills. Journeymen may have to run diagnostic testing on equipment to see what the issue is, then they must create a solution to resolve the issue and repair broken equipment. Clients often depend on journeymen to fix their broken equipment, so it's essential for journeymen to use excellent problem-solving skills while working.

2. Detail-oriented

Journeymen often need a strong attention to detail, since many journeymen duties require working with precise measurements or dangerous equipment. In order to keep themselves and their colleagues safe, they focus on the task they are actively working on and try to limit distractions around them. For example, if a journeyman welder is operating a torch, it's important that they remain focused on details like their protective gear and the temperature of the torch to ensure they are safe while the torch is hot.

3. Communication

Journeymen typically work on a team with other journeymen within their trade so it's important that they have excellent communication skills. These professionals also use communication skills when designing blueprints or a project, installing equipment and consulting with customers. Journeymen may build their communication skills by actively listening to their colleagues when developing project plans and by sharing feedback with their colleagues on the work they're completing.

Related: Communication Skills for Career Success

4. Technical skills

Journeymen train to use specialized equipment while working, so it's important that they have strong technical skills that allow them to handle the equipment safely and effectively. They can also use technical skills when installing equipment and following blueprints so they know which techniques to use and how to follow processes correctly.

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