Journeyman: A Skilled and Versatile Worker

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If you are interested in a career that involves working with your hands, learning a trade, and earning a good income, you might want to consider becoming a journeyman.

A journeyman is a professional who has completed an apprenticeship in a specific trade and can work independently or under the supervision of a master. Journeymen are in high demand in various industries, such as construction, manufacturing, and maintenance.

In this article, we will explain what a journeyman does, what skills and qualifications are required, and what career paths are available for journeymen.

What is a journeyman?

A journeyman is a term that historically refers to a worker who has completed an apprenticeship and gained enough experience and skills to work on their own. The term comes from the French word jour, meaning day, as journeymen were paid by the day for their work. Journeymen are also known as journey-level workers or journeypersons.

Journeymen can work in various trades, such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, welding, HVAC, and more. They typically report to a master tradesperson who oversees their work and provides guidance and feedback.

However, journeymen can also work independently or as contractors for different companies or clients. Journeymen can also train and mentor apprentices who are learning the trade.

What does a journeyman do?

A journeyman’s duties and responsibilities will vary depending on the trade they specialize in and the industry they work in. However, some common tasks that journeymen perform include:

  • Reading and interpreting blueprints, drawings, and specifications
  • Performing layout work and measuring materials
  • Erecting scaffolding and ladders as needed
  • Cutting, welding, bending, threading, and installing pipes, wires, cables, ducts, etc.
  • Installing valves, fittings, fixtures, switches, outlets, appliances, etc.
  • Testing installed systems for leaks, faults, or malfunctions
  • Repairing or replacing defective parts as needed
  • Assisting in the installation of boilers, tanks, pressure vessels, generators, etc.
  • Following safety rules and regulations
  • Using hand tools, power tools, and specialized equipment
  • Communicating with clients, supervisors, and co-workers

What skills and qualifications does a journeyman need?

To become a journeyman, you need to have the following skills and qualifications:

  • Apprenticeship: The first step to becoming a journeyman is to complete an apprenticeship program in your chosen trade. An apprenticeship is a form of on-the-job training that combines classroom instruction with practical experience. Apprenticeships can last from two to six years depending on the trade and the state requirements. During an apprenticeship, you will learn the fundamentals of your trade from a qualified journeyman or master who will supervise your work and evaluate your progress. You will also earn a wage while you learn. Upon completion of your apprenticeship program, you will receive a certificate of completion or a license that allows you to work as a journeyman.
  • License or certification: Depending on the trade and the state you work in, you may need to obtain a license or certification to work as a journeyman. A license or certification demonstrates that you have met the minimum standards of competence and knowledge in your trade. To obtain a license or certification, you may need to pass an exam that covers topics like safety codes.
  • Math skills: Journeymen need to have good math skills to perform calculations, measurements, and conversions related to their trade. They need to be able to work with fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, and proportions. They also need to understand geometry, algebra, and trigonometry to apply formulas and solve problems.
  • Problem-solving skills: Journeymen need to have good problem-solving skills to identify and troubleshoot issues that may arise during their work. They need to be able to analyze situations, evaluate options, and implement solutions in a timely and efficient manner. They also need to be able to adapt to changing conditions and requirements.
  • Business skills: Journeymen who work as independent contractors or run their own businesses need to have some basic business skills, such as accounting, marketing, customer service, and project management. They need to be able to manage their finances, invoices, taxes, and insurance. They also need to be able to market their services, communicate with clients, and manage their projects and schedules.

What are the career paths for journeymen?

Journeymen have several career paths available to them depending on their goals and interests. Some of the possible career paths are:

  • Master tradesperson: Journeymen who want to advance their careers and earn higher salaries can pursue becoming a master tradesperson in their trade. A master tradesperson is an expert who has extensive experience and knowledge in their trade and can supervise and train other workers. To become a master tradesperson, you need to pass a master exam that covers advanced topics in your trade. You also need to meet the minimum work experience requirements that vary by state and trade.
  • Instructor: Journeymen who enjoy teaching and sharing their skills can become instructors at vocational schools, community colleges, or apprenticeship programs. Instructors are responsible for designing and delivering courses that teach the theory and practice of a trade. They also evaluate students’ progress and performance. To become an instructor, you may need to have a bachelor’s degree or a teaching certificate in addition to your journeyman license or certification.
  • Inspector: Journeymen who want to ensure the quality and safety of work done by other tradespeople can become inspectors. Inspectors are responsible for examining and testing systems, equipment, materials, and structures for compliance with codes, standards, and regulations. They also issue permits, licenses, violations, or recommendations as needed. To become an inspector, you may need to have additional certifications or licenses depending on the type of inspection you perform.

How much does a journeyman make?

The salary of a journeyman depends on several factors, such as the trade they specialize in, the industry they work in, the location they work in, the level of experience they have, and the type of employment they have. 

According to Zippia, the average salary for a journeyman in the United States is $57,682 per year or $27.73 per hour as of June 2023. However, the salary range typically falls between $39,000 and $83,000 per year or between $18 and $39 per hour.

Some of the highest-paying states for journeymen are Washington ($80,397), Hawaii ($79,820), Nevada ($77,865), California ($77,312), and Connecticut ($72,565). Some of the highest-paying industries for journeymen are construction ($62,819), manufacturing ($60,408), utilities ($59,897), mining ($59,332), and transportation ($58,993).


A journeyman is a skilled worker who has completed an apprenticeship in a specific trade and can work independently or under the supervision of a master. Journeymen can work in various trades,

such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, masonry, welding, HVAC, and more. They can earn a good income and enjoy various benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacation, and bonuses. They can also advance their careers by becoming master tradespeople, instructors, or inspectors.

If you are interested in becoming a journeyman, you need to complete an apprenticeship program in your chosen trade and obtain a license or certification if required by your state. You also need to have good math skills, problem-solving skills, and business skills. You can find apprenticeship opportunities through trade unions, vocational schools, community colleges, or online platforms.

Becoming a journeyman can be a rewarding career choice for anyone who likes working with their hands, learning new skills, and creating something useful. Journeymen are essential workers who contribute to the development and maintenance of various industries and sectors. By becoming a journeyman, you can join a community of skilled professionals who take pride in their work and make a difference in the world.

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Saiful Emon

Saiful is an author for Profession HQ. He writes about career development topics. He has a BBA degree and expertise in content writing and digital marketing. In his spare time, he likes to dive into business, technology, and science topics. Most of the time, you’ll find him on his laptop working on some new project!

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