Everyone knows someone who can and is not afraid to take on home improvement tasks that involve electrical work. This does not mean the person is an electrician. Take the field of medicine, for instance. A surgical technician is not a surgeon; although they may work in the medical field and know more than the typical person about surgeries, this is not the person that you will call if you are anticipating a surgery. They may be there to assist along with others on the medical staff, but they are not a doctor. The same idea applies to electricians, and there are four stages of the career. Knowing the difference in these stages can help you decide who to hire for any work in your home.
To begin, there is the person who dabbles in the field. Although this person may seem knowledgeable in the trade, if he has not completed the correct course work and testing, he is not certified or legal in any sense. He may do small jobs as a part of a handyman business or he may be an avid do-it-yourselfer. He also may be remarkably skilled, but he is not licensed.
The first step to licensing is to gain an apprenticeship. Most who are working toward becoming an electrician will find employment under a master in the trade. Working anywhere from one to five years in the position coupled with appropriate schoolwork and training, the apprentice will at this time take the journeyman's exam. Upon passing the exam, he will be considered a journeyman. Because the skilled field involuntarily potentially dangerous work, it is important to know this so called rank of a person that is doing work in your home. Some simple work does not require as much training as other tasks require, and the electrical contractor who you employ for the job will send the appropriately ranked person.
Once the rank of journeyman has been attained, a person must continue to work under a master for several years; since laws and requirements vary from state to state, this amount of time will also vary. It can be assumed that a master in the field maintains his status with continued schooling and regular license renewal. Although journeymen and masters may both have hidden knowledge and experience in the trade, you must be a master before you can offer apprenticeships to train others.
An apprentice will work for a wage paid by the master. This means that the master stands to profit by offering apprenticeships. For example, a contractor sends an apprentice to a site to complete a one thousand dollar job that takes three hours to complete, the wages paid out for the amateur's labor could be less than one hundred dollars. Once the rank of journeyman is reached, the wage goes up, but it is still profitable for the master contractor.