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A journeyman is an individual who has completed an apprenticeship and is fully educated in a trade or craft, but not yet a master. To become a master, a journeyman has to submit a master work piece to a guild for evaluation and be admitted to the guild as a master. Sometimes, a journeyman is required to accomplish a three-year working trip, which may be called the journeyman years.

Origin of the title

German journeymen in traditional uniform during journeyman years

The word journeyman comes from the French word journée, which means a day's work or a day's travel; journée in turn comes from Vulgar Latin, diurnum meaning day.[1] The title refers to the journeyman's right to charge a fee for each day's work. A journeyman has completed an apprenticeship but is employed by another[2] such as a master craftsman, but would live apart and might have a family of his own. A journeyman could not employ others. In contrast, an apprentice would be bound to a master, usually for a fixed term of seven years, and lived with the master as a member of the household, receiving most or all compensation in the form of food, lodging, and training.

In parts of Europe, as in later medieval Germany, spending time as a wandering journeyman (Wandergeselle),[3] moving from one town to another to gain experience of different workshops, was an important part of the training of an aspirant master. Carpenters in Germany have retained the tradition of traveling journeymen even today, although only a few still practice it. In France, wandering journeymen were known as compagnons.

Industrial era and later

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In modern apprenticeship systems, a journeyman is a person who has a trades certificate that shows the required completion of an apprenticeship. In many countries this is the highest formal rank (that of master having been eliminated) and allows them to perform all the tasks of the trade within the area where they are certified, to supervise apprentices and to become self-employed.

In some countries such as Germany, however, master craftsmen are still required to take part-time courses that last three to four years or one-year-long, full-time courses after they complete their apprenticeships.


A person who has completed the traditional live-in apprenticeship could be considered a journeyman, as could someone who is educated in their field and has passed a board-certified test.

In the United States, employment in some building trades, such as an electrician, plumber, machinist, and HVAC contractor usually requires that a person holds a state or local (city or county) license as a journeyman or master. The journeyman license certifies that the craftsman has met the requirements of time in the field (usually a minimum of 8,000 hours) and time in an approved classroom setting (usually 700 hours). A journeyman has the responsibility of supervising workers of lesser experience and training them, in addition to having the qualifications (knowledge and skills) to work unsupervised himself. A journeyman is commonly expected to have a wide range of experience, covering most fields of his trade. For example, a non journeyman worker of some 20 or 30 years' experience may have most or all of his experience in only residential, commercial or industrial applications. A journeyman however, has a broad field of experience in residential, commercial, and industrial applications.

See also


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  2. "Journeyman" def. 1. Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0), Oxford University Press, 2009
  3. Dicke, Hugo, and Hans H. Glismann. Vocational Training in Germany. Kiel: Institut für Weltwirtschaft, 1994. page 34. Print.

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