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Master craftsman

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Craftsman Selling Cases by a Teak Wood Building Ahmedabad, by Edwin Lord Weeks

Historically, a master craftsman or master tradesman (sometimes called only master or grandmaster) was a member of a guild. The title survives as the highest professional qualification in craft industries.

In the European guild system, only masters and journeymen were allowed to be members of the guild. An aspiring master would have to pass through the career chain from apprentice to journeyman before he could be elected to become a master craftsman. He would then have to produce a sum of money and a masterpiece before he could actually join the guild. If the masterpiece was not accepted by the masters, he was not allowed to join the guild and possibly remained a journeyman for the rest of his life.


Craftsman or Artisan was who made things or provided services. Mastercraftsman was the superior, and expert craftsman called ustad and apprentice was called shagird in Medieval India. The grand vizier of the Mughal emperor Akbar discussed their social status and importance in karkhanas.[1][2][3]

Today's master craftsman in different countries[edit]


Master craftsman certificate – Handwerkskammer Dresden – July 7, 1958
A master discusses a vacuum compressor with his apprentice boy and several other craftsmen.

In Germany, the master craftsman (Meister) is the highest professional qualification in crafts and is a state-approved grade. The certification is called Meisterbrief. The qualification includes theoretical and practical training in the craft as well as business and legal training. Additionally, it implies the qualification to train apprentices. These qualifications prepare the Meister for running their own business or alternatively for higher positions at a company. The status of master craftsmen is regulated in the German Gesetz zur Ordnung des Handwerks (Crafts and Trades Regulation Code).

Guilds have been abolished in Germany, but the ranks of apprentice (Lehrling), journeyman (Geselle) and master craftsman have been retained even through modern times. For safety-relevant crafts, e.g., electricians and chimney sweeps, any business in the trade has to be run by a master craftsman or has to employ at least one Meister.

Journeymen and master craftsmen are by law automatically members of their regional chamber of crafts (Handwerkskammer), which is a self-governing public body. The chamber organizes vocational training and oversees the examination of the journeymen and masters.

To become a master craftsman, it is usually required to have completed vocational training in the craft in which the examination is to be taken, culminating in a final examination called Gesellenprüfung (journeyman's examination). If these requirements are fulfilled, the candidate can take courses for the Meisterprüfung (master craftsman's examination). The duration of the courses takes 1 to 4 years depending on the craft and on the Course. The examination includes theoretical, practical and oral parts and takes 5 to 7 days (depending on the craft). In some crafts, the creation of a masterpiece is also part of the examination.

The German Meister qualifies the holder to study for a bachelor's degree at university, whether the Meister holds a regular university entrance qualification or not.[4] According to the German Qualifications Framework, the Meisterbrief is at the same level as a bachelor's degree, even though it is not an academic degree and thus not directly comparable.[5]

United Kingdom[edit]

This tradition originates in Medieval Europe. The earliest guilds were "frith" or "peace" guilds – groups bonded together for mutual protection following the breakdown of the kins, which were groups related by blood ties.

Merchant guilds – associations of international trades – were powerful in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but lost their ascendancy with the rise of the craft guilds – associations of master craftsmen, journeymen, apprentices and the various trades connected with a particular craft.

The College of Arms in London awarded a coat of arms of The Guild of Master Craftsmen in 1992, after four years of assessment. Designed by heraldic expert Peter Greenhill to reflect the many categories of guild membership, it features: three escutcheons (shields) to represent artists, painters and stainers; a pair of compasses opened in chevron for building, construction and carpenters; a dovetail (separating the top third of the shield from the rest) to represent cabinetmaking, woodworking and joinery; and a gavel and chisel for masons and stoneworkers. The southern keep of Lewes Castle, which overlooks the guild's headquarters, is featured above the helmet as the crest.

United States[edit]

While for the most part guilds as such do not exist, many trades continue the apprentice-journeyman-master model: carpenters, electricians, pipefitters and plumbers are notable examples.[A]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The tradition survives in academia, with elementary, middle and high school completing general education; with post secondary degrees awarded in the Associates, Bachelor and Master levels; and PhD students as apprentices, post-docs and associate professors as journeymen and full professors as masters.[6][7][8] The United States Bartenders Guild grants bartenders the title of Master Mixologist through a series of tests.[citation needed]


  1. ^ ''In the Mughal administrative capitals and royal karkhana, however, artisans enjoyed royal patronage. In the sixteenth ... It included karkhanadar (supervisor), ustad (artisan-master) and shagird (disciple or subordinate artisan). The state ... According to Abul Fazl, court-writer of the Mughal emperor Akbar,....'' Artisans, Sufis, Shrines: Colonial Architecture in ... – Page 18 books.google.co.in › books Hussain Ahmad Khan · 2014
  2. ^ ''The actual work was carried on by the artisans who have been referred to as apprentices and beginners under the direction and control of the Master artisan or Ustad . ... Because it was the Master Artisan who infused life and vigour in the Karkhana by his imagination , art and skill .'' Industrial Structure of India During Medieval Period – Page 43 N. S. Gupta · 1970
  3. ^ Chandra, Satish (2005). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals Part – II. Har-Anand Publications. p. 370. ISBN 978-81-241-1066-9.
  4. ^ Hochschulzugang für beruflich qualifizierte Bewerber ohne schulische Hochschulzugangsberechtigung Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. ANKOM. 3 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Der Deutsche Qualifikationsrahmen für Lebenslanges Lernen". bmbf.de (in German). German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 16 May 2013. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  6. ^ Kant in the Classroom
  7. ^ Graduate Education in Chemistry
  8. ^ Teaching Assistants

External links[edit]