I was drifting through Wikipedia the other day and I came upon a fascinating article about journeymen. In medieval times, the process for becoming a master craftsman was well-established, and the process for becoming a guild-certified tradesman turns out to be quite an ingenious way of ensuring competence.
The first step toward mastery was to become an apprentice. An unpaid position, this involved becoming a member of your master’s household, and being paid in food and lodging. You were not allowed to sell your work, charge for your time, or change masters. From there, an aspiring worker could choose to become employed, or to train to become a master craftsman himself. Training as a master craftsmen is where it gets interesting - because to become a master, you would first have to be a journeyman.
The German word for the next stage of your career is Wanderjahre, or “wandering years”...
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