Plumbers offer an important service to homeowners and businesses, and that explains why they are always in high demand. They provide such services as emergency services, plumbing maintenance inspections, installing plumbing systems in businesses and homes, as well as performing repairs for all areas of the plumbing system, including the drain field and septic system.
According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers are always in high demand and their job prospects are expected to grow through 2029 (and beyond). Thus, becoming a licensed plumber is a very profitable and wise business endeavor.
Becoming a plumbing contractor offers you the opportunity to gain hands-on skills with amazing earning potential, not to mention some stable job security. Plumbing is one of the most strictly regulated trade professions in the U.S. In fact, in most states (if not all), obtaining a plumbing license and certification is a requirement if you want to work in the field or start your business in the plumber industry.
But the regulations and rules regarding becoming a licensed plumber vary from state to state. For that reason, it is advisable to find out the requirements to become a certified, licensed plumber in your area.
Becoming a certified plumbing contractor assists you to master your trade, and understanding the ins and outs of plumbing, and it signals to your clients that you are serious about your job. It is one of the best tools you can have in your plumbing business. Without further ado, let’s assist you to get started on obtaining your plumbing license and certification.
Why is a Plumbing License Important?
With gas and water pipes serving an important component of every building we play, live, and work in, plumbers can only expect a stable future. If you need another reason to become a certified plumber, consider that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average of more than $54000 salary annually for plumbers, an equivalent of $25/hr. Plumbing represents a perfect trade option for people who enjoy solving other people’s problems and don’t live the idea of sitting behind a computer every day, all day.
Of course, you can work as an apprentice under the guidance or mentorship of a master plumber, but getting your plumbing license will open up opportunities for professional growth and development.
Without a plumbing license, you won’t enjoy all the benefits of working as a plumber. You will always have to work under the supervision of a certified and licensed plumber, and this implies you can’t branch out and start your own plumbing company unless you have a license. Worst of all, you also cannot expect to earn higher pay as a plumbing apprentice.
This post will take you through the steps you need to take to get your Journeyman’s plumbing license. After working as a journeyman plumber for some years, you will be eligible to sit for the master plumber certification exams.
How to Become a Qualified Plumber
Working as a plumber in the US can be an extremely lucrative profession. Plumbing is old-time hands-on work, and it will never be out of demand. This is because each building requires pipework that requires repair, replacement, or installation.
Maybe you want to become a plumber. So, before you fully commit yourself to the trade, you should try to find out if you are up to the task. This can save you money, effort, and time from an unsuccessful career.
There are multiple other requirements that you may need to become a plumbing contractor. Such requirements may include but are not restricted to:
- Proof of your valid worker’s compensation insurance certificate.
- Proof of your property damage and liability insurance
- Proof that you have passed both residential, industrial or commercial plumbing examinations
- Proof that you have submitted your surety bond.
- Copies of Articles of Incorporation or Partnership Agreement
Steps to Become a Qualified Plumber
Learn How to Fix and Install Water or Gas Piping Systems
The first step to pursuing any career is to ensure that you are ready and willing to commit to it in the long run. You don’t want to waste your time and effort doing something you aren’t passionate about.
An important step, and often the initiatives are taken towards becoming a licensed plumber, is making sure that you have all of the physical plumbing skills down and ready to work. To become a plumber, you must be a creative thinker, willing to talk with your customers over the specifics of a project and go outside your comfort zone to resolve their plumbing problems.
You must portray an approachable and friendly personality to your customers, assuring them that they can discuss any of their concerns or questions. Many learn to do plumbing “on the job” or via practice, while others opt for the route of taking classes at community or technical colleges that may be relevant for the job. While the latter may consume a lot of time, the skills you obtain will help you in your plumbing career in multiple ways.
By the nature of your job, you will come across various hazards like working in tight areas and heights, amongst others. Even if you pride yourself on following strict safety procedures and quality work, accidents can still occur.
When working as a plumber, it is of the highest importance to have sufficient insurance for your business and yourself, to safeguard either you or your business from possible lawsuits that may occur due to property damage or personal injury. When you have adequate insurance coverage, you can have the financial peace of mind you require to zero in on your customer’s needs and the success of your plumbing company.
Join the National or Regional Association for Plumbers
A very crucial step that most plumbing contractors take after getting their license is to join a regional or national association. Not only do these professional organizations offer a forum to share concerns and ideas but also boost your credibility, making your company stand out amongst a sea of other plumbers, but also keep you abreast of the latest happenings and developments in the plumbing industry, you will be the first to know if you become a member of a regional or national plumbing association.
Learn How to Become a Licensed Plumber in 5 Easy Steps
As we have already stated, becoming a licensed plumber can unlock the door for countless opportunities and open doors for multiple benefits. If you are passionate about pursuing plumbing as your career choice, then the other step is to understand what it takes to make your dreams a reality.
That said, the path to becoming a certified or licensed plumbing contractor is not linear and varies greatly from one state to another and even from city to city. But there are a few requirements that most states or cities have in common. The time it takes to obtain the necessary certification, licensing, and training vary from state to state.
Discover the basics of getting a plumbing license or certification and find tips in your area to assist you to get started.
Step #1: Obtain the Required Education
You have to meet some basic education qualification requirements to become a licensed plumber. Getting your high school diploma or GED equivalent is the first step towards becoming a qualified plumber. Having a fundamental knowledge of writing, reading, science, and math are important to pursue any career in trade professions like plumbing. For plumbing contractors, possessing advanced science and math knowledge is essential because the job often involves gauging water and making accurate measurements. These are the high school or GED equivalent subjects that will benefit you most as a plumber:
- Units of Measurements
The next step toward becoming a professional plumber is to obtain specialized education in plumbing. This is where you learn the theoretical and technical aspects of the job. The most common plumber training options include going to a trade school or technical college with government-approved courses. Vocational training is important because it prepares you in advance to handle the day-to-day operations and business aspects of your plumbing profession.
Apart from getting your GED or high school diploma, other factors that can affect your plumbing career are your criminal background, capacity to pass a drug test, and driving record. Future employers and training programs might avoid working with you for insurance and safety reasons if you have:
- Failed to pass a drug test
- Felony convictions of any nature
- Reckless driving charges
- DWIs or DUIs
- A huge number of moving violations
- Specific misdemeanor offenses
As you can see, it is always advisable to try and keep your record clean, especially if you want to become a professional plumber. If you have a drug-free and clean criminal background or driving record, then it will be easier for you to get into a plumbing career.
Step #2: Obtain Hands-on Experience and Training
After you have earned your GED or high school diploma certificate, the next step is to register for technical plumbing courses. Many states require a specific number of classroom hours to be allowed to sit for a plumbing licensing exam.
Technical plumbing courses are offered by various private and public schools and programs. Look out for community colleges, trade unions or institutions, or plumbing associations in your area. Your state’s requirements will determine the curriculum, but subjects could include local plumbing codes, venting and draining, electrical systems basics, soldering, and pipe cutting.
Besides studying at a trade school or technical college, you will also gain practical experience. You will be required to complete an apprentice program to satisfy the requirements of your plumbing study program.
In some cases, your school may organize your apprentice program. Mostly, though, you will have to look for plumbing apprentice programs yourself. The duration of most apprenticeship programs is typically four years.
As an apprentice, you will work under the guidance of a master plumber. This is where you will learn all the practical and technical aspects of plumbing. But it is advisable to select a master plumber with whom you have a good rapport since you will spend many years under their leadership. The numbers of apprenticeship hours you require to obtain a journeyman license vary between 4000 to 12000 depending on where you reside.
Pro tip: You can also look for local plumbing contractors to see if they are hiring plumber apprentices. Not only will you obtain valuable on-the-job training from an experienced professional, but they may pay you for the hours you have worked, and this gives you a chance to make money while you earn.
Step #3: Pass Your Plumbing State Licensing Examination
Most states will require you to sit and pass a practical test, written exam, or both for you to get a plumbing license. The exam content varies, but generally covers the fundamentals of the plumbing codes, plumbing trade, law, and business.
It is always advisable to prepare for the exam, even if you have just graduated from a plumbing trade school. For example, Alpha Tradesmen Academy offers plumbing licensing exam preparations. Make sure that you know the areas of specialization and the kind of questions that the licensing examination focuses on most.
You will also be required to pay an examination fee. Each state has its plumbing licensing exam schedule, but you can expect the exam to take place twice or once per month.
Step #4: Complete the Plumbing Licensing Application Requirements
In most, if not all U.S. States, you will require a plumbing license to operate independently and start your own company. Generally, there are two types of plumbing licenses including a master and a journeyman license. Usually, there is a particular state board that deals with the professional licensing of plumbing contractors.
While the criteria vary from state to state, some of the common plumber licensing requirements include:
- State registration of your plumbing business entity
- Addresses and names of company owners
- Proof of completing apprenticeship period
- Surety bond
- Adequate insurance cover: both worker’s compensation insurance (if you are hiring technicians) and property damage.
Step #5: Apply for Your Plumber License
Once you have finished all the requirements, you can apply for your journeyman plumbing license. You will be required to complete your application form and pay an application fee or an annual license fee as well. Your plumbing license will remain valid for a maximum of two years. If you want to continue using it, ensure that you renew it before it expires to help you work without interruption.
After working as a journeyman plumber for some time, you can take the bold step and obtain a master plumber license. As a certified master plumber, you will be able to teach, mentor and supervise plumber apprentices while earning a special place in the industry. Best of all, you can expect to earn a great income as well. Most licensed master plumbers earn more than $40/hr., which is twice as much as what journeyman plumbers make in an hour.
Plumbing Licensing Requirements from State to State
Disclaimer: This information is offered as a service. It is up-to-date and correct to the best of our abilities; however, it is not expected to be considered legal advice. You must always confirm with authorities before making any final business decision. Regulations and requirements are subject to change at any time.
Plumbing licensing requirements for master and journeymen plumbers are always set at the state level by the department of plumbing and will typically vary from one state to another. The regulating and enforcing of state plumbing licensing requirements generally fall under specific municipalities.
To get a plumber license, applicants must first complete an apprenticeship program under the guidance of a licensed master plumber. Most states will require you to undergo a minimum of 4 years of on-the-job training to obtain a journeyman license. To obtain a master plumbers license, typically another four years of on-the-job experience are required.
Without further ado, let’s find out how to become a licensed plumber in the state you want to work in.
In order to work as a plumbing contractor in the state of Alabama, you will first require a license. This plumbing license is issued by the State of Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board. There are two levels of plumbing licensure in Alabama:
- Journeyman plumber license: You will require at least two years of experience as a plumbing apprentice to get this license. Alternatively, you can pass through a board-approved plumbing apprenticeship training program.
- Master Plumber license: One year of work experience as a journeyman plumber and passing the state licensing exam.
To be allowed to work as a plumbing contractor in Alaska, a license from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is required. Alaska is also known as the highest paying state for extraction and trade professions, including plumbing. Here are some licenses that you need to operate independently as a plumber in Alaska:
- Journeyman Plumber: Those who want to become licensed journeyman plumbers in Alaska must show proof of 8000 hours of on-the-job plumbing experience in both commercial and residential installations. You can also substitute over 1000 hours of plumber education for work experience.
- Plumber Gas License: If you want to become a gas plumber, you need to show proof of 4000 hours of job experience with at least half of the time spent in installing fuel gas piping systems. You can substitute 500 hours of training for work experience.
- Plumber Utility License: 1000 hours of installation of sewer, water or storm lines are needed to obtain this license. But you can substitute 125 hours of training for work experience.
Each of the above Alaska plumbing license requires that you sit and pass an exam.
Aspiring plumbers must obtain a state contractor’s license to operate and work in Arizona. You can either obtain residential and commercial licenses or both, which the Arizona Registrar of contractors gives.
If you have a dual license, you will be able to work in both residential and commercial plumbing jobs. Both commercial and residential plumbing licenses have the same set of requirements including but not limited to:
- Successful completion of a plumbing trade exam
- Proof of surety bonding
- A minimum of four years of work experience
- Successful completion of a business examination
You must obtain a state contractor license to do plumbing jobs in California. To get a plumbing license in California, you must six and pass the state contractor licensing exam. The Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State Licensing board awards plumber licenses. These are the requirements for obtaining a state license in California:
- You must at least have 4 years of experience as a foreman, journeyman or supervisor
- You must possess a surety bond of $15000 or more
- Pass a business and law exam
- You must also pass a plumbing trade exam.
A unique license is needed to work with hazardous materials. This includes an extra exam.
To do plumbing work in Arkansas, you must have a state contractor license. These licenses are awarded by the Arkansas Department of Health, plumbing and Natural Gas Division. If you want to get a master plumber license, show proof of five years’ experience as a journeyman plumber. In the case of a journeyman plumber, you must have at least one year of experience to obtain a license. But both licenses require that you sit and pass an exam.
Update: current plumbers who want to relocate to Arkansas should understand that the state doesn’t provide reciprocal license agreements on a state-by-state basis. Instead, they will need to apply with the State Committee of plumbing examiners.
Colorado State requires all plumbing contractors to obtain a license before they can be allowed to work. There are three types of plumbing licenses that are awarded by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, State Plumbing Board.
But all of them require that you pass an exam to qualify:
- Residential plumber (at least two years or 3400 hours of job experience required)
- Journeyman Plumber (4 years or 6800 hours of work experience needed)
- Master plumber (5 years or 9780 of job experience required).
In Connecticut, aspiring plumbers must be licensed to be allowed to do plumbing work. Such plumbers can apply as a journeyman, apprentice, or master plumbers. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection awards eight specific plumbing licenses based on the scope of work. Each of these plumbing licenses has a unique code, specific requirements, and scope of work allowed to qualify for licensing.
To qualify for the exams at any of the plumbing contractor level licenses, you will need to show proof of two years of documented work as a licensed journeyman. Besides qualifying to take the exams for any of the journeyman level licenses, you will be required to complete an apprenticeship program or equivalent training and experience of a specific number of hours, depending on the scope of work.
In the state of Delaware, you must register with and obtain a business license from the Delaware Division of Revenue to be allowed to do plumbing work. Delaware breaks down plumber licenses into two types; resident and non-resident plumbing contractor licenses. These licenses are given by the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation. There are two avenues to qualify for this contractor license. They include:
- Begin as a journeyman: This implies completing a plumbing apprenticeship program. It also requires at least two years of relevant job experience under the guidance of a professional licensed plumber.
- Bypass the Journeyman certificate: This requires at least seven years of job experience under a licensed plumbing contractor.
In each case, you must pass the state contractor-level examinations. Then, you get your plumbing license.
As with most states in the U.S., you must have a license to work as a certified plumber in Florida. In addition, to be able to obtain it, you must show proof of 4 years of experience or a combination of related education and experience.
There are two plumbing licenses offered in Florida namely:
- Registered plumbing contractor
- Certified plumbing contractor
Furthermore, you must hold property damage, public liability, and worker’s compensation and possibly pass a state-level exam.
You will require a state license to perform plumbing work in Georgia, and said license is given by the Georgia Construction Industry Licensing Board. All plumbers in Georgia must be licensed, even when operating under a master plumber or plumbing contractor.
Georgia offers three types of plumbing licenses: Master plumber licenses tier 1 restricted, journeyman license, and master plumber license 2 unrestricted. Becoming a plumber starts with either going to a trade school or applying for an apprenticeship program.
There is no registration or license required for you to become an apprentice plumber. As a plumber apprentice, you can start gaining three or four years of on-the-job experience to apply for a journeyman license under the guidance of a licensed plumbing contractor. After another two years of continuous work experience, you can apply to become a master plumber.
Aspiring plumbers must have a state contractor license to work in Hawaii. The licenses are given by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing, Board of Plumbers, and Electricians. But you must pass an examination to obtain a plumbing license. You must fulfill some requirements before you sit for your plumbing exam. These requirements to sit for a plumbing license exam are
- Journeyman plumber: Show proof of five years and a minimum of 10,000 hours of plumbing work experience, in line with the Uniform Plumbing Code.
- Master Plumber: Proof of two years of work experience at the journeyman level.
To do plumbing work in Idaho, you must hold a state license, and said license is issued by the Idaho Division of Building Safety. There are multiple plumbing license options in Idaho, and each comes with its own distinct requirements. Here is an overview:
- Apprentice: You don’t require a state license to operate as an apprentice plumber. But you should be registered with the authorities.
- Journeyman plumber: You must first complete a 4-year plumber training course. The course is administered by the state plumbing board, and you must also pass a state-level contractor exam.
- Plumbing contractor: You must show proof of two and half years of experience at the journeyman level. In addition, you must sit and pass an exam.
Wondering how to become a licensed plumber in the state of Illinois? A license is needed in Illinois to begin plumbing, and said license is awarded by the Illinois Department of Public Health. There are two kinds of plumbing licenses in Illinois, and each comes with its own unique set of requirements. Such requirements include:
- Apprentice plumber: You must show proof of sponsorship by a licensed plumber in Illinois or a state-approved plumbing program. After six years of apprenticeship, you must apply and sit for the plumber licensing exam.
- Plumbing contractor: You must prove that you have held a plumber apprenticeship license for at least four years. Besides, you must have completed two years of high school as well as doing an approved course.
It is deemed illegal to offer any plumbing services in Indiana without a state-approved license. Such a license is awarded by the Indiana Plumbing Commission, which renews and issues statewide plumber licenses for journeymen, apprentices, and plumbing contractors.
To qualify for journeyman exams and get your license, you must provide evidence of at least four years in an apprentice program approved by the commission or become a licensed plumbing contractor in another state. To qualify for a plumbing contractor exam, you must have completed at least four years of plumber training and pass a practical exam.
While there is no set requirements for plumbers to have a state-level in Kansas, you must have a plumbing company registration certificate, awarded by the Kansas Attorney General. You must also be able to offer proof of worker’s compensation insurance as well as liability insurance.
All plumbers must have a state license for them to perform plumbing work in Kentucky. There are several licenses issued by the Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction, Plumbing Division. To get a journeyman-level plumbing license, you must have least finished at least two years of work experience. In addition, you must have a valid journeyman license and pass a trade exam.
The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana awards licenses to plumbers in the state. The board gives two types of plumber licenses- master and journeyman- and also requires plumber apprentices to register. The state of Louisiana requires you to obtain a plumbing license for plumbing work valued at over $10k in materials and labor.
The state of Maine needs a license for anyone who wants legally conduct plumbing work of any kind. The state plumbing license is suitable for any kind of plumber, from master to trainee. Maine awards four kinds of plumber licenses: trainee plumber, journeyman plumber, journeyman-in-training plumber, master plumber, and journeyman plumber. Each of these licenses comes with specific requirements.
To do plumbing work in Maryland, you must hold a license. There are multiple levels of plumbing licenses, and each comes with its specific requirements. For instance, an apprentice plumber must have a minimum age of 16 years. To become a journeyman plumber, you must be a licensed apprentice for at least 4 years. You must show proof of 7500 hours of work under a licensed master plumber. You must have held a journeyman license for at least two years for you to apply for a master-level plumbing license.
In the state of Massachusetts, plumbers are required to be licensed by the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gasfitters. Each license has a unique set of plumbing requirements. For example, to qualify for a journeyman plumber license you must show proof of 8500 hours as an apprentice under the supervision of a licensed plumber.
In the state of Minnesota, all plumbers must be adequately licensed before they are allowed to work. Licenses are awarded by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Licensing and Construction Codes division. To obtain a journeyman plumber, you must show proof of a minimum of 7,000 hours of on-the-job experience and pass the state-level licensing examination. But for those who want to attain the master plumber status, they must have a journeyman license and 1750 hours of work experience.
To work as a plumber in Mississippi, you need to obtain a state contractor plumbing license. The State Board of Contractors awards these licenses. Plumber licensing is needed for residential projects exceeding $10000 in value, and it is also required for commercial plumbing work exceeding $50000. But you have to pass exams to obtain a license.
You don’t need a plumbing license for projects that don’t meet these values. But there may be local licensing requirements. Consult with experienced plumbers in your area to know more.
In Montana, the state law requires apprentices to obtain five years of hands-on, practical experience before becoming journeyman plumbers and later get another four years’ experience to attain the master’s level plumber status.
While there are no particular licensing requirements for plumbing contractors in Nebraska, you must register with the Department of Labor.
To work as a plumbing contractor in Nevada, you will require a license. Said license is awarded by the Nevada Board of Plumbing Examiners. To qualify for a journeyman plumber license, you must complete at least four years of experience in an accredited plumber apprentice program or show proof of 8,000 hours of job experience. You have to work as a journeyman for at least one year and pass an exam to attain the master plumber status.
North Carolina requires all plumbers to be licensed to do plumbing work. Such a license is issued by the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors. You must show proof of several years of work experience and pass the exams.
In the state of Ohio, there are no specific requirements for plumbers to get licensed. However, commercial plumbers may require to be registered with the Construction Industry Licensing Board.
The state of Oklahoma requires all plumbers to have a practicing license before they can be allowed to work. Such licenses are awarded by the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board. To qualify for a journeyman plumber license, you must show proof of at least three years of work experience working under the supervision of a licensed plumber. To get a master plumber license, you must show proof of three years of experience as a journeyman plumber.
Aspiring plumbers in Pennsylvania don’t require a state license to work on plumbing projects. But, there may be local plumbing rules and regulations, so check out before you start to work.
In the state of Tennessee, you may need a state license or just a certification to perform plumbing work. Licensing will be determined by the kind of work you plan to do. For example, a limited license plumber is needed for smaller projects and one must pass the state-level exam. On the flip side, plumbers with projects exceeding $25000 will be required to apply for a plumbing contractor license after passing the exam.
In Wyoming, a state license is not needed to work as a plumbing contractor.
In the state of New York, there are no plumbing licensing requirements. But you need to understand that some counties and cities have stringent local requirements so be sure to check before you start working.
In the state of Wisconsin, plumbers are required to have a license before they can be allowed to work. Said license is issued by the Department of Safety and Professional Services, Division of Professional Credentialing Processing. This state board offers two kinds of licenses; master and journeyman level plumber licenses. To qualify for a journeyman plumber license, you must complete an accredited apprenticeship program and pass a licensing examination. For master plumber status, you must have a minimum of 1000 hours of work experience as a journeyman plumber.
Because every state has its unique plumbing licensing regulations and rules, you should check with state and local governments for extra requirements for getting your license.