How to Get a Plumbing License (Updated 2023)

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How To Get a Plumbing License

Plumbing is a profession that requires licensure and certification to protect the public.

Typically, plumbing professionals need to pass an exam and complete a background investigation before they can begin work.

How does the plumbing license process work?

1. Attend a Plumbing School

The process to get a plumbing license typically begins with schooling.

Depending on the state, this is usually a trade school or college program that can take anywhere from two years to five years. The goal is to gain the experience and skills you need for your license exam.

Click here to check out plumbing schools near you.

2. Complete a Plumbing Apprenticeship

Once you’ve completed schooling, it’s time to find a plumbing apprenticeship program.

These programs are available through many state departments, as well as local businesses and nonprofits.

They usually offer a mix of classroom and hands-on training. You will be given the opportunity to work with other plumbers and apprentices as you learn the trade.

2a. Get an Apprentice Plumber License, if your state requires it

Some states require that plumbing apprentices are licensed, in which case attending a trade school can be beneficial.

You may need to get your license before working as an apprentice, or you will receive your license after completing the apprenticeship program or working in an apprentice plumber job.

3. Prepare For The Licensing Exam

A practical exam (also known as a performance exam) simulates a work situation to test a candidate’s ability and skill in performing critical and frequently performed job duties.

The exams are conducted by professional raters who are experts in the field.

While it is not easy to pass a practical examination by studying alone, the right study method can be extremely helpful in preparing for this type of exam.

Besides reading and studying the material, candidates should also practice using the tools they will be using on their practical exam.

Moreover, candidates should be familiar with the plumbing codes before taking the practical exam.

The codes are updated every code change cycle and provide accurate definitions for all the plumbing terms that will be used on the exam.

The practical exam consists of questions based on plumbing of one- and two-family dwellings and commercial installations. It also covers water supply protection and residential fire protection systems.

4. Obtain a Journeyman Plumber License

To receive your journeyman plumbing license, you must have a high school diploma or GED certificate.

You will also need to demonstrate between three to five years of work experience as an apprentice or under the direct supervision of a master plumber.

Having a master plumber sign an affidavit will be very helpful in demonstrating your required experience.

You will usually need to complete a journeyman plumber exam to further prove your competency for a license.  Depending on the state, the cost to get your plumbing license ranges from $25 – $250.

5. Work Towards The Master Plumber License

To become a master plumber, you must have at least two years of journeyman plumbing experience, although some states have greater experience requirements.

You will also need to pass a master licensing exam and submit a notarized affidavit from a master plumber.

Once you earn your master plumbing license, you’ll be able to perform just about any plumbing job available. You’ll also stand to make a much higher salary at your next job.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a plumbing license cost?

Licensing fees for plumbing cost between $150 and $250, depending on the state.

The cost to get your plumbing license depends on the state you’re working in and the level of certification you’re looking to attain.

In addition, you’ll pay a license fee and renewal fees every three years. The licensing fee varies by municipality and is usually on a sliding scale. It ranges from $25 to $100, with an extended option costing $125.

Do you need a license to be a plumber?

You will need a license in order to become a plumber in just about any line of work. Unless you plan on doing handyman work, most plumbing companies will require you to get a license.

What kind of plumbing work can be done without a license?

Plumbers without a license can complete jobs that do not require a permit, such as drain cleaning, and replacements.

However, working without a license limits job prospects and comes with professional risks, such as fines and penalties.

Is it illegal to do plumbing without a license?

It is only illegal for unlicensed plumbers to engage in plumbing work that requires a permit. It’s also against local or state law to hire an unlicensed plumber in some cases.

Can I transfer a plumbing license to another state?

Yes, some states have plumbing license reciprocity and will allow you to exchange your license for one in the new state. Make sure to check your state’s specific reciprocity rules before making a move.

How to Get a Plumbing License By State