Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is an important part of your everyday life. When you call a plumber to clean your drains, service your water heater or install a water softener, you'd expect the assurance of getting the job done right. While reading reviews and considering the company's years of experience can help, the # 1 thing to look for is a plumbing license.

Only a handful of states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t require plumbing licenses at the state level. Alternatively, they count on city and county groups to provide oversight and licensing. While the actual requirements to get a plumbing license vary by city, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed specialist is the top way to decrease the chance of mediocre workmanship, fraud and health concerns.

Educational Criteria for Plumbers

Here’s what it takes to get a plumber's license:

  • Education: Plenty of vocational schools and community colleges provide plumbing certificates or degrees. In most scenarios, the training includes all the vital skills plumbers use every day.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations have apprenticeship training that integrate classroom learning with practical experience. These programs normally take four to five years, and apprentices earn wages throughout their training.
  • Licensing exam: A participating state offers its own plumbing test, which candidates must pass to receive a license. The topics covered include plumbing fixtures, drainage systems, vents and venting, fabrication, pipe maintenance, administrative procedures and more. Requirements to take the exam vary based on where you are and licensing level.

Types of Plumbing Licenses and Certifications

Plumbers can earn various licenses and certifications based on their education and experience. These vary by location, and not all are available in every state, but the most typical plumbing licenses and certifications include:

  • Plumbing certificate: Certain states only need plumbers to have a certificate to complete residential jobs with a moderate scope of work. This is primarily an apprentice-level plumber working with an experienced supervisor.
  • Journeyman plumber: In many states, plumbers can take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having the necessary years of on-site experience.
  • Master plumber: The prerequisites to take the master plumber’s licensing exam vary greatly by location. Some assessments only require 1 - 2 years working as a journeyman plumber, while others insist on four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Training to be an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the maximum level of professionalism and experience. Earning ACE certification is more exhausive than typical plumber licensing and requires yearly recertification to guarantee that techs are up-to-date with the most recent industry standards.

Advantages of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Choosing an unlicensed plumber for the job may save you a few dollars up front, but that’s where the benefits stop. Don't gamble on your plumbing — only choose a licensed expert, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Awesome craftsmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as it may seem. Performing even the most direct projects, like snaking a drain, requires specialized equipment and years of experience. Given the amount of training needed to achieve their certifications, you can rest easy knowing that a licensed plumber has what it takes for a job well done.
  • Liability insurance: A large number of states require plumbers to show proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process. This keeps you, the homeowner, from being held liable for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an accident while working in your home.
  • Legal and code-compliant: Big plumbing jobs usually need to have permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely refused the required permits. If they continue with the job, you could confront code violations and accompanying fees later on. Additionally, you may face legal repercussions if an unlicensed plumber damages the local waterways. Remove these risks by only choosing a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A qualified plumber knows the proper methods for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are essential to minimize the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Reputable services: Some plumbers don't have your best interest at heart. A fully licensed team is much less likely to try to mislead you than an unlicensed company. After all, homeowners can make an official complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect being cheated, which might cost the plumber a severe fine or even causing them to forfeit their license. Knowing this provides extra peace of mind when hiring a plumber for the first time.

Arrange Plumbing Services with a Licensed Professional

At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, we go above and beyond to deliver the best plumbing services to our clients in North America. First, we are licensed, insured and ACE-certified. What’s more, everything we do is backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee. To receive reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact a Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office near you today!