Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is a crucial part of your day-to-day life. When you trust a plumber to clean your drains, fix your water heater or install a water softener, you'd like the assurance of a job well done. While reading reviews and evaluating the company's years of experience can help, the number one thing to look for is a plumbing license.

Only a handful of states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t assign plumbing licenses through the state. Instead, they use city and county governments to provide oversight and licensing. While the specific requirements to get a plumbing license vary by city, you can be certain that hiring a licensed professional is the ideal way to decrease the risk of inferior workmanship, fraud and health concerns.

Educational Expectations for Plumbers

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

  • Education: Many vocational schools and community colleges provide plumbing certificates or degrees. Usually this training encompasses all the essential skills plumbers use on a daily basis.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations offer apprenticeship courses that integrate classroom learning with practical experience. These programs usually take four to five years, and apprentices receive wages throughout their training.
  • Licensing exam: Each state offers its own plumbing assessment, which candidates must pass to receive a license. The subject areas covered deal with plumbing fixtures, drainage systems, vents and venting, fabrication, pipe maintenance, administrative procedures and more. Criteria to take the exam vary based on where you are and licensing level.

Types of Plumbing Licenses and Certifications

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

  • Plumbing certificate: Some states only need plumbers to have a certificate to complete residential jobs with a moderate scope of work. This is effectively an apprentice-level plumber working with master plumber oversight.
  • Journeyman plumber: In most states, plumbers will take the journeyman’s licensing exam after completing an apprenticeship and having the necessary years of on-site experience.
  • Master plumber: The requirements to be considered for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary widely by location. Some assessments only require one or two years working as a journeyman plumber, while others call for four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Progressing to an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and experience. Receiving ACE certification is more rigorous than typical plumber licensing and requires yearly recertification to ensure techs stay up-to-date with the latest industry standards.

Perks of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Selecting 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 hire a licensed pro, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Exceptional workmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as it may seem. Completing even the most basic 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 assured that a licensed plumber will properly diagnose and resolve your plumbing problem.
  • Liability insurance: A good number of states require plumbers to show proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process. This protects you, the homeowner, from liability for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an mishap while performing services in your home.
  • Authorized and code-compliant: Large plumbing jobs often have to have permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely turned down the necessary permits. If they go ahead with the job, you could face code violations and fines later on. Furthermore, you might face legal repercussions if an unlicensed plumber harms the local waterways. Eliminate these risks by only contracting a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A competent plumber understands the proper methods for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to decrease the risk of water contamination, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Legitimate services: Not all plumbers have your best interest at heart. However, a fully licensed team is far less likely to attempt to mislead you than an unlicensed company. After all, homeowners can make a complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect deception, leaving the plumber with a steep fine or even causing them to lose their license. Knowing this provides extra peace of mind when hiring a plumber for the first time.

Set up Any Plumbing Services with a Licensed Professional

At Knochelmann Service Experts, we go above and beyond to offer the best plumbing services to our clients across 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 us today!

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