Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is an important part of your everyday life. When you hire a plumber to clear your drains, repair your water heater or install a water softener, you want the assurance of getting the job done right. While reading reviews and evaluating 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 issue plumbing licenses through the state. Actually, they count on city and county groups to provide oversight and licensing. While the specific requirements to get a plumbing license vary by city, you can rest knowing that hiring a licensed professional is the best way to decrease the risk of inferior workmanship, deception and health problems.

Educational Expectations for Plumbers

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

  • Education: Plenty of vocational schools and community colleges provide plumbing certificates or degrees. This classroom training covers all the necessary skills plumbers use on a regular basis.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations have apprenticeship courses that combine classroom learning with practical experience. These programs typically take four to five years, and apprentices receive wages throughout their training.
  • Licensing exam: A participating state offers its own plumbing exam, which candidates must pass to earn a license. The topics covered include plumbing fixtures, drainage systems, vents and venting, fabrication, pipe maintenance, administrative procedures and more. Qualifications to take the exam vary by state and licensing level.

Types of Plumbing Licenses and Certifications

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

  • Plumbing certificate: Many states only require plumbers to have a certificate to complete residential jobs with a minimal scope of work. This is primarily an apprentice-level plumber working with an experienced supervisor.
  • Journeyman plumber: Usually, plumbers can take the journeyman’s licensing exam after completing an apprenticeship and having the necessary years of on-site experience.
  • Master plumber: The requirements to take the master plumber’s licensing exam vary significantly by location. Some assessments only demand one or two 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 practical experience. Attaining ACE certification is more exhausive than most plumber licensing and demands annual recertification to ensure techs stay up-to-date with the most current industry standards.

Advantages of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Using 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:

  • Outstanding workmanship: Plumbing is not an easy field. Conducting even the most basic tasks, like snaking a drain, involves specialized equipment and years of expertise. Given the amount of training needed to achieve their certifications, you can rest assured that a licensed plumber has what it takes for a job well done.
  • Liability insurance: A good number of states require plumbers to display proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process. This prevents you, the homeowner, from being held liable for property damage or medical bills if a plumber has an mishap while completing work in your home.
  • Legal and code-compliant: Large plumbing jobs usually need to have permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely turned down the needed permits. If they move ahead with the job, you could face code violations and fines later on. Similarly, you can face legal repercussions if an unlicensed plumber impairs the local waterways. Prevent these risks by only employing a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A competent plumber understands the proper strategies for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are essential to reduce the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Legitimate services: Some plumbers don't have your best interest at heart. However, a fully licensed team is far less likely to attempt to swindle you than an unlicensed company. Besides, homeowners can lodge a complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect deception, 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.

Schedule Plumbing Services with a Licensed Professional

At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, we go above and beyond to offer the best plumbing services to our customers 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 request an appointment for reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact a Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office near you today!

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