Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is a crucial part of your everyday life. When you call a plumber to clear your drains, fix your water heater or install a water softener, you want the assurance of a job well done. While reading reviews and evaluating the company's history can help, the # 1 thing to look for is a plumbing license.

Only a few states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t assign plumbing licenses through the state. Alternatively, they depend on city and county governments to offer oversight and licensing. While the actual requirements to secure a plumbing license vary by region, you can rest knowing that hiring a licensed professional is the ideal way to minimize the risk of mediocre workmanship, scams and health concerns.

Educational Expectations for Plumbers

Here’s what it takes to become a licensed plumber:

  • Education: Lots of vocational schools and community colleges provide plumbing certificates or degrees. This classroom training covers all the vital skills plumbers use on a regular basis.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations offer apprenticeship courses that combine classroom learning with hands-on experience. These programs usually last 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 deal with 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 different licenses and certifications based on their training 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: Some states only require plumbers to have a certificate to work on residential jobs with a limited scope of work. This is generally an apprentice-level plumber working with supervision.
  • Journeyman plumber: Usually, plumbers can take the journeyman’s licensing exam after completing an apprenticeship and having 4 - 5 years of field experience.
  • Master plumber: The prerequisites to take the master plumber’s licensing exam vary widely by location. Some states only demand 12 to 24 months working as a journeyman plumber, whereas others insist on four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Progressing to an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and working experience. Attaining ACE certification is more stringent than most plumber licensing and usually requires annual recertification to keep technicians up-to-date with the most recent industry standards.

Perks of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Selecting an unlicensed plumber for the job may be cheaper initially, but that’s where the benefits end. Why chance it? — only work with a licensed expert, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Excellent craftsmanship: Plumbing is not an easy field. Conducting even the most direct jobs, 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 will solve the problem.
  • Liability insurance: Most states require plumbers to show proof of liability insurance as one component of the licensing process. This keeps you, the homeowner, from liability for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an accident while working in your home.
  • Legitimate and code-compliant: Big plumbing jobs frequently have to have permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are typically turned down the needed permits. If they go ahead with the job, you could face code violations and subsequent penalties later on. Similarly, you might face legal consequences if an unlicensed plumber damages the local waterways. Remove these risks by only contracting a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A well-qualified plumber understands the proper techniques for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and fuel lines. Years of hands-on experience are vital to minimize the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Reliable services: Not all plumbers have your best interest at heart. But a fully licensed team is far less likely to try to mislead you than an unlicensed company. After all, homeowners can file a complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect fraud, 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.

Arrange 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 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 schedule reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact us today!

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