Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is an important part of your day-to-day life. When you hire a plumber to clean your drains, service 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 main 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 depend on city and county agencies to offer oversight and licensing. While the exact requirements to earn a plumbing license vary by region, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed specialist is the ideal way to reduce the chance of inferior workmanship, fraud and health problems.

Educational Criteria for Plumbers

This is what it takes to obtain a plumber's license:

  • Education: Lots of vocational schools and community colleges facilitate plumbing certificates or degrees. In most scenarios, the training covers all the crucial skills plumbers use on a regular basis.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations have apprenticeship training that integrate classroom learning with hands-on experience. These programs typically last four to five years, and apprentices get paid wages throughout their training.
  • Licensing exam: A participating state offers its own plumbing test, which candidates must pass to receive a license. The subject areas covered consist of plumbing fixtures, drainage systems, vents and venting, fabrication, pipe maintenance, administrative procedures and more. Criteria 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 education and experience. These vary by location, and not all are necessary 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 minimal scope of work. This is ultimately an apprentice-level plumber working with master plumber oversight.
  • Journeyman plumber: In many states, plumbers can take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having the required years of on-site experience.
  • Master plumber: The criteria to take the master plumber’s licensing exam vary significantly by location. Some assessments only expect 12 to 24 months working as a journeyman plumber, while others require four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Training to be an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and working experience. Receiving ACE certification is more rigorous than most plumber licensing and usually requires yearly recertification to guarantee that techs are up-to-date with the most current 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 end. Don’t risk it — only work with a licensed expert, no matter how simple or complex the job is, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Awesome craftsmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as it may seem. Performing even the most clear-cut tasks, like snaking a drain, needs specialized equipment and years of expertise. 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: Most states require plumbers to demonstrate proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process. This prevents you, the homeowner, from liability for property damage or medical bills if a plumber has an accident while performing services in your home.
  • Authorized and code-compliant: Big plumbing jobs often have to have permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are regularly turned down the required permits. If they proceed with the job, you could receive code violations and fines later on. Similarly, you could face legal repercussions if an unlicensed plumber harms the local waterways. Prevent these risks by only choosing a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A certified plumber adheres to the proper methods for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and natural gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to minimize the risk of water contamination, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Trustworthy services: Unfortunately, there are plumbers out there that don't have your best interest at heart. But a fully licensed team is far less likely to attempt to mislead you than an unlicensed company. After all, homeowners can lodge an official complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect being cheated, resulting in a hefty 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 Golden Seal Service Experts, we go above and beyond to deliver the best plumbing services to our customers throughout 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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