Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is a crucial part of your daily life. When you call a plumber to clean your drains, repair your water heater or install a water softener, you'd expect the assurance of a job well done. While reading reviews and evaluating the company's history can help, the number one thing to look for is a plumbing license.

Only six states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t require plumbing licenses through the state. Alternatively, they depend on city and county agencies to provide oversight and licensing. While the specific requirements to secure a plumbing license vary by region, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed professional is the top way to reduce the chance of inferior workmanship, deception and health problems.

Educational Requirements for Plumbers

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

  • Education: Many vocational schools and community colleges offer plumbing certificates or degrees. Usually this training covers all the crucial skills plumbers use on a regular basis.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations offer apprenticeship programs that combine classroom learning with on-site experience. These programs usually last four to five years, and apprentices earn wages throughout their training.
  • Licensing exam: A participating state offers its own plumbing exam, which candidates must pass to earn a license. The subject areas covered deal with 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 receive different licenses and certifications based on their education and experience. These vary by location, and not all are offered in every state, but the most typical plumbing licenses and certifications include:

  • Plumbing certificate: Many states only require plumbers to have a certificate to work on residential jobs with a moderate scope of work. This is generally an apprentice-level plumber working with a certified supervisor.
  • Journeyman plumber: In many states, plumbers may take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having four years of hands-on experience.
  • Master plumber: The criteria to be considered for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary significantly by location. Some places only demand 12 to 24 months 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. Receiving ACE certification is more stringent than most plumber licensing and usually requires yearly recertification to keep technicians up-to-date with the most recent industry standards.

Rewards of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Using an unlicensed plumber for the job could save you a few dollars up front, but that’s where the benefits end. Don’t risk it — only work with a licensed pro, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Exceptional craftsmanship: Plumbing is not an easy field. Performing even the most clear-cut jobs, like snaking a drain, involves specialized equipment and years of experience. Because of the need to complete classroom education and hands-on training, you can rest easy knowing that a licensed plumber will properly diagnose and resolve your plumbing problem.
  • Liability insurance: Nearly all states require plumbers to display proof of liability insurance as a condition 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.
  • Legal and code-compliant: Large plumbing jobs frequently need to have permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are regularly turned down the needed permits. If they continue with the job, you could receive code violations and accompanying fees later on. Furthermore, you can face legal consequences if an unlicensed plumber damages 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 fuel lines. Years of hands-on experience are essential to decrease the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Trustworthy services: Unfortunately, there are plumbers out there that don't have your best interest at heart. A fully licensed team is significantly less likely to try to mislead you than an unlicensed company. After all, homeowners can make a complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect deception, which might cost the plumber a severe fine or even causing them to lose 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 Fras-Air/General Service Experts, we go above and beyond to provide the best plumbing services to our communities 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 request an appointment for reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact a Fras-Air/General Service Experts office near you today!

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