Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is an important part of your daily life. When you trust a plumber to clean your drains, service your water heater or install a water softener, you’d like the assurance of getting the job done right. While reading reviews and considering the company’s reputation 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 require plumbing licenses at the state level. Alternatively, they expect city and county governments to provide oversight and licensing. While the exact requirements to secure a plumbing license vary by region, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed professional is the top way to decrease the risk of low-quality workmanship, fraud and health concerns. 

Educational Requirements for Plumbers 

Here’s what it takes to get a plumber’s license: 

  • Education: Numerous vocational schools and community colleges provide plumbing certificates or degrees. In most scenarios, the training includes all the crucial skills plumbers use every day. 
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations have apprenticeship courses that combine classroom learning with practical experience. These programs usually take four to five years, and apprentices earn wages during the course of their training. 
  • Licensing exam: A participating state offers its own plumbing assessment, which candidates must pass to receive a license. The topics 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 attain multiple 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: Certain states only need plumbers to have a certificate to handle residential jobs with a minimal scope of work. This is effectively an apprentice-level plumber working with a certified supervisor. 
  • Journeyman plumber: In many states, plumbers can take the journeyman’s licensing exam after completing an apprenticeship and having the required years of on-site experience. 
  • Master plumber: The requirements to qualify for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary significantly by location. Some assessments only expect 12 to 24 months working as a journeyman plumber, whereas 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 experience. Attaining ACE certification is more rigorous than typical plumber licensing and usually requires annual 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 may save you a few dollars up front, but that’s where the benefits stop. Don’t gamble on your plumbing — only work with a licensed pro, regardless of the job size, to ensure all the perks of professional experience: 

  • Excellent craftsmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as you might think. Completing even the most basic tasks, like snaking a drain, needs specialized equipment and years of experience. Given the amount of training needed to achieve their certifications, you can rest easy knowing that a licensed plumber will solve the problem. 
  • Liability insurance: Nearly all states require plumbers to show proof of liability insurance as one component of the licensing process. This prevents you, the homeowner, from being left responsible for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an accident while working in your home. 
  • Authorized and code-compliant: Big plumbing jobs usually need to have permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are typically refused the necessary permits. If they continue with the job, you could face code violations and fines later on. Additionally, you may face legal repercussions if an unlicensed plumber damages the local waterways. Prevent these risks by only employing a licensed professional. 
  • Preserved health and safety: A competent plumber adheres to the proper techniques for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and natural gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to reduce the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks. 
  • Trustworthy services: Some plumbers don’t have your best interest at heart. A fully licensed team is far less likely to try to mislead you than an unlicensed company. In the end, homeowners can make an official complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect being cheated, leaving the plumber with a steep fine or even causing them to forfeit 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we go above and beyond to provide 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 request an appointment for reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact a Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office near you today! 

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