Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is a crucial part of your everyday 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 a job well done. While reading reviews and considering the company's history can help, the number one thing to look for is a plumbing license.

Only a few states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t issue plumbing licenses at the state level. Instead, they count on city and county groups to provide oversight and licensing. While the exact requirements to secure a plumbing license vary by city, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed professional is the ideal way to reduce the chance of low-quality workmanship, deception and health issues.

Educational Requirements for Plumbers

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

  • Education: Plenty of 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 courses that blend 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 test, which candidates must pass to earn a license. The subject areas covered consist of 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 attain multiple licenses and certifications based on their knowledge and experience. These vary by location, and not all are available in every state, but the most familiar plumbing licenses and certifications include:

  • Plumbing certificate: Some states only require plumbers to have a certificate to handle residential jobs with a minimal scope of work. This is essentially an apprentice-level plumber working with a certified supervisor.
  • Journeyman plumber: In most states, plumbers will take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having the necessary years of hands-on experience.
  • Master plumber: The prerequisites to qualify for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary widely by location. Some assessments only expect one or two years working as a journeyman plumber, but others require four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Training to be an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the top level of professionalism and practical experience. Earning ACE certification is more exhausive than most plumber licensing and involves yearly recertification to ensure techs stay up-to-date with the most current industry standards.

Perks of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Selecting an unlicensed plumber for the job could be less expensive at first, but that’s where the benefits stop. 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:

  • Exceptional workmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as it may seem. Conducting even the most direct tasks, like snaking a drain, requires 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 solve the problem.
  • Liability insurance: A large number of states require plumbers to display proof of liability insurance as one component of the licensing process. This keeps you, the homeowner, from being held liable for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an accident while performing services in your home.
  • Legitimate and code-compliant: Big plumbing jobs usually have to have permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are regularly refused the required permits. If they proceed with the job, you could face code violations and subsequent penalties later on. Similarly, you can face legal consequences if an unlicensed plumber impairs the local waterways. Prevent these risks by only choosing a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A well-qualified plumber adheres to the proper methods for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and fuel lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to minimize the risk of water contamination, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Reputable 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 attempt to mislead you than an unlicensed company. Besides, homeowners can file a 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.

Set up Any Plumbing Services with a Licensed Professional

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