Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is a crucial part of your daily 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 learning more about the company’s history can help, the # 1 thing to look for is a plumbing license. 

Only six states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t issue plumbing licenses through the state. Alternatively, they expect city and county governments to supply oversight and licensing. While the specific requirements to obtain a plumbing license vary by region, you can rest knowing that hiring a licensed professional is the ideal way to reduce the possibility of low-quality workmanship, scams and health problems. 

Educational Criteria for Plumbers 

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

  • Education: Plenty of vocational schools and community colleges provide 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 offer apprenticeship programs that bundle classroom learning with practical experience. These programs normally last four to five years, and apprentices receive wages throughout their training. 
  • Licensing exam: Each state offers its own plumbing test, which candidates must pass to acquire 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 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 common plumbing licenses and certifications include: 

  • Plumbing certificate: Some states only mandate plumbers to have a certificate to handle residential jobs with a limited scope of work. This is primarily an apprentice-level plumber working with an experienced supervisor. 
  • Journeyman plumber: In most states, plumbers will take the journeyman’s licensing exam after completing an apprenticeship and having the required years of on-site experience. 
  • Master plumber: The requirements to be considered for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary widely by location. Some assessments only require one or two years working as a journeyman plumber, whereas others insist on four or five years of journeyman experience. 
  • ACE certification: Becoming an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the top level of professionalism and working experience. Attaining ACE certification is more stringent than most plumber licensing and involves yearly recertification to ensure techs stay up-to-date with the latest industry standards. 

Rewards of Hiring a Licensed Plumber 

Selecting an unlicensed plumber for the job may be less expensive at first, but that’s where the benefits stop. Why chance it? — only choose a licensed expert, no matter how simple or complex the job is, to ensure all the perks of professional experience: 

  • Outstanding craftsmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as you might think. Completing even the most basic projects, like snaking a drain, requires 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: A good number of states require plumbers to show proof of liability insurance as one component of the licensing process. This protects you, the homeowner, from being left responsible for property damage or medical bills if a plumber has an accident while completing work in your home. 
  • Authorized and code-compliant: Large plumbing jobs usually require permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are typically denied the required permits. If they continue with the job, you could receive code violations and subsequent penalties later on. Additionally, you may face legal repercussions if an unlicensed plumber impairs the local waterways. Eliminate these risks by only contracting 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 essential to reduce the risk of water contamination, sewer backups and gas leaks. 
  • Legitimate services: Unfortunately, there are plumbers out there that don’t have your best interest at heart. However, a fully licensed team is significantly less likely to try to mislead you than an unlicensed company. In the end, homeowners can make a formal 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. 

Arrange Plumbing Services with a Licensed Professional 

At Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we go above and beyond to deliver 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 a Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office near you today! 

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