Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Almost All States?

Plumbing is an important part of your everyday life. When you trust a plumber to clear your drains, service your water heater or install a water softener, you’d expect 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 assign plumbing licenses at the state level. Alternatively, they depend on 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 specialist is the ideal way to decrease the chance of inferior workmanship, fraud and health concerns. 

Educational Requirements for Plumbers 

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

  • Education: Lots of vocational schools and community colleges offer plumbing certificates or degrees. Usually this training encompasses all the essential skills plumbers use on a daily basis. 
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations offer apprenticeship courses that integrate classroom learning with practical experience. These programs typically last four to five years, and apprentices earn wages throughout their training. 
  • Licensing exam: Each state offers its own plumbing test, which candidates must pass to acquire a license. The topics covered deal with 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 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 mandate plumbers to have a certificate to complete residential jobs with a minimal scope of work. This is effectively an apprentice-level plumber working with master plumber oversight. 
  • Journeyman plumber: In many states, plumbers will take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having four years of practical experience. 
  • Master plumber: The requirements to qualify for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary greatly by location. Some states only expect 1 – 2 years working as a journeyman plumber, while others require four or five years of journeyman experience. 
  • ACE certification: Progressing to an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the maximum level of professionalism and practical experience. Receiving ACE certification is more exhaustive than most plumber licensing and requires annual recertification to guarantee that techs are up-to-date with the most current industry standards. 

Rewards of Hiring a Licensed Plumber 

Using an unlicensed plumber for the job might save you a few dollars up front, but that’s where the benefits stop. Why chance it? — only choose a licensed pro, no matter how simple or complex the job is, to ensure all the perks of professional experience: 

  • Excellent craftsmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as you might think. Performing even the most direct tasks, like snaking a drain, requires specialized equipment and years of expertise. As a result of the intensive training needed for certification, you can be assured knowing that a licensed plumber has what it takes for a job well done. 
  • Liability insurance: Nearly all states require plumbers to demonstrate proof of liability insurance as a condition of the licensing process. This protects you, the homeowner, from being left responsible for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an mishap while performing services in your home. 
  • Legal and code-compliant: Large plumbing jobs often require permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely turned down the required permits. If they proceed with the job, you could confront code violations and fines later on. Similarly, you may face legal consequences if an unlicensed plumber impairs the local waterways. Remove these risks by only hiring a licensed professional. 
  • Preserved health and safety: A certified plumber adheres to the proper strategies for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to reduce the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks. 
  • Reliable services: Some plumbers don’t have your best interest at heart. But a fully licensed team is significantly less likely to attempt to mislead you than an unlicensed company. Besides, homeowners can make an official complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect fraud, 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 Sunbeam Service Experts, we go above and beyond to provide the best plumbing services to our clients across 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 Sunbeam Service Experts office near you today!