Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is an essential part of your day-to-day life. When you hire a plumber to clear your drains, repair your water heater or install a water softener, you want the assurance of a job well done. While reading reviews and considering 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 require plumbing licenses at the state level. Instead, they use city and county groups to provide oversight and licensing. While the actual requirements to secure a plumbing license vary by city, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed specialist is the top way to reduce the risk of poor workmanship, fraud and health issues.

Educational Criteria for Plumbers

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

  • Education: Numerous vocational schools and community colleges facilitate plumbing certificates or degrees. This classroom training encompasses all the necessary skills plumbers use on a regular basis.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations offer apprenticeship courses that combine classroom learning with hands-on experience. These programs typically take four to five years, and apprentices earn wages during the course of their training.
  • Licensing exam: A participating state offers its own plumbing test, which candidates must pass to earn a license. The subject areas covered include things like plumbing fixtures, drainage systems, vents and venting, fabrication, pipe maintenance, administrative procedures and more. Qualifications to take the exam vary state-to-state and licensing level.

Types of Plumbing Licenses and Certifications

Plumbers can receive 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 familiar plumbing licenses and certifications include:

  • Plumbing certificate: Some states only need plumbers to have a certificate to complete residential jobs with a limited scope of work. This is primarily an apprentice-level plumber working with master plumber oversight.
  • Journeyman plumber: In many states, plumbers may take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having the necessary years of practical experience.
  • Master plumber: The prerequisites to take the master plumber’s licensing exam vary significantly by location. Some assessments only expect one or two years working as a journeyman plumber, whereas others call for four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Progressing to an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the top level of professionalism and practical experience. Attaining ACE certification is more stringent than typical plumber licensing and involves annual recertification to guarantee that techs are up-to-date with the most recent industry standards.

Rewards 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. But when it comes to your home’s plumbing — only work with a licensed expert, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Awesome craftsmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as you might think. Performing even the most clear-cut jobs, like snaking a drain, involves specialized equipment and years of experience. Given the amount of training needed to achieve their certifications, you can be assured knowing that a licensed plumber has what it takes for a job well done.
  • Liability insurance: A good number of states require plumbers to display proof of liability insurance as one component of the licensing process. This protects 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: Big plumbing jobs often have to have permits to guarantee safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely denied the needed permits. If they continue with the job, you could confront code violations and subsequent penalties later on. Additionally, you might face legal problems if an unlicensed plumber harms the local waterways. Remove these risks by only contracting a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A certified plumber knows the proper techniques for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and fuel lines. Years of hands-on experience are vital to reduce the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Trustworthy services: Some plumbers don't have your best interest at heart. But a fully licensed team is far less likely to attempt to scam you than an unlicensed company. In the end, homeowners can make a complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect being cheated, which might cost the plumber a severe fine or even causing them to forfeit 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, we go above and beyond to deliver the best plumbing services to our customers 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 schedule reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact a Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office near you today!

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