Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Almost All States?

Plumbing is an essential part of your daily life. When you hire a plumber to clean your drains, fix your water heater or install a water softener, you'd like the assurance of getting the job done right. While reading reviews and evaluating the company's years of experience can help, the # 1 thing to look for is a plumbing license.

Only a handful of states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t issue plumbing licenses through the state. Instead, they depend on city and county agencies to supply oversight and licensing. While the specific requirements to obtain a plumbing license vary by region, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed professional is the best way to decrease the risk of inferior workmanship, rip-offs and health concerns.

Educational Criteria for Plumbers

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

  • Education: Lots of vocational schools and community colleges offer plumbing certificates or degrees. Usually this training covers all the essential skills plumbers use every day.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations have apprenticeship programs that blend classroom learning with hands-on experience. These programs typically take four to five years, and apprentices receive wages during the course of their training.
  • Licensing exam: Each state offers its own plumbing exam, which candidates must pass to receive a license. The subject areas covered include things like 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 different licenses and certifications based on their knowledge and experience. These vary by location, and not all are offered in every state, but the most common plumbing licenses and certifications include:

  • Plumbing certificate: Some states only require plumbers to have a certificate to work on residential jobs with a minimal scope of work. This is more or less an apprentice-level plumber working with a certified supervisor.
  • Journeyman plumber: Usually, plumbers may take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having 4 - 5 years of field experience.
  • Master plumber: The prerequisites to be considered for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary significantly by location. Some assessments only require one or two years working as a journeyman plumber, but others require four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Progressing to an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the maximum level of professionalism and experience. Attaining ACE certification is more stringent than typical plumber licensing and usually requires yearly recertification to keep technicians up-to-date with the most recent industry standards.

Advantages of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Using an unlicensed plumber for the job may be cheaper initially, but that’s where the benefits end. But when it comes to your home’s plumbing — only work with a licensed pro, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Awesome craftsmanship: Plumbing is not an easy field. Performing even the most basic tasks, like snaking a drain, requires specialized equipment and years of experience. As a result of the intensive training needed for certification, you can rest assured that a licensed plumber has what it takes for a job well done.
  • Liability insurance: Nearly all states require plumbers to display proof of liability insurance as a condition 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 completing work in your home.
  • Legal and code-compliant: Large plumbing jobs commonly have to have permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely refused the required permits. If they go ahead with the job, you could receive code violations and subsequent penalties later on. Similarly, you may 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 qualified plumber understands the proper methods for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are vital to reduce the risk of water pollution, sewer backups and gas leaks.
  • Reputable services: Not all plumbers have your best interest at heart. However, a fully licensed team is much less likely to attempt to swindle you than an unlicensed company. Besides, homeowners can file an official 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.

Arrange Plumbing Services with a Licensed Professional

At McElroy Service Experts, we go above and beyond to offer the best plumbing services to our customers 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 receive reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact us today!

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