Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Most States?

Plumbing is a crucial part of your everyday life. When you call a plumber to clear your drains, repair 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 years of experience can help, the first 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. Instead, they use city and county governments to supply oversight and licensing. While the actual requirements to earn a plumbing license vary by city, you can rest assured that hiring a licensed specialist is the best way to decrease the risk of mediocre workmanship, deception and health concerns.

Educational Expectations for Plumbers

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

  • Education: Numerous vocational schools and community colleges offer plumbing certificates or degrees. In most scenarios, the training includes all the crucial skills plumbers use on a regular basis.
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations provide apprenticeship programs that bundle classroom learning with hands-on experience. These programs usually last four to five years, and apprentices earn wages during their training.
  • Licensing exam: Each state offers its own plumbing exam, which candidates must pass to receive a license. The topics 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 receive multiple licenses and certifications based on their training and experience. These vary by location, and not all are necessary in every state, but the most familiar plumbing licenses and certifications include:

  • Plumbing certificate: Many states only mandate plumbers to have a certificate to complete residential jobs with a moderate scope of work. This is more or less an apprentice-level plumber working with a certified supervisor.
  • Journeyman plumber: In most states, plumbers may take the journeyman’s licensing exam after finishing an apprenticeship and having four years of field experience.
  • Master plumber: The prerequisites to take the master plumber’s licensing exam vary widely by location. Some assessments only require 12 to 24 months working as a journeyman plumber, whereas others call for four or five years of journeyman experience.
  • ACE certification: Training to be an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the maximum level of professionalism and practical experience. Earning ACE certification is more stringent than most plumber licensing and usually requires yearly recertification to guarantee that techs are up-to-date with the latest industry standards.

Benefits of Hiring a Licensed Plumber

Using an unlicensed plumber for the job could be cheaper initially, but that’s where the benefits stop. Don’t risk it — only hire a licensed expert, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:

  • Superb workmanship: Plumbing is not an easy field. Performing even the most clear-cut jobs, like snaking a drain, needs specialized equipment and years of expertise. Because of the need to complete classroom education and hands-on training, you can rest assured that a licensed plumber will properly diagnose and resolve your plumbing problem.
  • Liability insurance: Most states require plumbers to show proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process. This keeps 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 frequently need to have permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely denied the required permits. If they move ahead with the job, you could encounter code violations and accompanying fees later on. Furthermore, you might face legal issues if an unlicensed plumber damages the local waterways. Eliminate these risks by only contracting a licensed professional.
  • Preserved health and safety: A qualified plumber understands the proper techniques for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and fuel lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to decrease 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 much less likely to try to scam you than an unlicensed company. Besides, homeowners can make a complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect being cheated, leaving the plumber with a steep fine or even causing them to lose 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 communities 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!