Plumbing is an essential part of your daily life. When you trust a plumber to clear your drains, repair your water heater or install a water softener, you'd expect the assurance of getting the job done right. While reading reviews and considering the company's years of experience can help, the first 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 at the state level. Instead, they depend on city and county groups to offer oversight and licensing. While the specific requirements to get a plumbing license vary by city, you can be certain that hiring a licensed specialist is the best way to reduce the chance of mediocre workmanship, scams and health problems.
Educational Requirements for Plumbers
Here’s what it takes to get a plumber's license:
- Education: Many vocational schools and community colleges provide plumbing certificates or degrees. This classroom training includes all the vital skills plumbers use on a daily basis.
- Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations provide apprenticeship training that integrate classroom learning with practical experience. These programs usually last four to five years, and apprentices get paid wages during their training.
- Licensing exam: Each state offers its own plumbing exam, which candidates must pass to earn a license. The subject areas 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 various licenses and certifications based on their knowledge 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 complete residential jobs with a moderate scope of work. This is more or less an apprentice-level plumber working with supervision.
- Journeyman plumber: In many states, plumbers may take the journeyman’s licensing exam after completing an apprenticeship and having 4 - 5 years of on-site experience.
- Master plumber: The criteria to take the master plumber’s licensing exam vary widely by location. Some states only demand 1 - 2 years working as a journeyman plumber, while others require four or five years of journeyman experience.
- ACE certification: Training to be an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the top level of professionalism and working experience. Receiving ACE certification is more stringent than most plumber licensing and usually requires annual recertification to guarantee that techs are up-to-date with the latest industry standards.
Perks of Hiring a Licensed Plumber
Selecting an unlicensed plumber for the job might be less expensive at first, but that’s where the benefits stop. Don't gamble on your plumbing — only choose a licensed pro, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience:
- Excellent craftsmanship: Plumbing is not an easy field. Performing even the most direct jobs, like snaking a drain, requires specialized equipment and years of experience. Because of the need to complete classroom education and hands-on training, you can be assured knowing that a licensed plumber will solve the problem.
- Liability insurance: A good number of states require plumbers to demonstrate proof of liability insurance as one component of the licensing process. This prevents you, the homeowner, from being held liable for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an mishap while completing work in your home.
- Authorized and code-compliant: Big plumbing jobs usually require permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely denied the necessary permits. If they continue with the job, you could face code violations and subsequent penalties later on. Furthermore, you could face legal consequences if an unlicensed plumber impairs the local waterways. Prevent these risks by only contracting a licensed professional.
- Preserved health and safety: A certified plumber knows the proper strategies for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and natural gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to decrease the risk of water contamination, sewer backups and gas leaks.
- Legitimate services: Not all plumbers have your best interest at heart. However, a fully licensed team is much less likely to try to swindle you than an unlicensed company. In the end, homeowners can lodge a 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.
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 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 request an appointment for reliable plumbing services in your area, please contact a Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office near you today!