Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Almost All States?

Plumbing is an important part of your daily life. When you hire a plumber to clean your drains, service your water heater or install a water softener, you’d like the assurance of a job well done. While reading reviews and learning more about the company’s history can help, the # 1 thing to look for is a plumbing license. 

Only a few states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t require plumbing licenses through the state. Alternatively, they count on city and county groups to offer 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 top way to decrease the possibility of mediocre workmanship, fraud and health concerns. 

Educational Criteria for Plumbers 

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

  • Education: Numerous vocational schools and community colleges provide plumbing certificates or degrees. Usually this training includes all the crucial skills plumbers use every day. 
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations offer apprenticeship courses that combine classroom learning with on-site experience. These programs normally last four to five years, and apprentices get paid wages during the course of their training. 
  • Licensing exam: A participating state offers its own plumbing exam, which candidates must pass to receive a license. The subject areas covered consist of plumbing fixtures, drainage systems, vents and venting, fabrication, pipe maintenance, administrative procedures and more. Requirements 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 education 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 require plumbers to have a certificate to work on residential jobs with a limited scope of work. This is more or less an apprentice-level plumber working with supervision. 
  • Journeyman plumber: In most states, plumbers can 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 significantly by location. Some places only expect one or two years working as a journeyman plumber, while 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. Receiving ACE certification is more exhaustive than typical plumber licensing and involves yearly recertification to keep technicians up-to-date with the latest industry standards. 

Benefits of Hiring a Licensed Plumber 

Choosing an unlicensed plumber for the job could be cheaper initially, but that’s where the benefits stop. Don’t risk it — only choose a licensed expert, regardless of the job size, to ensure all the perks of professional experience: 

  • Outstanding workmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as you might think. Performing even the most basic tasks, 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 properly diagnose and resolve your plumbing problem. 
  • Liability insurance: A good number of states require plumbers to display proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process. This protects you, the homeowner, from liability for property damage or an injury on-site if a plumber has an accident while completing work in your home. 
  • Authorized and code-compliant: Large plumbing jobs usually require permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely denied the required permits. If they proceed with the job, you could face code violations and fines later on. Additionally, you may face legal problems if an unlicensed plumber harms the local waterways. Remove these risks by only employing a licensed professional. 
  • Preserved health and safety: A competent plumber understands the proper strategies 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. 
  • Trustworthy services: Some plumbers don’t have your best interest at heart. However, a fully licensed team is much less likely to attempt to scam you than an unlicensed company. In the end, homeowners can make an official complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect being cheated, resulting in a hefty fine or even causing them to forfeit 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we go above and beyond to deliver the best plumbing services to our communities 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 a Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office near you today! 

Savings For You

See All Offers Here >


  • Save $50 on a Paid Service
  • Written 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Plus, ask how to save an additional 15% and waive your trip charge!


  • Prevent costly damage from water leaks, drain clogs and tank damage
  • Written 100% Expert Service Guarantee

© 2024 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.