Why Do Plumbers Need a License in Almost All States?

Plumbing is an essential part of your day-to-day 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 a job well done. While reading reviews and learning more about the company’s reputation can help, the main thing to look for is a plumbing license. 

Only a handful of states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Wyoming — don’t require plumbing licenses through the state. Actually, they depend on city and county governments to offer oversight and licensing. While the exact requirements to earn a plumbing license vary by city, you can be certain that hiring a licensed specialist is the ideal way to reduce the chance of poor workmanship, fraud and health issues. 

Educational Expectations for Plumbers 

This is what it takes to obtain a plumber’s license: 

  • Education: Plenty of vocational schools and community colleges offer plumbing certificates or degrees. This classroom training encompasses all the essential skills plumbers use on a regular basis. 
  • Apprenticeship: Both union and non-union organizations provide apprenticeship programs that bundle classroom learning with practical experience. These programs usually last four to five years, and apprentices receive 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 topics covered deal with 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 receive 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: Certain states only need plumbers to have a certificate to handle residential jobs with a minimal scope of work. This is more or less an apprentice-level plumber working with master plumber oversight. 
  • Journeyman plumber: Usually, plumbers may take the journeyman’s licensing exam after completing an apprenticeship and having 4 – 5 years of hands-on experience. 
  • Master plumber: The requirements to qualify for the master plumber’s licensing exam vary significantly by location. Some states only require 1 – 2 years working as a journeyman plumber, while others insist on four or five years of journeyman experience. 
  • ACE certification: Training to be an Advanced Certified Expert demonstrates the highest level of professionalism and experience. Receiving ACE certification is more rigorous than most plumber licensing and requires annual recertification to ensure techs stay up-to-date with the most current industry standards. 

Perks of Hiring a Licensed Plumber 

Using an unlicensed plumber for the job may save you a few dollars up front, but that’s where the benefits stop. Don’t gamble on your plumbing — only hire a licensed expert, no matter the job, to ensure all the perks of professional experience: 

  • Outstanding craftsmanship: Plumbing is not as simple as you might think. Completing even the most straightforward tasks, like snaking a drain, needs specialized equipment and years of experience. As a result of the intensive training needed for certification, you can rest easy knowing that a licensed plumber has what it takes for a job well done. 
  • Liability insurance: Most states require plumbers to show proof of liability insurance as part of the licensing process. This prevents you, the homeowner, from liability for property damage or medical bills if a plumber has an mishap while working in your home. 
  • Legitimate and code-compliant: Big plumbing jobs frequently need to have permits to ensure safety and legality. Unlicensed plumbers are routinely refused the needed permits. If they proceed with the job, you could face code violations and fines later on. Furthermore, you may face legal problems if an unlicensed plumber impairs the local waterways. Prevent these risks by only choosing a licensed professional. 
  • Preserved health and safety: A qualified plumber adheres to the proper techniques for working on water supply lines, sewer pipes and natural gas lines. Years of hands-on experience are necessary to minimize the risk of water contamination, sewer backups and gas leaks. 
  • Trustworthy services: Not all plumbers have your best interest at heart. But a fully licensed team is much less likely to attempt to swindle you than an unlicensed company. After all, homeowners can lodge an official complaint with the state licensing board if they suspect fraud, 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. 

Set up Any Plumbing Services with a Licensed Professional 

At Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we go above and beyond to provide the best plumbing services to our clients in 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.

Chat with a Service Experts Professional