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Guide: How to become a plumber

A career in plumbing can unlock numerous benefits and opportunities, but getting started might seem confusing. Paths to becoming a plumber vary from state to state, and sometimes even city to city. But there are a few common requirements many areas share.

Discover the basics of how to become a plumber, earn a plumbing certification and find resources in your location to get started on your journey to a rewarding trade career.

Step 1: Meet basic plumber education requirements

The first step to become a licensed plumber is to earn your high school diploma or pass the GED. Basic skills in reading, writing, science and math are essential to careers in the pro trade industry. Almost every day, plumbers take measurements and calculate formulas, so advanced knowledge of math and science is also critical.

While not required, strength in the following areas can provide a solid foundation for your plumber education and career advancement:

  • Geometry

  • Algebra

  • Metric units of measure

  • Thermodynamics

  • Biology

Pro tip: Keep a clean background

Plumbing license requirements vary by state, but a clean criminal background and driving record can help with becoming a licensed plumber. Many businesses and plumber training programs need bonding and liability insurance. They may avoid working with people with marks on their records.

As you work toward license requirements, keep the following off your record:

  • Reckless driving convictions

  • DUIs or DWIs

  • Extensive moving violations

  • Felony convictions of any kind

  • Certain misdemeanors

  • Failed drug tests

Generally, you should maintain a valid driver’s license with a clean record, have no criminal background and stay drug-free. This will likely make becoming a plumber much easier.

Step 2: Enroll in plumbing training courses

To become a professional plumber, many states first require a set amount of classroom hours. After you’ve earned your high school diploma or equivalent, your next step is to enroll in technical courses for plumbing.

A range of institutions offer plumbing training courses. To find programs near you, check out local community colleges, trade institutions and vocational schools, unions or professional plumbing associations.

Your location’s requirements will vary depending on city or state, but plumbing training topics could include:

  • Local plumbing codes

  • Water heating systems

  • Pipe cutting and soldering

  • Draining and venting

  • Electrical basics

  • Understanding blueprints and diagrams

Recommendation: Explore industry trade associations that help professional trade workers grow in their careers.

Step 3: Find a plumber apprenticeship

Some areas may require you to work for a set amount of hours as an apprentice. This work is done alongside an experienced plumber. The length of a plumber apprenticeship can last from as few as two years to as many as five.

Often, apprenticeship programs are completed while you’re enrolled in technical courses. Check with the institution where you’re receiving technical training to find an apprenticeship. They usually have information about how to become a plumber apprentice even if they don’t have a program for it.

Pro tip: See if local businesses are hiring plumber apprentices

Plumber apprenticeships may offer you the opportunity to earn while you learn. Check if local plumbing businesses are hiring apprentices. You’ll receive valuable on-the-job training from an industry veteran, and they may also pay you for your work.

Step 4. Take the plumbing test

Certain areas may require you to pass a written exam, a practical test or both to earn your plumbing license. If this is a requirement in your area, you’ll likely take it after completing your plumbing training courses and apprenticeship.

Expect the plumbing test or exam to cover what you learned on the job and in the classroom. Based on state and local requirements, once you pass the test, you could be considered a licensed journey-level plumber. Journeyman plumbers may be legally allowed to complete contract work on their own, without help from another qualified plumber.

As you gain experience as a journeyman, you can work toward your master plumber license. This could also grant you the ability to run your own contracting business.

Online plumbing license resources by state

State licensing varies across the U.S. A state board of contractors, a state board of examiners or local-level boards may grant plumbing licenses.

For specific information on how to become a plumber in your area, click your state’s region below. You’ll find information about plumbing license requirements by state and programs in your area, if applicable.

Note that some license requirements are mandated at the city or county level, and some states have limited online resources.





Ready to become a professional plumber?

If you think plumbing is the professional trade for you, find out more about the different industries you can build your career in and how much plumbers make across the U.S.