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How to Become a Licensed Plumber in the State of Texas

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By Johnny Bevers

Texas, like most states, has their own set of requirements in order for someone to become a plumber.  These requirements are overseen by the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners.  This agency creates a list of requirements, regulations and even facilitates the testing to ensure every licensed plumber in the state is adequate enough at their profession.  While it’s a somewhat arduous process, getting your license in the state can be very lucrative if you happen to be in business for yourself.  Once you’ve stepped through the licensure process, you’re automatically placed in high demand by the many thousands of customers throughout the state of Texas.  Read below to learn more…

What is a Licensed Plumber?

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Licensed plumbers are legally allowed to work on housing and commercial plumbing projects.  These professionals have passed the Texas Board of Plumbing examination and are state certified and licensed.  By hiring a licensed plumber, homeowners and business owners know that the contractor is not only adequate for the job, but that they have licenses and insurance to protect them from any damage.

Also, licensed plumbers are aware of the state building codes and work closely with city inspectors to ensure your plumbing job is performed according to regulations.  Without following these procedures your project could be denied and you will not be able to complete your project or even sell the property until it is properly finished.

Individuals who want to become licensed plumbers have a few years of work ahead of them.  Not only do you need schooling, you will also have to go through the various stages of the licensing process and meet specific state requirements as well as pass a final examination to be officially licensed.

Why Become a Licensed Plumber?

If you plan on opening up your own plumbing business or if you want to work for another professional company in the area, you need a license.  While you can apprentice, you cannot officially work on contract jobs and all of your work must be overseen by a licensed plumber.  Some companies may not hire you until you are licensed.  Also, if you plan on taking corporate projects or working for housing development companies, you will need a license, insurance and must be bonded.

A license gives people hiring you peace of mind.  Homeowners know that you’re experienced and you have passed the Texas Board of Plumbing requirements.  Businesses know that you are capable and insured, which means they are not risking their own investment by hiring you.

As a master or licensed plumber you will be paid at the higher end of the pay scale, especially compared to apprentices and journeyman plumbers.  Therefore, if you are looking to make a career out of being a plumber, you need to obtain your license from the Texas Board of Plumbing.

How to Become a Licensed Plumber

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The state of Texas requires several steps to become a licensed plumber.  Follow these steps and you’ll have no problem securing your state license:

Step 1:  Start as an Apprentice

Anyone interested in becoming a licensed plumber in Texas must first start as an apprentice.  You will need to register with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners on their website.  There is an application process and not everyone is approved for an apprenticeship; therefore, make sure you fill out your application in its entirety and ensure it is accurate.

Once approved, you will need to complete a minimum of 4,000 work hours as an apprentice plumber.  This work must be done under the direct supervision of a licensed plumber in the state of Texas.

You can find apprenticeship programs through the state board, but you can also find them through vocational and occupational training schools.  There are plenty of vocational schools that offer plumbing education, which can increase the chances you’re approved for an apprenticeship program.

You must be at least 16 years old to do a plumbing apprenticeship and you do not need a high school diploma or GED.  But, you are required to track and have your licensed plumber sign off on your hours.  If you do not have proof of the completion, you will not be able to move onto the next phase.

Step 2:  Become a Journeyman

After you have completed your apprenticeship program and met the 4,000 hour requirement and the additional 4,000 for journeyman from the state, you can apply for a journeyman plumber status.  You are required to apply and take a journeyman examination to receive your title.  That means you will need to prove you have worked as a tradesman plumber and you have completed your apprenticeship under a master and licensed plumber.

Journeyman plumbers are referred to as limited license plumbers in Texas.  In order to qualify for your limited license you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age or older
  • Have at least 8,000 hours (which is about two years) of valid experience that is completed on Certified Employer Verification forms
  • Have a current Texas apprenticeship registration or valid journeyman license from another state
  • Complete 24 hours of Texas Board-approved classroom training
  • Finish the application
  • Pass the journeyman licensing examination.

During this examination you will be tested on your knowledge of one-family and two-family dwellings and their respective plumbing systems.  You will also need to be able to pass a hands-on test and pass an 85-multipel answer test before receiving your license.

Step 3:  Become a Master Plumber

Master plumbers are licensed plumbers with the state of Texas.  This is the highest level of plumbing expertise and every company has at least one master plumber on staff. If you plan on opening your own business in Texas, you will need to be a master plumber.  To become a master plumber, you will need to pass not only the examination, but meet the minimum requirements, which include:

  • Being 18 years or older
  • Being licensed as a journeyman and have at least 8,000 hours of experience
  • Have your journeyman license for a minimum of one year if you went through an apprenticeship and four years if you did not
  • Pass the examination

state board of master plumbers pamphlet

During the exam you will be tested on your knowledge of single and multi-family dwellings.  You will have 210 questions on the examination, charts to complete, and hands-on testing to pass.  There is a non-refundable registration fee to take the examination, which can vary and increases year-to-year.  You can find current pricing for the exam on the Texas Board of Plumbing’s website as well as any new requirements — as these do change every few years.

How Long Does It Take to Get Licensed?

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When you consider the amount of training, apprenticeship and journeyman time you will spend, most plumbers take on average five to 10 years to reach master plumber status.  Some states also require additional years before they can become a master plumber.

While having a master plumber license is important, it is equally important you take your time and actually gain knowledge about the industry.  Plumbing is a high-demand industry that requires those who practice in that industry to be extremely knowledgeable and efficient.

Having a license proves your proficient and knowledgeable in your industry — and that gives you a competitive edge not only when you apply for jobs, but when you bid on projects around Texas.

The video below is just a short clip for a popular Dallas plumber.

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