Alabama Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Alabama
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Reliable plumbing is a matter of health and safety as much as convenience. Officials nationwide agree that to keep the public safe, there should be a minimum amount of education and competency required for all plumbers. Becoming a plumber in Alabama follows a pretty straightforward process. Alabama uses the apprenticeship model employed by many other states.
It will take you at least two years to learn the trade in Alabama before you can apply for a plumbing license. The good news is that there is a strong demand for these skilled tradespeople. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of plumbers is projected to grow 5% from 2020 to 2030. Alabama employs 6,220 plumbing professionals.
And, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, contractors are hiring. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 79% of firms in Alabama had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020.
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Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Alabama
Is a license required for plumbers in Alabama? Yes, and right from the start.
To legally perform any plumbing work in the state of Alabama, you must be certified. You must even register to get started as an apprentice. After two years of experience as an apprentice you can apply to test for a Journeyman License and then after another year of experience at that level you may apply to test to qualify for a Master Plumber’s License.
Certificates are issued by the Alabama Plumbers & Gas Fitters Examining Board.
Types of Plumbers Licenses in Alabama
What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Alabama?
There are three levels of licensure in Alabama:
Steps to Get a Plumbing License in Alabama
The Examining Board follows the state labor laws, which allow an individual to work legally beginning at age 14 with the proper paperwork. But, even if it’s just a summer job, you are required to register as an apprentice before beginning any plumbing work.
Submit Apprentice Registration form, $25 fee, and proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status.
Provide Social Security number.
Get two years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed journeyman plumber or master plumber or complete a board-approved apprentice training program.
Apply to take the journeyman licensing exam, including documentation of work experience or schooling and pay $110 fee.
Take and pass the licensing exam.
Apply for Journeyman Plumber License and pay $50 Initial Certificate fee.
Work as licensed journeyman plumber for one year under supervision of licensed master plumber.
Apply to take master plumber licensing exam, including documentation of work experience and pay $160 fee.
Take and pass the licensing exam.
Apply for Master Plumber License and pay $150 Initial Certificate fee.
File evidence of workers' compensation insurance. Most companies will provide that for employees.
If you own your own business, you must have a minimum amount of insurance —$300,000 for property damage, $100,000 general liability insurance— and submit a copy of your insurance certificate to the Examining Board.
Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Alabama
There are many benefits to getting your Alabama plumbing license:
Most important, it is required by law in Alabama to be licensed through the state to legally perform any plumbing.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed master plumbers can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits and pass inspections, bid on public and government projects.
Having a license protects your company and customers.
A license gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It also increases your earning potential.
What Is the Mean Salary for a Plumber in Alabama?
The annual mean wage for a plumber in Alabama is $47,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That salary increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to indeed.com.
Apprentice: The average wage for an apprentice plumber is $19.71 per hour in Alabama and $5,500 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $26.76 per hour in Alabama and $6,750 overtime per year.
Salary can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbers License in Alabama?
The varying levels of registration/licensing cost different amounts in Alabama.
No testing required
Initial Registration Fee: $25
Renewal Fee: $25
Non-Refundable Examination Fee: $110
Initial Certificate Fee: $50
Renewal Fee: $50
Non-Refundable Examination Fee: $160
Initial Certificate Fee: $150
Renewal Fee: $150
How to Get a Plumbers License in Alabama
WORK EXPERIENCE: Alabama requires anyone doing any kind of plumbing work to register with the Alabama Plumbers & Gas Fitters Examining Board. Step one is to register as an Apprentice by submitting this form along with a $25 registration application fee and proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence of Non-Citizen Form. You may then begin accruing the two years of experience needed to apply to test for a Journeyman License. You may gain that experience through an apprentice/entry level job working under a licensed journeyman or master plumber or through a board-approved apprentice training program like those on the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship website.
APPLY TO TAKE JOURNEYMAN LICENSE EXAM: After you’ve completed an approved apprentice program or college degree program or you’ve worked a minimum of two years as a registered apprentice, you can apply to the board to take the Journeyman Plumber Examination. Submit this Application for Examination Form and a non-refundable fee of $110. Once the exam application is processed, you will receive an Exam Eligibility Notification explaining how to schedule your exam with PSI Testing Services. You have 30 days from the date of approval to take the exam. If you don’t take it within 30 days, you must reapply to the board, and you forfeit the fee.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: After passing the exam, you can apply online for your Journeyman Plumber Certification. You have 90 days to get your certification after passing the exam. Or you can use this packet and submit it along with a $50 Initial Certificate Fee.
WORK EXPERIENCE: If you wish to become a Master Plumber, you will need to repeat the process above. You will need to work a minimum of a year as a Journeyman Plumber under a licensed Master Plumber before you can apply to take the Master Plumber Examination.
APPLY TO TAKE MASTER LICENSE EXAM: After you’ve completed at least a year as a journeyman, you can apply to the board to take the Master Plumber Examination. Submit this Application for Examination Form and a non-refundable fee of $160. Once the exam application is processed, you will receive an Exam Eligibility Notification explaining how to schedule your exam with PSI Testing Services. You have 30 days from the date of approval to take the exam. If you don’t take it within 30 days, you must reapply to the board, and you forfeit the fee.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: After passing the exam, you can apply online for your Master Plumber Certification. You have 90 days to get your certification after passing the exam. Or you can use this packet and submit it along with a $150 Initial Certificate Fee.
PROVIDE PROOF OF INSURANCE: All applicants must file evidence of workers' compensation insurance. If you own your own business, you must have a minimum amount of insurance —$300,000 for property damage, $100,000 general liability insurance— and submit a copy of your insurance certificate to the Examining Board.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbers License in Alabama?
It only takes two years to qualify to take the Journeyman License Exam in Alabama, and you will be working and earning money the whole time. It’s a relatively short time as compared to many other states, and it only requires another year to qualify to test for a Master-level license.
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Alabama Plumber Training Programs and Schools
Plumbers are responsible for a lot more than just fixing leaks or clogs. They design, install and renovate systems that carry liquids or gasses.
There are many programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional in Alabama. You’ll need to find a contractor or company with an opening for an apprentice. You can do that independently, using websites like the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship site or the Apprentice Finder, a site sponsored by the Department of Labor. Or you can enroll in a trade school or local union apprenticeship program.
Those programs can often help connect you with a licensed plumbing contractor to oversee your apprenticeship. Oftentimes, if you start by finding an entry-level job yourself, an employer will pay for your schooling or reimburse you for it as long as you maintain a minimum grade level, usually a B or better.
You can also choose to earn a degree in plumbing and heating at a college or university. It will take about two years to get the classroom and hands-on training you need to prepare for the licensing exam. For example, several Alabama Community Colleges offer associate's degrees in plumbing technology.
You’ll learn about plumbing systems including:
Underground water supply
Waste and vent piping both inside and outside of buildings
Residential and service plumbing
Any program should also cover OSHA safety training, detailed instruction in chemistry, mathematics, physics, blueprint reading and drafting, in-depth examination of state codes, and advanced training about water treatment systems, water heaters, plumbing appliances, and plumbing fixtures.
Here are three great lists of the best plumbing colleges and universities in Alabama:
Universities.com: Best Plumbing Colleges in Alabama
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Alabama
Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Alabama
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose and varies widely. The good news is, in many programs, you’ll be earning while you’re learning. Tuition for a trade school can be as little as $1,250 to 3,000 for a certificate program, or an associate’s degree can run from $3,000 to $23,000 depending on the school, according to education.costhelper.com.
Program Prerequisites: Most programs require you to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) degree. Many require you to pass a physical and a drug test.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you will need to have good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have mechanical capability, and be physically fit because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing, and working in tight spaces.
Alabama Plumber Licensing Exam Details
The State of Alabama Plumbers & Gas Fitters Examining Board has contracted with PSI Testing Services to conduct the examinations for certification. Eligibility to take an exam is determined by the board. Once you are approved to take the exam, you will receive an Examination Eligibility Notification. You are now ready to contact PSI to schedule the exam. You have 30 days from the date of approval to take the exam.
According to the PSI Testing Candidate Information Bulletin for Alabama, the Journeyman Plumber test is made up of 70 questions, and you will be given three hours to complete it. The subject areas covered are:
Plumbing Fixtures and Terminology
Traps, Cleanouts, and Interceptors
Plan and Analysis
The Master Plumber test is made up of 100 questions, and you will be given four hours to complete it. The subject areas covered are the same as above but also includes a section on Laws and Rules.
Both exams are open book. You may bring the following reference materials:
International Plumbing Code, 2015,International Code Council, 4051 W Flossmoor Rd, Country Club Hills, IL 60478, (800) 786-4452, http://www.iccsafe.org
Mathematics for Plumbers and Pipefitters, 8thEdition, 2013, Delmar/Thomson Learning, (800) 347-7707, www.cengage.com
Alabama Code: Plumbers and Gas Fitters, Chapter 37, http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/alcode/34/37
Rules of the Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board, 720-x, http://pgfb.state.al.us/rules.aspx
You must score a 70% or higher to pass each of the exams. Your score will be given to you immediately following completion of the exam, and it will be provided to the state as well.
There are PSI testing sites in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery as well as out-of-state locations. You should arrive 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time and you must provide two forms of identification. One must be a valid form of government-issued identification (driver’s license, state ID, passport), which bears your signature and has your photograph. The second ID must have your signature and preprinted legal name like a credit card or Social Security card. Your name as shown while registering must exactly match the name on the photo ID used when checking in at the examination center.
Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Alabama?
The Alabama Plumbers & Gas Fitters Examining Board issues plumbers certificates in Alabama.
Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board
216 Aquarius Drive, Suite 319
Homewood, AL 35209
Does My Alabama Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?
No. Alabama does not have any reciprocity agreements with any other states at this time. The Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board has information on its website for Out-of-State Plumbers. If you are currently certified/licensed as a plumber in another state, you may be able to waive the work-experience waiting period to take the examination for an equivalent classification in Alabama. You will need to fill out this packet and if you are approved to test you will then be contacted to register and pay for the exam.
Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. National Inspection Testing and Certification (NITC), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (ASSE Certifications), and other professional certifications are not required but may make you a more attractive hire to prospective employers or can increase your marketability to customers.
Other Requirements Specific to Alabama
All certificates and registrations expire on Dec. 31 of each year. Renewals begin Oct. 1, so you have from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 to renew your apprentice registration or your journeyman or master plumber certificate. You can use this online portal to renew.
The renewal fees are:
If you do not renew on time, the late fee is equal to the renewal rate, so you will be paying double.
The State of Alabama does not require any continuing education to renew your license.
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