Arizona Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Arizona
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Learning the plumbing trade requires time, effort, and determination, but it can be a fulfilling career helping people and that offers job security. Almost every state requires plumbers to be licensed because it’s complicated work that impacts the health and safety of our society. Arizona has strict standards for working in the plumbing business.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 490,200 plumbers nationwide and Arizona employs 9,270 of them. That number is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 across the country, but in Arizona, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the projected growth rate is higher at 20% for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters and even higher than that at 28% for Helpers of Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters.
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And there’s more good news if you’re interested in this profession. The Associated General Contractors of America says contractors are hiring. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 79% of firms in Arizona had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020.
Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Arizona
Is a license required for plumbers in Arizona? Yes.
To legally perform plumbing work of more than $1,000 in the state of Arizona, you must be a licensed contractor or an apprentice working under someone who is a licensed contractor. Plumbing Contractor licenses are issued through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC).
The state does not license apprentices or issue journeyman licenses, but some of Arizona’s cities do license at the apprentice and journeyman level so you always want to check with the jurisdiction where you intend to work to make sure you’re following any local requirements. For instance, the city of Phoenix licenses plumbing professionals as journeyman or apprentices as described in the building code.
Types of Plumbers Licenses in Arizona
What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Arizona?
According to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, there are three types of statewide Plumbing Contractor licenses available.
Specialty Commercial C-37 Plumbing
Specialty Residential R-37 Plumbing, including Solar
Specialty Dual CR-37 Plumbing (Commercial and Residential)
You are required to have at least four years of experience for each of these licenses, and you must take and pass the Statutes and Rules Exam and the applicable Trade Exam. The type of work you intend to do will determine the license you seek.
Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Arizona
Be at least 18 years of age.
Attend formal plumbing diploma or certificate program or earn a two-year associate degree at a community college; or
Get a formal apprenticeship through a local union or trade organization or an informal apprenticeship through a sponsoring employer as an entry-level worker supervised by a licensed contractor.
Acquire four years of experience for any of the Plumbing licenses — Commercial, Residential, or Dual.
Take the Statutes and Rules Exam and the applicable Trade Exam paying the fees for each.
Complete all licensure requirements, including: pass the necessary examination(s), submit to background checks, form a legal entity — sole proprietorship (individual), a partnership, limited liability company or a corporation.
LLCs and corporations are required to register with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Partnerships are required to register with the Arizona Secretary of State.
Obtain and submit proof of a license bond.
Pay application fees.
Receive your statewide license and renew it every two years.
Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Arizona
There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Arizona plumbing license:
Most importantly, it is required by law in Arizona to be licensed through the state to legally perform any plumbing work.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed plumbing contractors 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 and increases your earning potential as you acquire more experience.
What Is the Median Salary for a Plumber in Arizona?
The annual mean wage for a plumber in Arizona is $52,930, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as compared to the national average, which is $61,000. However, that salary increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to indeed.com.
Apprentice: The average salary for an apprentice plumber is $19.36 per hour in Arizona and $5,429 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $26.20 per hour in Arizona and $10,331 overtime per year.
Salary can vary widely, depending on the city where you work and other factors like education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbers License in Arizona?
If you want to get started in the field, you may want to attend a vocational school or technical or community college for a certificate program or Associate of Applied Science degree just like you would in the air conditioning and refrigeration field. You will have that expense of schooling upfront. If you decide to go after an informal apprenticeship, you may encounter some fees but, usually, your employer covers the cost. You’ll also be paid a portion of a journeyman-level wage and that salary will increase as you learn.
The union apprenticeship program offered through Local UA Plumbers and Pipefitters 469 in Phoenix is a five-year program that costs $5,200, but you are earning wages from your first day on the job and as a member of the union you have the protections and benefits offered to all dues-paying members.
The Arizona contractor licensing fees vary. The application fee for Specialty Commercial is $100 and the license fee is $480. The application fee for Specialty Residential is $80, the license fee is $270, and the recovery fund assessment is $370 for a total of $720. The application fee for Specialty Dual (meaning both residential and commercial) is $100, the license fee is $380, and the recovery fund assessment is $370 for a total of $850. Each of these licenses must be renewed every two years. The renewal fees are: Specialty Commercial $480, Specialty Residential $540, and Specialty Dual $650.
Examination fees are not included. Each exam is $66 if taken separately, $116 for two portions, $156 including the Solar portion.
How to Get a Plumbers License in Arizona
You could begin with an apprenticeship that will combine hands-on training with classroom instruction and usually takes four to five years. You may decide to attend some type of certificate or diploma program. Or you may just jump into an entry-level plumber’s helper job and start learning on the job. The bottom line is that you need to learn and begin gaining the necessary work experience required for licensure.
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors offers free virtual monthly Applicant Education Seminars to help you navigate the process and answer any questions. They also have a step-by-step guide on “Applying for a License” on the website.
WORK EXPERIENCE/QUALIFYING PARTY: Step one will be to get the four years of work experience required to apply. You have to identify a qualifying party for the license. A Qualifying Party is a regularly employed person with the necessary experience, knowledge and skills— in this case, plumbing. You can be that person for an employer or a business you own yourself or with a partner. The Qualifying Party must meet or exceed the license classification requirements for the license for which they are applying.
The License Classification Requirements form provides the minimum number of years of experience and the types of examinations required for a Qualifying Party to be eligible for a specific license classification. For the plumbing licenses, that’s four years and both the Statutes and Rules Exam and the Trade Exam.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The Qualifying Party must pass the required examinations by at least 70% and submit the exam results. The Qualifying Party must complete the AZ SRE Statutes and Rules Exam as well as a specific trade exam, unless eligible for a waiver.
BACKGROUND CHECK: The Applicant and Qualifying Party must submit copies of the payment transaction receipt from their background checks. Click here to learn more and to submit a background check.
FORM LEGAL ENTITY: In Arizona, a license may be issued to a sole proprietorship (individual), a partnership, limited liability company or a corporation. LLCs and corporations are required to register with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Partnerships are required to register with the Arizona Secretary of State.
BOND: The applicant must obtain and submit proof of a license bond. Click this link for information on determining bonding requirements and to download a comprehensive list of all businesses licensed to offer surety products in this State by the Arizona Department of Insurance.
PROVIDE GOVERNMENT-ISSUED IDENTIFICATION: Both the Applicant and the Qualifying Party in the License Application must submit a copy of their government-issued identification such as a valid driver’s license or passport with the application.
COMPLETE AND SUBMIT APPLICATION AND FEES: Complete and submit a License Application Form, including all of the above documentation and the appropriate fees to the Registrar using one of the following methods:
Mail to: Registrar of Contractors, P.O. Box 6748, Phoenix, AZ 85005-6748
Deliver to: 1700 W. Washington Street, Suite 105, Phoenix, AZ 85007-2812
How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbers License in Arizona?
It will take a minimum of four years to qualify to take the Specialty Contractors license exam and apply for your license in Arizona, but you will have most likely spent some time taking classes first or an apprenticeship will likely take five years. As an apprentice, you will be earning a wage as you learn what you need to pass the state licensing exam. Likewise, if you take classes first as part of a certificate program or earn an Associate degree, you’ll still need to acquire the required four years of experience and you’ll be getting paid while you do.
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Arizona 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, so they must know more than just the mechanics. They must know plumbing code. There are quite a few colleges in Arizona that offer plumbing programs as well as many other training programs to get the training you need to become a licensed plumber. You can choose to attend a community or technical college and earn a certificate or degree in plumbing.
Here are three great lists of the best Plumbing colleges and Universities in Arizona:
Universities.com: Best Plumbing Colleges in Arizona
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Arizona
Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Arizona
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Many of the certificate programs are specifically designed to give students the base knowledge they need to prepare them for an entry-level position. Many employers hiring entry-level plumbers helpers follow an apprentice model — pairing new employees with others who are licensed to begin hands-on training while requiring the beginner to attend classes if they have not already done so. Employers will also often pay for instruction if you maintain a certain grade point average.
Arizona Western College offers a 61 credit Associate of Applied Science in Plumbing degree that typically takes two years to complete as well as a certificate degree that is 25 credit hours and can be completed in two semesters. In-state tuition is about $1,350 per semester. The Construction Trades program at Gateway Community College is also designed to help students thinking about a career in plumbing, electrical, HVAC, carpentry, or construction management.
Apprenticeship: There are also several apprenticeship opportunities to get the training you need in Arizona. The Union Apprenticeship offered through UA Local 649 is 5 years long, consisting of 10 semesters. Each semester costs $520. The expectation is that the students work during the day and attend classes twice a week in the evenings. Those outside of the greater Phoenix area may have the option of attending class on Saturday. Apprentices in the program typically take their code license exam near the end of their fifth year. The pay is a portion of the journeyman wage and increases each year.
Arizona’s Department of Economic Security also maintains a website of Registered Apprenticeships that meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeships through the Department of Labor are recognized nationwide, so your credentials will move with you. Or you can simply look for an entry-level position on indeed or zip recruiter or another job board and work for a licensed contractor to learn on the job.
Program Prerequisites: For any of these paths, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) degree.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you will need to have good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have some mechanical capability, and be physically fit because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing, and working in tight spaces.
Arizona Plumber Licensing Exam Details
The examination is administered by PSI testing services. To prepare, PSI exams suggests:
Start with a current copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin and use the examination content outline as the basis of your study.
Read/study materials that cover all the topics in the content outline.
Take notes on what you study. Putting information in writing helps you commit it to memory and it is also an excellent business practice. Discuss new terms or concepts as frequently as you can with colleagues. This will test your understanding and reinforce ideas.
Your studies will be most effective if you study frequently, for periods of about 45 to 60 minutes. Concentration tends to wander when you study for longer periods of time.
Each exam is described in detail including the number of questions and the time limit to complete it.
The AZ Statutes and Rules Examination (which is also a business management exam) covers:
Arizona Registrar of Contractors Statutes
Arizona Registrar of Contractors Rules
Arizona Registrar of Contractors Workmanship Standards Business Management
Contracts and Agreements
Insurance and Bonding
Safety, Recordkeeping, and Reporting
Labor Laws and Employment Regulations
Environmental Laws and Regulations
Each trade exam for Plumbing is made up of 100 questions and has a time limit of 240 minutes. You can expect the following subject areas on both the commercial and residential exams:
Drainage Waste and Vents
Water Supply Systems
Roof Drains and Storm Drainage Systems
Plumbing Fixtures (including water heaters and accessibility)
Specialty Plumbing, Interceptors, and Traps
Septic and Sewer
The Commercial/Dual exam also includes five questions on Hydronics.
The Bulletin will also specify which reference materials you may use and what items are not allowed in the testing center. There are five PSI testing centers in Arizona. They are located in Flagstaff, Glendale, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson.
Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Arizona?
Plumbing licenses are issued through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC). Some of Arizona’s cities license at the journeyman level as well. Be sure to check with local governments where you intend to work to make sure you meet any additional licensing or permitting requirements.
Does My Arizona Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?
Yes. Arizona reciprocates with California, Nevada, and Utah for the plumbing trade exams. Plumbing contractors with licenses in other states with comparable licensing requirements may also apply for a waiver. The Registrar may decide a trade exam is not required where the qualifying party has been the qualifying party within the preceding five years for a license in good standing in the same classification in this state, or a classification the Registrar deems comparable in another state. The AZ SRE Statutes and Rules Exam cannot be waived because it has reference to Arizona-specific statutes and rules.
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.
There is currently no continuing education requirement to renew your Arizona Specialty Contractor license for plumbing. You must renew your license every two years and pay the associated fees. To renew a Specialty Commercial license costs $480. There is no Recovery Fund Assessment for Commercial contractors. That assessment is required only for Residential contractors. The fee to renew a Specialty Residential license is $270 plus an additional $270 recovery fund assessment. For the Dual Specialty license, you will pay a $380 license fee and again the $270 recovery fund assessment.
Other Requirements Unique to Arizona
The Recovery Fund is a form of financial protection provided by licensed Arizona residential contractors to residential homeowners. In order to obtain a license, a residential contractor must post a cash deposit or surety bond of $4,250 to $15,000. In addition, a residential contractor must either pay into the recovery fund or post a second bond of $200,000. The vast majority of residential contractors have chosen to participate in the fund.
You can stay up to date on all Plumbing industry news in several ways: