Colorado Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Colorado
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Plumbing work can be complicated and difficult, and doing the work right is absolutely essential to the health and safety of our society. Plumbers are generally licensed for just this reason — to ensure competency not only in the technical aspects of the job but the codes regulating the industry. Colorado has strict standards to accomplish this, beginning at the apprentice level.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 469,000 plumbers nationwide and Colorado employs 8,670 of them. That number is projected to grow 2 percent from 2020 to 2030 across the country, but in Colorado according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the projected growth rate is a whopping 31%.
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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 2022 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 93% of firms in the U.S. and 96% of firms in Colorado had unfilled hourly craft positions like plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians.
Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Colorado
Is a license required for plumbers in Colorado? Yes.
It is illegal to perform any plumbing work except on your own home without a license in Colorado. To join this workforce legally, you must begin by registering as an apprentice. After two years of documented work under a licensed plumber, you can apply to get your residential plumbers license and after four years of documented work under a licensed plumber, you can apply to get your journeyman license. After five years total, you can apply to become a master plumber in Colorado.
Statewide regulations for electricians and plumbers are set by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) Division of Professions and Occupations. The Colorado State Plumbing Board falls under its purview and issues three plumbing license classifications and requires apprentice and contractor registrations.
Types of Plumbers Licenses in Colorado
What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Colorado?
You are required to register as an apprentice with DORA within 30 days of taking a plumbing job and your employer must “attach” your registration to the master plumber who will be supervising you and pay the $30 registration fee.
There are three levels of plumbing license in Colorado:
Residential — requires two years (3,400 hours) of practical experience.
Journeyman — requires four years (6,800 hours) of practical experience.
Master — requires five full-time years (8,500 hours) of practical experience.
One month of full-time experience is equivalent to 163 hours.
If you plan to be a general contractor you will need to get your license at the local level. The state does not regulate general contractor's licenses in Colorado. If you want to be a plumbing contractor, you must register with the state Plumbing Board.
Steps to Get a Plumber’s License in Colorado
You must be at least 18 years old.
Register as an apprentice. The State of Colorado defines an apprentice plumber as any person, other than a master, journeyman, or residential plumber, who, as his or her principal occupation, is engaged in learning and assisting in the installation of plumbing.
To establish a record of apprenticeship, every apprentice plumber must be registered within 30 days of beginning work.
After accumulating two years of experience as a registered apprentice, you may apply for a Residential Plumbers license and pay the licensing and exam fees.
Or after accumulating four years of documented experience, you may apply for a Journeyman Plumbers license and pay the licensing and exam fees.
After working for an additional year, thereby having five years total of work experience, you may apply for a Master Plumbers License and pay the licensing and exam fees.
At each level you want to be licensed, you must take and pass a licensing examination to qualify for your license. You do not need to do them all, however. For instance, you can choose not to earn a residential license and continue as an apprentice until you qualify to test for the journeyman plumber license.
Plumbers licenses expire February 28 of odd years and require eight hours of continuing education credits per year to be renewed.
Felony convictions will not necessarily prevent you from becoming licensed but must be disclosed to the board with a full accounting of the events and current status and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
If you employ others, you must have workers compensation insurance and unemployment insurance and if you own your own business you must have at least basic coverage of $100,000 in property damage insurance and $300,000 in general liability insurance.
Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Colorado
There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Colorado plumbing license:
Most importantly, it is required by law in Colorado to be licensed through the state to legally perform any plumbing work.
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 Median Salary for a Plumber in Colorado?
The annual mean wage for a plumber in Colorado is $57,390, according to 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 salary for an apprentice plumber is $22.83 per hour in Colorado and $5,500 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $29.74 per hour in Colorado and $6,750 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.
What Business Owners Need to Know
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Required forms that ensure every job is done right, driving consistency.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbers License in Colorado?
There are different fees associated with the various license classifications.
Apprentice Registration: $30
Application fee: $100
Examination Fee: $75
Application fee: $120
Examination Fee: $75
Application fee: $140
Examination Fee: $75
To register a Plumbing Contractor company, you must have a master plumber license or have a licensed master plumber as your company’s responsible party. The fee to register your company as a plumbing contractor is $210.
How to Get a Plumbers License in Colorado
EDUCATION/WORK EXPERIENCE: To get started on your plumbing career in Colorado, you can choose from a couple of paths. You can attend community college and earn an Associate Degree in Applied Science or complete a shorter certificate program at a technical college to get the foundational knowledge you need to get started. Employers often state a preference for candidates who have graduated from a relevant trade school or technical college because they have been educated in key skills needed for the job.
Alternately, you can opt for on-the-job training. There are hundreds of entry-level plumbing jobs in Colorado listed on job board sites like indeed and zip recruiter. Colorado requires anyone doing any kind of plumbing work to register first as an apprentice with the Department of Regulatory Agencies State Plumbing Board. You may then begin accruing the two years of experience needed as a plumbing apprentice under a licensed master plumber to apply to test for a Residential Plumbers License.
A Residential Plumbers license is for those individuals who plan to only install plumbing and equipment in one-, two-, three-, and four-family dwellings, no more than two stories above ground. If you want the freedom to work on commercial or projects other than those that fall under the strict residential definition or you want the opportunity to own your own plumbing business, you’ll need to continue to accrue more documented work experience.
Many employers will sponsor employees in an apprentice training program that typically lasts four to five years like those on the Colorado Registered Apprenticeship Program Directory website. That is also the required amount of time needed to gain the practical experience required to test for a Journeyman License (four years) or a Master License (five years).
APPLY TO TAKE LICENSE EXAM: After you’ve met the work experience requirements, you can apply to take the state licensing exam at your desired level. All three exams are administered by PSI testing services. If you pass, you will immediately receive a successful notification and should retain this notification to submit with your application for licensure.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: After successfully passing the exam, you can apply online for your Residential, Journeyman, or Master license. The Requirements for Individual Licenses are detailed here. For any of these license applications, you will need to submit a completed Affidavit of Experience, proof of citizenship, upload transcripts if applicable, answer general and criminal history screening questions and upload supporting documentation. You will also need to pay an application fee.
PROVIDE PROOF OF INSURANCE: If you wish to operate a plumbing contractor business, you will need to apply to register your company. This link provides an application checklist. If you employ others, you must have workers compensation insurance and unemployment insurance. If you are not a master plumber yourself, you will need to complete the Acknowledgement of Responsibility Form identifying the Master Plumber (MP) who will be responsible for all plumbing work performed.
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How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbers License in Colorado?
It takes two years to qualify to take the Residential License Exam, four years to qualify to take the Journeyman License Exam and five years total to qualify to take the Master License Exam in Colorado. The path begins with an apprenticeship, so you will be working and earning money from the start.
Colorado 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 many programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional in Colorado. You can choose to attend a community or technical college and earn a certificate or degree in plumbing. Emily Griffith Technical College offers a two-year plumbing degree that can satisfy one year of practical experience toward your licensing requirement.
But the path most often taken for a career in plumbing is an apprenticeship. Emily Griffith Technical College offers an apprenticeship path, too. Also, as stated earlier, 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. Employers will often pay for the instruction if you maintain a certain grade point average.
There are websites that can help:
There are also apprenticeships offered through unions or local trade associations. Local 58 of the Plumbers, Pipefitters & Service Journeyman Union of Southeastern Colorado serves the area of Colorado Springs and Pueblo. 58’s JATC Training Apprenticeship program consists of five years of on-the-job training and attending classes at the JATC training center.
Applicants are required to submit:
High School Diploma or GED with scores
Original transcript of courses and grades
Birth Certificate or other acceptable proof of age
Records of previous work experience, if any (Resume)
Must have a valid driver’s license
Social Security Card
Must be insurable at standard rates
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.
Tuition: Apprenticeships usually have some up-front costs of tuition and book fees but the apprentice will be paid a percentage of the journeyman wage rate and will receive periodic wage increases as they meet program requirements. The cost of tuition at a vocational school or college depends on the program you choose but can range from $2,000 at a community college to $40,000 at a state or private school for an associate degree or bachelor degree in engineering.
Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED.
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.
Colorado Plumber Licensing Exam Details
The Colorado State Plumbing Board has contracted with PSI testing services to conduct the examinations for licensing. Once you have the required years of experience you may contact PSI to schedule your exam.
The Examination fee for each of the three exams is $75. The retest fee if you do not pass the first time is $70. PSI has exam centers located in Denver, Fort Collins, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, and Durango.
The Residential Plumber Exam is made up of 100 questions and has a time limit of 240 minutes. The Journeyman Plumber Exam is also made up of 100 questions with a time limit of 240 minutes. The Master Plumber Exam contains 120 questions and you are allowed 270 minutes to complete it. All three require a 70% to pass and all three are open book, based on the 2018 Edition of the International Plumbing Code and the 2018 Edition of the International Residential Building Code for One and Two Family Dwellings.
Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Colorado?
Does My Colorado Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?
Colorado does not have any reciprocity agreements with any other states. However, the State Plumbing Board does allow plumbers from other states to apply by means of endorsement from another verifying agency.
Endorsement applicants must:
Document minimum experience requirements.
Upload a copy of your qualifying, equivalent license from another state.
The license must be active and issued at the state level by a state-administered test on the current or previous version of the International Plumbing Code (IPC) in use in Colorado at the time of application.
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 Unique to Colorado
All plumbers licenses expire on February 28 of odd-numbered years.
The renewal fees are the same as the original license fees:
You can renew online using this portal.
In 2021, the State of Colorado began requiring continuing education for plumbers. To renew, you must show proof of eight hours of continuing education for each year. That’s a total of 16 CEU hours for renewal every two years.
You can stay up to date on all Plumbing industry news in several ways: