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Licensing Guides

Florida Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Florida

category-iconPlumbing, FL

Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements

  2. Types of Plumbing Licenses

  3. Steps to Get a Plumbing License

  4. Benefits of Getting a Plumbing License

  5. What Is the Average Salary for a Plumber?

  6. How Much Does It Cost?

  7. How to Get a Plumbing Contractor License

  8. Training programs and schools

  9. Florida Plumbing Licensing Exam Details

  10. Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Florida?

  11. Does My License Work in Any Other State?

  12. Plumbing Certifications

  13. Other Requirements Unique to Florida

Becoming a licensed plumber in the state of Florida is a long, complicated, challenging process. But it is a skill that will always be in demand. If you’re considering taking this career path, you’ll need to understand the licensing regulations and how to navigate the terrain.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbing Contractors in Florida

Is a license required for Plumbing Contractors in Florida? Yes. 

To legally perform plumbing work in the state of Florida, you must be a licensed contractor or a technician apprentice working under a licensed contractor.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations, a division of Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board, issues the licenses.

Doing almost any plumbing work in Florida without a contractor’s license is against the law. The FDBPR website references a couple of simple tasks you can do without a license. Literally, the only tasks they condone without a license are adding a water filter to a faucet and installing or repairing irrigation systems that have a back-flow preventer, but you CANNOT connect those lines to potable (drinking) water to make the system functional.

Types of Plumbing Licenses in Florida

What are the different types of Plumbing licenses in Florida?

There are two plumbing licenses available in Florida.

  • Certified Plumbing Contractor

  • Registered Plumbing Contractor

A State Certified License allows you to work anywhere in the state of Florida. You must pass the State of Florida’s licensing examination to earn a Certified License.

A State Registered License only allows you to work in the locality where you passed that locality’s competency exam. Each county will have their own licensure requirements.

Steps to Get a Plumbing Contractor License in Florida

Both certified and registered contractor licenses require you to:

  1. Be 18 years of age

  2. Earn a high school diploma or GED.

  3. Complete a training program — either on the job working under the supervision of a licensed contractor or classroom training at a vocational school or college or a combination of the two.

  4. Get verified experience in the plumbing industry.

  5. Pass a trade knowledge exam and a business and finance knowledge exam.

  6. Acquire general liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 with $25,000 property damage coverage.

  7. Demonstrate financial responsibility based on your submitted FICO credit score of 660 or higher.

  8. Complete a Criminal Background check

WORK EXPERIENCE: Work experience can be any combination of the following:

  • Four year construction-related degree from an accredited college (equivalent to three years experience) and one year proven experience applicable to the category for which you are applying; OR

  • One year of experience as a foreman and not less than three years of credits from accredited college-level courses; OR

  • One year of experience as a worker, one year as a foreman, and two years of credits from accredited college-level courses; OR

  • Two years of experience as a worker, one year as a foreman, and one year of credits from accredited college-level courses; OR

  • Four years of experience as a worker or foreman, of which at least one year must have been as a foreman.

Note: One year is equal to 2,000 hours of experience.

TAKE LICENSING EXAM: After getting the education and training you need, you must pass the exam or exams. You need to earn at least a 70% to pass each—the General Trade Knowledge Examination and the Business & Financial Management Examination.

The Business and Financial Management Examination is composed of 120 questions, administered in one session via computer at a testing center.

The Plumbing Contractors General Trade Knowledge examination will be administered in two sessions. The morning session will consist of 45 equally weighted questions and five isometric drawings. The isometric drawings will be worth 10 points each. The afternoon session will consist of 65 equally weighted questions. Your scores for the morning and afternoon sessions will be combined to determine your total score.

The examination will have questions relating to the following systems and necessary knowledge for each system includes:

  • Reading and interpreting plans and specifications

  • Reading and interpreting codes

  • Basic mathematics (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, decimals, square roots, calculations of area and volumes, calculating the sides of a triangle, and solving simple algebraic equations for unknown variables)

  • Required components and installation techniques

  • Maintenance techniques and analysis

  • OSHA regulations

  • Isometric drawing and interpretation

  • Use of tools and equipment

Effective July 1, 2020, exam candidates who have received a baccalaureate degree in building construction from an accredited four-year college or a related degree as approved by board rule, and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher are exempt from taking the trade knowledge portion of the exam. You will only be required to register for the Business and Finance exam.

APPLY FOR LICENSE: After you have passed the exam, you may apply for your Certified Plumbing Contractors License or your Registered Plumbing Contractor’s License.

On your application you will be asked to provide proof of experience in the installation of:

  • Waste Piping

  • Water Distribution Lines/Systems

  • Natural Gas and Liquid Petroleum Piping and Venting Systems

  • Sanitary Drainage

  • Drainage Venting

Additional experience that may be used includes the maintenance and repair of:

  • Waste Piping

  • Water Distribution Lines/Systems

  • Industrial Water Drainage

  • Sanitary Drainage

  • Chemical Waste Drainage

  • Drainage Venting

  • Medical Gas Piping (Oxygen, Helium, Nitrous Oxide, Compressed Air, Vacuum)

  • Industrial Piping:

    • Industrial Gas Piping

    •  Industrial Vacuum Piping

    • Steam Distribution

    •  Oil and Gasoline Storage and Distribution

    •  Sewage Disposal Systems(Septic Tanks, Pumps, Lift Stations, and Interceptors)

  • Solar Water Heating Systems

  • Water Wells

  • Swimming Pool Piping Systems

PROVIDE PROOF OF:

INSURANCE: You will need to provide proof of general liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 with $25,000 property damage coverage.

SOLID FINANCES: You will need to submit your FICO credit score of 660 or better.  According to the state website, “If an applicant does not have a 660 credit score at the time of application, the applicant may still establish financial responsibility by obtaining a licensing bond or letter of credit. The amount of the bond or letter of credit depends on the type of license sought: $20,000 for Division I contractors or $10,000 for Division II contractors. These amounts may be reduced to $10,000 for Division I contractors and $5,000 for Division II contractors by completing a board-approved financial responsibility course.”

CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECK: You must have a background check as part of the application process, and it will require you to submit your fingerprints

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Benefits of Getting a Plumbing Contractor License In Florida

There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Plumbing Contractor License.

  • First and most important, it is required by law in Florida to be licensed through the state to legally perform 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

  • It also increases your earning potential. The annual mean income for a plumber in Florida is $45,080 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is the Average Salary for a Plumber in Florida?

The salary for a plumber in Florida increases as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.

Apprentice: The average wage for an apprentice plumber is $15.14 per hour in Florida and $5,429 overtime per year.

Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $22.48 per hour in Florida and $10,331 overtime per year.

According to Salary.com, the average licensed plumber salary in Florida is $55,000 as of Nov. 25, 2020, but the range typically falls between $47,900 and $62,900. 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 Plumbing Contractor License in Florida?

The fees for licenses are based on whether you are using the certification or registration process and when you file for the license:

  • Registered Plumbing Contractor Fee – $309 if applying between May 1 of an odd year and Aug. 31 of an even year; $209 if applying between Sept. 1 of an even year and April 30 of an odd year.

  • Certified Plumbing Contractor Fee – $249 if applying between May 1 of an even year and Aug. 31 of an odd year; $149 if applying between Sept. 1 of an odd year and April 30 of an even year.

  • Renewals are due every two years, on Aug. 31. Certified licenses expire in even-numbered years, while registered licenses expire in odd-numbered years.

  • The renewal fee for both types of license is $209.

You will also have to pay fees for the examinations. The statewide exam is administered by Professional Testing Inc. The registration fee is $135. The Business and Finance test is $80. The Trade Knowledge test is $80.

How to Get a Plumbing Contractor License in Florida

According to the state website, to become a state certified plumbing contractor in Florida, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.

  • Meet the educational/experience requirements

  • Obtain a passing score on all parts of the Florida State Construction examination.

  • Be of good moral character.

  • Pay all applicable fees.

  • Obtain workers’ compensation coverage.

  • Demonstrate financial responsibility.

Training programs and schools

There are many programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional in Florida. Some certification programs require  only one or two semesters before you can begin serving as an assistant and begin accruing the work experience you need. Other programs can be two- or four-year college degree programs in plumbing and heating.

  • Here are three great lists to the best plumbing schools in Florida:

    • Universities.com: Best Plumbing Colleges in Florida

    • Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Florida

    • Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Florida

Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose and varies widely. The good news is you could be earning while you’re learning. A technical certificate program can be completed in as little as one to two semesters at a cost of $800, and then you’d gain the majority of your required on-the-job training. An associate’s degree can be earned in two years for about $4,500; a four-year degree runs about $15,000 a year.

Program Prerequisites: You must 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 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.

Florida Plumbing Licensing Exam Details

More detail is given about what to expect on the exam on the FDBPR website’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

The Plumbing General Trade Knowledge examination has a total of 160 possible points. To pass this examination, a candidate must have a score of 112 out of 160 possible points. A score of 111 out of 160 comes to 69.38%.

The Business and Finance examination consists of 120 questions. To pass this examination a candidate must answer 84 questions correctly to receive a passing grade of 70%.

The isometric drawings are graded by teams of three licensed plumbing contractors who serve as examiners (Subject Matter Experts). Teams of examiners will score the isometric drawings. Each examiner independently scores every drawing as pass or fail on eight criteria (legibility, orientation, flow, angles, piping, labeling, vents, and fixtures.) At least two out of the three examiners must agree that the criteria have been met in order for points to be awarded. The points awarded for all correct criteria are added together and converted to a 10-point scale to determine the score for each drawing. The number of points awarded for each drawing is then added to the total number of correct answers obtained on the multiple-choice questions during the morning and afternoon sessions. This figure is then divided by the total number of possible points (160) to obtain the percentage correct score. 

Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Florida?

The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation is the state agency responsible for licensing plumbers in Florida.

Does My Florida Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

The Construction Industry Licensing Board, which oversees FDBPR does not have reciprocal licensing agreements with any other state. The website lists exams “previously found to be substantially similar to Florida’s exam.”

  • California General Contractor

  • California Building Contractor

  • Georgia Pollutant Storage Contractor*

  • The NASCLA General Contractors Exam (2009 forward) is accepted by many states and is substantially similar to all Florida Division 1 license trade knowledge exams (GC, BC, RC and related specialties). Applicants should refer to the NASCLA Endorsement application requirements, which include passing the Florida Business & Finance exam.

Plumbing Certifications

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 Florida

Certified contractors must perform 14 hours of continuing education during each license period. The credits must come from a state-approved provider. 

Resources

You can stay up to date on all plumbing industry news several ways:

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