Hawaii Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Hawaii
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There’s no way to rush through the process of becoming a plumber. It simply takes time to grasp this essential trade, but once you master the skills,you have all you need for a long and fulfilling career. Almost every state requires plumbers to be licensed because it’s complicated work that affects peoples’ health and safety.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 469,900 plumbers nationwide and Hawaii employs 2,330 of them. The national number is projected to grow 5% from 2020 to 2030, adding 23,400 of these skilled workers to the ranks. In Hawaii according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the projected growth rate is twice that at 10% for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters.
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Contractors are struggling to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVACR professionals. In fact, 60% of firms in the United States had unfilled hourly craft positions, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey. So, if you get the training you need you should have a variety of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.
Licensing requirements for plumbers vary from state to state and, in some cases, from municipality to municipality. Hawaii has strict, statewide standards for working in the plumbing business beginning at the apprentice level.
Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Hawaii
Is a license required for plumbers in Hawaii? Yes, and it is mandated from the very beginning.
The state of Hawaii licenses plumbers at the state level as they do electricians through the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional & Vocational Licensing Division, which is responsible for 25 professional boards and commissions and 27 licensing programs, including for contractors, plumbers and electricians. Specifically, the Board of Electricians and Plumbers licenses and regulates both industries.
Types of Plumbers Licenses in Hawaii
What are the different types of plumbing licenses in Hawaii?
The state of Hawaii begins regulating this workforce at the apprentice level. Plumbing apprentices are required to enroll in an approved training program and register with the State of Hawaii Department of Labor, Workforce Development Division.
Journey Worker Plumber:
Hawaii requires journeymen to obtain a Journey Worker License after completing an approved apprenticeship of five years–at least 10,000 hours of work experience in compliance with the Uniform Plumbing Code and at least 144 hours of related education for each of those years– and pass the Journey Worker Plumbing Exam.
To obtain Master level licensure, you must be licensed as a journey worker plumber for at least two years and pass the Master Plumber exam.
An individual who wishes to be a Plumbing Contractor must hold a Master level license and a Class C Specialty Contractor License. The specific license for a plumbing contractor is a C-37 license.
Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Hawaii
Be at least 16 years old.
Enroll in an approved apprenticeship program that combines five years of training with at least 144 hours per year of education and register with the Hawaii Workforce Development Division.
Complete registered apprenticeship and pass the Journey Worker Plumber Exam to obtain Journey Worker Plumber License.
Work indefinitely at the journeyman level or, after two years as a licensed Journey Worker Plumber, apply to test for a Master Plumber License.
Upon approval from the board, pay a testing fee and pass the exam to be awarded your Master level license.
If you wish to own your own plumbing contracting business, you must get a contractor license through the Hawaii Contractor Licensing Board. To obtain a contractor’s license, you must have unemployment insurance if you have any employees, general liability insurance to cover any accidental property damage and pay additional fees associated with registering your business.
Benefits of Getting a Plumbing License in Hawaii
There are many benefits to getting your Hawaii plumbing license:
Most important, it is required by law in Hawaii to be licensed through the state to legally perform any plumbing work.
Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Pipefitters in Hawaii are paid very well in Hawaii, commanding one of the highest annual mean wages in the nation.
You will earn as you learn with a potential for pay increases as you develop new skills.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
By meeting the high standards set in Hawaii of completing a registered apprenticeship, you will receive industry-recognized credentials that can go with you anywhere.
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.
You can own your own business and be your own boss.
What Is the Mean Salary for a Plumber in Hawaii?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean salary for plumbers in Hawaii nationally as $63,350, so Hawaii is above average at $72,830. The salary for plumbers increases as you acquire more experience according to Indeed.com.
Apprentice: The average wage for an apprentice plumber is $20.72 per hour in Hawaii and $5,563 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $28.06 per hour in Hawaii and $6,813 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.
What Business Owners Need to Know
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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbers License in Hawaii?
It can cost very little to get started as a plumber in Hawaii. You will need to find an apprentice position or program. The United Association Apprentice Application fee is $20. If you find an entry-level position with a plumbing business, there may be no fees at all. Typically apprenticeships, both union and non-union, are like a full scholarship to college. Your employer or the local union chapter will cover your educational tuition and pay a portion of the journeyman wage to apprentices for their work hours. When you apply for your plumber’s license there is a $40 license application fee to the state and an exam fee of $90 to the third-party testing service. Once you pass the exam, there is a licensing fee of $306 for a three-year period and for every three-year renewal.
How to Get a Plumbers License in Hawaii
Becoming a plumbing professional in Hawaii isn’t fast, but it’s very straightforward. To enter the plumbing field in Hawaii, you need to learn and gain work experience. Hawaii offers a few options for achieving this, but has rigid requirements before permitting applicants to test for state licensing. You’ll need to acquire some combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. Those are the two components of any U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship.
APPRENTICESHIP: Apprenticeships are sometimes referred to as “The Other Four-Year Degree,” because it’s like college for the trades. If you get one of the coveted apprentice openings through your local United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs, it’s like getting a scholarship to college. Hawaii has two UA local chapters. UA Local 657 based in Honolulu offers Plumbing, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Fire Sprinkler Fitter, and Steam Fitter Welder apprenticeships that are five-year programs consisting of 10,000 work hours plus 10 semesters of related classroom instruction.
Apprentices are mentored on the job by journeymen and go to school to learn trade-specific subjects. These apprenticeships are very competitive..
Alternatively, you can find an apprenticeship through Hawaii’s Workforce Development Division, which maintains a list 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. You will be required to attend classes at night or on weekends to get the requisite theoretical training, but you’ll be getting your academic instruction in tandem with your practical experience, and you probably won’t be paying for all of it.
Or you can find an entry-level job and ask your employer to act as your apprentice sponsor. Your employer must agree to register you with Hawaii’s Office of Apprenticeship.
APPLY FOR EXAMINATION/LICENSE: Once you have met the minimum requirement of at least 10,000 work hours and have statements from your employer(s) documenting that training time, you may apply to the Board of Electricians and Plumbers for permission to take the Journey Worker Plumber examination. All of the application forms can be found on the state website along with deadlines and exam dates. You must submit a completed and signed application with all supporting documentation and a $40 application fee.
The Board's mailing address is:
Board of Electricians & Plumbers
DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801
If approved, you will receive an Examination Registration Form. You must register for the exam with Prometric, the third-party testing service, and pay the $90 exam fee. A detailed explanation of all of this can be found on the application itself.
PAY LICENSING FEE/RECEIVE LICENSE: Upon passing the examination, you will need to pay a license fee. The pricing depends on when you apply. If applying for your license between July 1 and June 30 of the first year of the three-year license period (2021, 2024), you will pay $306. If applying for your license between July 1 and June 30 of the second year of the cycle (2022, 2025), the cost is $204. If applying for your license between July 1 and June 30 of the third year (2023, 2026), the fee is $102.
RENEWAL: All plumber licenses, regardless of issuance date, are subject to renewal on or before June 30 every three years, and the fee is $306. All licensed plumbers will need to provide proof of completing the continued competency requirement at the time of renewal.
APPLY FOR MASTER EXAMINATION/LICENSE: You may work as a Journey Worker Plumber indefinitely or, after being licensed for at least two years, apply to test for your Master Plumber license following the same licensing process above.
CONSIDER BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR: To be eligible to test for a Plumbing Contractor C-37 Specialty License, you must have at least four years of supervisory experience within the past 10 years, attested to by fellow employees, an employer or other professional with direct knowledge of your work. Again, you will follow the same licensing process above. Once licensed, you may work for a contracting business and serve as the Responsible Managing Employee. If you wish to own your own business in the plumbing field in Hawaii, you will need to register your business with the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Business Registration Division.
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How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumber’s License in Hawaii?
It takes years to get a plumber's license in Hawaii. No matter how you go about it, you will be working to get the hands-on experience you need, so you will be making money from day one. Earning while learning is a catchphrase often used about apprenticeships. The only path to a plumber’s License in Hawaii is through an approved apprentice program. Hawaii requires five years and at least 10,000 hours of work experience before applicants are permitted to take the Journey Worker Plumber examination. Then you will need to work under the direct supervision of a licensed master plumber for at least another two years before you can apply to take the Master Plumber licensing examination.
Hawaii 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. Since the state of Hawaii requires plumbing professionals to begin their careers as a registered apprentice, you most likely will not choose to get a post-secondary degree, but rather will take classes as part of an approved apprenticeship. Typically you will find an employer first and then register for classes through a community college. One option is Honolulu Community College, which offers an Apprenticeship and Journey Worker Training program that provides related instruction to those on Oahu who are apprenticing in various construction and mechanical trades. Courses are offered during weekday evenings and Saturday mornings in several occupational areas including Plumber, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Fitter, Boilermaker, and Sheet Metal Worker. Upon completion of an approved apprenticeship program, candidates may apply the hours from this program toward an Associate degree. The tuition is $131 per credit for residents and $345 for non-residents.
You can look for a union or non-union apprenticeship. UA Local 675 is based in Honolulu. The Plumbing, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Fire Sprinkler Fitter, or Steam Fitter Welder apprenticeships through this union branch combine 10,000 work hours and 10 semesters of related instruction.
The State of Hawaii Workforce Development Division website offers apprenticeship information to job seekers as well as employers to help apprentices find openings and help employers find apprentices. The site includes a list of current registered apprenticeship programs. Many employers will also sponsor you in an apprenticeship. You can seek them out through job boards like Indeed and Zip Recruiter.
Apprenticeships usually have some up-front costs for books or tools, but the apprentice will be paid a percentage of the journeyman wage and may receive periodic wage increases as they meet program requirements.
Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED and demonstrate mastery of basic high school level math. You may also need a driver’s license, and a clean driving record.
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.
Hawaii Plumber Licensing Exam Details
The state of Hawaii has contracted with Prometric, a third-party testing service, to conduct all of its licensing examinations. Before you can take the exam, you must apply and be approved by the Board of Electricians and Plumbers. Once the board approves your application, you will be sent an exam registration form and two approval letters. Submit your exam registration form, one approval letter and the $90 exam fee required for either the journey worker or master plumbing exam to Prometric by the deadline date. In return, you will receive an admission letter and exam appointment. Prepare for your exam using the Candidate Information Bulletin and other materials listed in it. Present your admission letter and required identification; then take the exam. Both the master- and journey-level exams are closed-book with a time limit of three hours.
The journeyman exam contains 100 questions covering the following topics:
Water Supply Systems
Drainage, Waste and Sanitary Vents
Size and Estimating
Medical and Fuel Gas Systems
Indirect and Special Waste
The master exam is made up of 80 questions on these topics:
Drainage, Waste and Sanitary Vents
Sizing and Estimates
Fuel and Medical Gas Systems
Fixtures and Trim
You will need a score of at least 70%. If you pass, the board will mail you licensing information.
Each of the contractor license exams costs $75. Every applicant for a contractor’s license must pass both a Business and Law (Part I) exam and a Trade-Specific (Part II) exam. For the contractor exams, a score of 75% or higher is needed to pass. Prepare for your exam using the contractor exam Candidate Information Bulletin.
The Business and Law Exam is closed-book and made up of 80 questions with a time limit of three hours. It covers the following topics:
Estimating and Bidding
Public Works Laws
Again, if you pass, the Contractor License Board will mail you licensing information. If you do not pass the exam, you will receive a retake exam registration form and retake procedure information with your score report from Prometric.
Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Hawaii?
The state of Hawaii licenses journey worker plumbers, master plumbers and plumbing contractors through the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional & Vocational Licensing Division. Specifically, the Board of Electricians and Plumbers licenses journey and master level plumbers, and the Contractor License Board issues Class C Specialty Contractor Licenses, C-37 Plumbing Licenses to plumbing contractors.
Does My Hawaii Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?
Hawaii does not have reciprocal agreements with any other states but does offer the option of using experience gained from out of state to satisfy the licensing requirements using the same “Experience Verification Form” completed and signed by a licensed electrician or plumber. If the supervisor is licensed out-of-state, you must attach a verification of licensure that includes the effective date of the license. The licensed plumber provides his licensing information and signs before a notary public.
If the state in which you gained your experience does not require licensure as a journey worker, supervising, or master plumber and only requires a contractor's license, the board will accept a notarized Experience Verification form signed by the licensed contractor, provided license verification as a contractor is submitted including the effective dates of licensure.
Hawaii does not reciprocate with any other state for its contractor licenses, so each application is evaluated individually. You may use experience gained in other states toward the four years of supervisory experience within the past 10 years, as long as that work experience is attested to by fellow employees, an employer or other professional with direct knowledge of your work on the Chronological History of Projects Form.
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.
Hawaii plumbing licenses expire on June 30 every three years. All licensed plumbers will need to provide proof of completing the continued competency requirement at the time of renewal. This continuing competency (CC) requirement on the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) is offered by the following providers:
Honolulu Community College at (808) 845 - 9296
Hawaii Community College at (808) 934 - 2700
Maui Community College at (808) 984 -03231
Kauai Community College at (808) 245 - 8318
All plumber licenses, regardless of issuance date, are subject to renewal on or before June 30, every three years with the next full cycle beginning July 1, 2024 and the renewal fee is $306.
To keep your contractor license current, you’ll need to maintain liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance if you have any employees and renew it every two years by Sept. 30 of even-numbered years.
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