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Idaho Plumbing License: How to Become an Plumber in Idaho

category-iconPlumbing, ID

Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Idaho

  2. Types of Plumbers Licenses in Idaho

  3. Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Idaho

  4. Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Idaho

  5. What Is the Median Salary for a Plumber in Idaho?

  6. How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbers License in Idaho?

  7. How to Get a Plumbers License in Idaho

  8. How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbers License in Idaho?

  9. Idaho Plumber Training programs and schools

  10. Idaho Plumber Licensing Exam Details

  11. Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Idaho?

  12. Does My Idaho Plumber License Work in Any Other State?

In this day and age, everyone wants everything done fast, but the saying “good things come to those who wait” is still around for a reason. There is no shortcut to becoming a licensed plumber. Reliable plumbing is a matter of health and safety as much as convenience, so officials in almost every state agree that there should be a minimum amount of education and competency required for all plumbers. Becoming a plumber in Idaho follows a pretty straightforward process using the apprenticeship model employed by many other states.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 490,200 plumbers nationwide, and Idaho employs 1,680 of them. That number is projected to grow by 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 across the country, but in Idaho the projected growth rate is much higher at 18%, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website.

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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 83% of firms in Idaho had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Idaho

Is a license required for plumbers in Idaho? Yes!

To perform any plumbing work legally in Idaho, you must be licensed through the state. The state registers or licenses every level of this workforce, including apprentices, journeymen, and contractors. The Idaho Division of Building Safety administers the exams for HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Public Works, and Manufactured Housing and issues all the licenses.

Types of Plumbers Licenses in Idaho

What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Idaho?

You will begin by registering as an apprentice. Idaho requires plumbing apprentices to be registered for the time they spend working to count toward the required years of experience for the state licensing of journeymen and contractors. The most common licensing is a journeyman plumber’s license. After four years (8,000 hours minimum) of documented work as an apprentice under the supervision of a licensed journeyman plumber, you can apply for your own journeyman plumber license. After holding your journeyman license for at least two and a half years, you can apply to get your plumbing contractor license. There are also three kinds of specialty plumbing license categories at the state level, each of which have a narrower scope and require less experience than a journeyman license. You can apply for the following as a plumbing professional in Idaho:

  • Plumbing Apprentice registration

  • Plumbing Journeyman license

  • Plumbing Contractor license

  • Plumbing Specialty Apprentice registration

  • Plumbing Specialty Journeyman license

  • Plumbing Specialty Contractor license

The three Specialty Plumbing License categories have a specific scope of work permitted.

  • Appliance Plumbing Specialty - Permitted to disconnect, cap, remove, and reinstall within 60 inches of original location: water heating appliance, water treating or filtering devices; air or space temperature-modifying equipment, which involves potable water; humidifier; temperature and pressure relief valves; condensate drains and indirect drains in one- and two-family residences only. Does not include installation, testing, or certifying of backflow prevention devices. Does not include any modification to the drain, waste or vent systems.

  • Water Pump - Permitted to install and connect water-service piping from pump to storage expansion pressure tank in one- and two-family residences only. Does not include installation, testing or certifying of backflow prevention devices. Does not include any modification to the drain, waste or vent systems.

  • Mobile Home Set Up or Installer - Any person qualifying for and having a current license in this category may make the proper connections of sewer and water to existing facilities on site. All material and workmanship must comply with the requirements of the Uniform Plumbing Code. All installers must be licensed and employed by a licensed plumbing contractor or specialty contractor limited to this category. This specialty license does not permit any extension, alteration, or addition to the plumbing system within the mobile home or the installation of any underground plumbing outside the mobile home.

Requirements for plumbing registrations or licenses in Idaho:

Plumbing Apprentice

  • Be at least 16 years of age.

  • Submit a completed notarized application.

  • Maintain enrollment in or successfully complete a training program approved by the board with a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction per school year and at least a grade average of 70%.

  • Work under the constant on-the-job supervision of a journeyman employed by a contractor for four years (8,000 hours).

  • Provide a Social Security number.

  • Provide a copy of a legal identification (Driver’s License, Passport, Military ID).

  • Pay the $50 license registration fee.

  • Renew your apprentice registration and pay the $50 renewal fee yearly until you complete your four-year apprenticeship.

Plumbing Journeyman

  • Successfully complete a board-approved four-year apprenticeship of at least 8,000 hours work experience and 576 hours of classroom instruction as a registered plumbing apprentice making installations on the job under the supervision of a qualified journeyman.

  • Submit a completed notarized license application.

  • Provide a Social Security number.

  • Provide a copy of a legal identification (Driver’s License, Passport, Military ID).

  • Pay the $22.50 application fee.

  • Pay $75 for and successfully complete the examination designated by the board.

  • Renew license and pay $21.60 fee yearly.

Plumbing Contractor

  • Must provide proof, satisfactory to the board, of having legally acted as a plumbing journeyman for at least two and a half years (30 months).

  • Submit a completed notarized license application.

  • Provide a Social Security number.

  • Provide a copy of a legal identification (Driver’s License, Passport, Military ID).

  • Pay the $22.50 application fee.

  • Pay $75 for and successfully complete the examination designated by the board.

  • Must provide a compliance bond of $2,000 effective for the duration of the contractor licensing period.

  • Renew license and pay $108 fee yearly.

Plumbing Specialty Apprentice

  • Be at least 16 years of age.

  • Submit a completed notarized application.

  • Must be employed by a licensed contractor, under the supervision of a journeyman, be enrolled in or have completed Idaho Plumbing Board-approved related training classes and maintain state registration.

  • Provide a Social Security number.

  • Provide a copy of a legal identification (Driver’s License, Passport, Military ID).

  • Pay the $30 license registration fee.

  • Renew your apprentice registration and pay the $30 renewal fee if necessary. Specialty Apprentice registration is issued for three years.

Plumbing Specialty Journeyman

  • Appliance

    • Must have 18 months apprentice on-the-job experience employed by a licensed contractor, under the supervision of a journeyman and maintain state registration.

    • Must complete 72 hours of Idaho Plumbing Board-approved related training classes.

    • Must successfully complete the appliance plumbing specialty journeyman’s test.

  • Water Pump

    • Must have 18 months apprentice on-the-job experience employed by a licensed contractor, under the supervision of a journeyman and maintain state registration.

    • Must complete 12 hours of Idaho Plumbing Board-approved related training classes.

    • Must successfully complete the water pump plumbing specialty journeyman’s test.

  • Submit a completed license application.

  • Provide a Social Security number.

  • Provide a copy of a legal identification (Driver’s License, Passport, Military ID).

  • Pay the $22.50 application fee.

  • Renew license and pay $30 fee yearly.

Plumbing Specialty Contractor

Appliance, Water Pump, or Mobile Home Set Up or Installer

  • Must provide proof, satisfactory to the board, of having legally acted as a plumbing specialty journeyman for at least two and a half years (30 months).

  • Must successfully complete the examination designated by the board.

  • Submit a completed application.

  • Pay the $22.50 application fee.

  • Must provide a compliance bond of $2,000 effective for the duration of the contractor licensing period.

  • Renew license and pay $108 fee yearly.

Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Idaho

  1. Must be at least 16 years old.

  2. Apply for apprentice registration with the State of Idaho Division of Building Safety meeting all requirements and paying a fee.

  3. Complete four-year apprenticeship (8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 576 hours of classroom instruction) working under the supervision of a licensed journeyman and employed by a licensed contractor renewing the registration to keep it current for all your time to count toward the required work experience to become a journeyman.

  4. Pass the exam for journeyman license.

  5. Work indefinitely as a journeyman plumber for a licensed contractor renewing your license yearly;    OR

  6. Gain two and a half years (30 months) of work experience as a licensed journeyman working under the supervision of a licensed contractor.

  7. Provide a $2,000 compliance bond that remains effective for your entire contractor licensing period.

  8. Pass the exam for contractor license.

  9. Renew license yearly.

Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Idaho

  • There are many benefits to getting your Idaho plumbing license:

  • Most importantly, it is required by law in Idaho 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 Idaho?

The annual mean wage for a plumber in Idaho is $48,8400, 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 $17.70 per hour in Idaho and $5,429 overtime per year.

Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $29.01 per hour in Idaho and $10,331 overtime per year.

Salary can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, 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 Idaho?

It can cost very little to get started as a plumbing professional in Idaho. You will need to find an apprentice position or program. If you find an entry-level job with an employer, your employer will likely pay for your required classroom instruction. Most who offer that will do so as a reimbursement for classes at a community or technical college in which you receive a minimum grade of B or C. You can also enroll in a plumbing program at a community or technical college, which means paying tuition but can lead to an apprentice position because you’ve set yourself apart as a more qualified candidate. There are also apprenticeships through union and trade organizations. UA Local 296 in Boise, for instance, offers a five-year apprenticeship at no cost to the apprentice. The contractors who utilize the apprentices actually pay into the union to offset all the expenses. You will also be working full-time learning plumbing installations and so much more — earning money while you are trained. You will have to pay a registration fee to the state and renew it yearly as well as eventually pay to take the journeyman licensing exam and pay for that license. The same is true at the contractor level. All exams cost $75. The other fees vary.

There are different fees associated with the various license classifications.

  • Apprentice Registration: $50

  • Specialty Apprentice Registration: $30

  • Journeyman Plumber/ Specialty Journeyman Plumber: Application fee - $22.50 

  • Plumbing Contractor/Specialty Plumbing Contractor: Application fee - $22.50

How to Get a Plumbers License in Idaho

Becoming a plumbing professional in Idaho isn’t fast, but it’s very straightforward.

APPRENTICESHIP/WORK EXPERIENCE: You will need to be at least 16 years old. The state requires everyone who wants to join this profession to become an apprentice and complete an apprenticeship that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. To get that recognition, the apprenticeship must include 2,000 hours of hands-on training and 144 hours of classroom instruction each year. Registered apprenticeship programs range from one year to five years; in Idaho, they are four years. Once you become an apprentice, either through an employer sponsoring you, a union, or a college apprenticeship program, you must apply to the Idaho Division of Building Safety. You must complete and have your apprentice application or specialty apprentice application notarized and mail it with the fee to:

Idaho Division of Building Safety

1090 E. Watertower St., Ste 150

Meridian, ID 83642

COMPLETE PLUMBING APPRENTICE OR SPECIALTY APPRENTICE REQUIREMENTS: As a plumber’s apprentice, you will work full-time getting your on-the-job training from a licensed journeyman or licensed specialty journeyman. You’ll also have a classroom component either through a technical college, local union or trade organization or through the company you work for itself.  You will need to renew your apprentice registration with the Division each year for the time to be recognized toward the journeyman work experience requirements.

TAKE LICENSING EXAM: Once you have satisfied the training requirements, you will need to apply for your journeyman or specialty journeyman license. Again, the application must be notarized and mailed with a $22.50 application fee to the Division of Building Safety. If DBS determines that you have satisfied all the eligibility requirements and you are approved to take the exam to demonstrate your competency, you must schedule and pay for it. The cost is $75. The Plumbing Exam Information Bulletin provides detailed instructions on how to pay that and where you can take the exam. You have one year from acceptance to schedule and take your exam. Once you are licensed you must renew your license every year and pay the $21.60 fee.

CONSIDER BECOMING A PLUMBING CONTRACTOR: Contractors own and operate their own businesses and can hire other licensed employees to work for them. Plumbing Contractors must be licensed to legally operate a business. DBS requires anyone who wants to be a Plumbing Contractor in Idaho to obtain a $2,000 compliance bond and work as a licensed journeyman for at least 30 months before applying to be a Plumbing Contractor or Plumbing Specialty Contractor.  Again, you will need to mail your notarized application to DBS along with the $22.50 application fee. If approved to test, you must again schedule and pay for it as described in the Exam Information Bulletin. Once you are licensed, you must renew your license every year and pay the $108 fee.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbers License in Idaho?

It will take a minimum of four years to qualify to take the plumbing journeyman license exam in Idaho. You can qualify to take the Specialty Journeyman license exams in significantly less time — 18 months for each. If your goal is to own your own plumbing business, it will take two and a half more years to qualify to test for the plumbing contractor or specialty contractor licenses.

Idaho 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. In the state of Idaho, Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC are licensed trades that require registration, apprenticeship training, and ultimately a journeyman’s license to work in the field. There are several colleges in Idaho that offer that training as well as union or joint apprenticeship training centers.

The North Idaho College Workforce Training Center's Apprenticeship Program is a Registered Apprenticeship with the United States Office of Federal Apprenticeship as well as the State of Idaho. The plumbing apprenticeship is a four-year program that costs $6,100.

The College of Southern Idaho also has a four-year plumbing apprenticeship program. Tuition is $745 per year plus the cost of books. Scholarships are available.

The plumbing apprenticeship program at Lewis-Clark State College is 80 credits and intended for students who are actively employed in the trade. It will result in an Associate of Applied Science diploma. A full-time Idaho resident will pay about $3,500 per semester, while a non-resident will pay about $10,000.

Postings on Indeed or Zip Recruiter or other job boards for entry-level jobs with plumbing companies are often labeled apprenticeship positions because your employer will pay your tuition as long as you are a diligent worker and you achieve acceptable grades. You can also pursue a union apprenticeship or try to connect with one through the Idaho Department of Labor Apprenticeship website that meets 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.

Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 16 years old, have a Social Security number, and a form of government-issued identification (driver’s license, passport).

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.

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, drainage systems, water heaters, plumbing appliances and plumbing fixtures.

Idaho Plumber Licensing Exam Details

The Division of Building Safety administers all plumbing licensing exams. To schedule, call (800) 955-3044 at least two business days prior to the date you would like to test. There are limited seats available for each test, and you may not receive your initial choice.

The exam for each type of license costs $75, and all of them are open-book. Because of time constraints, you will not have time to look up all the answers. For those answers you must look up, you must be VERY familiar with the references to avoid wasting time searching for information.

There are different time limits for the exams.

Plumbing Contractor Exam — 4 hours

Plumbing Journeyman Exam — 4 hours

Appliance Specialty Contractor Exam — 4 hours

Appliance Specialty Journeyman Exam — 2 1/2 hours

Water Pump Specialty Contractor Exam — 4 hours

Plumbing Water Pump Specialty Journeyman Exam — 2 1/2 hours

You will receive a letter stating your pass or fail score. The plumbing exams require 75% of the questions to be answered correctly to pass. An applicant receiving a grade of less than 75% may apply for reexamination upon payment of the exam fees.

Approved References

The following is a list of approved reference material. You will need to bring your own copies.

  • 2017 Idaho State Plumbing Code/2015 Uniform Plumbing Code.

  • Current Idaho Plumbing Statutes and Rules (available online at http://dbs.idaho.gov/ or at a DBS office.)

  • Division of Building Safety Contractor’s Business and Law Reference Manual (available online at http://dbs.idaho.gov/ or at a DBS office) – Contractor Exam Only.   

The exam will be done on a computer at one of the three regional offices:

Meridian Office 1090 E. Watertower St., Ste. 150 Meridian, ID 83642 Office Hours: M-F 8:00 – 5:00 (MST)

Coeur d’ Alene Office 1250 Ironwood Dr., Ste. 220 Coeur d’ Alene, ID 83814 Office Hours: M-F 7-4 (PST)

Blackfoot Office 155 N. Maple St. Blackfoot, ID 83221 Office Hours: M-F 8-5 (MST)

Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Idaho?

The Division of Building Safety is responsible for the licensing of all plumbers, HVAC professionals, electricians, and more in Idaho. On the website, it says the Plumbing Program was established to provide for the health and safety of the citizens of Idaho in private and public buildings by ensuring that plumbing practices are in compliance with the Uniform Plumbing Code as adopted. The program provides technical assistance to the public, building officials, and plumbing contractors. The program also registers apprentice plumbers, licenses plumbing contractors and journeymen, and regulates license compliance statewide. You can find all of the forms and applications at this link.

Does My Idaho Plumber License Work in Any Other State?

Yes, Idaho has reciprocity agreements for plumbing and electrical. Oregon, Montana and Washington will reciprocate with Idaho for plumbing licensure.

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.

Continuing Education

Plumbing journeymen and contractors will be required to have continuing education to renew their license. Journeymen must complete eight hours of continuing education for every three-year license cycle, or complete an exam administered by the Division. Of the required eight hours, four hours must be related to plumbing code update; the other four may be industry-related training. Contractors must complete 16 hours of continuing education for every three-year license cycle.

Those holding a valid journeyman license may take the CEU exam administered by the Division of Building Safety. The cost for the exam is $50.

Renewal

Plumbing licenses are on a three-year cycle and then will expire if not renewed. There are different renewal fees associated with the different licenses.

  • Plumbing Apprentice $50

  • Plumbing Specialty Apprentice $30

  • Plumbing Journey/Specialty Journey $21.60

  • Plumbing Contractor/Specialty Contractor $108

There isn’t an online option for payment yet, but there are other license fee payment options listed online.

Resources

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

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