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Louisiana Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Louisiana

category-iconPlumbing, LA

Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Louisiana

  2. Types of Plumbers Licenses in Louisiana

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

  4. Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Louisiana

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

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

  7. How to Get a Plumbers License in Louisiana

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

  9. Louisiana Plumber Training Programs and Schools

  10. Louisiana Plumber Licensing Exam Details

  11. Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Louisiana?

  12. Does My Louisiana Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

  13. Louisiana License Renewal and Continuing Education

Becoming a licensed plumber is neither quick nor easy and there’s no way to rush that process in Louisiana. Almost every state requires plumbers to be licensed because it’s complicated work and impacts everyone’s health and safety. Louisiana has strict standards for working in the plumbing business and those requirements begin at the apprentice level.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 490,200 plumbers nationwide and Louisiana employs 9,830 of them. That number is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 across the country, but in Louisiana, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the projected growth rate is higher at 8%.

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And there’s more good news if you’re interested in this profession. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and a 55% of firms in Louisiana had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Louisiana

Is a license required for plumbers in Louisiana? Yes.

And those licensing requirements are in place right from the start.

The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana (SPBLA) is responsible for licensing plumbers in the state. The Board issues two kinds of plumbers licenses — Journeyman and Master — and also requires all plumbing apprentices to register with them.

To legally perform plumbing work valuing more than $10,000 in labor and materials in the state of Louisiana, you must also be licensed as a commercial contractor.

Commercial Contractor licenses are issued through the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC). That same board also licenses electricians, HVAC/mechanical contractors, general contractors, mold remediation contractors, and many other specialties.

Types of Plumbers Licenses in Louisiana

What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Louisiana?

Before you ever apply for a plumbers license in Louisiana, you will need to register as an apprentice with the State Plumbing Board and pay the $20 fee. Once the apprenticeship or its equivalent is complete, you may apply for a license.

The state of Louisiana issues two types of Plumbing Licenses and there are different requirements for each. 

Journey Plumber License: To qualify for an examination, an applicant must either:

  • Be a registered apprentice through the State Plumbing Board and have either completed the Apprenticeship Program OR be in their last year of the program; OR

  • Have five (5) years or 8,000 hours under the direct, on-the-job supervision of a Journeyman or Master Plumber and be able to show proof of either five (5) years with W-2s OR 8,000 hours with official payroll documentation. Applicants applying through the Waiver Process will be required to complete vouchers verifying the W-2s or payroll documentation provided; OR

  • Have a valid plumbing license in another state. The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana does not reciprocate licenses; however, if you have a valid plumbing license in another state, you can use it to qualify to take the Journeyman Plumber exam. Out-of-state applicants will be required to submit a copy of their plumbing license with the application.

Master Plumber License: To qualify for an examination, you must have a current Louisiana Journeyman Plumbing License.

A Journeyman Plumber licensed through the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana is qualified to perform installation, repairs, and maintenance of new and existing plumbing systems under the direct/indirect supervision of a Licensed Louisiana Master Plumber.

A Master Plumber licensed through the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana is qualified to perform all of those duties and may own his or her own company and bid on projects of less than $10,000.

Plumbing Contractor (Statewide) License: According to the State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC), a commercial license is required for commercial projects of $50,000 or more; $1 or more for hazardous materials; or in excess of $10,000 for Plumbing, Electrical or Mechanical. The total value of the project includes the cost of all labor and materials.

So, to legally perform plumbing work valuing more than $10,000 in labor and materials, you must hold a Master Plumber license and also be licensed as a commercial contractor.

Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Louisiana

You must be at least 16 years old. Some apprenticeships require you to be 18 years old to apply.

  1. Be a registered apprentice through the State Plumbing Board and have either completed the Apprenticeship Program OR be in their last year of the program; or

  2. Have five (5) years or 8,000 hours under the direct, on-the-job supervision of a Journeyman or Master Plumber and be able to show proof of either five (5) years with W-2s OR 8,000 hours with official payroll documentation. Applicants applying through the Waiver Process will be required to complete vouchers verifying the W-2s or payroll documentation provided; or

  3. Have a valid plumbing license in another state. The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana does not reciprocate licenses; however, if you have a valid plumbing license in another state, you can use it to qualify to take the Journeyman Plumber exam. Out-of-state applicants will be required to submit a copy of their plumbing license with the application.

  4. Apply to take the State Plumbing Board Journeyman examination and pay the application fee.

  5. Upon approval from the Board, you will be scheduled for the next available exam.

  6. After receiving a passing grade, applicants will be notified to complete the appropriate Initial License form and return it with a $50 fee for their license.

  7. Each license holder will be responsible for taking continuing education each year through an (approved program) and renewing their license before December 31 of each year.

  8. You may practice indefinitely as a Journeyman as long as you keep your license current through continuing education and renewal and work for a licensed Master plumber. According to the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana, 70% to 75% of plumbers continue to work as a licensed Journeyman.

  9. If you choose to own your own business and bid on projects, you will need to apply to take the Master examination and pay the application fee.

  10. Upon approval from the Board, you will be scheduled for the next available exam.

  11. Upon passing the examination, an applicant will be notified with a PASS LETTER and a notification to complete the appropriate Initial License form and return it with a $190 Active/$40 In-Active Fee for his/her first license along with a Notice for an Active Master Plumber regarding signage, vehicle, and advertising regulations for your plumbing company.

  12. If you want to bid on projects valuing more than $10,000, you will need to apply to the State Licensing Board for Contractors for a Commercial Contractor license as well.

Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Louisiana

There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Louisiana plumbing license:

  • Most importantly, it is required by law in Louisiana 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 of up to $10,000. And, only licensed commercial plumbing contractors can secure those jobs valuing $10,000 or more.

  • 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 Louisiana?

The annual mean wage for a plumber in Louisiana is $58,140, 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 salary for an apprentice plumber is $15.64 per hour in Louisiana and $5,429 overtime per year.

Journeyman: The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $24.49 per hour in Louisiana 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 Louisiana?

There are different fees associated with each level of licensing.

  • Apprentice Registration: $20

  • Journeyman Plumber:

    • Application fee: $135

    • Initial license fee: $50

  • Master Plumber:

    • Application fee: $110

    • Initial license fee: $190 Active/$40 Inactive

  • Plumbing Contractor:

    • The Louisiana Plumbing Contractor license fee is $120 for that single classification. The Business and Law requirement is another $120. There is a $60 Background Financial Investigation Processing Fee and a $400 fee if your company is located out of state. There is a fee worksheet available on the website to help you calculate your total cost based on your particular license. 

How to Get a Plumbers License in Louisiana

The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana provides detailed instruction on its website for how to attain each of the licenses. It is a multi-year process to become a plumber anywhere and, in Louisiana, it typically takes four or five years.

EDUCATION/WORK EXPERIENCE: To get started on your plumbing career in Louisiana, you can choose from a couple of paths. You can start by attending community college or technical college and completing a certificate or diploma program to get the foundational knowledge you need. That typically involves math, like algebra and geometry, some basic science, and blueprint reading or drafting. 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, and the more common path in Louisiana, is to become a plumbing apprentice. The State Plumbing Board specifies that registered apprentices may engage in the art of plumbing only when they are under the direct, constant on-the-job supervision of a licensed journeyman plumber.

Apprenticeship Programs are regulated by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Applicants will contact Louisiana Workforce Commission to enroll in an Approved Apprenticeship Program and will apply for their Apprentice Registration card using this form through the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana.

To qualify to test for your Journeyman license, you must complete the apprenticeship program or work five years or 8,000 hours under the direct, on-the-job supervision of a Journeyman or Master Plumber and be able to show proof of either five (5) years with W-2s OR 8,000 hours with official payroll documentation. Applicants applying through the Waiver Process will be required to complete vouchers verifying the W-2s or payroll documentation provided. There are hundreds of jobs listed for apprentice plumbers on zip recruiter and indeed. Many employers will sponsor employees in an apprentice training program that typically lasts four to five years. Or you can look for formal apprenticeships through union and non-union organizations.

APPLY TO TAKE JOURNEYMAN EXAM: After you’ve met the work experience requirements, you can apply to take the state licensing exam. Examinations are held in January, April, July, and October every year. The application must be legibly completed in its entirety by the applicant, notarized, have all the necessary documentation attached, and be submitted with a check or money order in the amount of $135 ($125 Exam Fee + $10 Processing Charge).

Apprentices may schedule to take the Journeyman Exam, but they may not apply for their Initial Journeyman License until they have completed the Apprenticeship Program and submitted their certificate of completion from Louisiana Workforce Commission to the State Plumbing Board. The State Plumbing Board will mail the results of the examination to you, but it can take up to two weeks to receive scores.  

APPLY FOR INITIAL LICENSE: Upon passing the examination, each applicant will be notified to complete the Initial Journeyman License form and return it with a $50 fee for their license. Once applicants receive their license, they will be responsible for taking continuing education every year through an approved provider and renewing their license every year with the State Plumbing Board before December 31 to avoid delinquent fees. Passing scores are only valid for 90 days. If an applicant fails to send in the appropriate form and payment within 90 days, the applicant will forfeit their scores and will have to retake the entire examination.

Upon failing the examination, each applicant will be notified of their failing scores and provided a Retake Form in order to apply to be rescheduled for examination. If an applicant passes one part but not the other, the passing score will be good for one year. The applicant must take the exam again within that year in order to keep the passing score.

APPLY TO TAKE MASTER EXAM: To qualify for an examination, an applicant must have a current Journeyman Plumbing License or must hold a current license issued by the Professional Engineering and Land Surveying Board certifying or registering you as a professional engineer. Examinations are held in February, May, August, and November every year and include a business law component. The application must be legibly completed in its entirety, notarized, have all the necessary documentation attached, and be submitted with a check or money order in the amount of $110 ($100 Exam Fee + $10 Processing Charge).

Upon passing the examination, each applicant will be notified to complete the Initial Master Plumber License form and return it with a $190 Active license fee or $40 Inactive license fee for their license. Once applicants receive their license, they will be responsible for taking continuing education every year through an approved provider and renewing their license every year with the State Plumbing Board before December 31 to avoid delinquent fees.

Passing scores are only valid for 90 days. If an applicant fails to send in the appropriate form and payment within 90 days, the applicant will forfeit their scores and will have to retake the entire examination. Upon failing the examination, each applicant will be notified of their failing scores and provided a Retake Form in order to apply to be rescheduled for examination. If an applicant passes one part but not the other, the passing score will be good for one year. The applicant must take the exam again within that year in order to keep the passing score.

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

It takes five years of documented work or completion of an approved four-to-five-year apprenticeship to qualify to take the Journey Plumber license exam. There is no specific waiting period or years of experience to qualify to take the Master Plumber license exam. You must simply have your Journeyman license first.

Louisiana 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 a handful of community and technical colleges in Louisiana that offer plumbing programs as well as many other training programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional.

Here are three great lists of the best Plumbing colleges and Universities in Louisiana:

  • Universities.com: Best Plumbing Colleges in Louisiana

  • Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Louisiana

  • Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Louisiana 

Program Prerequisites: Be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) degree. Many require you to pass a physical and a drug test.

But the path most often taken is a plumbing apprenticeship. 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. The State Plumbing Board website explains Apprenticeship Programs are regulated by the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Applicants will contact Louisiana Workforce Commission to enroll in an Approved Apprenticeship Program and will apply for their Apprentice Registration card through the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana.

There are approved apprenticeships offered through local unions or local trade associations. Local 60 serves New Orleans. Local 247 is based in Alexandria. Local 198 is in Baton Rouge, and Local 141 is in Shreveport. The Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors of Louisiana has an approved apprenticeship program that lasts four years. The tuition is $900 a semester for eight semesters, including textbooks. All the details are laid out on their website.  

Any program should 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.

Tuition: Apprenticeships usually have some upfront 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 a degree in engineering.

Program Prerequisites: Typically you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED, but there are exceptions to this in Louisiana.

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. 

Louisiana Plumber Licensing Exam Details

The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana administers the examinations for Journeyman and Master Plumbers.

The Journeyman Plumber exam consists of two parts. One part is an 80 question, 3-hour written exam. The other part is a 1-hour practical exam(hands-on).

The written exam is based on the following reference material:

  • 2015 International Plumbing Code (IPC)

  • 2015 International Residential Code (IRC)

  • Louisiana Title 17, Construction (Last amended December 2019)

The practical portion of the exam includes a:

  • Floor Plan Project

  • Screw Pipe Project

  • Copper Project

The Master Plumber exam consists of a three-part written exam.

Part I of the examination is three hours and 80 questions and is based on the following materials:

  • 2015 International Plumbing Code

  • 2015 International Residential Code

  • Louisiana Title 17: Construction (December 2019)

Part II of the examination is two hours and 25 questions and is based on the following material:

  • Title 51 Public Health Sanitary Code (Part 13)

Part III of the examination is two hours and 40 questions and is based on the following material:

  • NASCLA Louisiana Master Plumbers and Master Natural Gasfitters Guide to Business, Law, and Project Management, 2nd Edition

Applicants must submit applications no less than 30 days prior to the date of the examination. Applicants are scheduled in the order in which they are APPROVED. Processing may take up to two weeks from the date applications are received. Applicants will be mailed a notice that provides the date, time, and location of their exam.

Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Louisiana?

The State Plumbing Board of Louisiana issues journeyman and master plumber licenses in the state and requires all plumbing apprentices to register with them.

Plumbing projects of more than $10,000 in labor and materials require a commercial contractor license. Those are issued through the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC).

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 Louisiana Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

Louisiana does not have any reciprocity agreements with any other states for plumbing. However, if you have a valid plumbing license in another state, you may use it to qualify to take the Journeyman Plumber exam. Applicants will be required to submit a copy of their out-of-state plumbing license with the application for approval. After earning your Louisiana Journeyman license, you can apply for a Master license if you wish to own your own business.

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.

Louisiana License Renewal and Continuing Education

To keep your journeyman plumbers license current, you will be responsible for taking four hours of continuing education every year through an approved provider and renewing your license every year with the State Plumbing Board before December 31 to avoid delinquent fees. For Master Licenses, the continuing education requirement is six hours and you must also renew before December 31 to avoid delinquent fees.

Resources

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