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Licensing Guides

Maine Plumbing License: How to Become an Plumber in Maine

category-iconPlumbing, ME

Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements for Plumbers

  2. Types of Plumbers Licenses

  3. Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License

  4. Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License

  5. What Is the Mean Salary for a Plumber?

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

  7. How to Get a Plumbers License

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

  9. Maine Plumber Training Programs and Schools

  10. Maine Plumber Licensing Exam Details

  11. Who Issues Plumbing Licenses?

  12. Does My License Work in Any Other State?

  13. Plumbing Certifications

  14. Continuing Education

  15. Renewal

  16. Other Requirements Unique

Studying and training is essential to becoming a plumber. It takes time, effort, and perseverance to learn how to do this complex job, but those skills can ensure job security and even the opportunity to own your own business. In an effort to protect the health and safety of the population, almost every state requires plumbers to be taught for several years, gain plumbing experience, and demonstrate through testing that they are competent before being licensed in the plumbing trade.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 490,200 plumbers nationwide and Maine employs 2,160 of them. That number is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029 across the country.

Contractors are struggling to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVAC professionals. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, contractors are hiring when they can find these essential workers. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. had unfilled hourly craft positions.

Licensing requirements for plumbers vary from state to state and, in some cases, from municipality to municipality. In Maine licensing is uniform statewide and begins at the apprentice level.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Maine

Is a license required for plumbers in Maine? Yes, and it is mandated from the very beginning.

In the state of Maine, to legally perform plumbing work of any kind you must be licensed. The state licenses every level of this workforce from trainee to master. The Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation in Maine oversees the Plumbers’ Examining Board and issues the licenses.

Types of Plumbers Licenses in Maine

What are the different types of plumber licenses in Maine?

There are four plumber licenses issued in Maine:

  • Trainee Plumber

  • Journeyman-in-Training Plumber

  • Journeyman Plumber

  • Master Plumber

Each has specific license requirements.

Trainee Plumber

A Trainee Plumber is any person who is engaged in assisting and making plumbing installations under the direct supervision of a journeyman plumber or master plumber, whether for the purpose of learning the trade him/herself or just as a temporary job.

  • Requires completed application.

  • Requires $100 license fee.

  • Requires a criminal background check, $21.

  • Requires renewal every two years.

Journeyman-in-Training Plumber

A Journeyman-in-Training is a person who is licensed to assist in making plumbing installations under the direct supervision of a journeyman plumber or a master plumber to learn the trade, but who may not act as a journeyman plumber until fully licensed.

  • Must complete a plumbing course consisting of one year or two semesters at a board-approved community college; or

  • Complete a two-year plumbing course at an approved career and technical education program as a high school student or in a registered Department of Labor apprenticeship program; and

  • Must receive a passing grade of 70% (or higher) on the journeyman plumbers examination.

  • Complete an application.

  • Requires $200 license fee.

  • Requires a criminal background check, $21.

  • This is a four-year non-renewable license.

Journeyman Plumber

A Journeyman Plumber means any person who customarily performs the work of installing plumbing and drainage under the employment and direction of a master plumber or, not being a master plumber, does plumbing repair work as a regular part-time occupation.

  • Examination Requirements - A minimum of at least two years with 4,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed trainee plumber under the supervision of a licensed master plumber; or a minimum of 2,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed journeyman-in-training under the supervision of a licensed master plumber, as long as the work experience is obtained within four years of the date upon which the applicant was issued a journeyman-in-training license.

  • Must receive a passing grade of 70% (or higher) on the journeyman plumbers examination.

  • Requires completed application.

  • Requires $200 license fee.

  • Requires a criminal background check, $21.

  • Requires renewal every two years.

Master Plumber

A Master Plumber means any person licensed by the Board to engage in, or about to engage in, the business of installing plumbing or plumbing systems.

  • Requires completed application.

  • Examination Requirements - A minimum of at least one year with 2,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed journeyman plumber; or a minimum of at least four years with 8,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed trainee plumber under the supervision of a licensed master plumber.

  • Must receive a passing grade of 75% (or higher) on the master plumbers examination.

  • Requires $200 license fee.

  • Requires criminal background check, $21.

  • Requires renewal every two years.

Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Maine

  1. Typically be at least 18 years old or 16 years old and enrolled in a career and technical high school plumbing program.

  2. Either get an entry-level plumbing job and apply for a Trainee Plumber license and pay fees; or

  3. Complete a plumbing course consisting of one year or two semesters at a board-approved technical college or community college, in a registered Department of Labor apprenticeship program or as a high school student in a career and technical education program and obtain a passing grade of 70% (or higher) on the journeyman plumbers examination to qualify for your Journeyman-in-training license and pay fees.

  4. Either work at least two years (4,000 hours) as a licensed Trainee Plumber or one year (2,000 hours) as a licensed Journeyman-in-training plumber to qualify to test for your Journeyman plumber license.

  5. Pay for and pass Journeyman Plumber examination with at least a 70%.

  6. Work indefinitely as a journeyman plumber; or

  7. Meet the requirements to test for a master plumber license. A minimum of at least one year with 2,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed journeyman plumber; or a minimum of at least four years with 8,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed trainee plumber under the supervision of a licensed master plumber.

  8. Pay for and pass the Master Plumber examination with at least a 75%.

Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Maine

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

  • Most important, it is required by law in Maine 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 and increases your earning potential as you acquire more experience.

What Is the Mean Salary for a Plumber in Maine?

The annual mean salary for a plumber in Maine is $53,770 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That salary increases as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.

Apprentice: The average wage for an apprentice plumber is $27.42 per hour in Maine and $5,429 overtime per year.

Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $23.83 per hour in Maine 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.

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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbers License in Maine?

How you get started in the field determines your upfront costs. If you simply learn on the job as an entry level employee, you won’t have significant initial costs, but you will also likely receive a lower wage. You’ll only have to pay the $21 fee for the criminal background check and the Trainee Plumber license, which is $100 for the initial application and $100 for each renewal.

The cost to get started as an apprentice in Maine is fairly low, too. Apprenticeship programs are operated on a voluntary basis by employers, employer associations, or management and labor groups (unions) and have different tuition costs associated with them. Most have some fees for books and tools, but much of the cost is absorbed by the provider, meaning the individual employer, employer association or union. 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 full-ride scholarship to college. They pay the whole deal for you, and you earn while you learn.

If you attend a vocational school or technical or community college, you’ll have to pay tuition but you may qualify for financial aid.

Once you have acquired the skills you need through a college program, apprenticeship or entry-level employment under the supervision of a licensed master or journeyman plumber you need to pass the journeyman examination. Then you can choose to take the master plumber examination. The fee for each exam is $65. The license application and renewal fee for both the master and journeyman license is $200 plus the $21 criminal background check fee.

How to Get a Plumbers License in Maine

To qualify for any kind of HVAC license in Maine you need to learn and begin gaining the necessary work experience. Maine doesn’t have predetermined steps but does have requirements for licensure in the plumbing field at the state level. You’ll need to acquire some kind of combination of classroom training and/or hands-on work experience.

TRAINING: Get an entry-level plumbing job and apply for a Trainee Plumber license and pay fees; or begin as a plumbing student — either complete a plumbing course consisting of one year or two semesters at a board-approved technical college or community college, in a registered Department of Labor apprenticeship program or as a high school student in a career and technical education program and obtain a passing grade of 70% (or higher) on the journeyman plumbers examination and apply for a Journeyman-in-training license;

PAY THE FEES: You’ll pay a $100 license fee plus a $21 criminal background check fee to get your Trainee Plumber license or $200 license fee plus the $21 criminal background check fee to get your Journeyman-in-training license.

WORK EXPERIENCE: Once you’ve accomplished either of those first two steps, to get your journeyman license you’ll need a minimum of at least two years with 4,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed trainee plumber under the supervision of a licensed master plumber who must complete and sign an affidavit attesting to that work; or a minimum of 2,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed journeyman-in-training under the supervision of a licensed master plumber who again must complete and sign an affidavit attesting to that work, as long as the work experience is obtained within four years of the date upon which the applicant was issued a journeyman-in-training license.

TEST FOR JOURNEYMAN LICENSE: The state of Maine has contracted with Prov Testing Services to administer all licensing examinations. If you haven’t already taken the Journeyman Exam to get the Journeyman-in-training license, you’ll need to apply to take it and pass with at least a 70% to earn your Journeyman license.

PAY THE FEES: You’ll pay a $200 license fee plus a $21 criminal background check fee to get your Journeyman license. If you are licensed as a Journeyman-In-Training, you’ll use this application. If you are licensed as a Trainee Plumber, you’ll use this application for your journeyman license.

JOURNEYMAN WORK EXPERIENCE: You can work indefinitely as a journeyman plumber or you can meet the requirements to test for your master plumber license. A minimum of at least one year with 2,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed journeyman plumber; or a minimum of at least four years with 8,000 hours of work in the field of plumbing installations as a licensed trainee plumber under the supervision of a master plumber.

TEST FOR MASTER LICENSE: If you decide to go for your Master Plumber License, you’ll need to take the Master Exam and pass with at least a 75%.

PAY THE FEES: You’ll pay a $200 license fee plus a $21 criminal background check fee to get your Master license.

RENEW: All licenses must be renewed every two years. The fee is the same as the initial license fee.

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

The time it takes to get licensed depends on the path you choose. If you choose to take classes while in high school, you can earn your Journeyman-in-training license as soon as you can pass the Journeyman examination. Then you’ll need one year (2,000 hours) before you can test to get your Journeyman License. Then you’ll need one more year of experience to qualify to test for your Master Plumber License.

Alternatively, you can take a one-year college program, pass the Journeyman Exam and get your Journeyman license. Again, you’ll need another year working as a licensed journeyman before qualifying to test for your master plumber’s license. The other way to reach this level is to work as a Trainee plumber for four years and then take and pass the master plumber examination.

Maine 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. As stated above, you can gain this knowledge in a career and technical high school program, a community college or technical program, on-the-job under a licensed master plumber, or through an apprenticeship. It’s important that you make sure the school you attend is acceptable to the licensing board.

No matter where you train, you’ll learn about plumbing systems including:

  • Underground water supply systems

  • Storm water

  • Sewer drainage

  • Fixture installation

  • 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.

Plumbing programs are offered through Maine’s Community College System. Southern Maine Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Plumbing and Heating that takes 4.5 full-time semesters and is 62 credit hours. There’s also a Certificate in Heating program that takes half that time. You can expect to spend about $2,880 per semester for in-state tuition. You can find the breakdown of tuition and fees at this link.  Eastern Maine Community College has an Associate of Applied Science degree program in Plumbing. Northern Maine Community College has a plumbing and heating program that offers students the opportunity to sit for several of the Maine journeyman exams. And Washington County Community College offers a Plumbing Certificate program that’s 36 credits and also prepares graduates to take the journeyman plumbing examination.

Here are three great lists to the best Plumbing schools in Maine:

  • Universities.com: Best Plumbing Technology/plumber Colleges in Maine

  • Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Maine

  • Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Maine

You will see that they all recommend the same post-secondary schools. 

Apprenticeship: The Maine Department of Labor maintains a Maine Apprenticeship Program website just for apprenticeship opportunities. You might be lucky enough to get one of the coveted union apprenticeship spots with United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs Local 716 based out of Augusta. The apprenticeship program is five years long and meets all requirements of the state and is completely free to students. The cost is covered by the union contractors who pay into the trus, and students are placed with one of those contractors to work.

Or you could simply apply for one of the apprentice positions listed on Zip Recruiter or Indeed or another job board to see if an employer will sponsor you instead.

Program Prerequisites: In most cases, you need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) degree. All applicants should have a driver’s license or letter verifying reliable transportation to work, must pass a drug test, and have passed high school algebra or its equivalent.

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.

Maine Plumber Licensing Exam Details

To be certified as a Master or Journeyman Plumber in Maine you must take an examination. They are administered by Prov testing services. The Candidate Information Bulletin provides you with information about the examination and application process. Each of the plumbing exams cost $65 and are closed book.

To prepare you’ll want to start with a current copy of that bulletin and use the examination content outlines as the basis of your study. Read/study materials that cover all the topics in the content outline and take practice tests. Take notes on what you study. Putting information in writing helps you commit it to memory and it is also an excellent business practice. Also, discuss new terms or concepts as frequently as you can with colleagues. This will test your understanding and reinforce ideas. Your studies will be most effective if you study frequently, for periods of about 45 to 60 minutes. Concentration tends to wander when you study for longer periods of time. Both Maine plumbing examinations are based on the same reference materials: Maine Plumbing Law and Rules 2015, Maine Plumbing Tables 2015 UPC, Plumbing Basics for Contractors, 3rd Edition, and the Uniform Plumbing Code 2015.

There are 80 questions on the Journeyman Plumber exam, and you’ll be allowed three hours to finish it. The Master Plumber exam is 100 questions long, and you are given three hours to complete it. They each cover the same subject areas:

  • General Knowledge

  • General Regulations

  • Water Supply Systems Including Backflow

  • Prevention & Water Heaters

  • Drainage, Waste, Sanitary Venting

  • Plumbing Fixtures

  • Traps and Interceptors

  • Specialty Venting

  • Indirect Waste

  • Roof Drainage  

On the day of testing, you must bring two forms of identification, which bear your signature and one must also have your photograph. Your name as shown on the application form must exactly match the name on the photo I.D. used at the testing site. The Candidate Information Bulletin also outlines what items are not allowed in the testing centers. There are five locations in Maine located in Auburn, Bangor, Calais, Portland and Presque Isle.

If your computer can support it, Prov offers testing from home through a remote test monitoring service called Examroom. At a minimum you will need a recent operating system of not less than three or four years old. Examroom works on MAC, PC or Chromebook. It works best with the Chrome browser. You need a functioning computer web-camera and microphone and you need a good consistent internet connection.

You will need to earn at least a 70% on the Journeyman examination and at least 75% on the Master Examination to pass.

Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Maine?

The Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation in Maine issues all professional licenses including for plumbers, HVAC professionals, and electricians.

Does My Maine Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

Maine does not have any formal reciprocal agreements for plumbing with any other state. However, they do consider reciprocity for any person who holds a valid license in another state as long as that state or territory has licensing standards and experience requirements at least equivalent to Maine's and as long as that state or territory grants similar privileges to those holding a Maine plumbing license.

The Plumbing Examining Boards also expressly states on its website that the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation wants to make sure that individuals who have military experience and training and who wish to obtain a plumbing license receive appropriate credit for their military training and experience. If this is your situation, they encourage you to contact them for assistance in preparing your application for 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

Maine does not currently have any continuing education requirements for plumbers licenses.

Renewal

All licenses expire two years from the date of issuance. You can renew online. The fee for renewal varies depending on the license being sought. The fee for Master Plumber and Journeyman Plumber is $221 — $200 application fee and $21 criminal background fee. The cost for a Trainee Plumber License renewal is $121 — $100 application fee and $21 criminal background check. The Journeyman-in-training License is a one-time license valid for four years and cannot be renewed.

Approximately sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of your license, a courtesy renewal reminder will be sent to you by email. It is important that you maintain a current email on file, or you risk not being able to receive the renewal reminder. You do not need to wait for a renewal reminder to renew your license. The online renewal opens 60 days prior to the license expiration.

Other Requirements Unique to Maine

The Plumbers’ Examining Board does not print licenses. Your license will be sent to you at the email address you provide on your application. The license will arrive from the email sender address: noreply@maine.gov. The attachment with this email is your license — where you may open it and print your license. If you do not find your license in your inbox, check your junk/spam folders for the email. The Board suggests you save its email address (noreply@maine.gov) in your contacts or as a safe sender to prevent your license from being directed to your junk/spam folders. 

Resources

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