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Licensing Guides

Michigan Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Michigan

category-iconPlumbing, MI

Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Michigan

  2. Types of Plumbers Licenses in Michigan

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

  4. Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Michigan

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

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

  7. How to Get a Plumbers License in Michigan

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

  9. Michigan Plumber Training Programs and Schools

  10. Michigan Plumber Licensing Exam Details

  11. Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Michigan?

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

  13. Other Requirements Unique to Michigan

Becoming a licensed plumber is neither quick nor easy, but in Michigan, it’s a pretty straightforward process. Almost every state requires plumbers to be licensed because it’s complicated work that is essential to our society. Making sure the job is done right protects everyone’s health and safety. Michigan has strict standards for working in the plumbing business and those requirements begin at the apprentice level. On the state website, it is explained that the purpose of the plumbing code is to ensure the proper installation of systems for furnishing potable water, for sanitary sewage disposal and storm drainage; and to ensure public safety, health, and welfare.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 490,200 plumbers nationwide and Michigan employs 12,180 of them. That number is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 across the country, but in Michigan, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the projected growth rate is higher at 13%.

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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 a whopping 88% of firms in Michigan had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Michigan

Is a license required for plumbers in Michigan? Yes.

To perform any plumbing work legally in Michigan, you must be licensed through the state. You will begin by registering as an apprentice. After three years (6,000 hours) of documented work under a licensed authorized master plumber, you can apply to get your Journey Plumber license. After holding your Journey license for two years (4,000 hours) of documented work, you can apply to get your Master Plumber license. Each license is a building block that leads to the next. If you want a Plumbing Contractor license, you will either need to hold a master plumber license yourself or employ someone who is licensed as a master plumber.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) oversees all of the professional licensing in the state. The Bureau of Construction Codes is responsible for all the skilled trades including electricians, mechanical contractors, and plumbers who are licensed through the Plumbing Division.

In 2017, the Skilled Trades Regulation Act became law in Michigan and consolidated regulations for five skilled trade industries, including plumbing, to create one uniform code that streamlined and made the application, testing, and renewal processes for these skilled trades consistent. Some of Michigan’s cities still retain the authority to require state-licensed tradesmen to register with their own governing agencies, so you always want to check with the jurisdiction where you intend to work to make sure you’re following any local requirements.

Types of Plumbers Licenses in Michigan

What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Michigan?

You are required to register as an apprentice within 30 days of employment as a plumbing apprentice and pay a $15 registration fee.

The state of Michigan issues three types of Plumbing Licenses and there are different requirements for each.

Journey Plumber License

  • Must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Must have 3 years of experience (4,000 hours) as a registered plumbing apprentice in the practical installation of plumbing under the supervision of a licensed authorized master plumber.

  • Must pay the $100 examination fee and pass the examination.

  • Must pay the $40 license fee.

Master Plumber License

  • Must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Must have two years of experience (4,000 hours) as a journey plumber immediately preceding the date of application.

  • Must pay the $100 examination fee and pass the examination.

  • Must pay the $300 license fee.

Plumbing Contractor License

  • Must either hold a master plumber license or employ the holder of a master plumber license as his or her representative.

  • Must be an owner of a sole proprietorship or partnership, or an officer of a corporation or limited liability company.

  • Must provide complete business or employment information for the previous 5 years.

  • Must pay the $100 examination fee and pass the examination.

  • Must pay the $300 license fee.

Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Michigan

You must be at least 18 years old.

  1. Either attend a technical school or college to earn a plumbing degree before becoming a registered plumbing apprentice or begin as an apprentice. You can do this in several ways. Either find an apprenticeship through a government website designed to connect career seekers with apprentice employers, a union or trade organization, or look for entry-level employment with a local plumbing employer who is willing to sponsor you.

  2. To establish a record of apprenticeship, every apprentice plumber must be registered within 30 days of beginning work.

  3. After accumulating three years and 4,000 hours of experience as a registered apprentice, you may apply for a Journey Plumber license. You must submit proof of 6,000 hours over at least three years and pay the $40 licensing fee.

  4. Once approved you will be notified that you may register for the state-mandated exam and pay the $100 fee directly to the third-party testing agency.

  5. If you pass the exam, you will be issued your Journey Plumber license.

  6. After accumulating two years of experience as a journey plumber, you may apply for a Master Plumber license. You must submit proof of 4,000 hours over at least two years immediately preceding the date of the applications and pay the $300 licensing fee.

  7. Once approved, you will be notified that you may register for the state-mandated exam and pay the $100 fee directly to the third-party testing agency.

  8. If you pass the exam, you will be issued your Master Plumber license.

  9. If you want to be a plumbing contractor, you must either hold a master plumber license or employ the holder of a master plumber license as your representative. You also must be an owner of a sole proprietorship or partnership, or an officer of a corporation or limited liability company, provide complete business or employment information for the previous 5 years, and submit documentation of all of this along with the application and the $300 license fee.

  10. Once approved, you will be notified that you may register for the state-mandated exam and pay the $100 fee directly to the third-party testing agency.

  11. If you pass the exam and provide all documentation, you will be issued your Plumbing Contractor license.

Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Michigan

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

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

The annual mean wage for a plumber in Michigan is $62,530, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s higher than the national average which is $59,800. 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 $16.34 per hour in Michigan and $5,429 overtime per year.

Journeyman: The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $29.88 per hour in Michigan 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 Michigan?

There are different fees associated with the various license classifications.

  • Apprentice Registration: $15

  • Journeyman Plumber:

    • Application fee: $40

    • Examination Fee: $100

  • Master Plumber:

    • Application fee: $300

    • Examination Fee: $100

  • Plumbing Contractor:

    • Application fee: $300

    • Examination Fee: $100

How to Get a Plumbers License in Michigan

The state provides a Plumbing Licensing Guide on the LARA website that explains what is expected.

EDUCATION/WORK EXPERIENCE: To get started on your plumbing career in Michigan, you can choose from a couple of paths. You can attend community college and earn an Associate Degree in Applied Science or complete a shorter certificate program at a technical college to get the foundational knowledge you need to get started. 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, you can opt for on-the-job training. There are hundreds of entry-level plumbing jobs in Michigan listed on job board sites like indeed and zip recruiter. Michigan requires anyone doing any kind of plumbing work to register as an apprentice within 30 days of employment as a plumbing apprentice and pay a $15 registration fee. You may then begin accruing the three years of experience needed as a plumbing apprentice under a licensed authorized master plumber to apply to test for a Journey Plumber License. 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. Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity maintains a website 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 can also use the apprenticehsip.gov website to search for opportunities. One program offered in Michigan is through the Plumbers 98 & MCA Detroit Training Center.

APPLY FOR YOUR LICENSE: After you’ve met the work experience requirements, you can apply to take the state licensing exam at your desired level. The same application is used for all three licenses — Journey, Master or Contractor. You can apply and pay online or print out the form and mail it and your check or money order made payable to the State of Michigan – BCC to:

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Bureau of Construction Codes/ Licensing Division P.O. Box 30255 Lansing, MI 48909

TAKE EXAM: All three exams are administered by PSI testing services. Each costs $100. If your eligibility is confirmed and your application is accepted, you will be notified by PSI to schedule and pay for your state exam. All of the exams are listed on the Candidate Information Bulletin along with information about the examination process and tips for exam prep. You must receive a 70% to pass the exam. If you are successful, you will be issued your license.

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

It takes three years to qualify to take the Journey Plumber license exam and another two years as a journey plumber to qualify to take the Master Plumber license exam in Michigan. The path begins with an apprenticeship, so you will be working and earning money from the start.

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Michigan 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 quite a few colleges in Michigan that offer plumbing programs as well as many other training programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional. You can choose to attend a community or technical college and earn a certificate or degree in plumbing.

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

  • Universities.com: Best Plumbing Colleges in Michigan

  • Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Michigan

  • Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Michigan

You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.

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. 

There are websites that can help:

There are also apprenticeships offered through unions or local trade associations. Local 357 serving Kalamazoo and Benton Harbor and Local 98 in Detroit are just two examples.

Applicant requirements:

  • You must be 18 years of age at the time of the application

  • You must be a high school graduate or have a GED

  • You must have a valid driver’s license at the time of application and interview

  • You must be drug-free

An apprentice plumber is required to:

  • Serve a 5-year apprenticeship that includes 10,000 hours of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction.

  • Obtain and maintain registration as a plumber apprentice with the State of Michigan.

  • Work under the direct supervision of a Journey or Master Plumber and perform job-related duties in an acceptable manner.

  • Provide your own reliable transportation to and from any jobsite within the jurisdiction of Plumbers Local 98 and to and from the Training Center.

  • Attend related training classes regularly and maintain a grade point average of 75% or higher in those classes.

  • Purchase books and normal school supplies for the related instruction classes

  • Obtain an Associate Degree through Washtenaw Community College in partnership with Plumbers Local 98 Apprenticeship Program

  • Adhere to all policies and procedures as provided by Plumbers Local 98 Joint Apprentice Training Committee.

  • Submit to Substance Abuse Testing when required.

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.

Tuition: Apprenticeships usually have some up-front 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 an associate degree or bachelor degree in engineering.

Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED.

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. 

Michigan Plumber Licensing Exam Details

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Bureau of Construction Codes, Plumbing Division has contracted with PSI testing services to conduct the examinations for licensing. Once you have the required years of experience you may apply to the plumbing board to receive permission to test. If your eligibility is confirmed and your application is accepted, you will be notified how to schedule and pay for your state exam.  

The Candidate Information Bulletin describes the examination and application process and details each of the exams — Journey Plumber, Master Plumber, and Plumbing Contractor.

The fee for each of the exams is $100.

The Journey Plumber Examination is made up of 125 questions and has a time limit of 180 minutes. The Master Plumber Exam is made up of 130 questions also with a time limit of 180 minutes. The Plumbing Contractor Exam contains 50 questions and you are allowed 120 minutes to complete it. All three require a 70% to pass and all three are open book. The Bulletin will also specify which reference materials you may use and what items are not allowed in the testing center. There are seven PSI testing centers in Michigan and they are located in Dearborn, Holt, two in Southfield, Grand Rapids, Gaylord, and Marquette.

Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Michigan?

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) through the Bureau of Construction Codes Plumbing Division issues all plumbing licenses in the state of Michigan. Several jurisdictions including Detroit, Dearborn, Saginaw, and Grand Rapids also have local governing agencies for issuing plumbing licenses within those municipalities. 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 Michigan Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

Michigan does not have any reciprocity agreements with any other states. However, legislation has been introduced that will make current military personnel, veterans, and their dependents eligible for license reciprocity in Michigan. “Servicemembers will be eligible if they hold a valid occupational license in another state, are in good standing with no pending disciplinary action, and demonstrate competency in their profession through education, training and/or work experience. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) will determine whether these criteria are satisfied.”

All other out-of-state plumbers will need to demonstrate the appropriate number of years of experience, apply to take the state exam, and pass it to receive a license.

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 Michigan

Holders of a Journey Plumber license must renew that license annually at a cost of $40. Master Plumbers must renew their license every three years at a cost of $300.

Continuing Education

Each licensed journey or master plumber is required to complete an approved 5-hour code update course within one year after the adoption of a new edition of the Michigan Plumbing Code. Licensees will be notified by the plumbing division when this course must be taken. The Bureau of Construction codes does not regulate the cost of the code update course. The approved instructors set the cost of their approved course.

Resources

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