Ohio Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Ohio
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There is no question that plumbers play a vital role in our homes and businesses. Proper practices in this field protect everyone’s health and safety. Most states agree on this and require a minimum amount of training and education for all plumbers. There are few states, though, with a more straightforward process to become a licensed plumber than Ohio.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of plumbers is projected to grow 5% from 2020 to 2030. The Buckeye State employs 13,330 plumbing professionals—making it the state with the ninth-most plumbers nationally.
And, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, contractors in Ohio are hiring. In fact, the AGC says 62% of contracting firms in Ohio had unfilled hourly craft positions in June of 2020. We need skilled plumbers to meet this growing need.
Licensing requirements vary from state to state and in some cases from locality to locality, so if you’re thinking of pursuing this path, you’ll need to know what Ohio’s licensing regulations are and how to meet them.
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Licensing Requirements for Plumbing Contractors in Ohio
Is a license required for plumbers in Ohio? Yes, but not right away.
To legally perform plumbing work in the state of Ohio, you must be a licensed commercial contractor or an apprentice working under a licensed plumber.
The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB) issues state licenses to plumbing contractors who perform commercial work. After extensive work experience, apprentice plumbers can become contractors and build their own businesses.
Many cities, such as Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo, as well as other local jurisdictions, have additional licensing or registration requirements for journeyman plumbers, so be sure to check where you plan to work.
Types of Plumber Licenses in Ohio
What are the different types of plumber licenses in Ohio?
There is only one kind of state-level plumber license in Ohio. It is a Commercial Contractor license for plumbing. Plumbers learn the craft as an apprentice and then a journeyman under the supervision of a licensed plumbing contractor.
The OCILB issues state licenses to Electrical, HVAC, Refrigeration, Plumbing and Hydronics Contractors who perform commercial work. There is no state-level license for either a journeyman or master plumber.
Steps to Get a Plumbing Contractor License in Ohio
Be at least 18 years of age.
Be a United States citizen or a legal alien--must provide proof of being a legal alien.
Either have been a tradesperson in the type of licensed trade for which the application is filed for not less than five years immediately prior to the date the application is filed, be currently registered as engineer in this state with three years of business experience in the construction industry in the trade for which the engineer is applying to take the examination, or have other experience acceptable to the appropriate section of the board.
Never have been convicted of a disqualifying offense.
Once approved by the board, you are required to complete a state and federal background check prior to sitting for the examination.
Pass the examination in the trade.
Carry a minimum of $500,000 in contractor liability coverage.
Pay the applicable fees.
Benefits of Getting a Plumbing Contractor License in Ohio
There are many benefits to getting your Ohio Commercial Contractor license for plumbing:
Most important, it is required by law in Ohio to either be licensed through the state or work under the supervision of a licensed contractor.
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.
It also increases your earning potential.
What Is the Mean Salary for a Plumber in Ohio?
The annual mean income for a plumbing contractor in Ohio is $62,780 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary for a plumber in Ohio increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com. Though the state doesn’t license plumbers as apprentices or journeyman, the salary site is presumably referencing levels of experience and expertise.
Apprentice: The average wage for an apprentice plumber is $20.80 per hour in Ohio and $5,500 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $27.25 per hour in Ohio and $6,750 overtime per year.
Salaries 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.
What Business Owners Need to Know
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Location-specific service history, including recorded calls, accessible from the mobile app.
Required forms that ensure every job is done right, driving consistency.
The ability to build multi-option proposals with photos, on-site, in minutes.
Sales presentations that make conversations with customers easier and drive average ticket.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbing Contractor License in Ohio?
If you want to get started in the field, you will most likely want to attend a vocational school or technical college. You will have that expense up front, but you will also be working as an apprentice and earning income.
The cost to take the test for the license is $69 for each of the two sections—the business and law exam and the trade portion of the exam, so $138 combined. The license application fee is $25 and is paid to the state treasurer when you apply for your license after you pass both parts of the exam.
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How to Get a Commercial Contractor Plumbing License in Ohio
If you want to apply for your Ohio Commercial Contractor Plumber license, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or provide proof of being legally allowed to work in the U.S.
WORK EXPERIENCE: Ohio requires anyone applying to take the licensing exam to be a Commercial Plumbing Contractor to demonstrate five years of experience working in the field.
Specifically, the OCILB requires an applicant to either have been:
Working as a plumber for at least five years immediately prior to the date the application is filed. You must provide proof of that work under a licensed contractor on projects that required a permit during those five years. You must attach at least one permit for each of the last five years and provide the license number of the contractor you worked under. Permits are public record and can be obtained from the local building department. Attach W-2s as well and be specific in explaining the nature of duties.
Or currently be a registered engineer in Ohio with three years of business experience in the construction industry in the trade for which the engineer is applying to take the examination.
PASS BACKGROUND CHECK: After you provide proof of your experience, the board will review your application to determine eligibility to sit for the examination. You will be notified by mail of the results of the review. IMPORTANT: Once you have been approved (valid for one year) by the board, you are required to obtain a BCI and FBI background check before sitting for the examination. For general information about background checks, you can visit this link. Certain convictions prohibit licensure by the Ohio Department of Commerce. For a list of disqualifying offenses, click on this link.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: Testing is conducted by an independent testing company called PSI Services LLC. Approved candidates will be provided with a PSI Candidate Information Bulletin. The Bulletin will contain detailed instructions on how to schedule your exam(s). All licensure exams are computer-based testing by appointment at sites throughout Ohio and the U.S. You will receive a notice of whether you have passed or failed at the completion of the exam. Each section of the exam—the business and law exam and the trade exam—costs $69. So, the two sections cost a combined $138.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: Those who pass both sections of the exam can apply to receive a state license by sending a completed and notarized application, a copy of the examination results, a $25 check made payable to “Treasurer, State of Ohio”, and proof of at least $500,000 contractor liability insurance—meaning a “Certificate of Liability Insurance.” Your liability insurance AND license must be assigned to a “contracting company.” Everything should be mailed together to:
Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board 6606 Tussing Road PO Box 4009 Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-9009
How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbing Contractor License in Ohio?
It will take a minimum of five years to qualify to take the Commercial Contractors Plumbing License Exam in Ohio. However, you will be working and accumulating the necessary journeyman-level experience and earning money the whole time.
Ohio 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. There are many programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional in Ohio. You’ll need to find a contractor or company with an opening for an apprentice. You can do that independently or enroll in a trade school or local union apprenticeship program. Apprentice Ohio is a government website that can connect you with some of those apprenticeship opportunities. There’s a list of opportunities just for plumber openings.
You can also choose to earn a degree in plumbing and heating at a college or university. Ohio’s community colleges offer associate of applied science (AAS) degrees that will prepare you and slightly shorter diploma programs as well. It will take at least five years to get the classroom and hands-on training you need to prepare for the licensing exam. It’s not unusual for community colleges to offer plumbing degree programs in combination with a closely related field like gas technology or heating.
You’ll learn about plumbing systems including:
Underground water supply
Waste and vent piping both inside and outside of buildings
Residential and service plumbing
You’ll also learn how to:
Read or draft blueprints
Install piping systems
Ensure the safety standards and building regulations
Use measuring, power, and soldering tools
Any program should also cover OSHA safety training, detailed instruction in chemistry, mathematics, physics, in-depth examination of state codes, and advanced training about water treatment systems, water heaters, plumbing appliances, and plumbing fixtures.
Here are three great lists of the best plumbing colleges and universities in Ohio:
Universities.com: Best Plumbing Colleges in Ohio
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Ohio
Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Ohio
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Trade schools and certificate programs are plentiful and can be found doing a simple computer search. Among them is Columbus State Community College, which offers a certificate program requiring only 13 credit hours.
Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose and varies widely. The good news is, in many programs, you’ll be earning while you’re learning. Tuition for a trade school can be as little as $1,250 to $3,000 for a certificate program; an associate’s degree can run from $3,000 to $23,000 depending on the school, according to education.costhelper.com.
Program Prerequisites: Most programs require you to 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.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you will need to have good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have mechanical capability, and be physically fit because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing, and working in tight spaces.
Ohio Plumbing Contractor Licensing Exam Details
The examination is administered by PSI testing services. To prepare, PSI suggests:
Start with a current copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin and use the examination content outline as the basis of your study.
Read/study materials that cover all the topics in the content outline.
Take notes on what you study. Putting information in writing helps you commit it to memory, and it is also an excellent business practice. 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.
The Business and Law exam is made up of 50 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of two hours. It covers the following:
Estimating and Bidding
Insurance and Bonding
OSHA Record Keeping and Safety
The plumber contractor exam is made up of 100 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of four hours. It covers the following:
General Knowledge and Requirements
Water Supply Systems
Drainage, Waste, and Sanitary Vents
Roof Drain Piping
To pass, you need to score a 70% or better on each exam. They are both open-book tests. The Bulletin will also specify which reference materials you may use and what items are not allowed in the testing center.
Who Issues Plumbing Contractor Licenses in Ohio?
The Department of Commerce Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board issues the licenses.
Does My Ohio Plumbing Contractor License Work in Any Other State?
Yes. Ohio has varying degrees of reciprocal agreements in plumbing with South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The reciprocity agreements allow contractors licensed in certain states to obtain a license in another state without having to take the state trade exam. Sometimes, the business and law is also waived. However, most of the time it is not.
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.
Renewal/Continuing Education in Ohio
To keep your state-issued license current, Ohio requires you to renew it on a yearly or a three-year basis. It will cost $60 for one year or $180 for the three-year renewal. The benefit of the three-year plan is that you don’t have to fill out the renewal request on the OCILB website every year. Each year, you must complete eight hours of continuing education. Half of those hours may be completed at your own pace online. The other half must be completed in in-person classroom training. An instructor-led video conference setting qualifies as an in-person training. The continuing education classes must be Board approved. Go to the OCILB eLicense website to search for approved providers.
You can stay up to date on all plumbing industry news several ways: