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Licensing Guides

Oregon Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Oregon

category-iconPlumbing, OR

Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Oregon

  2. Types of Plumbers Licenses in Oregon

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

  4. Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Oregon

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

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

  7. How to Get a Plumbers License in Oregon

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

  9. Oregon Plumber Training Programs and Schools

  10. Oregon Plumber Licensing Exam Details

  11. Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Oregon?

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

A career as a plumber requires an investment of time and effort upfront. You can’t rush the process that’s in place in Oregon to prepare for licensing. But, if you make that commitment, you’ll have tangible skills that last a lifetime. Almost every state requires plumbers to train for several years and demonstrate through testing that they are competent to be licensed because it’s complicated work that impacts the health and safety of our society.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 490,200 plumbers nationwide, and Oregon employs 5,840 of them. That number is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 across the country, but in Oregon, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the projected growth rate is significantly higher at 20% for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters and even 21% for Helpers of Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters.

Contractors are struggling to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVACR or Mechanical professionals. 60% of firms in the U.S. and 59% of firms in Oregon had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey. So, if you get the training you need, you should have a variety of jobs to choose from when you’re ready — you could even own your own plumbing business.

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Licensing requirements for plumbers vary from state to state and in some cases, from locality to locality. In Oregon, licensing is uniform statewide, but the state website still says local ordinances and permitting may vary. All plumbing professionals should check with municipal authorities in the areas where they work to ensure they have met all local credentialing requirements.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Oregon

Is a license required for plumbers in Oregon? Yes.

Even as an apprentice, your employer or apprentice program must register your employment/enrollment with the state.

The Oregon Building Codes Division Office (BCD) issues non-contracting plumbing licenses, while the Oregon Construction Contractors Board issues contracting plumbing licenses. The state of Oregon is unique in that it issues several types of specialty and limited plumbing licenses, each of which require their own levels of experience and classroom training.

Types of Plumbers Licenses in Oregon

What are the different types of plumbers licenses in Oregon?

Oregon offers four different types of plumbing licenses and a plumbing business contractor license as well as several others that combine plumbing with other trades. Each has specific requirements that must be met and fees that must be paid before licensing.

  • Journeyman plumber (JP): $100

    • Completion of a registered 4-year apprenticeship program, or a referral letter from either the registered training committee or Oregon Plumbing Board-approved training program; OR

    • Verified proof of at least 576 hours of academic classroom training in all required subjects and

    • Verified proof of 3,850 hours of lawful commercial AND 3,850 hours of lawful residential on-the-job experience as an apprentice or journeyman plumber.

  • Solar heating and cooling installer (STL): $100

    • Proof of completion of a division approved training program that includes 2,288 hours of classroom and on-the-job training OR​

    • Proof of 2,000 hours of lawful experience and training in required categories

  • Water-treatment installer (WTI): $100

    • A certificate of completion from a registered 18-month Oregon State Apprentice program or a referral letter from either the registered training committee or Oregon Plumbing Board-approved training program; OR

    • Proof of 210 hours of lawful experience and training in all required work categories and proof of 3,000 hours of training in all of the required subject areas.

  • Residential water-heater installer (WHI): $100

    • Be an individual sole proprietor, partner in a partnership, or designated officer or employee of a corporation, with both an Electrical Limited Specialty (LMS) and a plumbing contractor license; OR

    • Be an individual employed by a licensed plumbing-electrical contractor an​d complete an approved 8-hour training class for Water-Heater Installers.

  • Plumbing Business Contractor (PB): $250

    • Allows a business to advertise; furnish labor and material, or labor only; install; change; and repair plumbing. This registration does not entitle the holder to work as a journeyman plumber without an appropriate individual license. Renewal is every three years on July 1.

Steps to Getting a Plumber’s License in Oregon

  1. Complete a board-approved plumbing apprenticeship program or attend classes and get verified work experience meeting all experience and classroom instruction requirements.

  2. Apply to take the licensing exam and pay the required fees.

  3. Pass the exam and obtain a license.

  4. Consider becoming an independent plumbing contractor. Plumbing business contractors own and operate their own businesses and can hire other licensed employees to work for them. 

  5. To obtain a CCB license, you must be at least 18 years old, complete no fewer than 16 hours of training on law and business practices through approved pre-license educators, and pass the necessary exam. Potential electrical contractors must also provide the CCB with surety bonds and proof of general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

Benefits of Getting a Plumbers License in Oregon

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

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

The annual mean wage for a plumber in Oregon is $75,800, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That salary increases as you acquire more experience, according to indeed.com.

Apprentice: The average salary for an apprentice plumber is $19.95 per hour in Oregon and $5,429 overtime per year.

Journeyman: The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $36.62 per hour in Oregon 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 Oregon?

Tuition at many Oregon community colleges costs $4,000 to $5,000 per year or more. Licensees must also pay fees to obtain their license after passing the necessary exam. License application fees vary by license type.  

  • Journeyman plumber (JP): $100

  • Solar heating and cooling installer (STL): $100

  • Water-treatment installer (WTI): $100

  • Residential water-heater installer (WHI): $100

  • Plumbing Business Contractor (PB): $250

How to Get a Plumbers License in Oregon

GAIN THE NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: You begin your career in the plumbing field in Oregon with an apprenticeship. That can be a formal apprenticeship through a local union or trade organization or through a community or technical college apprenticeship program. If you complete an approved apprenticeship, you will satisfy the licensing experience requirement to test for your license. The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries maintains a list of apprenticeship programs.

Alternately, you can find an informal apprenticeship as an entry-level employee through a job board like indeed or zip recruiter and work for a licensed contractor while gaining the minimum years of experience and related classroom training. Because employers are often looking for candidates with experience or graduates of a trade school, you may find it difficult to secure a position without first getting some post-secondary education or all of the required classroom-related training before getting hired.

BECOME A JOURNEYMAN PLUMBER OR ONE OF THE OTHER SPECIALTY PLUMBERS: Once you meet the necessary experience requirements, you are eligible to apply to test for your Journeyman Plumber (JP), Solar Heating and Cooling Installer (STL), Water-treatment Installer (WTI), or Residential Water-heater Installer License. You must include a plumbing experience verification form with the application. A checklist is available to assist with the application process.

Specialty plumbers can only work within the scope of their specialty areas, while general journeyman plumbers can work in all areas performing all plumbing installation, alterations, or remodels for a licensed contractor.

Plumbing licenses must be renewed every three years. The Journeyman Plumber and Solar Heating and Cooling System Installer licenses require continuing education credits. 

CONSIDER GETTING A PLUMBING BUSINESS CONTRACTOR LICENSE (PB): Contractors own and operate their own businesses and can hire other licensed employees to work for them. This license allows a business to advertise; furnish labor and material, or labor only; install; change; and repair plumbing. This registration does not entitle the holder to work as a journeyman plumber without an appropriate individual license. Contractor licenses are issued by the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB). The CCB has detailed instructions on its website and also publishes a guide to becoming a licensed contractor that outlines all of the requirements.  

To obtain a CCB license, you must be at least 18 years old, complete no fewer than 16 hours of training on law and business practices, and pass the necessary exam that is administered by PSI Exams. Potential contractors must also provide the CCB with surety bonds and proof of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Business names must be registered with the Oregon Secretary of State.  

Oregon offers several plumbing contractor licenses that combine areas of expertise for those holding trade licenses in more than one area, as well as specifying those for residential contractors, commercial contractors, and dual contractors. Contractor licenses must be renewed every three years.

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

It will take a minimum of 18 months to complete an approved apprenticeship to qualify to take the licensing exam for a Water-treatment Installer license (WTI) in Oregon. A Journeyman Plumber license will take at least four years. Most board-approved apprentice programs typically take four years to complete.

Oregon 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 the plumbing code. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries maintains a website just for plumber apprenticeship opportunities. There are also many community colleges, trade schools, technical and vocational schools to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional in Oregon. 

Those schools include:

  • Portland Community College in Portland offers both a certificate program and an associate degree program to prepare you for a career in plumbing and other construction trades.

  • Lane Community College in Eugene offers The Construction Trades, General Apprenticeship program which provides a structured system of training in construction trades or occupations, leading to certification and journey-level status, only for apprentices who are sponsored by individual employers, accepted by a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, and registered with the State of Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The Apprenticeship Program for Plumbers is four years long.

  • Clackamas Community College southeast of Portland has a Plumbing Apprenticeship Program with admission through the Area I Plumbers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC).

  • Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, provides a Plumber registered apprenticeship program for the Area II Plumbers Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.

Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose. Tuition at many Oregon community colleges costs $4,000 to $5,000 per year or more.

Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED, and a passing grade in high school algebra or an equivalent math class.

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.

Oregon Plumber Licensing Exam Details

Once your application is approved, the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) will mail a letter of authorization with exam instructions. Oregon offers testing locations throughout the state, and you'll receive your exam results in the mail within two weeks of taking the exam. You must score at least 75% to pass. 

Licensing exams are open book and based on the Oregon Plumbing Specialty Code (OPSC).

The CCB contractor exam contains 80 multiple-choice questions on business practices and law. The test is administered by PSI Services. Study guides are available, although the exam is open book. A passing score is at least 70%. 

According to the CCB, the test is based on the Oregon version of the NASCLA Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management.

Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Oregon?

The Oregon Building Codes Division Office (BCD) issues non-contracting plumbing licenses, while the Oregon Construction Contractors Board issues specialty contracting licenses for plumbing work.  

Does My Oregon Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

Oregon has reciprocal licensing only for three specific plumbing and electrical licenses. The Oregon Journeyman Plumber (JP) license reciprocates with the states of Idaho and Montana. The application specifies all the requirements you must meet to receive your license through reciprocity.

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 in Oregon

To keep your state-issued Oregon Journeyman Plumber (JP) or Solar Heating and Cooling System Installer license current, you must complete approved continuing education before renewal. The amount of continuing education varies depending on the license. Water Treatment Installers and Water Heater Installers are exempt from continuing education requirements.

Renewal

Oregon requires you to renew all plumbers licenses and contractor licenses every three years.

Resources

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