Pennsylvania Plumbing License: How to Become a Plumber in Pennsylvania
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As with other skilled trades, most states require training and licensure before you can legally install, repair, and maintain plumbing systems. While the modern plumbing trade has been around since the 1800s, today’s plumbers need to possess a wide range of skills to work in residential and commercial settings. Depending on the nature of the job, plumbers often work alongside electricians, HVAC techs, general contractors and other professionals in the construction industry.
Learning the art of plumbing takes years, but once you complete the necessary training, your skills will be in high demand across Pennsylvania and beyond.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there are roughly 469,000 plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters nationwide, and 12,840 work in Pennsylvania. The BLS predicts employment to grow 2% from 2021 to 2031 nationwide, and that growth rate is expected to be higher in Pennsylvania — projected at 5%, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website and 6% for their helpers.
Contractors are struggling to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVACR professionals. In fact, 93% of firms in the United States had unfilled hourly craft positions, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2022 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.
Licensing requirements for plumbing workers vary widely from state to state and, in Pennsylvania, from municipality to municipality. In most cities, plumbing candidates can pursue an apprentice, journeyman, and master plumbing license. Read on to learn more about becoming a licensed plumber in the Keystone State.
License Requirements for Plumbing Professionals in Pennsylvania
Is a license required to perform plumbing work in Pennsylvania? Yes, Pennsylvania requires a license for apprentices, journeymen, and master plumbers. However, the state issues plumbing licenses at the local level, not the state level.
Philadelphia Plumbing License Types and Requirements
The City of Philadelphia Business Services Department is responsible for issuing plumbing licenses in Philadelphia. Candidates can pursue three types of plumbing licenses, and each comes with different requirements and experience.
Philadelphia Apprentice Plumber License
An apprenticeship is the first step to starting a career in the plumbing industry. Candidates typically need to have a high school diploma or GED, photo ID, and a valid driver’s license to be eligible. The apprentice license allows an individual to perform plumbing work under the direction of a licensed master plumber.
Apprentices can apply online via eCLIPSE or in person at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building. There’s a non-refundable application filing fee of $20, which applies toward the $25 license fee due upon application approval. Apprentice licenses require annual renewal for a fee of $25.
Philadelphia apprentice plumbers need to demonstrate four years of proven work experience under the supervision of a master plumber to become eligible to take the journeyman plumber licensing exam.
Philadelphia Journeyman Plumber License
A Philadelphia journeyman plumber license allows an individual to perform plumbing work, including drainage, water piping, and sprinkler systems, or the construction, alteration and repair of any drainage, cesspools, trap, waste vent, or water piping.
After completing the required work experience as an apprentice under the supervision of a master plumber, candidates become eligible to take the journeyman plumber examination, administered by the International Code Council (ICC), within one year of submitting the license application.
There’s a non-refundable application filing fee of $25, which doesn’t apply toward the $100 license fee due upon application approval. Candidates can apply online via eCLIPSE or in person at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building.
Journeyman plumbers must renew their licenses every year for a fee of $100.
Note: The City of Philadelphia Business Services Department may issue a license by reciprocity to an individual who was employed outside of the City of Philadelphia and holds a similar authorization granted by any other state or local jurisdiction which establishes qualification requirements equal to, or greater than, those established under the Philadelphia Code.
Philadelphia Master Plumber License
Master plumbers typically perform advanced plumbing work, such as installing and repairing water systems in residential and commercial buildings, and oversee apprentice and journeyman plumbers. Additionally, master plumbers need to possess a strong understanding of local building and plumbing codes, safety regulations, and energy efficiency.
After working for one year as a journeyman plumber in Philadelphia, candidates become eligible to take the master plumber licensing exam, administered by the International Code Council. The exam must reference the current version of the Philadelphia Code and associated standards.
Note: Master plumber candidates may submit proof of a similar authorization granted by any other state or local jurisdiction with equal or greater qualification requirements, subject to approval by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
Candidates can apply online via eCLIPSE or in person at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building (appointment required). There’s a non-refundable application filing fee of $150, which applies toward the $357 license fee due upon application approval. Licensees must renew their licenses every year for a fee of $207.
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Additional licensing requirements for master plumbers:
Provide a certificate of insurance including:
General Liability Insurance: $500,000 per occurrence
Automobile Liability Insurance: $300,000
$100,000 per accident
$100,000 per employee
$500,000 policy limit
Pittsburgh Plumbing License Types and Requirements
The Allegheny County Health Department is responsible for issuing plumbing licenses in Pittsburgh and greater Allegheny County. Plumbing candidates can pursue three types of plumbing licenses, and each comes with different requirements and experience.
Pittsburgh Apprentice Plumber License
After registering for an accredited apprenticeship program with the Allegheny County Health Department, candidates receive an apprentice plumber’s card, which allows them to work on plumbing systems under the direct supervision of a journeyman plumber or master plumber.
Plumbing apprentices must complete 576 hours of classroom training at an accredited school and four full years (40 hours per week) of on-the-job-experience to become eligible to apply for the journeyman plumbing license.
Apprentice plumbing cards expire on Sept. 30 of the calendar year of issue and require annual renewal.
Pittsburgh Journeyman Plumber License
Journeyman plumbers perform a variety of plumbing installs, maintenance, and repairs, and must work under the supervision of a licensed master plumber.
After completing the necessary apprenticeship training, candidates become eligible to apply for the journeyman plumber’s examination, issued by the Allegheny County Health Department. Applicants must include a notarized letter listing all master plumbers they worked under. There’s a $125 non-refundable exam fee, and exams occur twice per year, in the spring and fall.
Upon successful completion of the required exam, the candidate needs to pay an additional $125 licensing fee to receive a journeyman plumber license, as well as a health permit number.
Journeyman plumbers must renew their licenses annually and pay a $125 fee.
Pittsburgh Master Plumber License
Journeyman plumbers need to complete two years of work experience under the supervision of a master plumber to become eligible to apply for the master plumber license, issued by the Allegheny County Health Department. Applicants must include a notarized letter listing all master plumbers they worked under. There’s a $250 non-refundable application fee, and exams occur twice per year, in the spring and fall.
Upon successful completion of the exam, the candidate needs to pay an additional $375 licensing fee to receive a master plumber license, as well as a health permit number.
Master plumbers must renew their licenses annually and pay a $375 fee.
National Plumbing Certifications
Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. The National Inspection Testing and Certification (NITC), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (ASSE Certifications) and other professional certifications can add to your marketability and increase your opportunity to make more money.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Plumbing License in Pennsylvania?
Since Pennsylvania favors local licensing by jurisdiction, there’s no statewide uniformity on license types, or how long it takes to complete training. In general, however, apprentice programs usually take four years, while journeymen need to complete one to two years of experience to become eligible to apply for a master plumber license.
What Is the Mean Salary for a Plumber in Pennsylvania?
The annual mean salary for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in Pennsylvania is $65,580 according to the BLS. And, according to Indeed.com, the average salaries for plumbing professionals in New Mexico increase with experience and training.
Apprentice: The average salary for an apprentice plumber is $17.98 per hour in Pennsylvania and $5,500 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $26.42 per hour in Pennsylvania and $6,750 overtime per year.
Plumber salaries can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and years of experience.
What Business Owners Need to Know
Getting the most out of a plumbing technician, no matter where they are in their licensing journey, takes work. ServiceTitan’s cloud-based, all-in-one plumbing software gives technicians and business owners the technology they need to do the work efficiently, and the data they need to do it smartly.
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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.
Mobile payment acceptance, eliminating lost checks and increasing cash flow.
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Pennsylvania Plumbing Training Programs and Trade Schools
Pennsylvania offers a wide variety of training opportunities across the state, including trade schools and even universities that offer plumbing programs.
Some of the top training schools include:
Click here for a full list of training locations in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Plumber Apprenticeship Programs
The following unions offer accredited plumbing apprenticeships. Additionally, multiple employers across the state of Pennsylvania offer official apprenticeship programs.
Does My Pennsylvania Plumbing License Work in Any Other States?
No. Because Pennsylvania mandates licensing at the local level, the state doesn’t allow reciprocity agreements with nearby states. However, many cities in Pennsylvania allow reciprocation if a plumber from another Pennsylvania city completes training equal to or greater than its own licensing requirements. Make sure to check local regulations.
Additional Resources for Pennsylvania Plumbers
You can stay up to date on all plumbing industry news several ways: