Kentucky Plumbing License: Everything You Need to Know

Kentucky plumbers perform a number of tasks on the job, including installing new pipes and fixtures and fixing existing water systems. Before working as a plumber in the Bluegrass State, you need to obtain a license. Whether you decide to work for an employer or run your own plumbing business, read this guide to learn how to get your Kentucky plumbing license.

What Plumbing Work Can Be Done Without a License?

You can’t engage in any plumbing work without a Kentucky plumbing license.

What are the Different Types of Plumbing Licenses Available in Kentucky?

There are two types of Kentucky plumbing licenses: a journeyman plumber license and a master plumber license. The Plumbing Division of the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction issue these licenses. 

Apprentices must attend a training program at a Kentucky vocational school. You do not need a license to complete your plumbing apprenticeship. 

To get a journeyman license, you must have 4 years of experience at the apprentice level, be at least 18 years old, and pass a written test about plumbing techniques. To get a master plumber license, you must have $250,000 of liability insurance. Kentucky awards master plumber licenses to individuals who are at least 18 years old, pass a criminal background check, pass a written exam. The average salary for Kentucky plumbers is $21.54.

How to Get a Plumbing License

Kentucky is the only state with a “moral character” clause in its plumbing licenses. This clause means you cannot get your Kentucky plumbing license if you have a criminal background. Many schools in the state ask that students pass a criminal background check before enrolling in one of these programs. 

Big Sandy Community and Technical College and Gateway Community and Technical College offer training and apprenticeship programs, along with the UA Local 502 in Louisville. Most programs include fieldwork and classes. You will take at least one year of classes and then participate in a four-year apprenticeship. 

Most schools provide you with free tools during your classwork. If you cannot afford the cost of community college, you can look for vocational schools that offer continuing and adult education classes. Most of these programs offer financial aid, such as student loans. You also can save money by enrolling in online classes. Tuition can range from around $150 to $300 per credit hour. It usually costs at least $1,000 to complete an online program and up to $3,000 to complete a program through a Kentucky college.

Your classes will prepare you for the licensing exam. You will learn about repairing and installing septic tanks, plumbing fixtures, garbage disposals, and water systems. You also will learn about plumbing codes and construction laws. Kentucky gives you 2.5 hours to complete the licensing exam and requires that you arrive by 7:30 am to check-in at the testing center. 

Should I Join a Union?

Union 502 is one of the top Kentucky unions for plumbers and pipefitters. You usually need a license or some experience before you can join the union. Unions protect their members with guaranteed wages and health benefits. They also can help settle cases with clients.

Insurance for Plumbers in Kentucky

Kentucky plumbers need at least $250,000 in liability insurance. If you own your own plumbing business, you will need to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for your employees.

Plumbing work is sometimes dangerous. Contact your doctor about recommended vaccinations.

How to Get My First Plumbing Apprenticeship

Mr. Rooter and other plumbing companies in the Bluegrass State offer apprenticeships. You'll work with a licensed plumber in the field and go on calls to both residential and commercial properties. Apprentices can make $27,000 or more a year during their training. You can contact a union to get help applying for an apprenticeship.

Does My License Work in Any Other State?

A Kentucky plumbing license is only applicable within the state.

How Do I Stay Up to Date with Plumbing Codes?

Union 502 host meetings throughout the year to help plumbers learn about any changes to plumbing codes in Kentucky. You also can use the online resources available from the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction.

What Resources are Available in the Plumbing Industry?

Currently, Kentucky does not offer any trade shows for plumbers; however, you can attend the Tennessee PHCC Annual Convention and Trade Show in Knoxville. It takes place every year near the end of August. You will meet with other plumbers, learn about the latest products and tools, and understand any code changes. Here are a few other resources:

I Already Have a License But:

The best way to make any name or address changes is to contact the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction. You must present proof of your full name and show a copy of your original license. You can receive help in-person, over the phone, or online.

How Often Do I Need to Renew My Plumbing License in Kentucky?

A journeyman license will typically last for up to 1 year, while a master plumbing license will last for 3 years. You must renew your license prior to the expiration date to remain in good standing.


New to the Plumbing industry and looking to get licensed, or already a seasoned veteran and want to take your business to the next level? Find out more about Housecall Pro’s all-in-one Plumbing Software.