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Massachusetts Plumbing License: Everything You Need to Know

The plumbing industry offers many opportunities for a successful career path. You can work for a major company or start your own business

The licensing process involves education and on-the-job training. Let’s explore how you can get your Massachusetts plumbing license.

What Plumbing Work Can Be Done Without a License?

The state of Massachusetts limits the plumbing work of an unlicensed person. While you can change a fixture or gasket, most plumbing work requires a Massachusetts plumbing license. 

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

There are three types of licenses available through the Board of Registration of Plumbers and Gas Fitters: Apprentice, Journeyman and Master Plumber. There is a high demand for plumbers at all levels in Massachusetts. 

An apprentice plumber is someone who has completed some professional training. The apprentice is learning on the job from a master plumber. You will do basic plumbing tasks, such as pipe installation and bending. The apprentice will not design systems, but will learn how to interpret the designs. You can apply for your apprentice license after 5,100 hours of monitored plumbing work. Finishing an apprenticeship normally takes four to five years.

Adted working at least three years with your apprentice license, you can apply to become a journeyman plumber. A journeyman can do all plumbing jobs, but still works under the supervision of a master plumber, especially on more complicated tasks. Some plumbers choose to stay at the journeyman level throughout their careers, often working as part of a larger plumbing business or department.

The master plumber is the highest level of plumbing licenses. You are an independent plumber without any supervision. You also can train the next generation by supervising apprentices and journeymen. You must work as a journeyman plumber for at least a year before you can apply to be a master plumber.

The average apprentice plumber pay rate is $17.66 per hour. In Massachusetts, the average plumber salary for a journeyman or master plumber is about $40 per hour. An independent master plumber has more flexibility in deciding his or her rate.

How to Get a Plumbing License

Licensing is administered by the Board of Registration of Plumbers and Gas Fitters. Each step requires a separate application. You will have to pass a criminal background check. If you have a criminal record, the nature of the offense may preclude you from obtaining a license.

To obtain your apprentice license, you will attend a technical school. Many communities in Massachusetts offer a technical high school option. When you graduate from this program, you can begin your apprenticeship. Older candidates must start with training at a technical college, such as the Ben Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston or the Southeastern Technical Institute in Easton.

The classes in preparation for your apprenticeship are a mix of academic and practical courses. You will need some basic math and science education to understand plumbing principles. Technical classes cover blueprint reading, pipe fitting, and welding. After completing the program, you can find a master plumber who will start your formal apprenticeship.

You can work as an apprentice for up to ten years. Much of that time will be spent mastering the basics of plumbing work. In the beginning, you will observe the plumbing tasks. A plumber managing a large project may have you on a normal 9-to-5 schedule. An independent plumber may have a more flexible schedule.

The move from apprentice to journeyman requires 8,000 hours of plumbing work as well as 150 hours of formal study at a technical college. Classes will cover subjects like design and state regulations. The cost of the programs ranges from $1500 to $2000 per semester. Financial aid is available at most of these schools. In addition to formal training and on-the-job experience, applicants must pay a small application fee and pass a journeyman level exam.

A plumber can work at the journeyman level indefinitely, renewing the license every two years. After working for one year, you are eligible to apply for a master plumber’s license. This license also requires formal classes and a state-administered exam. 

Should I Join a Union?

Although joining a plumber’s union is not required, it can be a helpful resource for the licensing process. A union also can assist in apprenticeships and job placement. Many plumbers depend on a local union to help them with health insurance and other benefits.

Insurance for Plumbers in Massachusetts

Insurance is a necessity for plumbers. If you work for a company, they may provide you with coverage. If you work independently, you will need to purchase insurance.

Plumbers also need health and disability insurance. When working with heavy materials and welding equipment, there is always the chance of an injury.

How to Get My First Plumbing Apprenticeship

You can get a plumbing apprenticeship with the help of a union, like UA Local 12 Plumbers & Gasfitters. You also can apply to be an apprentice for a local plumber. For your interview, dress professionally and bring a resume highlighting your courses and experience.

Does my License Work in Any Other State?

A Massachusetts plumbing license is only applicable within the state.

How Do I Stay Up to Date with Plumbing Codes?

Journeyman and master plumbers must complete 12 hours of continuing education every 2 years. The state has a list of approved education sites. Online courses are available to complete this requirement.

What Resources are Available in the Plumbing Industry?

You can find information about plumbing trends by reading blogs, joining a union, or attending trade shows. As your business grows, you also want to expand into different plumbing specialties.

I Already Have a License But:

If your name or address changes or you need a new card, contact the state licensing board.

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

Massachusetts plumbing licenses must be renewed every 2 years. The current fees are $40 for an apprentice, $52 for a journeyman, and $78 for a master plumber.


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