What does it take to become a plumber?

Plumbing is one of the construction trades that require an individual license for each worker. In other words, the person working in your home is required to have a specific plumbing license.

For a person to get a plumbing license they have to serve an apprenticeship that requires four years of on-the-job training under the direction of a Master Plumber. The on-the-job training needs to be verified to the state each year by the Master Plumber who is managing that apprentice.

The State of Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry regulates these verifications very closely. They are serious about it and the forms that both the apprentice in training and the Master Plumber need to sign come with multiple warnings next to the signatures that say that providing false information is “under penalty of fine and imprisonment”.

The Master Plumber also has to verify the number of hours that the apprentice has spent in training until the number of hours adds up to four years of on-the-job training. Once the individual has completed a full four years of verified experience, then they are allowed to sit for the Journeyman Plumber’s exam.

The Journeyman Plumber’s exam is given around the state of Minnesota in various places and offered on various dates throughout the year. The apprentice needs to know the entire plumbing codebook, which is an 8 ½ x 11” three-ring binder that is about two inches thick.

They also need to know several other things including the Accessibility code. The plumbing code, which is designed to protect the health of the public, is complicated and the Journeyman test is a difficult exam so it is not unusual for an apprentice to not pass it the first time they take it. Some people take the exam multiple times to pass it. The apprentice needs to wait thirty days before they can reapply to take the test again. This gives the apprentice some extra time to study and learn more through the coursework available to them about the plumbing codes.

In Minnesota, once the apprentice passes the Journeyman Plumber’s exam they are allowed to work on their own in your home or in a business in most of the state. However, there are about eight places in the state where municipalities can require their own license and testing. These tend to be bigger cities in the state. For example, Minneapolis and St. Paul require additional licensing. Since St Paul Pipeworks service area is primarily in those two cities, their plumbers need to pass their Journeyman exam for the state of Minnesota and then they need to sign up to take the city-level exams.

When they pass one of the city exams, Minneapolis and St. Paul have an agreement that the plumber can then pay a fee to the other city that allows them to get the comp card to work in the houses and businesses in both cities. The city-level exam also includes gas and gas exhaust codes, so a passing grade on the test includes a gas license as well.

In a plumbing business, either the owner or at least one employee of that business must have a Master Plumber license. The Master Plumber test is a much more advanced exam to obtain a license. There are Master Plumber’s licenses required at both the state level and the city level as well. There also are annual continuing education requirements for all plumbers: two hours a year for apprentices, and eight hours a year for Journeymen and Master Plumbers that must be completed in order to renew their licenses annually.

If you have any questions about becoming a plumber or are just looking for a quality plumber in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area, give St Paul Pipeworks a call today.


How does one become a plumber? Ask a Plumber