How to get a plumbing license in Colorado
You may have heard many people pushing the trades, and it’s no secret that the industries in this category lack skilled workers. According to PeopleReady, plumbing jobs are sitting unfilled for an average of 29 days.
Plumbing is an often-overlooked trade, but one that is a necessity—not to mention, it comes with some great benefits; high demand, opportunity for advancement, and a solid salary averaging between $50,000 and $80,000 a year.
So, you want to be a Colorado plumber but are unsure what it takes to earn a plumbing license and how you can turn this passion into a successful business. Luckily, we have the answers to some of your burning questions.
Types of plumbing licenses in Colorado
Before obtaining a business license, you must have a plumbing license to become a certified plumber with the state of Colorado.
There are three types of plumbing licenses: Residential plumbing license, journeyman (commercial and residential) plumbing license, and master plumbing license, and there are specific criteria and requirements for each type.
Journeyman plumber license
- Proof of up to 4 years of work experience as a plumber (apprenticing or otherwise)
- Plumber license fee of $120
- 70% score on Journeyman plumber exam
- Affidavit of Eligibility
Residential plumber license
- Proof of 2 years of plumbing experience under a master plumber
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- $100 license fee
Master plumber license
- Proof of 5 years plumbing work experience
- Affidavit of Eligibility
- $140 license fee
Plumbing permit vs. plumbing license
The main difference between a plumbing license and a plumbing permit is that a plumbing permit is job-specific, whereas a plumbing license is required no matter the job. A plumbing permit protects both the plumber and the establishment they are servicing, ensuring the job is done properly and by the books. There are a few times when a plumbing permit will be required for a job:
- Replacing a water heater
- Replacing a sewage system
- Replacing a drain line
- Moving plumbing to another location
How do I get a Colorado plumbing license?
There is some work to be done before getting a plumbing license.
First, you must obtain a pre-approval from the Colorado state plumbing board. This is your ticket for the examination. You must also complete a certain number of hours of practical experience before taking the plumbing exam, and these are mentioned above for each license. Once you have passed your exam, you must file a license application with the Division of Professions and Occupations. From there, the board will approve you to move forward. It is important to note that a passing grade on the licensing exam is not a guarantee of licensure.
Once you are approved for your license, you will most likely start as a full-time apprentice. In a plumbing apprenticeship, you will work under a master plumber and learn skills to help you level up in your career.
Those starting in the field are often confused by the difference(s) between a journeyman plumber license and an apprenticeship, so we will try to provide some clarity here. A plumbing apprentice can only work under a residential plumber or master plumber, whereas a journeyman can work independently. You can also complete an apprenticeship program before receiving your license or after. An apprenticeship is not a type of licensure but rather a “method” of working.
What about a business license for my plumbing business?
At the risk of sounding too literal, a business license is just that; a license given to a proprietor to conduct and operate a business. It is a permit issued by the government that is one of the main markers of the start of business. With this licensure in place, you not only have legal protection, but you also reap several tax- and business-related benefits as well. For example, if you are a general contractor, you do not need a business license. If you are an electrician or plumber, however, you will need specific licensure in addition to a business license.
Licensing requirements for a Colorado plumbing business
You will need a business license if you decide to start your own plumbing business, either as a plumbing contractor or team. Keep in mind that the State of Colorado does not require a generic business license.
Still, depending on your business, you will need one at a municipal level, and plumbing businesses fall under that category. It is also important to note that the type of business license you get depends on whether you have a fixed location (office) for your plumbing business, operate from home, or are contracted to do work in another town. We will be using the processes for the City of Breckenridge as an example.
- In-Town businesses: This is a business that operates from a fixed location within the town. To receive this license, you must present a signature sign-off from the building department, as well as an annual fee of $200 and $10 for each additional employee.
- In-Home businesses: Any business operated from a residence must obtain an In-Home business license. A plumbing business operated from a residence will be subject to certain conditions and must receive approval from the Community Development Department. You will need to submit a Class D Permit application, along with a $60 license fee.
- Vendor license: You will need a vendor’s license if you are not physically located in a town but are contracted to do a plumbing job there. The annual fee for a regular vendor’s license is $100, and the fee for a seasonal vendor’s license is $50.
- Contractor license: The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) has set forth regulations for obtaining a contractors’ license for plumbing. In Denver, for example, you need to provide proof of education and experience, list your previous licenses and certificates (you can receive these at many area community colleges and trade schools), and sign an Affidavit of Lawful Presence.
Once you have your business license, you will need to take additional steps for taxation and other purposes. These include, but are not limited to: creating a business plan, formulating a marketing strategy, and registering your business with the Secretary of State.
Once all of the groundwork is laid, you will want to purchase small business insurance. This may even be necessary for some businesses licenses, so be sure to check with the town you are conducting business in. In a plumbing business, especially, workers are more prone to injury on the job. You can get a workers’ comp policy from Huckleberry for as little as $63 a month. Get a free business insurance quote here.
Aside from workers’ comp, you may want a Business Owners’ Policy to keep your business in operation, your customers safe, and your property protected. This comprehensive small business insurance policy takes a lot of the guesswork out of shopping for insurance.