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How to get a plumbing license in Georgia

Most people don’t think about plumbing until they have to think about it, usually when disaster strikes their pipes. Plumbing work is rarely anyone’s idea of a good time, but you know that when it needs to be done, it needs to be done right.

Plumbing is not only an important job; it’s a pretty lucrative one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers make about $56,000 a year on average, with a 5% predicted growth rate between 2020 and 2030.

If you’re ready to start your new career as a plumber, keep reading to find out how!

What are the requirements to become a plumber in Georgia?

There are 3 types of plumbing licenses in Georgia, with increasing levels of prestige; the Georgia journeyman plumbing license, Georgia master plumbing license Class I, and Georgia master plumbing license Class II.

To become a journeyman apprentice, you'll need three years of experience as an apprentice under the direction of a master plumber. Some schools, like Atlanta Technical College, offer training programs that can count as up to two years of an apprenticeship.

Once you've completed your apprenticeship, you can sit for your journeyman plumber exam and apply for your journeyman license. As a journeyman, you'll still need to work under the direction of a master plumber.

How do I get a master plumbing license in Georgia?

To qualify for a master plumber license, you'll need to have worked in the plumbing field for a minimum of 5 years, including two years of primary experience, which involves work with direct installation on plumbing systems.

You'll also need references from at least 3 currently licensed plumbers (one of whom must be a licensed master plumber) to attest that your character and plumbing experience are up to the standards set out by the Division of Master Plumbers.

How long does it take to become a plumber in Georgia?

It will take a minimum of 3 years of apprenticeship to become a journeyman plumber in Georgia, and 5 years of working experience, including two years as a journeyman plumber, to become a master plumber.

How much does it cost to become a Georgia plumber?

One of the perks of a plumbing apprenticeship is that you're paid a full-time salary to learn your trade, so the costs involved with your education don't have to be so steep. Some apprenticeships only require you to buy your toolkit, and trade schools can cost between $1,800 and $2,800.

To apply for your journeyman plumbing license, you'll need to pay a $30 application fee, as well as a $233 exam fee. You'll also need to pay a license renewal fee of $75 every two years.

The fees for your master plumbing license are the same, though the exam fee is $267.

Do plumbers need a plumbing license in Georgia?

Yes, the State of Georgia requires you to have at least a journeyman plumber license before providing plumbing services like maintenance, alteration, and repair under the direction of a master plumber.

A master plumber can work without supervision. Class I master plumbers are only certified to work on single-family homes, one-level dwellings designed for up to 2 families, and commercial structures 10,000 square feet or under. Class II master plumbers are unrestricted and can engage in any plumbing work they choose, including industrial plumbing.

Your plumbing license is valid for 2 years from the date of issue and has a renewal fee of $75.

Georgia does not offer reciprocity, so a Georgia plumbing license is only valid in the State of Georgia.

What’s the difference between a Georgia plumbing license and a Georgia plumbing permit?

A plumbing license is required for plumbers in the State of Georgia to work without supervision. This involves passing a plumbing exam and receiving licensure from the Georgia State Construction Industry Licensing Board.

A plumbing permit is required for consumers planning to have particular plumbing work done on their building. In Atlanta, for example, a permit is needed if you replace water heaters and underground piping, alter or relocate piping inside the structure, or need an emergency repair on freeze-damaged or leaking concealed piping.

Plumbing permits are required to ensure that the work being done to your plumbing system doesn't harm the overall structure of the building and adheres to the International Plumbing Code, especially if you're planning on doing the plumbing work yourself.

If you're working with a plumbing contractor, they will help you determine what permits you’ll need for your project.

What’s the difference between an apprentice plumber and a journeyman plumber?

One of the main differences between an apprentice and a journeyman plumber is that apprenticeships are focused on education training, while a journeyman is a fully licensed professional, even if they still need supervision on worksites.

There are no requirements to become an apprentice plumber besides a high school diploma and being at least 18. To be a licensed journeyman plumber in Georgia, you need at least 3 years of apprentice plumbing experience and to pass the Georgia State Construction Industry Licensing Board plumbing exam.

Since apprentices are still learning the trade, their earning power is much less, usually around $25,000 a year. Once you've gained journeyman licensure, your average income jumps significantly to about $50,000 a year.

Many apprenticeships require classroom learning alongside your on-the-job training. As a journeyman, you're not required to spend any time in the classroom. Still, you must undergo at least 4 hours of continuing education a year to stay updated with the International Plumbing Code and be eligible to renew your license.

How can I get a plumbing business license in the State of Georgia?

To get a plumbing contractor license in Georgia, you'll need to have a master plumbing license, Class I or Class II.

Once you're ready to apply for your business license, the process can vary depending on your location. In Atlanta, for example, you'll need:

  • A government-issued photo ID (like a driver's license)
  • Articles of Incorporation, if your company is incorporated
  • A Notarized SAVE affidavit
  • A Notarized E-Verify Affidavit
  • Sales Tax Number
  • An EIN or Social Security Number

Atlanta uses the ALTCORE Business Licensing and Permitting Portal to process business license applications, though your area may use a different system. Your local Office of Revenue will have more information on the specifics of obtaining a business license in your area.

What’s the difference between a plumbing license and a business license?

A plumbing license shows that you’re certified to perform plumbing services in your given area and requires a licensing exam as a test of competency. A plumbing license is issued by professional licensing boards and is a sign to your customers that you can perform your job safely and effectively. Every working plumber who's at least at the journeyman level must have a plumbing license.

A business license demonstrates that your business is legally able to operate in your given area. While some licensing requirements are unique to the plumbing industry, business licenses are required for virtually all companies.

Business licenses are issued through the municipal government, while plumbing licenses are issued through the Georgia State Construction Industry Licensing Board.

How much does a plumbing business license cost?

Business license fees can vary based on where you're located. Atlanta, for instance, has a $75 application fee and a $50 zoning review fee. The Georgia Secretary of State can help you find application fees in your area.

Georgia state law also requires you to place a surety bond of at least $10,000 with the county’s probate court where your business operates.

Starting your new career as a plumber can be as thrilling as it is nerve-wracking. Especially if you're running your own contracting business, you deserve the peace of mind that comes with having the best plumbing insurance. Huckleberry is here to help.

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