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How to get a plumbing license in Massachusetts

A visit from the plumber is rarely anyone’s idea of a good time. It may be a thankless job, but as anyone who’s ever had a pipe burst can tell you, it needs to be well and goes far beyond unclogging drains.

Plumbing is also a job on the rise. 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.

Have a feeling plumbing is the right career path for you? Want to know how to get started? Check out this guide and get started on your Massachusetts plumbing career today!

What are the requirements to become a plumber in Massachusetts?

There are three plumbing licenses available in Massachusetts: an apprentice license, journeyman plumber license, and master plumber license.

Unlike some other states, Massachusetts requires that you complete at least 150 hours of training at a technical school before becoming a licensed apprentice plumber. Some technical high schools satisfy this education requirement. However, if you already have a high school diploma, you’ll most likely enroll in a technical education program, like the Ben Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston.

Once you’ve finished the classroom requirements, you can sign on as an apprentice under a licensed master plumber with a Statement of Employing Master form. The master plumber you work under will need to provide a valid license number for themselves and all non-apprentice plumbers that work under them to ensure that everyone on their team is eligible for work in Massachusetts.

As an apprentice, you’ll need to complete 550 hours of classroom training and 8.500 hours of work experience before you’re able to apply for the Massachusetts journeyman plumbing license with the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters. Once the board approves your application, you can schedule your exam. If you pass with at least a 70%, congratulations! You’re now a licensed journeyman plumber in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!

While journeymen can work far more autonomously than apprentices, they will still most often work under the direct supervision of a master plumber. Journeymen also can’t contract work, so if starting a plumbing business is in your future, you’ll need to get your master plumber license.

How do I get a master plumbing license in Massachusetts?

You can apply to become a master plumber after holding a Massachusetts journeyman plumber license for at least a year. You’ll need to submit a Statement of Experience and Education Form, which attests that you’ve completed the journeyman education requirements of 248 CMR 11.00. You’ll also need to submit to a criminal background check (called a CORI) and submit a 2x2 color passport photo.

Once you’ve passed the master plumbing license exam, you are now eligible to work without restriction in Massachusetts. You can hire journeymen or apprentices to work under you and can start your very own plumbing business.

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

You’ll need 8,500 hours of work experience as an apprentice and 550 hours of classroom experience before you can sit for the journeyman exam. This usually translates into about 5 years as an apprentice.

How much does it cost to become a Massachusetts plumber?

To become an apprentice in Massachusetts, you’ll need to have already completed a training program with a technical school. These programs can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 a semester. Once you’ve completed your program, the licensing fee is $14.

As an apprentice plumber, you’ll need to complete at least 550 hours of classroom training, which can cost about $2,000 a semester. Financial aid is available if the price tag seems too steep.

Apprentices in Massachusetts make about $18 an hour on average, so the salary you bring in can offset the initial costs of the apprenticeship.

When you’re ready to apply as a journeyman, the exam fee is $31, and the license fee is $52. For master plumbers, the exam application fee is $31, and the license fee is $78.

You’ll need to renew your plumbing license every two years. The fees are $40 for apprentices, $52 for journeymen, and $78 for master plumbers.

Do plumbers need a plumbing license in Massachusetts?

Yes, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires that you hold at least a journeyman plumbing license.

Massachusetts does not offer reciprocity with other states, so if you’re coming in from out of state, you’ll need to retake the requisite exams to be able to work.

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

A plumbing license is required for plumbers in the State of Massachusetts to work without supervision. This involves passing a plumbing exam and receiving licensure from the Board of Registration of Plumbers and Gas Fitters.

A plumbing permit is required for consumers planning to have particular plumbing work done on their building. In Massachusetts, you’ll need to submit a Uniform Application for Permit to do Plumbing Work.

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.

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

To start a plumbing business, you’ll need to have a current master plumbing license. You’ll also need a stamped copy of the Articles of Organization from the Secretary of State, which certifies your business as an LLC.

Once these documents are ready, you can file for your plumbing business license to ePLACE, the Massachusetts online licensing portal.

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, pretty much every company will need a business license.

Business licenses are issued through the municipal government, while plumbing licenses are issued through the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters.

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