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How to get a plumbing license in Texas

"Everything is bigger in Texas," and with over 29 million people, the famous phrase applies to the market for plumbers. In fact, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth have been noted as especially lucrative spots for plumbing work. And according to Salary.com, Texas plumbers can bring home anywhere from $43,000 to $73,00 a year.

Maybe you know all about the earning potential, constant demand, and ability to run your own plumbing business. But just what do you need to do to get your plumbing license in Texas? Today's your lucky day because this article answers all the most important questions, so you can get one step closer to serving your community one pipe at a time in the Lone Star State.

Do plumbers need to be licensed in Texas?

Yes, you must be licensed to do plumbing work in the great state of Texas. According to plumbing license law, the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) is responsible for issuing licenses, registrations, and endorsements.

How do I get a plumbing license in Texas?

It's a four-step process:

  1. Finish high school. Earn your high school diploma or GED.
  2. Get Vocational Training. Find a community college program or plumbing trade school with coursework covering plumbing code water heaters, valves, piping, drainage systems, venting, and water supply. These programs typically last six months to a year.
  3. Join an Apprenticeship Program. Apprenticeship programs give you on-the-job training and hands-on experience under the leadership of journeymen or master plumbers.
  4. Get licensed. After you've gained the appropriate number of years of experience, you can take the exams to be certified at the various levels to earn your Texas plumbing license. (Specifics in the requirements section below.)

What are the requirements to become a plumber in Texas?

In Texas, the four types of plumbing licenses are Tradesman Plumber-Limited, Journeyman, Master, and Plumbing Inspector. According to tsbpe.texas.gov, here are the requirements:

Tradesman Plumber-Limited License

A Tradesman Plumber-Limited may construct, install, repair, service, or renovate plumbing for one and two-family dwellings under the supervision of a master plumber, which is the Responsible Master Plumber (RMP) (typically, the RMP is the plumbing business owner).

Requirements:

  • Be a Plumber's Apprentice in Texas or a current Journeyman Plumber or hold a Master Plumber license issued in another state.
  • Have at least 4,000 hours of experience (2 years).
  • Complete a 24-hour training course approved by the TSBPE or a training program approved by the United States Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship (USDLOA).

Journeyman Plumbing License

Same duties as Tradesman, plus a Journeyman may also directly supervise a Plumber's Apprentice on all job sites or a Tradesman Plumber-Limited on job sites for structures other than one and two-family dwellings.

Requirements:

  • Be a Plumber's Apprentice or a licensed Tradesman Plumber-Limited in Texas or a licensed Journeyman Plumber or Master Plumber in another state.
  • Have 8,000 hours of experience (4 years); and
  • Complete a 48-hour training course approved by the TSBPE or a training program approved by the USDLOA.

Master Plumbing License

Same duties as a Journeyman, plus a Master may also directly supervise a Plumber's Apprentice on all job sites or a Tradesman Plumber-Limited on job sites for structures other than one and two-family dwellings.

Requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED; and
  • Hold a Journeyman Plumber license in Texas or another state for at least four years.

Plumbing Inspector License

A Plumbing Inspector may inspect plumbing work performed within the jurisdiction of any political subdivision with which the inspector is affiliated.

Requirements:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED; and
  • Complete 500 hours of training and experience; or
  • Be licensed as a Master Plumber in Texas; a Journeyman Plumber in Texas; a Professional Engineer in Texas; an Architect in Texas; or a Plumbing Inspector in another state with substantially equivalent licensing requirements to the TSBPE.

For all levels, you can submit your proof of experience with the TSBPE's "Employer's Certification Form." Each level requires its own application form, application fee, and exam. After licensure, you must complete six hours of continuing education each year before license renewal.

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

It takes 8,000 hours or 4 years of experience to become a master plumber in Texas. Processing your application can take up to 30 days, and the exam itself is usually scheduled 6 to 8 weeks after your application is processed.

How much does a plumbing business license cost?

Here is the fee schedule as of 2021 (check tsbpe.texas.gov for the most current fees):

Plumber's Apprentice
Registration Application Fee: $15

Tradesman Exam
Exam Fee: $36
Initial License Fee: $35

Journeyman Exam
Exam Fee: $40
Initial License Fee: $40

Master Plumber Exam
Exam Fee: $175
Initial License Fee: $75

Plumbing Inspector
Exam Fee: $55
Initial License Fee: $55

What is the difference between a plumbing license and a plumbing permit?

Although often confused, a plumbing license and a plumbing permit are two distinct things. A registered plumber receives a plumbing license after completing a training term. A plumbing license certifies qualified people and authorizes them to conduct plumbing services legally.

On the other hand, A plumbing permit is an official document issued by the appropriate permits board or city council to alter or install different elements of residential, commercial, or industrial plumbing systems. For example, in Houston, a plumbing license is required to do plumbing work; however, all plumbing work does not require a permit.

How can I get a business license for my Texas plumbing business?

The State of Texas doesn't require a general business license. The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners is responsible for licensing plumbers. Your local municipality, city, or county will issue permits for certain types of plumbing work. For more info, here's our guide to business licenses in all 50 states.

Conclusion: Let Huckleberry help you on your business journey

So, you've knocked out the plumbing exam. Congrats! And now you're about to be licensed to make your pipe dream a reality. What now?

There's one more thing to do to make the TSBPE happy and protect your fledgling plumbing business at the same time. The TSBPE requires all Responsible Master Plumbers to carry $300,000 in general liability insurance. Small business insurance can fulfill that requirement.

And since you're covering your general liability, you may also need to protect the team you supervise. A workers' compensation policy protects your employees if they get hurt on the job. Check out a quick, no-commitment workers' comp estimate here.

General liability, check; workers' comp, check; now, you may also consider a Business Owner's Policy to protect your business operations, customers, and property all in one package. It's a small business insurance policy that eliminates the guesswork and makes shopping for insurance almost effortless.

Everything might be bigger in Texas, but the exception should be the amount you pay for business insurance. At Huckleberry, the process is fast and easy—get coverage in less than 5 minutes.


Disclaimer

All content on this page is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any specific case, is not legal, tax or insurance advice and should not be relied upon. If you have any questions about the situation for your small business or the latest information in your state, you should contact an attorney for legal advice, an insurance agent or broker, and/or your state's labor or industry agency, board, commission or department. Please note that the information provided on this page may change at any time as a result of legislative action, court decisions or rules adopted or amended by any state or the federal government.

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