The Process of Becoming a Licensed Plumber in California

How to Become a Plumber in California


The image of the professional plumber might occasionally create a few chuckles; but in reality, it is a rewarding career with plenty of variety. While television might portray plumbers as men who have difficulty keeping their pants up, the typical plumber is a professional who takes pride in his or her job. The highly technical job involves plenty of problem solving, so it takes several years to become a fully licensed plumber.

There are a couple of different ways to earn your license. The first involves getting your high school diploma so you can enter into an apprenticeship. The second involves simply applying for the license.

Apprenticeship Programs

If you decide to go into plumbing right after high school, it is best to find a top notch apprenticeship program where you can learn the skills of the trade. In California (and in many other states), the official state government website will list organizations that offer plumbing apprenticeships and training programs. You can usually find them by county to make the decision making process easier. The same state government websites show technical schools that offer plumbing programs and in some cases, the enrollment fees can be covered through apprenticeships.

When you begin work on your apprentice program, it is important that you gain as much work experience and coursework as possible. You will have exams during your training and it is vital that you prepare for them and pass them all.  By showing that you care about your training, you will have more success and job offers when you become fully licensed.

After you have completed your apprenticeship, you can work as a journeyman plumber. For four years you can complete jobs that pay under $500 and you do not need a license to be a contractor. If you work for a plumbing company during this time, you can be an owner, supervisor, or foreman. While you work on the most expensive jobs, you can get practice on the smaller ones.

This is a traditional way to earn a plumber’s license, especially if you are a recent high school graduate and preparing to begin your first career.

Applying for the License

The alternative way to earn the license involves applying directly for the license. In order to earn that license, you have to apply for it. This is done on the state’s government website and you will need to apply for a license. All contractor licenses are located in the same place, whether you are applying for a license in California or another state.

When you fill out the licensing application, do not leave anything blank. You might not be able to make later corrections and your application will be seriously delayed. State agencies are busy and most are understaffed, so keep this in mind when you are completing the form. Always use your legal name, no nicknames; and be sure to include your legal address, too. You will probably need to include your social security number and information about your criminal history, if you have one. If you make mistakes on your form, it is best to begin a new one rather than cross out the mistakes. You will most also need to include your training history as well as tax information.

Nearly all licensing applications require a fee that needs to be paid before the license is issued. You will need to take a business and law exam, but only after you submit the license application. You will also need to pass a plumbing trade exam, then pay more towards your license. The state will need to see that you have enough money to begin working as a plumber; the state likes to see at least $2500. Since you will be working with the general public, you will need to get a registered bond to protect consumers from poor quality work. You will then need to go through this process every two years.