Planning to build a business that is lucrative enough to keep your life comfortable? Are you into assembling, installing, and repairing water or drainage pipes? Are you the jack-of-all-trades knowledgeable in fixing various plumbing fixtures and water appliances? Then you might want to consider being a plumbing contractor.
With an average annual salary of approximately $50,000, plumbing is indeed a lucrative and attractive business. Home repairs are very common and the numbers of businesses jumping into the bandwagon are continuously rising, each wanting to take a slice of the profitable market. But how to get a plumbing contractor’s license? With all the steps and confusing processes, is there an easy way around? What are the basic things you need to understand regarding contractor license? What are the essentials?
First Step: Become an apprentice
After completing your high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) in some cases, you might want to consider attending a plumbing apprenticeship program. Although this is not the only way to become proficient within the industry, most plumbers use this technique to learn the necessary skills to become successful in the trade. Generally, apprenticeship programs last anywhere from 4 to 5 years.
The on-the-job training will primarily involve working with water pipes, fixtures, waste systems, and related appliances. Likewise, you will learn the safety practices, plumbing codes, working rules, and various regulations surrounding the plumbing industry. General studies pertaining to physics, drafting, mathematics, chemistry, and blueprint reading would also be tackled.
- Check out scholarships given by various organizations, unions, and local companies.
- Plumbing education usually takes place at technical centers and vocational schools.
- You would be required to sit in both theoretical and hands-on classes.
Second Step: Get your plumbing license
After you have successfully completed the apprenticeship program, you are now eligible to get your own plumber license and be called licensed journeymen. During this stage, you can accept jobs and perform plumbing tasks without any supervision. Though, keep in mind that you need to submit all necessary documents, pay the fees required to the state licensing agency, and pass the exam before you become a licensed journeyman.
If you wish to become a licensed master plumber, a 1-5 years documented experience is required, depending on state laws. Again, applicants must successfully pass an additional exam and meet the mandated state requirements before he or she can be called a licensed master plumber. Although used interchangeably, there is a big difference between journeymen and master plumber:
- A master plumber is usually accompanied by an apprentice when doing work.
- If you want to build your own contracting business, you need to be a master plumber.
- The master plumber is considered the supervisor or head decision maker of the team.
Third Step: Get your contractor’s license
How to get a plumbing contractor’s license involves a few extra steps to reach your end goal – to become a legal contractor. Holding a contractor’s license allows you to put up a plumbing business, hire a contractor, and subcontract work from other licensed plumbers. Each state has its own rules and regulations when getting a contractor’s license, see this article for more in-depth information.
Typically, the contractor's state license board requires applicants to pay an application fee and pass various examinations ranging from law, building code, and comprehensive business. Furthermore, you might need to present proof of financial credibility to declare your monetary resources demonstrating your capability to put up a contractor business.
- There are community colleges and schools offering exam preparation and renewal courses.
- Depending on the state, licenses are renewed on a yearly basis.
- You might be required to complete a continuing education prior to license renewal.
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Fourth Step: Make sure that you are covered
While not every state requires insurance before contractor licenses are issued, having your own guarantees the safety of your business. Unforeseen events and undesirable situations may happen anytime and being unprepared can put your business in huge financial trouble. To be safe rather than sorry, getting the right insurance for your plumbing company serves as a defense against financial risks and business jeopardies.
Just imagine these scenarios; damaging your customer’s property due to unforeseen events, defective materials leading to substandard work quality that is not your fault, and negligence resulting to customer or employee injury. If you are unprepared, these liabilities will definitely lead to deep financial concern and worse, court battles. Contractors usually include these three major policies to protect their business.
- General Liability to protect the company against bodily injury, property damage, and advertising claims.
- Surety Bond to safeguard and guarantee your relationship as well as work with contractors.
- Workers Compensation which is a state-mandated requirement to protect you and your employees against unwanted scenarios.
Fifth Step: Get business information
The construction industry is not without competition. To stay on top of the game, you need to familiarize yourself with the latest trends and evolving challenges. Getting a plumbing contractor’s license might be easy, but being noticed and growing your business is yet another story. If you want to be successful, arm yourself with the right knowledge.
Though not required for plumbing contractors, getting a business degree or enrolling yourself to continuing education makes you well prepared for the long road ahead. Being a plumber and running a business requires two separate skills – technical and applied. You might be good at fixing pipes but then marketing your business in the most efficient and effective way necessitates a different skillset. To sharpen your business skills, remember that:
- When registering for online classes, always check the reputation of the provider.
- Short course programs ranging from days to several weeks adds up to your credentials.
- State-run organizations usually offer free plumbing training and business seminars.
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