How to Become a Plumber in Colorado


Learning a trade is always a solid career choice. Plumbing continues to be one of the most prominent trades in the United States. If you like working with your hands and helping people, you should consider taking up plumbing.

You also get to enjoy a certain level of job security, as homeowners and owners of other establishments will always need qualified professionals to work on their property.

If you’re in Colorado and thinking about becoming a plumber, here’s everything you’ll need to do:

Eligibility for Becoming a Plumber

It takes a while before you can start making a living as a plumber. You need to complete your training and get your plumbing license. However, the basic eligibility is not too difficult to get. Here’s what you need:

  • You should be above 18 years of age.
  • You must have finished high school or have a GED certificate.
  • You can take a vocational course, but this is optional.
  • You need to work as an apprentice to a qualified plumber before you can obtain your license.
  • Passing the licensing tests is the final thing you need to do before you can start practicing as a professional plumber.

Insurance for Plumbers in Colorado

Plumbers hoping to get licensed in Colorado need to have minimum liability insurance. The amount can vary depending on the kind of work being done and the exact location.

The amount goes up with the size of the project, and also depends on how developed the area is.

If you plan on having employees or use your own vehicle for commercial purposes, you are also required by law to have worker’s compensation insurance and commercial auto insurance.

Types of Plumbing Licenses

Depending on the level of skill and experience, there are different kinds of licenses for plumbers in Colorado.

Residential Plumber

Residential plumbers are only allowed to work at residential sites. They do plumbing repairs and installations for homeowners.

It costs $100 to get licensed as a residential plumber. You need to have worked under a master plumber for 3,400 hours (2 years), have United States citizenship, and a valid Social Security Number.

Journeyman Plumber

Journeyman plumbers can work at both residential and commercial sites. The fee for a journeyman license is $120.

Journeyman plumbers need 6,800 hours (4 years) of practical plumbing experience. You will need to submit your affidavit of eligibility and get approved to attempt the journeyman plumber’s exam.

You also need to be a citizen of the United States with a valid Social Security Number.

Master Plumber

Master plumbers can perform tasks on residential or commercial sites. They can supervise and teach apprentice plumbers too. It costs $140 to get licensed as a master plumber.

You need 9,780 hours (5 years) of practical plumbing experience. You will also need to submit an affidavit of Eligibility, be a United States citizen and have a valid Social Security Number.

Becoming a Plumbing Apprentice in Colorado

No matter which plumbing license you’re applying for, you are required to get registered as an apprentice first. You can work on plumbing jobs alongside licensed plumbers by being employed as an apprentice in a local plumbing company.

This way, you fulfill the training requirement before you give the plumbing exam. It costs $30 to get registered as an apprentice plumber. You need to register with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies within 30 days of starting your apprenticeship.

Importance of Plumbing Licenses

If you want to become a plumber, getting a plumbing license is mandatory. Considering that obtaining a license costs you money and can take a lot of time depending on the type of plumbing license you apply for, it can feel very cumbersome and unnecessary.

However, there are many benefits of having a plumbing license. With a license, you can freely work as a plumber. You also become eligible for jobs within the state plumbing authorities. Most plumbing companies will only require you to be licensed to be eligible to work for them.

Most importantly, a plumbing license is a sign that you are an experienced and dedicated professional and that they can trust your expertise.

The Licensing Process

Whichever level of plumbing license you want, you will need to first complete the required number of hours of practical work.

You will also need to submit your Affidavit of Experience. This is a document that legitimizes and confirms your plumbing training and experience.

Your former employers or the master plumbers you worked under will need to confirm that you have completed the required hours of practical plumbing work.

If you are licensed as a plumber in a different state, you could expedite the licensing process in Colorado by submitting an out-of-state license. This might speed up the licensing process significantly.

However, you would still need to file your Affidavit of Experience. It is mandatory for anyone who wants to practice plumbing in Colorado.

Once you are done applying for your Colorado plumbing license, you do not have to sit idle while you wait for the license to arrive.

You can go ahead and apply for a temporary work permit. This permit gives you 30 days to legally work as a plumber in Colorado. However, you can only do this once.

The Plumbing Exam

Once you are done with all the paperwork, you will get a handbook and the schedule of the written exams.

To do well on the exam, you need to be familiar with all the plumbing regulations and codes functioning in Colorado. You can also brush up on your plumbing knowledge by studying some plumbing books.

The plumbing exam will be comprised of multiple-choice questions. For residential and journeyman level licenses, you need to score at least 70%. Master plumbers need to score more than 75% to get their license.

Colorado Plumbing Schools

While it is not necessary to attend a trade school to become a plumber, it certainly helps enhance your skills. It also provides a structured learning environment who like learning in a formal environment.

Many trade schools in Colorado offer plumbing courses. These courses help you gain theoretical and practical knowledge. It can certainly help you find employment in the plumbing field. There are many sources online to help you gain plumbing knowledge.

Here are some Colorado schools that offer plumbing courses:

  • Emily Griffith Technical College: This college is situated in Denver, the capital of Colorado and offers a 5-year long apprenticeship program. The course combines on-the-job training with theoretical coursework.

    It is a great way to gain a lot of experience and most importantly, practical knowledge.

  • UA Local Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee: You can join a 5-year training program where you graduate with certificates and your plumbing license. The college is in Colorado Springs.

    You are required to complete both classroom hours and on-the-job training. The syllabus covers a lot of advanced topics like hydronics, blueprint reading, drawing, math, etc.

  • Pickens Technical College: This college in Aurora offers a construction and development course which is a blend of classroom learning and hands-on learning.

    Along with trades like plumbing and carpentry, students also learn construction management, building codes, cost estimating, tool safety, etc.

  • Construction Industry of Colorado Training Council: This trade school in Denver has a 4-year long apprenticeship program. In addition to plumbing, students also learn welding, installation, hydronics, air compression and waste disposal.

How Much Do Plumbers Make in Colorado?

The amount of money you can earn as a plumber depends on many variable factors such as your employer, the level you work at (residential, journeyman or master), your location, etc.

When you start as an apprentice, you will probably earn 30%-50% of what a licensed plumber makes. At this stage, the focus is on learning and mastering the trade and qualifying for a license.

Once you get licensed at the journeyman level, you will have a lot more flexibility work and you will get a significant raise.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average annual salary of plumbers is $56,300, or $27.08 per hour. In Colorado, the annual average is slightly higher at $58,580.

Plumbing is an expanding industry. Master plumbers have a high level of autonomy and enjoy a very high earning potential. Some master plumbers make up to $100,000 a year.

Parting Thoughts

There is always a need for qualified professionals who can work on pipes, drains and other plumbing fixtures. If you dedicate yourself to it, plumbing can indeed be a very rewarding career.

To work as a plumber in the state of Colorado, you need to get licensed by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. You need to satisfy the eligibility for the level you’re applying for and complete all the necessary legal procedures.

Colorado is a great state to work in and the average annual pay for plumbers is one of the highest in the United States. Even amidst the pandemic, the requirement for plumbers has gone up.

So if you’re thinking of becoming a plumber, there’s no better time or place to get started on your plumbing license!

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