How to Become a Plumber in Hawaii


The demand for plumbers in Hawaii is on the rise. While it is one of the smallest and least populated states in America, becoming a plumber in Hawaii could potentially be a well-paying career choice.

With a blend of many different cultures, Hawaii also has abundant education and employment opportunities. Let’s look at the career prospects of becoming a plumber in Hawaii.

Basic Requirements for Becoming a Plumber in Hawaii

Being a plumber does not mean that your day is limited to fixing burst pipes or unclogging kitchen sinks. Plumbers are skilled at installing and repairing water and gas fixtures, maintaining pressure and vacuum gauges and estimating costs of installations and repairs.

They also need to be familiar with the codes of the state they practice in. It takes a few years of training and practice to become a skilled plumber.

However, most of this training is done on the job. Here are the basic requirements to become a plumber in Hawaii:

  • You should be above 18 years of age.
  • You should have graduated from high school or have a GED certificate.
  • You must get work experience by becoming an apprentice.
  • You need to pass the licensing exam to legally start practicing as a plumber.

Becoming a Plumbing Apprentice in Hawaii

The first step to becoming a plumber after fulfilling the educational requirements is to become an apprentice plumber. This is mandatory if you want to get licensed as a plumber in Hawaii.

Here are the options you have for your plumber apprenticeship:

  • Apply for the apprentice programs at the Department of Labor & Industrial Relations Workforce Development Division. These are state-registered and a good way to legitimize your apprenticeship.
  • Start an apprenticeship by joining a union.
  • Get a sponsored apprenticeship with a licensed plumber or employer.
  • Join a trade school or college with programs that combine classroom learning and practical know-how through apprenticeships.

How to Get a Plumbing License in Hawaii

There are two kinds of plumbing licenses you can get in the state of Hawaii:

  • Journeyman Plumber: Once you complete your apprenticeship, you can start the procedure to get licensed as a journeyman plumber.

You need to complete 10,000 hours (5 years) as an apprentice to qualify to sit for the journeyman licensing exam.

The apprenticeship must comply with the Uniform Plumbing Code. The application will cost you $40.

  • Master Plumber: To become a master plumber, you need to complete 2 years as a journeyman plumber. Next, you need to pass the master plumber exam.

For either license, you will need to meet the requirement for examination and licensing as specified by the State of Hawaii.

All plumbing licenses in Hawaii need to be renewed after a period of 3 years. Plumbers also need to submit proof of continued competency while applying for renewal.

The Licensing Exam for Plumbers

The first thing you need to do is submit an application so that you can be approved to sit for the exam. You will also need to submit proof of experience and the application fee of  $40 to the Professional and Vocational Licensing Branch in Honolulu.

There are many locations where you can sit for the Prometric exam. You will be apprised of the available locations when you receive your approval letter.

Next, you need to fill up the Examination Registration form and send it back to the Professional and Vocational Licensing Branch along with the exam fees of $90.

You receive your score after 10 days of giving the exam. If you pass, you can apply for your plumbing license.

The plumbing license fee changes every year. The fee changes on a rotating system, which means that the first year the fee is $102, the second year the fee is $306, and the third year the fee is $201.

The licensing fee for 2020 was $102, which means that the licensing fee for 2021 is $306.

The Journeyman Exam

The Journeyman exam consists of 100 questions and the candidate is given 3 hours to finish the test.

The exam consists of the following components:

  • 25 questions on general knowledge.
  • 20 questions on water supply systems.
  • 20 questions on drainage, waste and sanitary vents.
  • 10 questions on size and estimating.
  • 10 questions on medical and fuel gas systems.
  • 10 questions on indirect and special waste.
  • 5 questions on building sewers.

The Master Plumber Exam

To appear for the master plumber exam, you need to have 2 years of experience as a journeyman plumber. You will also need to score at least 70% on the licensing program.

The test has 100 questions with the following breakup:

  • 25 questions on general knowledge.
  • 25 questions on drainage, waste and sanitary vents.
  • 19 questions on sizing and estimation.
  • 13 questions on fuel and medical gas systems.
  • 6 questions on excavation.
  • 6 questions on fixtures and trim.
  • 6 questions on building sewers.

Preparing for the Exam

Preparing for the exam is important, as you do not want to waste your time or money in repeatedly attempting the exam.

The topics might seem difficult, but once you have the requisite training, they will appear very familiar to you. There are also many books available to help you brush up on your skills before the exam.

Online resources can come in handy too. In fact, there are a lot of resources available that can help you upgrade your practical skills. From information on plumbing fixtures, the types of tools you will use, and basic procedures, you can learn a lot online.

Make sure to go through the Plumbing Code thoroughly. This is expected to cover most of the topics that will appear in the exam.

Plumbing Courses in Hawaii

Trade schools offer plumbing courses. These aren’t mandatory for becoming a plumber in Hawaii, but they can be beneficial to those aspiring to become plumbers.

  • Honolulu Community College: This college offers an apprenticeship training program for plumbers. The course is highly accredited and combines theoretical knowledge with hands-on training.

There is also a course for journeyman plumbers who might want to enhance their skills.

Students go through 4,000 hours of coursework and acquire a lot of practical knowledge about water systems, drainage, pipe laying and safety protocols.

  • University of Hawaii: There are over 15 courses offered by the University of Hawaii over many campuses. If you don’t live in Honolulu the University of Hawaii might be a better option for you.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors: This trade school in Honolulu offers a plumbing program with 2 days of 2.5-hour classes every week.

The program covers both classroom knowledge and practical training. If you cannot afford to go to school full time, you should consider this course.

Insurance for Plumbers in Hawaii

All licensed plumbers practicing in Hawaii need to have the requisite insurance for their trade.

  • Worker’s Compensation: Plumbers need to submit a certificate of coverage for worker’s compensation along with a statement from their insurance provider that the board will be notified of any changes to insurance.

  • General Liability and Property Damage: Plumbers need to present a certificate of their insurance policy coverage. The insurance provider must be authorized to conduct business in Hawaii.

    Property damage must be insured to a minimum of $50,000 per occurrence and bodily injury liability must be insured up to a minimum of $300,000 per occurrence and $100,000 per person.

How Much Does a Plumber Make in Hawaii?

According to the 2020 census, Hawaii has a population of 1,455,271 people. Currently, there are about 2,000 plumbers employed in Hawaii.

The salary of a plumber in Hawaii can vary based on location, skillset and experience. Pearl City, Honolulu and Waimanalo are currently the highest paying cities for plumbers in Hawaii.

The annual average salary for plumbers is $73,810 or $35.49 per hour. Apprentices who are just starting can expect to earn $40,140 per year. There are master plumbers who earn more than $130,000 a year too.

How much a plumber makes in Hawaii depends largely on his location and the level he practices at. The progress can seem very slow but steady, competent work can eventually fetch you a very high salary.

Wrapping Up

The construction industry in Hawaii has been badly hit by the pandemic. Most industries have had dips in salaries and the unemployment rate has also gone up.

Homeowners have been avoiding employing plumbers keeping in line with the social distancing protocols and most commercial sites have faced long periods of inactivity.

However, since construction workers have been recognized as part of the essential critical infrastructure workforce, things are starting to look up for plumbers.

The construction services market has started to see an uptick, with plumbing contractors facing staff shortages and high demand for plumbers.

The current situation may seem grave, but a prosperous future is evident for plumbers in Hawaii. This is an ideal time to become a plumber in Hawaii.

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