How to Become a Plumber in Kentucky


Plumbing is a respectable trade where you need to install and maintain water systems, install pipes and fixtures and make repairs wherever necessary.

It is a good way to make a living and the demand for plumbers has been steadily increasing, so you have some level of job security. If you want to become a plumber in Kentucky, you need to get a license from the Plumbing Division first.

It takes some training before you can become a licensed plumber, so you need to be prepared to put in the work to get your license. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a plumber in Kentucky:

Types of Plumbing Licenses in Kentucky

In Kentucky, there are two kinds of plumbing licenses you can apply for—a journeyman and master plumber. The state of Kentucky has a Plumbing Divison that deals with the issuing of licenses and other matters related to plumbing.

The journeyman plumbing license can be obtained after completing your apprenticeship and passing the licensing exam. Getting this license makes you a professional plumber and you become officially eligible to work as a plumber in Kentucky.

Master plumber licenses can only be obtained after gaining some experience as a journeyman plumber. You need to pass another exam to obtain this license and there are other eligibility conditions too.

Getting a Journeyman Plumbing License

There are certain requirements for getting a plumber’s license in Kentucky. Here’s everything you need to get a journeyman’s license:

  • Have finished high school or have a valid GED

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a legal citizen of the US or have authorization to work in the US
  • Have at least 2 years of experience as an apprentice plumber
  • Be of morally sound character
  • Pass the licensing exam with a minimum score of 75% and a minimum score of 70% in the individual sections of the exam

These requirements are unique because Kentucky is the only state in the United States that has the requirement of a good moral character to become a plumber.

This means that applicants found to have a criminal background can be denied their license. A lot of colleges and trade schools that offer plumbing programs in Kentucky conduct background checks before admitting you to the program.

You need 2 years of experience as an apprentice to be eligible to apply for a license, but if you finish an approved course, you can waive one year of experience.

The exam is conducted by the State Plumbing Examining Committee. It has a written exam and a practical test. Applicants must be able to prove their expertise in different plumbing procedures and practices.

It costs $50 to give the exam and $60 for issuing the license if you pass.

Getting an Apprenticeship

It is mandatory to complete a 2-year apprenticeship before you can appear for your journeyman licensing exam. During your apprenticeship, you will learn the necessary skills required to be a plumber under a licensed plumber.

Apprentices are employed by plumbers, so you get to learn practical skills on the job. The apprenticeship needs to be approved by the state in order to be admissible.

You can skip one year of apprenticeship if you have attended an appropriate college course or program approved by the state.

Completing a college course on plumbing makes it a lot easier to land an apprenticeship with a reputable plumber. Unions also provide help with securing internships.

There are many colleges in Kentucky where you can apply for a plumbing apprenticeship. They have financial aid programs and low tuition fees to help students complete the 2-year apprenticeship:

Getting a Master Plumber’s License

Master plumbers do everything that journeyman plumbers do in addition to supervising other plumbers. People who want to start their own company usually get a master plumber license. They also consult with contractors and read or draw up plans for the plumbing layout.

Here’s what you need to get a master plumber’s license in Kentucky:

  • Have had a journeyman plumber for at least 2 years
  • Have been working as a journeyman plumber for the last consecutive 2 years
  • Have proof of employment
  • Be a legal citizen of the United States or have authorization to work in the United States
  • Pass the licensing exam with a minimum score of 80% and 75% in the individual sections
  • Have liability insurance for a minimum of $250,000
  • Be of morally sound character
  • Be at least 18 years of age

It costs $150 to give the exam and $250 to obtain the license after passing.

Insurance for Plumbers

Plumbers in Kentucky are required to have general liability insurance of at least $250,000. This is common for both journeyman plumbers and master plumbers.

People who have their own company are required to have worker’s compensation for every plumber or apprentice they employ.

It is also a good idea to visit a doctor and ask about recommended vaccinations. There is a lot of fieldwork involved in plumbing, which can be dangerous, so it is best to be prepared.

Average Salary for Plumbers in Kentucky

The average hourly salary for plumbers in Kentucky is $21.54. The average yearly salary is $53,996. It is important to note that the average doesn’t apply everywhere. Your actual salary can be different depending on your skill level and location within Kentucky.

The range goes from $46,000 to $61,000. Master plumbers and those who own plumbing businesses earn a higher salary than journeyman plumbers. Apprentices just starting out can expect to make between $26,000 to $30,000 a year.

Plumbing License Reciprocity

There is no set law or rule about plumbing license reciprocity in Kentucky. The decisions on license reciprocity are made based on the individual cases. If you have a license in a different state and want to work as a plumber in Kentucky, you can apply for reciprocity.

The Plumbing Code Committee will then determine if the exam you have passed is equally difficult as Kentucky’s licensing exam. The state you obtained your license in will also need to agree to reciprocity.

Is Joining a Union Beneficial for Plumbers in Kentucky?

Union 502 is the most active plumber’s union in Kentucky. You need to have a license or proof of some experience in pipefitting or plumbing to join the union. You get benefits like guaranteed wages and health insurance.

If you get into a legal dispute on the job, they will help you settle the case. Union 502 also regularly holds meetings to make it easier for plumbers to learn about changes to the plumbing code.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Plumber in Kentucky?

It takes a little more than 2 years to become a plumber in Kentucky. If you have finished high school or you have your GED, you need to complete a 2-year apprenticeship to be able to appear for the journeyman licensing exam.

Applicants to apprenticeships are usually expected to have attended a plumbing course or program before the apprenticeship. You can also attend a trade school to complete your apprenticeship.

You will also prepare for the licensing exam in your course. You become a professional plumber after passing the exam.

How to Become a Master Plumber in Kentucky?

To become a master plumber in Kentucky, you need to be a licensed journeyman plumber. Journeyman plumbers who have been working for at least 2 consecutive years are eligible to give the master plumber licensing exam.

The passing score is slightly higher than the journeyman licensing exam—you need a minimum 80% score overall and a minimum 75% score in the individual sections to pass the exam.

Master plumbers do all the work that journeyman plumbers do. They are also asked to supervise projects where many journeyman plumbers work under them.

Plumbers who want to expand their business and open a company usually obtain their master plumber license first. Having a master plumber’s license also means that you will earn a significantly higher salary.

Parting Thoughts

Plumbing is an honorable profession. It can be a lucrative career if you are hardworking and willing to make a commitment. There is a lot of scope for growth and expansion in this line of work.

Besides, you can be sure that there will always be a need for plumbers. Skilled plumbers who are able to build a good reputation are always sought after.

The state of Kentucky requires a 2-year apprenticeship before you can apply to be a journeyman plumber.

Many states require 4-year apprenticeships before you can appear for your licensing exam, so becoming a plumber in Kentucky means that you start earning sooner as compared to other states.

Another great advantage of choosing to become a tradesman is that you start earning as an apprentice. The salary increases as soon as you obtain your license and you start your professional career with plenty of experience.

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