As is the case with being a plumber in any state in the US, you will need to fulfill a few specific requirements before the state issues you a plumbing license. But once you become a licensed plumber in Montana, there are lots of opportunities. You might have to find some and depending on your experience and expertise, some will find you.
For starters, you are required to complete training and pass tests mandated by the state to get your initial license. And this license needs to be renewed every year. You must take some classes of continuing education before you can renew the license and keep working as a plumber in the state. The license is given to you by the state’s Board of Plumbers once you meet the requirements and pass the test.
In Montana, you can get two types of plumbing licenses—journeyman and master plumber license. Both of them are given by the Montana Department of Labor’s Board of Plumbers.
To be a journeyman plumber you need to:
- Get an apprenticeship
- Work as an apprentice for 5 years under a master plumber or a licensed contractor
- Take the test
- Apply for the license after passing the test
To be a master plumber in Montana, you need to:
- Have worked as a journeyman plumber for 4 years
- Have experience as a supervisor for 3 years (or experience with a licensed master plumber which can be concurrent with the previous point)
- Take the test
- Apply for the license after passing the test
If you don’t have the experience, you can still apply if you have completed an apprenticeship program in accordance with the Montana Apprenticeship and Training Bureau, the Bureau of Apprenticeship or the United States Department of Labor standards.
You must also pass a criminal background test before you apply for the test. And if you have misdemeanors or felonies in your background, you should still go ahead and apply.
You can take the test for the journeyman license online or in person. You will need to score at least 70 percent to pass the exam. There is a theoretical part and a practical part. The theoretical exam is about the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code and the Montana Amendments.
If you fail the practical part of the test, you can take it again. This license must be reviewed every year and you need to take 4 hours of continuing education classes before the renewal.
To be a master plumber, you must pass the test. That means you must:
- Fill out the Master Plumber Application and submit it to the Board of Plumbers
- Submit the Experience Verification affidavit
- Submit the Verification of Licensure form
- Pay an application fee of $100 and a license fee of $280 (money order or check to the Board of Plumber is fine)
You need at least 70 percent on the written and practical parts to pass the test. You can take the exam online or in person. It’s a good idea to look at some prep courses before you sit for the exam.
The US Department of Labor offers the Montana Registered Apprenticeship program and you can register for it online. You will be interviewed for it and you must carry your government ID card, resume and educational certificates for the meeting.
Montana has only one program to train individuals in plumbing.
- Montana State University-Northern – College of Technical Sciences: The trade school is located in Havre and Kremlin in Montana but only the program offered in Harve is recognized by the Board of Plumbers. It is a two-year degree program for journeyman plumbers.
To apply to this program, you need to:
- At least 18 years of age
- Have a GED or be a high school graduate
- Have a Montana ID card or a driver’s license
- Prove that you will be physically able to do the job
- Flathead Valley Community College: You can also gain experience from here and it is located in Kalispell in Montana. But there is no training program here for plumbers. So it won’t help when you apply to get your journeyman license.
There are other places that offer training for plumbers but they are not counted by the Board of Plumbers so it wouldn’t matter when you apply for your licensing exam.
When it comes to the national rating of plumbers based on salary, Montan ranks 35 out of the 50 states in the US.
But strictly numbers wise, the salary of a plumber in Montana depends on your education and experience. But as of January 2002, the average pay for a plumber in Montana is roughly $21.07 an hour. That comes up to $843 a week and $3,652 a month. That’s a total of $43,819 a year.
According to ZipRecruiter, the salary can range from $21,592 to $73,226. Most of them make about $38,021 to $54,450 which is from the 25th to the 75th percentile. The top earners make about $64,777 a year which is in the 90th percentile.
Your career as a plumber in Montana is likely to last for about 15 years. The average pay has a wide range which means you can bargain based on your experience and skill level along with the location where you are working.
The wide pay window also means that there are plenty of ways to advance your career with careful planning and dedication to the skill and the job in general. The only bad news might be that there isn’t a lot of hiring happening in the state, at least not according to ZipRecruiter which is a reliable source.
Plumbing work in the state of Montana includes both indoor and outdoor work. So, you must take the weather conditions into consideration too. The work can be regular maintenance jobs to emergency work on construction sites. There are also some opportunities for those who want to get into design and this is based on level of skill and experience.
Working in heating and cooling services along with the installation of medical gas is another option for those who are looking at job prospects in this state. You can find listings on the usual suspects like ZipRecruiter, Monster.com and Indeed.com for jobs associated with the state or federal government. In that case, you can expect to find good pay and job security too.
The organizations that will help you advance a career in plumbing in the state of Montana are:
Yes. The state jas signed reciprocity agreements for journeyman plumbers with a license. The agreements exist with South Dakota, North Dakota, Oregon and Idaho. If you have a master plumber license in a different state, you must complete the licensing process according to the state of Montana.
You will need to pay a $100 application fee and a $300 reciprocity fee to complete the process. And if you want to get to work before this process is completed, you must get a special permit that costs $100.
Having a membership with a union comes with benefits like vacation pay or sick pay. You will also have representation if and when there is trouble on the job. This includes protection from harassment and unfair or hazardous workplace practices. And there will be 401k options to explore too.
Members of a union are likely to get 20 percent more in salary compared to those who are not a part of the union. And you will have the chance to opt for a pension plan after you retire.
To be able to provide services as a licensed plumber in Montana, you will need insurance. This is very helpful in protecting yourself from liabilities that are part of the job no matter how good you are.
Insurance will give you coverage of up to $300,000 in case of property damage and $100,000 as general liability for a single instance. It will cost from $670 to $1,740 per annum for general liability. This is also helpful because you will be dealing with human waste and contaminated water while on the job.
To be a licensed plumber in the state of Montana requires some effort and keeping up with your paperwork on a yearly basis. But that does not mean it is tough to pursue a career in the plumbing industry.
The rules might be a bit more stringent than the other states but if you keep it up, your chances of having a secure and thriving career in Montana as just as likely as anywhere else.