How to Become a Plumber in North Carolina


Plumbing is a highly practical and technical trade that usually requires you to obtain a license by showing work experience and passing an exam, including in the state of North Carolina. This license can then allow you to repair, install, clean, and replace fittings, pipes, and fixtures while also working on larger plumbing projects.

Before you can move on to applying for a license in North Carolina, however, there are a few requirements that you will need to fulfill so that you can familiarize yourself with the trade and be aware of the local codes and regulations.

In the state of North Carolina, the process of obtaining your license is slightly different since it does not operate under the usual journeyman and master plumbing license system. Instead, you will need to obtain a contractor’s license.

Once you are aware of the requirements for these licenses, you can move on to giving the exam.

Through this guide, you can go through all the essential qualifications and criteria in further detail.

Required Qualifications to Be a Plumber in North Carolina

Becoming a plumber in North Carolina requires you to obtain a contracting license of the following kinds and levels:

  • P-I Contractor (Plumbing Class I): A P-I contractor generally tends to work with potable water and pipes (drain, vent, waste) in all kinds of buildings.
  • P-II Contractor (Plumbing Class II): A P-II contractor works with potable water and pipes (drain, vent, waste) in a singular housing unit that a single family resides in.
  • RLP (Restricted Limited Plumbing) Contractor: An RLP contractor works on sewage pipes and water filtration, usually on the exteriors of buildings.

There is another sub-licensing category through which you can become a plumbing technician.

The kind of license that you have can help determine what kind of work you can do as well as ways in which you get employed and/or start your own plumbing business.

This entire process of applying for and obtaining a license is managed and administered by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. They also set various criteria that you will have to first fulfill before you can move forward with the process of becoming a plumber here.

Some of these criteria require you to:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Provide identity documents.
  • Submit to a background check.
  • Complete two years (or 4,000 hours) of work experience, half of which can include training or education.
  • Submit your application form.
  • Pay the relevant application and exam fees.
  • Take and pass the plumbing contractors’ license exam.
  • Provide proof of insurance or evidence of financial responsibility (if applicable).

To become a plumbing technician, you will need to have 3,000 hours of work experience.

To find out more about some of these criteria, you can go through the following sections.

Application Form

You will need to thoroughly fill out an application form to become a plumber in North Carolina. Going through the details that this form seeks from you can be a good idea so that you can prepare everything on time.

This application form will not only ask for information about your identity but also about your employer and employment history alongside proof of the same. At this juncture, you will also need to pay an application fee.

All the documents, information, and signatures should be in place so that you can then physically submit the application form to the licensing board.

Background Check

A background check is an integral part of the application process when it comes to such kinds of licensing whether you are in North Carolina or any other state in the country.

Usually, such a background check is important so that the board can understand how fit you are for the job. They will ask for details in the application form where you will need to be transparent about your previous or ongoing charges (if any) while also providing details regarding the same.

Based on the nature of your charges and your behavior following your sentence/fine, your application can be approved or rejected.

You can obtain a report of your criminal history through CastleBranch.

Work Experience

Showing evidence of work experience can help speed up the process of obtaining your contractor’s license in North Carolina and is, in fact, a necessary condition that you must meet.

Obtaining this kind of work experience can give you the required practical knowledge and experience of working in the field while also equipping you with information regarding local laws, codes and regulations.

For North Carolina, you will need to obtain 4,000 hours or two years of work experience. This can either be 4,000 hours of practical work or 2,000 hours of training and 2,000 hours of work.

Written Exam

After your application gets approved and you receive the go-ahead to give the exam, you can then move on to registering for the exam through PSI Exams. Make sure you indicate the kind of license you want to give the exam for.

At this stage, selecting a test center in your state or opting to take your exam online must also take place.

The exam itself will have sections on plumbing, business, and law, comprising 100 questions. You will need to obtain a score of at least 70% to pass this exam.

Relevant Documents

There are several other relevant documents that you will need to submit to obtain your license, some of which include:

  • Government-issued identification
  • Examination scores
  • Fee payment documents
  • Insurance and other financial evidence
  • Work experience documents including recommendations (if required) and signed statements by your employer

The requirement of financial evidence and insurance proof is important so that the board can ascertain that you have the funding in place in case any issues arise with your business.

Good Plumbing Programs in North Carolina

In order to become more aware of the industry, how it functions, what skills you need and how you can further your career, it is important for you to enroll in a good plumbing program in the state.

This program can also be an effective way for you to understand the local plumbing codes and obtain some practical training so that you can apply your skills once you start working.

In addition, plumbing programs can help you fulfill the hours that you will need to obtain as part of your experience. Some great options for you to consider are:

  • Forsyth Technical Community College
  • Cleveland Community College
  • Guilford Technical Community College
  • Stanly Community College
  • Wake Community College
  • UA Local 412 apprenticeship program

Make sure each of these programs has the courses, training, and hours that you require.

Salary Expectations in the State

How much salary you can expect to earn as a plumbing contractor in the state of North Carolina can depend on your own skills, experience levels, education, certifications, and qualifications that you might hold.

It can also depend on the kind of license that you have.

You can, however, expect to earn an average of $54,000 on an annual basis, although the range can be anywhere between $50,000 and $65,000.

The hourly wage can be between $20 and $30.

Organizations to Know

If you are aware of certain plumbing organizations in the state and the country, then this can make it easier for you to access help, resources, codes, and practices that you can make use of to advance your career.

You can either become a member of these organizations or you can simply contact them whenever you require some kind of support. Some organizations to help you get started include:

  • Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors Association of North Carolina
  • Commercial Plumbing Contractors in North Carolina
  • U.A Local Union 412
  • International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
  • Associated General Contractors of America
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America
  • American Backflow Prevention Association
  • American Supply Association
  • American Society of Sanitary Engineering
  • American Society of Plumbing Engineers


How Long Does It Take to Become a Plumber in North Carolina?

It can take around four to five years for you to become a plumber in North Carolina. This is because you will need to carry out your training and fulfill the work experience requirements to obtain your license. It is only after you obtain a license that you will be able to practice your profession.

Can I Work Independently as a Plumber in North Carolina?

If you do not have a plumbing license in North Carolina, then you can carry out some minor tasks such as replacements, repairs and cleaning. You can also start your own plumbing business or work as an independent contractor in the state.

Final Remarks

Now that you know the steps involved in becoming a plumber in North Carolina, you can go ahead and begin the process and see which kind of plumbing contractor you want to become. Based on this, you will have to fill out and submit your application, provide relevant documents and pass the state exam.

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