How to Become a Plumber in Oregon


Being a plumber in Oregon is much like being a plumber in many of the other states in the US. You need to have some educational qualifications or experience. You need to find an apprenticeship and meet the requirements to take the licensing exam. Once you pass it, you will have a license to work in the state. Here are the details.

Required Qualifications to Be a Plumber in Oregon

There are four types of licenses for individuals who want to be a plumber in the state of Oregon. And even if you are an apprentice, you must be registered with the state. Non-contracting licenses are issued by the Oregon Building Codes Division office while the others are issued by the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB). Here’s what you need to know about that.

Journeyman Plumber License

Here are the requirements to get this license.

  • You must finish a 4-year apprenticeship program. If not that, you must get a letter from anyone who runs a training program approved by the Oregon Plumbing Board. Alternately, you must give proof that you spent a minimum of 576 hours in a classroom studying the required subjects.
  • You must provide proof that you have 3,850 hours of commercial and residential experience each as a journeyman or apprentice.
  • Pay $100 for the application which is a non-refundable fee. Then you will get the details of the exam in the mail which you must take and pass.

This will also make you eligible to apply for a contractor’s license which means you can perform installations, modifications and do remodeling jobs.

Educational Requirements:

  • Be 18 years of age or more
  • Have a GED or high school diploma
  • Have a valid driver’s license in Oregon
  • Have a basic understanding of algebra

Once you meet these criteria, you must take the exam for which you have paid the non-refundable exam fee. The exam is four hours long and covers these subjects.

  • Definitions
  • Plumbing mathematics
  • General regulations
  • Administration
  • Water supply & distribution
  • Water heaters
  • Sanitary drainage
  • Fixtures, faucets and fittings
  • Vents
  • Traps, separators and interceptors
  • Storm drainage
  • Special and indirect waste
  • Practical application
  • Appendices

The exam is open book but only some material is approved. So, make sure you double-check that. Before sitting for the exam, you must also submit:

  • Application fee
  • Work history
  • Photo
  • Affidavit

Once your application is approved, you can take the exam. To pass the exam, you must score at least 75 percent.

Plumbing Contractor License

For this license you need:

  • Be 18 years of age or more
  • Complete at least 16 hours of training in business and law
  • Journeyman plumber license
  • Certificate of compliance from the state
  • Non-refundable application fee of $250
  • Pass the exam conducted by PSI Exams

This license is issued by the Oregon Construction Contractors Board or CCB. It will allow you to run your own business and hire employees. You can also furnish materials, advertise in the state as a business, do installations, modification and repair work.

If you want to hire employees in the future, you must give surety bonds, liability and compensation insurance for your employees to the CCB and register your business. And every three years on July 1st, you will need to renew the license.

Solar Heating & Cooling System Installer (STL) License

The state of Oregon issues a few specialty licenses and this is one of those. Here’s what you need to get this license.

  • Proof that you completed a training program approved by the Oregon Building Codes Division Office. This means 2,288 hours in a classroom or on the job. If not that, you should give proof that you have 2,000 hours of experience that is legal and have been trained in categories that are specified by the state.
  • Pay a non-refundable application processing fee of $100.

Water-Treatment Installer (WTI) License

Here’s another specialty license issued in Oregon and these are the criteria to get it.

  • A certificate that states that you’ve completed an 18-month apprenticeship that is approved by the state. Or you can get a letter from the training committee or the state’s plumbing board stating the same.

    Alternatively, you must give proof that you have 210 hours of training or on-the-job experience obtained lawfully in all the categories specified by the state.

    Along with this, you must give proof that you have gone through training for 3,000 hours in these categories.
  • Pay an application fee of $100.

Apprenticeship Programs in Oregon

To be eligible for any exam, you need to be a certified apprentice. This must be done with a technical college, community college, trade organization or a local union that has a training program.

And the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has a list of approved programs. You can also work with a licensed contractor as an entry-level worker and gain on-the-job experience along with classroom training which will make you eligible for the exam.

The second option might be tricky because most employers look into trade schools to find their candidates. So, to be an apprentice, you need:

  • To be 18 years of age or more
  • High school diploma or GED
  • To have completed a year of algebra with a C or more

In Oregon, there are four schools where you can get the required training.

  • Portland Community College: This is in Portland and it has an associate degree course as well as a certification for plumbing as well as some construction trades.
  • Lane Community College: This is located in Eugene and has a general apprenticeship program for four years. The Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee accepts this program which is registered with the Oregon BOLI.

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations

Obviously, we can’t give you exact figures. But if you are looking at a plumbing career in Oregon, here’s what you can expect.

The annual mean salary figure as determined by the US Bureau of Labor is about $75,800 for plumbers in the state of Oregon. The more experience you gain, the more salary you will get.

An apprentice can expect to get an average hourly wage of about $19.95 in this state. And the overtime earnings amount to about $54,290 annually.

A journeyman, on the other hand, earns an hourly average salary of $36.62 in Oregon which brings their annual average earnings to about $10,331.

The average annual salary for a plumber in Oregon is $57,251 but it can go as high as $65,499 if the individual has licenses of the higher level and have years of experience under their belt.

These numbers change based on different factors such as educational qualifications, additional certifications, skills and experience in the field, not to mention the city in which one works.

CityAverage Yearly Salary

Working as a Plumber in Oregon

Licensing requirements for a plumber change depending on the state. In Oregon, you need to be prepared to put in some effort and time. Since this is a job that has safety and health concerns, that should be expected.

There are about 490,200 plumbers in the US and about 5,840 of them work in Oregon, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Between 2019 and 2029, this number is projected to grow by 20 percent for plumbers, steamfitters and pipefitters. And the growth rate for helpers to these individuals is expected to grow by 21 percent. That’s good news.

So, with the right amount of training, you can get the licenses you need to work lawfully as a plumber in the state of Oregon and maybe even start your own business in the field.

Organizations You Should Know

  • Oregon Apprenticeship and Training Division
  • Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association

Does It Help to Join a Union?

A: This is always a good idea because being a member of the union will enable you to negotiate your salary. Members usually earn about 20 percent more on average when compared to non-members.

Apart from that, union members can also avail benefits like sick pay, vacation pay, pension plans, 401K. The union also protects you from bad working conditions, unfair practices at a workplace, targeted harassment on the job and more.

Does an Oregon Plumber License Work in Other States?

A: The state of Oregon has a reciprocity clause with Idaho and Montana which means you can submit an application for such a license and work in these two states too.

In Conclusion

To be a plumber in Oregon is a pretty good career choice. There are decent employment options that will pay you well enough to lead a good life. There are more than a couple of types of licenses that make it possible for you to be a generic plumber or a specialist. All you need to do is take the required exams and get a license.

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