How to Become a Plumber in Pennsylvania


At this point in time, choosing to be a plumber in the state of Pennsylvania is an excellent choice. You can either work for a big corporation or start your own business. Either way, you will be entering an industry in a state where the prospects are pretty promising.

Now, the first thing to know about being a plumber in Pennsylvania is that there are no blanket regulations at the state level. So, the licensing requirements are specific for each county.

And that is where you need to look for the details. But there is some common ground and we shall cover that in this piece. But aspiring plumbers must check the municipality where they want to get the license and work so that they can meet the requirements for both registration and licensing.

The fee process is also different depending on the county and the exam you are taking. So, that’s another detail one must check with care. Let’s take a look at the rest of it.

Requirements for Being a Plumber in Pennsylvania

To get a plumber’s license in Pennsylvania, you need to adhere to the rules and regulations issued by the local municipalities. As in most states in the US, the state of Pennsylvania issues two types of licenses for plumbers.

There are a specific set of rules that will get you the eligibility for the license. Then, you must take the exam that will decide whether or not you can get a plumber’s license in the state of Pennsylvania. Here’s what you need to know about them.

For Journeyman Plumbers

Licensed journeyman plumbers are allowed to perform all the tasks that a master plumber can. But they have to be supervised by a master plumber. Here are the requirements to get a journeyman plumber license in Pennsylvania.

  • Be 18 years old or more
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED
  • Must be registered to be an apprentice for a minimum of four years
  • Complete an apprenticeship program that is approved by the state of Pennsylvania
  • Complete 2,000 hours of paid instructions on the job
  • Complete 224 hours of apprenticeship (and a total of 576 hours in the classroom)
  • Take the licensing exam and pass it
  • Show proof of having experience via the individual’s tax records

The application fee for the licensing exam is $25 and the fee to get the license is $100. This exam will be conducted by the International Code Council. You must take it within 12 months after applying for the license. The fee can change based on your jurisdiction. It also increases as you take advanced licenses in the future.

The exam has two parts which are a design and a written exam. You must get at least 70 percent to pass the exam. After you pass the exam, you must pay the fee to get the license which is between $100 and $300.

This is when you go from being an apprentice to a journeyman. Now, in some jurisdictions, you will need to take continuing education classes when it is time to renew your license.

For Master Plumbers

Master plumbers are allowed to assess, install and repair any and all appliances that are connected to the plumbing or a structure. But you need a license to do this lawfully. The requirements for that license are as follows.

  • Be 21 years old or more
  • Have a GED or a high school diploma
  • Complete an apprenticeship program that is approved by the state
  • A minimum experience of 2 years as a journeyman
  • Pass the exam for a master plumber license
  • Show proof of experience as a journeyman plumber

The fee for each of these exams is $250 and the fee to get the license once you get the required approvals is $375. But you must remember to register for the exam 45 days before the date. You must pay all the fees and submit the documentation in this time period to stay eligible for the test.

Apprenticeship Programs in Pennsylvania

There are several good apprenticeship programs for aspiring plumbers in the state of Pennsylvania. This is where one learns to perform all the tasks a plumber would have to do on the job. You must get an apprenticeship that is approved by the state. But that is not a tough task in this state.

But you must qualify to be accepted in any of these programs and here is the criteria.

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or a GED
  • Pay the application fee for the program

Here are some good trade schools which are approved by the state.

  • Pennco Tech: This one is in Bristol, Pennsylvania and offers several other programs along with a course in plumbing and heating technology.

Most of these programs also need you to complete four years of training on the job. This means working with journeyman plumbers and master plumbers. During this time, you will learn to cut holes, install pipes and futures and use soldering tools.

You will also learn about building codes in the area where you work, handling customers and dealing with inspectors.

The classroom training is also an important part which will help you pass the exam to be a plumber. These are usually between 500-750 hours and the coursework contains several health and safety training sessions. After the first year, you will also get some CPR and first aid training. The courses also include classes on:

  • Math
  • How to read blueprints
  • Basics of plumbing
  • Instructions on pipes, fittings and valves

Job Outlook and Salary Expectations in Pennsylvania

There are over 50,000 estimated plumbers in the state of Pennsylvania. Most of them are said to be above 45 years of age. Now, if you consider the retirement age to be 55, you will understand why there are quite a few vacancies in the state. And that number is increasing and might even lead to a shortage of plumbers in the state.

This means it is a good time to become a plumber in the state of Pennsylvania. And if you are enterprising, it might also be a good time to start your own business in this state.

The average hourly wages of a plumber in the state of Pennsylvania range anywhere from $16,76 to $24.26. Of course, this changes based on several factors like the jurisdiction where you are working, your educational qualification and experience level.

For instance, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Statistics says that anyone who is 18 years or older and has a high school diploma can earn about $30,000 annually. If you have a bachelor’s degree, that number increases to about $50,000 annually.

And finally, if you have an advanced degree, you will be able to increase your annual income to $75,000 which is a good bump.

Organizations to Know


Can I Do Plumbing Jobs without a License in Pennsylvania?

No, you cannot, even if it is your own property. Anyone who wants to do a plumbing job in this state must have a permit from the county or city authorities. Journeyman plumbers can do a lot of tasks but they must be supervised by a master plumber.

What Are Professional Development Courses?

These are courses that help you stay on top of the changes in the plumbing industry like changes in the building codes or the regulations of a particular county. These courses are also helpful in brushing up the basics and learning about advancements in the industry.

Are Professional Development Courses the Same as Continuing Education?

No, professional development courses are optional and depend on you. Whereas, continuing education courses are mandatory and you have to take them when it is time for you to renew your license.

Wrapping Up

Apart from the salary prospects, Pennsylvania is also a good place to choose to be a plumber because there are lots of opportunities for those who have advanced skill. And if you don’t have them yet, there are plenty of training options.

The employment options in this state are considered to be quite standard. And customers are almost always looking for plumbers to fix and modify their structures. This keeps the trade insulated from economic instability, unlike many other jobs.

And finally, those who can do a variety of jobs like water, gas or underground piping, installations in both residential and commercial establishments will have a lot of work to do.

So, if you plan well, being a plumber in the state of Pennsylvania can be a pretty lucrative career choice.

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