View Full Version : Plumber qualifications

12-03-2008, 08:04 AM

I'm looking to find someone to do some work for me soon and have a question about qualifcations. Is there a difference between a "Licensed Plumber" and a "Licensed Master Plumber"? I see the two terms used in many ads but don't know what it means.


12-03-2008, 10:55 AM
Check with your state's department of licensing. Laws differ between states. They should have this info on their website.

In my state, in order to do business with the public they need to be a Plumbing Contractor. That means that they need to first be a Master Plumber and then apply for and pass a test and background check to become a Plumbing Contractor.

12-03-2008, 12:09 PM
Same in our state ... get their license number so you can also ask if there are any complaints or deciplines on file.

master plumber mark
12-03-2008, 01:39 PM
being a master plumber generally means more experience
and has passed a few more tests..

(this means that he knows how to read and write)

anyone in our state can open up a business with only a "contractors lisc" and then hire a master plumber and work uder their lisc...

this can get pretty ugly sometimes..... especially if the master quits the company....and takes his lic with him...

its best to call .......Angies List and the BBB...for complaints...

look for 'family owned" ect.. in the adds....

12-03-2008, 05:39 PM
Some states have different levels of State issued license...apprentice...journeyman plumber....Master Plumber....

Other states like CA have no such official license levels.

If the contractor is a Union Shop, then there are definitions within the union on those things.

I have seen ads where someone called themselves a Master Plumber because they had been around long enough that they just feel like they are one!

SO, answer is "it depends"

12-04-2008, 04:58 AM
The best way to find qualified plumbers would be word of mouth from others that have had similar work done and were satisfied with the work... you can also ask the plumber for references....in general this works very well and using the BBB and maybe Angys List. Hiring a master plumber does not mean the job will be done right...there are a few in my area that are have drug and or alcohol problems and have a record of starting jobs and then walking off the job when it is half done and never returning...

12-04-2008, 11:23 AM
Many states have done away with, or never had, the master plumber classification. Its only purpose was to qualify the plumber to become a contractor. It did nothing to make him a better plumber. In this area, you are either a plumber, working for a plumbing contractor, or a plumbing contractor dealing with the public. The plumber cannot do that without causing the felony of "contracting without a license". So unless he advertises as an "unlicensed contractor" which means he is severly limited in what work he can do and what he can charge, then he is a legitimate plumber.

12-04-2008, 12:49 PM
Thanks for the input.

So basically the consensus seems to be that "Master plumber does not equal Better plumber".

Will be asking for references from potential plumbers and checking BBB.

Thanks for the advice

12-04-2008, 01:54 PM
Why not check Angie's List and afterwards comment on the services performed.

12-04-2008, 03:48 PM
In my state, you need the contractor's license to be able to contract work. You need the journeyman license to be able to perform the work. A contractor can hire journeymen. A journeyman cannot contract work by himself. You Can be both a contractor and a journeyman. (I am.) What is true in your state may be quite different. For example, in some states, no license is required outside city limits.

Gary Slusser
12-04-2008, 04:38 PM
In many states a business can not release the names of customers, by law, unless the business has a signed statement from the customer authorizing the release and stating the reason, like referral. The majority of customers will refuse when asked. Those customers that do will be very satisfied with the business because they won't release unsatisfied customers' names.

12-05-2008, 07:05 AM
In New York they give the Master Plumber status to a plumber of 10+ years.

Here in Illinois they just call us a licensed plumber. They did come out with a Plumber Contractors License, which requires the plumber to fill out an application and submit a copy of his plumbing license, certificate of insurance, bond, and a check for a 100 bucks. When we pull permits we must provide the plumbing contractors license and our plumbing license. It does save us some money in the long run in having to get bonds for each city we do work in.

12-05-2008, 07:56 AM
Thanks for the input.

So basically the consensus seems to be that "Master plumber does not equal Better plumber".

Will be asking for references from potential plumbers and checking BBB.

Thanks for the advice

There's no State licensing laws, in NYS - it's all at the local level. Rochester's application form for a plumbing license, can be downloaded here:


It requires the applicant to have:

A. Completion of an apprenticeship through a state or federally approved plumbing, heating or
air-conditioning apprenticeship program, plus at least two additional years working in the
plumbing, heating, or air-conditioning business;
B. At least eight years of experience in one or more of the following occupations, plumbing;
steamfitting; plumbing design; heating or air-conditioning; plumbing or heating or air
conditioning estimating;
C. Possession of a current New York State license as a professional engineer or registered
D. Ten years experience as a maintenance person working at plumbing, heating, air-conditioning
or refrigeration trades; or
E. Any equivalent combination of training and experience, as approved by the Examining Board
of Plumbers.

"Master Plumber" is a union term (apprentice, journeyman, master). Here in NYC, it means something very specific, it involves a lot of classes, and ten years working for a Master Plumber, and an exam.

"Licensed Master", would be redundant in NYC - you have to be a Master Plumber, to get a plumbing license in the first place - but in Rochester maybe it means having completed the apprenticeship/journeyman/master process, as opposed to one of the other, easier, licensing requirements.