How do I Become a Master Plumber?

Carol Francois

There are four steps required to become a master plumber: post-secondary training, related work experience, certification, and completing the job interview process. A master plumber is responsible for installing, repairing, replacing, and managing plumbing fixtures. In addition to these standard plumbing tasks, a master plumber trains apprentices, can manage other plumbers, and is a resource for advice and guidance on plumbing challenges.

An apprenticeship offers hands-on experience under the tutelage of a more seasoned professional.
An apprenticeship offers hands-on experience under the tutelage of a more seasoned professional.

People who are mechanically inclined, skilled at working with tools, and enjoying working with their hands report the greatest satisfaction with this career. Many states have guidelines about who can be asked to perform plumbing work, specifically restricting certain tasks to licensed plumbers. A licensed plumber can find employment opportunities working for a large company, as part of a plumbing contractor firm, or can open his own plumbing business.

Work experience is one step in becoming a master plumber.
Work experience is one step in becoming a master plumber.

Post-secondary training programs are required to become a master plumber. Plumbing training programs are available from a wide range of community and career colleges. These courses are designed for experienced plumbers, and focus on the details of plumbing equipment designs, changes in the industry, new methodologies, and the impact of technology on the industry.

Related work experience to become a master plumber includes working as a plumber. Additional experience includes teaching adult courses, leadership opportunities, organizing an event, and project management experience. The master plumber is required to provide leadership and set an example for other people who are just entering the profession.

Plumbing is a skilled trade and is regulated by the government. All plumbers must complete a certification examination. In order to become a master plumber, some states have another examination, which is evaluated in combination with the work experience. Based on the combination of the courses, examination, and experience, the candidate may receive the master plumber designation.

During the job interview process, take the time to prepare for the interview. Think of a list of standard interview questions and prepare your answers in advance. Some employers will have a short test of your plumbing skills as part of the interview process. They may also ask about management or training experience.

Master plumbers usually have between 10 and 15 years professional experience. During this period, the plumber may have focused his practice in a specific industry or could have a variety of experiences. As long as he was working as a plumber, he has sufficient experience to apply for the master designation. In addition to a leadership role, master plumbers are the highest paid of all plumbers.

An apprenticeship period is one step in becoming a master plumber.
An apprenticeship period is one step in becoming a master plumber.

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Discussion Comments


I am a master plumber in Texas. We have strong regulations for plumbers here. It takes four years or 8,000 hours on the job experience working under a master plumber as an apprentice to qualify for a journeyman license. After completing the on the job experience you have to take 48 hours of classes dealing with plumbing law/rules and plumbing code as well as OSHA rules.

Once complete, you apply to take the journeyman test in Austin at the Texas state board of plumbing examiners. If you pass then you are a journeyman plumber. Now to become a master plumber you have to hold your journeyman for a minimum of four years. After four years, you apply to take the masters test with the board. If you pass then you are a master.

In order to open your own business, you have to become a Responsible Master Plumber. After becoming a master plumber, you take 24 hours of classroom work dealing with business management, etc. Then you submit the fees and proof of completion with commercial general liability insurance and boom! You can run a plumbing company. You can contact the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners for more information about Texas regulations.

If you aren't in Texas, I would do some internet searches for organizations like this. There are also places like PHCC that are extremely helpful, or the local plumbing union.


Thanks for all the great advice. I need to find a plumber and I keep telling my son to become one so he can fix everything around the house.


My grandfather was a plumber his whole working life. He worked freelance, getting jobs by word-of-mouth. Sometimes he would hear of a big project and would go and apply. But things have really changed for plumbers today.

Plumbers really have to pay their dues before they can work their way to master plumber. Some plumbers may get a basic education or training and prefer the actual hands-on plumbing job and don't want to be a master plumber.

Those who aspire to become a master, need to master the plumbing skills and work a certain number of years in the field. I think the kind of person who would be interested in becoming a master plumber would be one who likes the actual plumbing, but also likes to work with others in training, education, organizing and assisting beginners in the field.


@kentuckycat - Good questions. I know in might state, it is required that someone have a master plumber's license before they can start their own business. In order to even qualify for the master plumber's license, you have to be a journeyman for two years. A journeyman is just someone licensed to install plumbing. Besides that, it is like the article said that you have to have the classes and pass certain tests.

I would just search for master plumbing followed by your state name. I know that some states don't really have a master plumber title, but they might have something similar.

What I am curious about is whether or not a master plumber license can transfer to another state if you move. I am sure you would still have to take the test, but would you still be required to take the classes and stuff in that state?


My son graduated from a technical plumbing program a few years ago, and he has been curious about what all is required to be a master plumber, so this article is really helpful.

Do all states have some sort of a master plumber program, or just certain ones? How can you find out for sure? When you are trying to find a program what should you be looking for?

I was looking at the local community college near us, but I didn't find any mention of it. Also, it would be important to have night classes or online classes if possible. Do these exist? Finally, how much does the whole thing cost, and how does that compare to extra earning potential?


@cardsfan27 - I'm not sure what exactly the specialties would be. I would guess maybe some people are better at installing intricate bathroom plumbing. Something else I was thinking was that maybe some people specialize in commercial or industrial plumbing.

If you think about it, an office building or factor would have to have a ton of piping running through it for restrooms, kitchens, and even sprinkler systems. It seems like maybe a master plumber would be in charge of making sure all these things came together right and that the water supply was adequate for everything.

My guess would be that some of the things I mentioned would also be included in what a master plumber can do that a normal plumber couldn't.


So, the article mentions different plumbing specialties. What exactly would these be? Do plumbers specialize in things like kitchens or bathrooms, or are there other options, too?

Also, what kinds of tasks are there that a master plumber can be certified to do that a normal entry level plumber wouldn't be allowed to do?

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