Within the state of West Virginia you cannot practice as a plumber without a license. So, it is important that you qualify for the correct license that you need to practice.
Within West Virginia there are three different types of plumbing license: apprentice, journeyman and master. Which license you can apply for will depend on your level of experience and your knowledge.
How to become a licensed plumber in West Virginia
Since July 2009 the state of West Virginia has implemented a plumbing license exam. In order to receive your license you must arrange to take the written exam in Charleston and pay the exam fee in advance.
In order to receive your license you must both pass the exam and have completed a required number of hours work in the field. In order to start your journey as a plumber and become an apprentice plumber, this state allows you to complete mandatory introduction training online.
For example, the Carver Career and Technical Center has a training program that spans 10 months and is readily available on several campuses.
Becoming an apprentice plumber
These 10-month programs will allow you to complete work as an apprentice under the supervision of a master-level plumber. This is to ensure that you are both covered by insurance as well as to teach you the skills that you will need on the job.
In most cases you will need to have attended school with a minimum of a GED before you will be accepted. Most of the apprenticeship programs begin in the summertime and so can be started just after finishing school at the age of 18.
In order to find the best plumbing course for you you can check online with plumbing unions. In order to apply to the apprentice program you will need to complete an application before having an interview with master plumbers to run you through the outline of the program as well as your history and any experience that you may have in the field.
Unfortunately, in West Virginia if you have a criminal background then most places will not accept you into an apprenticeship program.
Becoming a journeyman
A journeyman’s license is the next step up from an apprentice plumber. In order to reach this level of expertise you will need to have fulfilled the following criteria:
- 8000 hours of work in the field
- or, alternatively, 4 years’ experience as an apprentice
- Pass the journeyman plumber’s exam
Once you have obtained your journeyman’s license you will no longer need to work under a supervisor. Instead, you will be able to work by yourself.
Becoming a master plumber
The top level of plumbing license that you can receive is the master plumber’s license. A master-level plumber is able to supervise both apprentice plumbers as well as journeymen. In order to become a master you must complete the following:
- 12,000 hours of work in the field
- Pass the licensing exam
Once you have reached this level of experience you will be able to complete (almost) all plumbing work by yourself. Please note that in order to carry out $2500 or more in work at any one time you must also hold a plumbing contractor license.
Does my license work outside of West Virginia?
Unfortunately, no. Like many other states, your plumbing license is only valid in the state in which it was issued. If you plan on moving to or working in another state then you will need to apply for your license there where the rules and regulations may differ.
Changing the details on your license
When you apply for your plumbing license you will need to fill out a section with details about yourself. If any of these details change then you will need to go in person to the agency in order to do so. If you have lost or damaged your plumbing license and need a replacement then you can simply contact the agency to arrange this.
How to renew your plumbing license
Once you have received your plumbing license it is important that you renew this every year so that you are still legally allowed to practice. When you receive your plumbing license it will be accompanied by a card stating the expiration date of the license.
Up to 45 days before your license is due to expire you will receive a reminder in the post. Regardless of the type of plumbing license that you hold the state of West Virginia charges a set fee: $75. This will need to be paid in order to renew your license.
Holding a plumbing license is imperative to work as a plumber in West Virginia. You must also ensure that you are up to date on all plumbing regulations as well as hold an up to date license.
You must also work within the conditions of your license. For example, you cannot work alone if you are an apprentice.
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