Each state in the U.S. has its own requirements for those looking to become a plumbing contractor. This typically involves training and different levels of licensing: apprentice, journeyman, and master. Contractors in Alabama have different requirements, depending on their specific profession, and trades professionals like electricians have a distinct license from plumbers. If you’re having difficulties navigating Alabama’s certification requirements, you’ve come to the right place.
Alabama Plumbing License Reciprocity
If you are already licensed in another state, you’re likely curious if your certification makes you eligible to work in Alabama. Unfortunately, Alabama does not have a reciprocal agreement with any other state in terms of plumbing certifications. If you’re an out-of-state applicant looking to become a contractor in the state, you’ll need to follow the steps to become certified — see the steps below in the “Journeyman License Requirements” section for further guidance. You’ll also be responsible for registering your business with Alabama before doing any work in the state, which can be done at the same link cited above.
Alabama Plumbing Journeyman License Requirements
Once you’ve worked as an apprentice for two years (see more on apprenticeships below), you’re ready to become a journeyman. Alabama state law defines a journeyman plumber as:
“Any person who engages in or works at the actual installation, repair, or replacement of plumbing systems, who has successfully fulfilled the examination requirements of the board, has been issued a journeyman plumber certificate by the board, and possesses a valid and current annual certificate issued by the board …”
In addition to maintaining annual certification, those wishing to be become a journeyman plumber must:
- Pass an exam demonstrating their knowledge of plumbing.
- Apply for a journeyman plumber certificate.
Journeyman Plumber Exam
Get ready to brush up on your knowledge and take the journeyman plumber exam. The application to take the exam can be found here. It costs $110 to take the exam, which can be paid via credit card, money order, cashier’s check, or company check.
Your eligibility to take the exam is determined by the PGFB. You can apply online at www.pgfb.alabama.gov, call the board at (205) 945-4857, or make the request via email by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org. You have 30 days from the day of approval to take the exam.
The exam will be administered by PSI Services, LLC. You can schedule your exam with them by calling 1-800-733-9267, but keep in mind that applicants are advised to appear 30 minutes prior to their scheduled time. In-state exam locations can be found in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery, though out-of-state exam locations are also available. You can find specifics about scheduling procedures, exam locations, and any necessary accommodations in the application packet linked above.
The exam consists of 70 questions, and you need to get at least 70% correct to pass. You’ll be given your results immediately after completion. After you’ve passed the exam, you’ll want to apply for certification within 90 days — if you fail to do so, you’ll have to retake the test.
Applying for Certification
Finally, to applying to become a licensed journeyman plumber, you must fill out and send the journeyman information packet, along with the certification fee of $50 (payable via check or credit card), to the PGFB at:
Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board
216 Aquarius Dr., Suite 319
Homewood, AL 35209
Plumbing Apprenticeship Requirements
The first step to becoming a plumber in Alabama is to become an apprentice plumber. As defined by state law, an apprentice plumber is:
“A … plumber, who is engaged in learning and assisting in the installation of gas pipe, equipment, apparatus, and appliances, and shall work directly under the supervision of a journeyman or master plumber … The apprentice shall have in his or her possession a current annual certificate …”
That definition alludes to two primary responsibilities. You’ll need to:
- Work under a certified journeyman or master plumber.
- Apply for a certificate, then recertify it each year as long as you are active as a plumber.
You’ll need to register as an apprentice. You can find the form to do so at the State of Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board (PGFB) website. You’ll need to pay an application fee of $25. Be sure to have your proof of citizenship (such as a driver’s license or Social Security card) or proof of lawful presence of non-citizen form (such as a green card to prove your permanent residence) ready when you apply.
Alabama Plumbing Apprentice Jobs
After optionally getting some vocational experience through a trade school (more on those below), you’ll be ready to look for an apprentice job. Looking for an apprenticeship is much like looking for any other job opportunity. You can also look for an apprentice job by using the Apprenticeship Finder, a tool provided by the Department of Labor.
Some organizations sponsor job opportunities in Alabama for those looking to become plumbers. A key example is the United Association of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders. You can find local branches of this national association here.
Apprentices in such programs will receive instruction on the basics, training on the job, and payment for their work. Keep in mind that these programs typically require applicants to continue working with their respective employer for upwards of five years.
Plumbing Trade Schools in Alabama
Trade schools are an effective way of getting a strong start in your career. The following trade schools offer programs for plumbing, allowing you to get some real hands-on experience and setting you up for success going forward:
- Lawson State Community College
1100 North Avenue SW
Bessemer, AL 35022
Lawson State is a historically black community college with a tradition of excellence. You can get an estimate of fees using this tool provided by the school.
- Ingram State Technical College
5375 Ingram Road
Deatsville, AL 36022
Established in the mid-1960 to provide job training to incarcerated students, Ingram State has grown to encompass 17 career technical programs, including plumbing. You can get an estimate of fees using this tool provided by the school.
Alabama Professional License Search
Need to locate plumbers in Alabama? The Individual/Business Lookup Online Application can help you do so, as well as validate that their certification is up-to-date. This application, provided by the PGFB, can be used to check the licensing status of any individual or business in Alabama. Once you become an apprentice or journeyman yourself, your name will appear in this database as well.
Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/