If you’re interested in becoming a plumbing contractor, you should consider working in Alaska. It is the highest paying state for construction and extraction occupations, which includes plumbing. Professionals can demand a higher wage to compensate for the weather and increased cost of living.
However, it’s not as if you can just fly to Alaska and start working right away. Prospective plumbers begin as apprentices, learning under the tutelage of a mentor. They can then become journeymen, which certify them as competent in their craft, but it will still be several more years before they can be master plumbers. This career track takes a lot of dedication, but the compensation can make it worth the effort.
In order to protect consumers against fraud, Alaska requires all contractors to be licensed, and plumbers are no exception. But as long as you know what’s expected, you should have no problem with the application process.
Alaska Plumbing License Reciprocity
License reciprocity allows you to practice even if your license is from out of state. Unfortunately, Alaska does not have any reciprocity agreements with any other states for journeyman plumbers. If you want to be a plumbing contractor in Alaska, you’ll have to get a license from the Alaskan Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
Alaska Plumbing License Requirements
If you are already an experienced plumber looking to make the final steps in your career, there are three additional certifications that you’ll need to acquire.
Two of them concern a Certificate of Fitness. This is a certification that is given to many professionals in different tiers. It is the same exam with the same associated costs, but you can be certified at a different level when you pass.
Accepted payments include:
- Money Order;
- Check (made out to the State of Alaska);
- Visa or Mastercard;
- Cash (do not mail!)
Payments can be sent to the following address:
Department of Labor and Workforce Development
1251 Muldoon Road, Suite 113
Anchorage, AK 99504
Alternatively, you can call (907) 269-4925 for further information.
Plumber Gas Certificate of Fitness
This certification will allow you to work on commercial fuel gas piping. In order to obtain the certificate, you’ll need:
- 4,000 hours of experience; 2,000 must be completed installing fuel gas piping.
- At least a 70 percent on the Certificate of Fitness exam;
- $50 for initial testing;
- $200 for licensure upon passing.
Plumber Utility Certificate of Fitness
This certification will allow you to install water piping, sewage piping, and storm drains. In order to obtain this certificate, you’ll need:
- 1000 hours of experience installing water piping, sewage piping, or storm drains.
- At least a 70 percent on the Certificate of Fitness PU exam;
- $50 for initial testing;
- $ 200 for licensure upon passing.
Plumbing Contractor License
If you are looking to strike out on your own, you will need your own contractor certification. For plumbing, you’ll want at Mechanical Contractor License. Here are the requirements:
- A completed application;
- $10,000 surety bond, issued by either a surety company or your insurer;
- A certificate of insurance covering at least $20,000 for property damages, $50,000 for injury or death of one person, and $100,000 for the injury or deaths of multiple people;
- Workers’ compensations provided by a private insurance company licensed in Alaska, unless your business does not have any employees;
- $100 application fee;
- $250 licensure fee.
The application and fees can be mailed to :
State Office Building
333 W. Willoughby,
Juneau, AK 99801-1770
Your contractor license will expire on December 31st on odd-numbered years, at which point you’ll have to renew it.
Alaska Plumbing Journeyman License Requirements
A journeyman has completed an apprenticeship or has enough relevant experience to be considered competent at their craft by the state. To be a plumbing journeyman in Alaska, you’ll need:
- 8,000 hours of experience;
- Documented proof of that experience, notarized by either your employer, the Alaskan Department of Labor, or an Alaska-based union;
- A completed application for a Certificate of Fitness;
- At least a 70 percent on each section of the Plumbing Journeyman Exam.
Plumbing Journeyman Exam
The Alaskan plumbing journeyman exam consists of questions from the Uniform Plumbing Code. There are five sections:
- General Plumbing;
- Gas Piping and Appliance Vent;
- Gas Piping Drawing;
- Waste/Vent Drawing;
- Water Piping Drawing;
This is a closed book exam; you will have four hours to complete it. Bring a government-issued picture ID on the day of the exam.
Initial testing costs $50. If you pass, licensing will be an additional $200. This certificate will remain valid for 2 years, at which point you will have to retake the exam. Payment information is above under “Alaska Plumbing License Requirements.”
Plumbing Apprenticeship Requirements
Before you can begin work as a journeyman, you must acquire a sizeable amount of hours as an apprentice. It takes years to accrue that sort of experience, but where do you start?
Apprenticeships are offered through vocational programs, community colleges, the military, or professional organizations. Each of these will have different requirements, so be sure to look at the specifications of each apprenticeship you apply to. In general, you can expect that all of them will require:
- High school diploma or a GED.
- Valid Driver’s License.
- Competent math skills. They might have their own test or may simply look at your high school math scores.
Alaska Plumbing Apprentice Jobs
If you are enrolled in a vocational program or a community college, be sure to ask your advisors. They can recommend various programs, and your program or college might even have one of their own.
If you don’t have access to those resources, search for apprenticeships in your area online. The Alaskan Department of Labor maintains a list of plumbing training programs, so begin your search there.
Plumbing Trade Schools in Alaska
Trades schools can put you a step ahead of the competition before your apprenticeship. If you’re looking for an edge and some prior experience, consider some of the following:
- Alaska Vocational Technical Center— $10,343;
- University of Alaska Fairbanks— around $300 per credit or $4000 per semester;
- Plumbers and Pipefitters Training School— free, and it transitions into an apprenticeship.
There are a few trade programs in Alaska, but on the whole, there is an emphasis on apprenticeships.
Alaska Professional License Search
The Alaskan Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development maintains a database of contractor licenses. If you’re looking for a plumber to study under or talk to, look there first.
See general contractor licensing information in nearby states
- Washington contractors license
- Oregon contractors license
- Montana contractors license
- Idaho contractors license
- General contractors license information for all states
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