Each state has its own unique licensing requirements for plumbers, including the state of Ohio. Just like electricians and general contractors, there are no statewide licensing requirements for general or residential plumbers; all licensure occurs at the local level. Commercial plumbers, however, must be licensed by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB) before they can work as a plumber on commercial buildings or projects.
Even if you don’t intend to become a commercial plumber, you may still want to pursue an education at a trade school or enroll in a plumbing program to learn more about how to work in this profession. Formal training will also give you the option of working as a commercial plumber in the future, if that possibility interests you, or working as a plumber in another state without undergoing the entire certification process from the very beginning. Regardless of what stage you’re at in your plumbing career, here’s what you need to know about becoming a plumber in the state of Ohio:
Ohio Plumbing License Reciprocity
According to the Ohio Division of Industrial Compliance, the state of Ohio maintains reciprocity agreements for plumbers with the following three states:
- South Carolina: Also maintains reciprocity with electrical and HVAC contractors;
- Tennessee: Also maintains reciprocity with electrical, HVAC, hydronics, and refrigeration contractors;
- West Virginia: Also maintains reciprocity with electrical and HVAC contractors.
If you’re already licensed as an electrician in one of these states, you can begin working as a plumber in Ohio, or vice versa. However, reciprocity is only honored for contractors who have taken their state’s licensing exam. If you were grandfathered in — meaning that you have your plumbing license, but have not actually taken the exam — you will have to obtain the proper certifications in Ohio before you can begin working as a commercial plumber.
Ohio Journeyman Plumbing License Requirements
As defined by the OCILB, a contractor is an individual or company who “has responsibility for the means, method, and manner of construction, improvement, renovation, repair, or maintenance on a construction project with respect to one or more trades and who offers, identifies, advertises, or otherwise holds out or represents that the individual or contracting company is permitted or qualified to perform or have responsibility for the means, method, and manner of construction, improvement, renovation, repair, or maintenance with respect to one or more trades on a construction project.” They use this definition to refer to electrical, hydronics, HVAC, refrigeration, and plumbing contractors.
There are certain requirements set by the OCILB that you have to meet in order to apply for a plumbing contractor license. First, you must be approved by the OCILB to take the licensure exam. Upon approval, you must take and pass the exam. Then, you will be issued your license.
To begin the application process, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Be a citizen or legal resident of the United States;
- Never have been convicted of a crime or offense that prohibits licensure;
- Meet one of the following requirements:
- Work as a plumber for at least five years immediately prior to filing your licensing application;
- Work as a registered engineer in the state of Ohio in the construction of plumbing industry for at least three years immediately prior to filing your licensing application;
- Or have an acceptable amount of other experience as decided by the OCILB;
- Carry contractor liability coverage worth at least $500,000;
- And pay all applicable fees.
Your application needs to be completely filled out, notarized, and free or errors before submission; otherwise, there will likely be delays in the review process. Upon approval, you must successfully pass both a federal and state background check.
You must mail your completed test application packet, results from your background check, and a check or money order for $25 made out to “Treasurer State of Ohio” to this address:
Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Industrial Compliance
Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB)
6606 Tussing Road
P.O. Box 4009
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-9009
Upon approval of your application, you can take the plumbing licensure exam. Once you pass the exam, you will receive your state-issued commercial plumbing license.
You must renew your license annually after receiving it; you must pay the $60 renewal fee each year. You must also continue your education each year after obtaining your license. This can be done online, at the Ohio Department of Commerce Online Licensing website, for either four hours annually or twelve hours every three years. Finally, if your license expires or you fail to renew it in time, you must start the entire application process over again.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, all contractors, including plumbers, must register with the city before beginning work. To register, you must complete the Contractor Registration Checklist and pay the $130 registration fee. Upon completion, you can send your application materials to:
805 Central Ave., Suite 500
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Your license is only valid until your state license expires, meaning you will have to continually renew your city license as well.
The city of Columbus also requires plumbers to register before they can begin work. The requirements are largely the same for a city license as they are for a state-issued license, but you must also submit a separate application to the city. You must pay a non-refundable $185 application fee to:
City of Columbus
Department of Building and Zoning Services
111 N Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Additional application instructions can be found on the Contractor Licensing/Registration section of the City of Columbus website.
You must also receive a city-issued license to work as a plumber in Dayton, Ohio. To do so, you must complete the Journeyman Plumber License Examination Application or already possess a city-issued license from another locality in Ohio. If you do not already hold a local license, you will have to sit another licensing exam in Dayton. Upon passing, you will receive your city license.
The city of Toledo, Ohio also requires plumbers to obtain a locally-issued license before they can begin work. Similar to Dayton, you must complete an application to take the local plumbing contractor exam to receive your license. For journeyman plumbers, you must pay a $100 application fee when you submit your application materials to the city.
Plumbing Contractor Exam
In Ohio, the plumber licensing exam is actually two separate tests, both of which are offered by PSI Exams. The exams are open book, and you must get at least 70% of the questions right on both tests to receive your license.
The first is the Contractor’s Business and Law Examination. There are 50 questions, and five pre-test questions; you have two hours to complete this exam. It tests on the following areas:
- Business Org;
- Estimating and Bidding;
- Contract Management;
- Project Management;
- Insurance and Bonding;
- OSHA Record Keeping and Safety;
- Personnel Regulations;
- Financial Management;
- Tax Laws;
- Lien Laws.
The Plumbing Contractor Examination has 100 questions, with one pre-test item. You have four hours to complete it. You will be tested on the following subjects:
- General Knowledge;
- General Regulations;
- Plumbing Fixtures;
- Water Supply Systems;
- Drainage, Waste, and Sanitary Vents;
- Indirect Wastes;
- Roof Drain Piping;
- Specialty Plumbing;
- Isometric Analysis.
Upon passing both of these exams, you will receive your commercial plumbing license from the state. For additional information on testing locations, exam policies, and preparation tips, please see the Candidate Bulletin Information for OCILB on PSI’s website.
Plumber Apprenticeship Requirements
You aren’t required to become an apprentice before working as either a general or commercial plumber in Ohio. However, you may still want to consider finding an apprenticeship to learn the skills of the trade and make connections with other professionals in your area. In addition, working as a plumbing apprentice is a great way to get the experience required to apply for a state-issued commercial license, if that’s the career you’d like to pursue.
To become an apprentice in any trade in Ohio, you must apply directly to a registered ApprenticeOhio program. You can contact them directly for more information, or complete the I’m Interested in Becoming an Apprentice web form.
Ohio Plumbing Apprentice Jobs
There are several resources available that can be helpful in your search for a plumbing apprenticeship in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Family and Job Services maintains a list of apprenticeship opportunities for a variety of different trades, including plumbers. The OhioMeansJobs website also has a similar list of apprenticeship opportunities, but theirs is specific to plumbers rather than all trades. Both of these resources have union and nonunion programs included in their lists. Additionally, you can also use job searching websites, such as Glassdoor and Ziprecruiter, to find other opportunities that may be available in your area.
Plumbing Trade Schools in Ohio
Enrolling in a trade school or plumbing program will provide you with a combination of hands-on training and theoretical knowledge that you need to work as a plumber. Although formal education and certification may not be required to work as a general or residential plumber, it can be incredibly helpful for learning about the trade, especially if you aren’t already familiar with the ins and outs of plumbing. Luckily, there are several different plumbing educational programs throughout the state of Ohio:
- Ashland County West-Holmes Career Center
- Location: Ashland
- Tuition & Costs: Must contact for more information
- Contact Information:
- 1783 St. Rt. 60, Ashland, Ohio 44805
- Columbus State Community College
- Cuyahoga Community College
- Location: Cleaveland
- Tuition & Costs: $144.08 per credit hour
- Contact Information:
- 700 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
- Owens Community College
Ohio Professional License Search
To find a licensed commercial plumber in Ohio or verify someone’s credentials, you can always visit the eLicense Ohio Professional Licensure website. Their License Look-Up tool allows you to search for either an individual or a business. However, be sure to search with the correct information, as they note that “search criteria must match EXACTLY how the information is stored in the system.” Even a small spelling error can make it more difficult to find the person or business you’re searching for.
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