Every state in the U.S. has its own requirements for contractors, and the territory of Washington, D.C. is no exception. General contractors in the area must adhere to certain regulations, but requirements can differ across different professions and specializations.
If you want to become a journeyman plumbing contractor in the District of Columbia, you’ll need to meet requirements regarding experience and education, then apply through the D.C. Board of Industrial Trades. If you don’t yet have the experience to do so, you must apply as an apprentice, then earn the necessary practical experience. Follow along to learn more about the specifics of this process.
D.C. Plumbing License Reciprocity
If you are already licensed as a journeyman, or master in another state, you will want to leverage that license to do plumbing contract work in the District of Columbia. While the territory does not necessarily have a reciprocity agreement for plumbers from other areas, there are stipulations that may allow you to bypass certain requirements, such as the journeyman exam. D.C. law states that:
The Board shall accept, in lieu of examination and (other) requirements, a certificate from a national certifying organization certifying that the applicant:
(A) Has completed the organization’s apprenticeship program;
(B) Has passed the organization’s required examination;
(C) Is designated by that organization as a journeyman plumber … ; and
(D) Has not been disciplined or otherwise disqualified by the organization.
While there are no direct reciprocity agreements in place, you may be eligible to do plumbing work in the area if you’ve already been certified as a journeyman plumber and are in good standing with a nationally recognized trade organization, non-union sponsor, or registered labor union.
Washington, D.C. Plumbing Journeyman License Requirements
Interested in doing contract work as a plumber in D.C.? Here’s a handy sheet to guide you through the process. You’ll need to apply for a plumbing journeyman license online. You’ll want to register as a new user, then follow the directions to complete your application. If you have any questions during this process, you can contact a customer service representative at (866) 270-9817.
Note that, in order to complete the application, you’ll need:
- A 2×2 passport-style photo of yourself.
- A form of government-issued identification, such as your driver’s license.
- A debit or credit card to pay any necessary fees. The application fee is $110.00, though you may have to pay more if you are required to take the journeyman plumber exam. The local exam costs $25.
As you’ll see in the doc above, if you want to apply to become a journeyman plumber in this area, there are some key steps you’ll need to complete. In order to become a journeyman plumber — as laid out in Washington, D.C. law — applicants must have:
- Worked as an apprentice plumber for 8,000 hours over at least four years.
- A degree in mechanical engineering from an accredited institution OR two years of hands-on experience as a plumber, as verified by a licensed master plumber.
Alternatively, if an applicant has a combination of education and practical experience that the board can deem equivalent to these requirements, an individual may be eligible to become a journeyman plumber.
Apprenticeships and trade schools (more on these below) can help you get the experience needed to meet these requirements. Completing an apprenticeship training program can make you eligible to become a journeyman plumber — no examination required. You need a Certificate of Completion, a Formal Designation Certificate, or transcripts to apply by waiver.
If you have four years of experience but have not completed a training program, you can still become a journeyman by completing the journeyman plumber exam at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. If you apply by exam, you’ll need your W2s, tax records, and an employment verification letter.
Plumbing Journeyman Exam
As noted above, the journeyman exam is only required of those who have not completed an applicable apprenticeship training program. The computer-based exam is administered at:
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1100 4th St. SW
Washington, DC 20024
You can apply to take the journeyman exam online or by calling (800) 733-9267, then selecting option 1, and then selecting option 2.
If you fail the exam, you’ll have to wait three business days before arranging to retake it. Remember that you’ll be able to use the International Plumbing Code as a reference material during the exam.
Plumbing Apprenticeship Requirements
You don’t need any experience to become an apprentice in Washington, D.C. You can apply for an apprentice license online. Just as with a journeyman application, you must register as a new user to apply. The fee to apply is $110, which can be paid via debit or credit card. Be sure to have an employment verification letter or proof of your enrollment in apprenticeship program to complete the application process.
This is how you can be licensed to be an apprentice plumber in the District of Columbia — but where can you actually find an apprenticeship? The path forward as a plumber requires plenty of hands-on experience. You can earn this through an apprentice job or by enrolling at a trade school.
Washington, D.C. Plumbing Apprentice Jobs
Seeking out an apprenticeship is a lot like searching for any other job opportunity. In fact, many apprenticeships can be found on job search sites like Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder.
Good places to start are the Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Finder and the D.C. Department of Employment Services. When you find an opportunity that interests you, you’ll need to apply, demonstrating your qualifications and passion for the industry. Here you can find a list of non-union apprenticeship sponsors and a list of union apprenticeship sponsors.
The latter could be a wise option, depending on your needs. You may want to find an apprenticeship through a local union branch. These opportunities confer plenty of hands-on experience, paid employment, and new job opportunities after graduation. A couple notable examples include:
Plumbing Trade Schools in Washington, D.C.
While neighboring states Virginia and Maryland have a variety of community colleges and trade schools to give aspiring plumbers some structured learning and hands-on experience, there are very few in the District of Columbia with relevant programs.
One example is the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. Metro Washington Chapter. This organization offers comprehensive courses in plumbing that set you up for professional success. The prices for each course range from $2,400 to $4,900, depending on the course and your membership status.
Washington, D.C. Professional License Search
If you’re looking to validate a plumber’s license within the District of Columbia, check out the Board of Industrial Trades’ License Search tool. If you know the individual’s name, license type (i.e. whether they are an apprentice, journeyman, or master), and license number, you’ll be able to determine if they are licensed to do plumbing contract work in the area. It will also inform you of their license initial issue date and expiration date.
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