Becoming a plumber in Washington entails requirements unique to the state. The general course of progression goes from trade school to trainee and finally to journeyman. General skills learned as a plumber include:
- Installing and repairing supply and distribution pipes;
- Installing and repairing drainage and vent pipes;
- Installing plumbing fixtures and traps.
Specialties within the field are available such as medical gas installation and residential installation. All requirements for licensure, general or specialty, must be approved by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Though some specialty fields require further certification.
Becoming a general contractor in Washington State entails similarities to other states, but with a few key differences. Contractors must distinguish themselves between general and specialty depending on what trade they are performing or supervising. In addition, different trades require different exams.
Washington State Plumbing License Reciprocity
Washington only has a reciprocity agreement with the state of Idaho. Plumbers from all other states are considered for reciprocity upon meeting these requirements:
- Filling out an application;
- Passing an exam, with a non-refundable fee of $151.90;
- Showing equivalent experience in another state or while serving in the military.
Applications must be sent online or by mail at least two weeks prior to the exam to give the L&I ample time to receive and process it. Due to limited seating availability, it is recommended to send in applications as early as possible.
Specialty Plumbing Contractors
Below are a few specialty fields of plumbing in Washington State, each of which holds their own requirements and fees:
Medical gas plumbing entails working with medical gas piping systems that carry chemicals such as oxygen and nitrogen. Medical gas plumbers typically work in hospitals or dentist offices. The following requirements must be met in order to receive certification:
- No less than 32 hours of classroom training on medical gas piping systems in an L&I approved course;
- Have an active journey level plumber certification;
- Provide a copy of an active National Inspection Testing and Certification Corporation (NITC) or Medical Equipment and Training Certification (METC) card;
- Apply for endorsement.
The residential plumber certification is limited to those working exclusively in domestic contexts and buildings, duplexes, and apartments no higher than three floors. The following requirement must be met in order to obtain certification:
- No less than 3 years of experience (6,000+ hours).
Pump & Irrigation and Domestic Well
Pump & irrigation plumbers work on equipment that acquires, stores, and moves water. Domestic well plumbers do essentially the same, but are restricted to pumps not exceeding 100 gallons per minute. This specialty field combines both plumbing and electrical work. Application fees vary depending on trade.
For pump & irrigation plumbers, these are the requirements:
- No less than 2 years (4,000+ hours) of experience;
- Electrical certification in Washington State.
For domestic well plumbers, these are the requirements:
- No less than 1 year (2,000+ hours) of experience;
- Electrical certification in Washington State.
Backflow plumbing is limited to the maintenance and repair of unwanted flows of water. Such plumbers can neither install nor replace backflow prevention systems. The following requirement must be met to obtain certification:
- An active Backflow Assembly Tester Certification (BAT), which is to be given by the Washington State Department of Health.
Washington State Plumbing Journeyman License Requirements
The journeyman title is received upon certification from the Washington State L&I. To obtain certification the following requirements must be met:
- No less than 4 years (8,000+ hours) of experience under the supervision of a licensed journey level plumber;
- No less than 2 (of those 4) years spent working in commercial or industrial installations;
- No less than 16 hours of classroom training.
Certification is granted upon passing the required exam and paying the specified application fee. For general contractors, certification must be renewed every other year. For specialty contractors who hold electronic certification, renewal is needed every three years. Renewal must be processed on or before the birthdate of the holder.
Plumbing Journeyman Exam
Affidavits of experience and continuing education requirements, both mentioned below, must be received prior to taking the plumber journeyman exam. Once approved, applications can be sent to the L&I for approval. Applications must be sent online or by mail at least two weeks prior to the exam date. The exam portion costs $151.90. Further costs may apply.
Plumbing Trainee Requirements
Aspiring plumbers begin as trainees, working under the direct supervision of either a journeyman or master plumber. Requirements are met through on the job training. Such requirements are included below:
- Be 16 or older;
- Apply for plumber trainee certification;
- Possess an electrical trainee card, if working on irrigation or pump devices;
- Take 8 hours of continuing education courses yearly;
- Meet a certain number of hours of experience.
Each trainee must keep a log of their supervised work in order to file affidavits of experience, a requirement specific to Washington State. Logs keep track of hours and supervision while applicants work their way towards certification. Separate affidavits must be sent for each supervisor that has been worked under.
Each person learning the plumber trade must receive a training certification from the L&I prior to beginning work. Certification must be renewed annually. An annual fee applies.
Washington State Plumbing Apprentice Jobs
Washington State has a lot of resources on obtaining an apprenticeship within the state. However, such apprenticeships often encompass all construction trades, including plumbing. Utilize the state’s job search to find an apprenticeship of your choosing.
Plumber Trade Schools in Washington State
Attending trade school is not a requirement for plumbers in the state of Washington. However, such schools can offer guidance for those who wish to take their first steps in the field. Below are a few options of plumbing-specific programs:
Renton Technical College
- Program: Property Maintenance for Multi-family Residences;
- Cost: $1,845.24 (in-state);
- Location: Renton, WA;
- Type of School: Career/Technical College.
Seattle Area Pipe Trades Education Center
- Program: Commercial or Residential Plumbing;
- Cost: TBD;
- Location: Renton, WA;
- Type of School: Apprenticeship Program.
Each field of plumbing requires that it’s participants complete continuing education courses. Being contingent upon field, the requirement period is varied. For more information visit the state’s page on continuing education.
Washington State Professional License Search
The Washington State L&I maintains a search directory for obtaining a professionally licensed contractor. Within the search are several contractors for plumbers, as well as electricians, builders, and more.
For More License and Career Guides
To find out how to become a Plumbing Contractor in another state, start here.
For information on other trades in Washington, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements:
- Washington General Contractor License Requirements
- How to Become an Electrician in Washington
- Washington Handyman License Guide
- Washington Welding Schools and Career Guide
- How to Get an HVAC License in Washington
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