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So you’re interested in a plumbing career in Tennessee ? That’s great, this is the perfect guide for you!
A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for water, sewage, and drainage. Plumbers are responsible for ensuring that these systems are installed correctly and function properly. The work involved could be complicated and may impact the health and safety of the community,
In Tennessee, all plumbers are required to obtain a license from the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance through the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors.
There are mainly two types of plumbing licenses in Tennessee :
- Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP)
- Plumbing and Gas Piping Contractor (CMC-A)
To become a licensed plumber in Tennessee, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, hold a high school diploma, complete the plumbing education or apprenticeship program, and pass the Limited Licensed Plumber license. Applicant must also submit a license application and fees to the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, Board for Licensing Contractors.
In this guide, you will learn about the steps to obtaining a plumbing license in Tennessee. You will also find income updates, education programs, and FAQs on this profession.
So read on to learn more about what it takes to launch your plumbing career!
6 Steps to Become a Licensed Plumber in Tennessee
Step 1: Meet the eligibility requirement
You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or its equivalent GED.
As you can imagine, there will be lots of measuring and gauging while working in the field. Therefore, having good math skills such as geometry, algebra, and metric measurements is certainly an asset.
Also, a strong understanding of science is necessary to understand how plumbing systems work. Physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics are particularly important for those who want to enter this field.
Step 2: Take the plumbing-related training
Now, it’s time to equip yourself with the technical skills and knowledge required for the job.
The first way to do so is to obtain a formal education such as attending a training program at a vocational school, trade school, community college, or plumbing association. Community colleges usually offer certificate or diploma programs. This option may only take 12 months to complete.
The curriculum should cover topics such as draining, venting, pipe cutting & soldering, water heating systems, the local plumbing codes, and electrical basic.
The other path you may choose is by going through a formal apprenticeship program. This is where you’ll work as an entry-level worker under the supervision of a licensed plumber. Although you’ll learn about plumber’s day-to-day tasks and receive valuable on-the-job training, there is a downside that this route may take 4 to 5 years to complete.
Here are a few organizations which offer apprenticeship programs:
- UA Local 572 in Nashville,
- UA Local 43 in Chattanooga,
- UA Local 614 in Memphis
- Tennessee Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors in Knoxville
- Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Tennessee
Step 3: Pass the Tennessee Limited Licensed Plumber Exam
The Tennessee Limited Licensed Plumber Exam has 40 questions and the required passing score is at least 73%. You’ll have 135 minutes to write it. It is administered by the PSI Testing Services and there is an exam fee of $53.
Step 4: Apply for the Tennessee Limited Licensed Plumber License
Now that you’ve completed all the requirements, you can apply for a “Limited Licensed Plumber” license from the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors. To do so, you’ll submit a license application along with relevant documents. There’s a license fee of $75.
In the application, you would provide your personal info: education, technical courses, apprenticeship, experience, examination scores.
Since the Licensing Board has the responsibility to protect the public interest, they will also require you to disclose if there have been any disciplinary actions against your professional or trades license. You are also required to go through a background check.
If you have any questions, you may contact the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors:
- 500 James Robertson Pkwy. Nashville, TN 37243-1150
- Telephone: (615) 532-3989
- Email: Contractor.App@tn.gov
- Fax: (615) 532-2868
Step 5: Upgrade to a Contractor Plumber license
Having a LLP license is a good start, but it has the limitation where you can only work on projects under $25,000.
If you want to upgrade your career to the next level, you should consider upgrading to a “Plumbing and Gas Piping Contractor (CMC-A)” license. With this contractor plumber license, you can work on larger projects and demand a higher salary.
To become a CMC-A contractor plumber in Tennessee, an applicant:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Have at least 3 years of plumbing experience
- Pass the statewide trade exam and Business and Law exam
- Submit a Contractor’s License Application Package, which consists of:
- financial statement either reviewed or audited by a certified public accountant
- proof of general liability insurance
- workers’ compensation insurance
- Pay a $250 license fee
(Note: The CMC-A license doesn’t cover the HVAC component. If your work involves HVAC, you may consider getting the Full Mechanical Contractor (CMC) license)
Step 6: Renew the plumbing license
All Tennessee Plumbers must renew their licensees every two years. The renewal fee is $50 for Limited Licensed Plumber license and $200 for the Contractor license.
There’s no continuing education requirement at this time.
More info on the Tennessee Plumber Exams
Content of the Tennessee Plumber Exam
|Subject Area||Limited Licensed Plumber||Contractor (CMC-A)|
|General Knowledge and Math||5||14|
|General Requirements (not including Gas) – Administrative, Structural, Backflow, Materials and Supports, Joints and Connections, Storm Drains, Testing||4||10|
|Water Supply and Distribution||4||10|
|Fixtures, including Water Heaters||2||6|
|Drain, Waste, and Vent Systems, including Indirect and Special Waste||10||28|
|Traps, Cleanouts, and Interceptors||2||6|
|Gas Appliances and Piping||4||12|
Summary of Tennessee Plumber Exams
|Exam||# of Questions||Minimum passing score||Time||Exam fee|
|Limited Licensed||40||73%||135 minutes||$53|
FAQ on being a plumber in Tennessee
How much do plumbers make in Tennessee?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2021), plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters in Tennessee make an average yearly income of $53,600. The income range typically ranges between $40,320 and $61,490. Top earning Tennessee plumbers make over $76,600.
Your earning ability as a plumber is subjected to many variables such as your experience, licensing level, the type of properties you specialize, the company size, its location, and most importantly, the amount of effort you are willing to put into this career.
How long does it take to become a plumber in Tennessee?
It takes between one to three years to become a Limited Licensed plumber in Tennessee and three years to become a CMC-A contractor plumber. That is the minimum period to fulfill the work experience requirement. The duration would also depend on how long you complete the training or apprenticeship program, and pass the state-required exam.
How much does it cost to become a plumber in Tennessee?
It costs $128 and $303 to obtain a plumbing license in Tennessee, which includes the exam fee and license fee. The fees would depend on the plumbing license you’re pursuing. Here’s the breakdown:
- Limited Licensed Plumber license: ($75 license fee and $53 exam fee)
- CMC-A Contractor License: ($250 license fee and $53 exam fee)
In addition to the above, there will be other expenses such as tuition, E&O insurance, and plumbing equipment.
Some companies may pay or reimburse you if you work as their employee. But if you are running your own practice, these are the cost you need to account for yourself.
Which states have plumbing license reciprocity with Tennessee?
Tennessee has reciprocal agreements with Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
If you already hold a plumbing license in one of these states, you may be able to waive the trade exam. However, you still need to take the Business and Law Management exam.
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