Angie's LIST Guide to
Hiring a Plumber

When you need a plumber, especially for an expensive project for which you have time to plan, make sure you hire one who is fully qualified and licensed in your state. A plumber may be an apprentice, a journeyman or a highly qualified master plumber, depending on the level of training and experience.


Hiring a qualified plumber to install a pressure reducing valve can help improve your water-using appliances last longer. (Photo courtesy of CK Mechanical)

Plumber Training

As with other skilled trades, plumbers have different levels of expertise and training. Requirements vary by state, and there could be additional competency requirements for plumbers in your area. As a general rule, these classifications are used to denote a plumber's training:

plumbing mess
Some plumbing jobs are more invasive than others. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Barrett S. of Shrewsbury, N.J.)

Apprentice plumber: Apprenticeship programs generally provide the most comprehensive training for novice plumbers. Either union locals and their affiliated companies or nonunion contractor organizations can administer this training. Apprenticeships typically consist of at least three to four years of paid, on-the-job training and some hours of related classroom instruction.

Journeyman plumber: Once the requirements of an apprenticeship are fulfilled, plumbers can apply for a journeyman license. Many workers in the plumbing industry are journeymen. Obtaining a journeyman's license requires a fee and the successful passing of an exam. Licenses vary by state, although not all areas require journeymen to be licensed. Instead, the amount of work they are able to perform is limited.

Master plumber: To become a master plumber, a person must have a certain number of years' experience as a journeyman plumber, in addition to an associate's degree or training at a vocational school. A master plumber must pass an exam that typically encompasses both written and practical knowledge. They must also complete continuing education hours every year. Oftentimes the business owner, a master plumber is subject to inspection and must make sure all journeyman plumbers working for his or her company are in compliance with plumbing regulations.

Checking Plumbing Licensing

Most states require plumbers to be licensed. Many state government websites allow local homeowners to search an online database of professional license holders or, at least, find a number to call in order to check the status of a plumber's license.

The National Contractor License Service maintains a list of each state's professional licensing agency where you can look up your state's licensing information. Check the list of state licensing agencies to find out whether a plumber is licensed in your state.

RELATED: Specialty Plumbers and How They Can Help

Questions to Ask Your Plumber

If you've got a major leak on Christmas Day and need a plumber, you may be glad to find anyone who will fix it. However, if you're planning a costly renovation, take the time to interview more than one plumber before picking one.

How to find a plumber

When you need a plumber, know how to find one who's licensed and qualified for the job.

When interviewing candidates, don't forget to ask about:

References: An experienced plumbing company should be able to give you the names of recent customers in your part of town.

Estimates: Get at least three written estimates from three different plumbers. Documentation is often the best ammunition should things go wrong.

Licensed, bonded and insured: Nearly every state in the U.S. requires plumbers to be licensed through a state professional licensing agency. Requirements vary on the need for professional licensing bonds, but all plumbers should have insurance to cover accidents that may happen while on your property.

Payment schedule: On a big job, especially a planned remodeling, the service provider may want the customer to pay 10 to 15 percent of the cost up front and 50 percent paid before the job is completed — especially if expensive materials need to be purchased for the project. Make sure you know what is expected. If you're suspicious, contact your state's professional licensing board or contracting board to ask about local standards. Many states set limits on what is allowed to be paid upfront.

Where the company is located: Be cautious of contractors who give you a post office box with no street address or use only an answering service. Never hire someone who comes unsolicited to your door and can’t provide you proof of qualifications — especially if he or she pressures you to hire fast and pay cash up front.


When hiring a plumbing company, hire one that offers 24/7 emergency service.

Please comment on lower level

need a plumber in Carlyss to unclog lines

I have a leak in my plumbing and no one can find from where it's coming

I need a plumber in Baton Rouge

Hi Deb, If you're looking for a Baton Rouge plumber, click here to get started:

i like the plumbing work

I came back from work and the patio faucet broke, the water that comes directly
form the street main line was all coming through that faucet...Saturday night
and nobody answers or wants to come....
My house is two years old we notice that the builder did a combination of cooper and pvc.... what is the code for the main line to the house?
just cooper? what about the inside of the house?
cooper or pvc?

codes do change from city to city but PVC should never be installed inside the foundation of a home, its just too fragile you could install it outside as a water main but not a good idea, in my opinion fusible HDPE is the best material for a water main from meter to home.

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