How to Become a Plumber in California

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California has set some requirements that each Plumbing Contractor must meet.

You should know that possessing the experience of a journeyman is not enough to allow someone to work legally as an independent plumbing contractor in this state.

So, what you need to do is to register as a journeyman with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) if you want to be allowed to bid and work on projects of $500 or less.

On the other hand, for more expensive contracting a plumbing contractor’s license, classified as a C-36 license is obligatory.

That means that you need to become a licensed contractor in California, as well as take any required plumbing specific testing.

This is mandatory if you wish to be a self-employed plumber or run a plumbing business.

California Plumbing License Reciprocity

If you are wondering whether you will be able to make use of your license in California and you are coming from some other state, you would be glad to know that California does have reciprocity agreements with four states: Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, and Utah.

Those who possess a contractor’s license from one of these states are not automatically qualified to work in California but they can skip the trade skills portion of the examination required to attain a C-36 license.

Licenses from other states must currently be in good standing for at least five years, and they must be the specific licenses that appear on the CSLB list of reciprocal licenses.

However, there are some additional requirements that applicants must meet.

They need to pay the fees for other portions of the exam, such as the law and business section.

Fees could include a $330 application fee, a $200 license fee, and a fingerprinting fee.

California Plumbing License Requirements

California does not provide varied levels of license for contractors.

This means that a journeyman can make contracts on jobs up to $500.

Those who want to do business as a plumbing contractor must acquire a C-36 license.

A person with a journeyman level experience in California is the one who has completed an approved apprenticeship program and/or has significant work experience that qualifies him/her to perform work without supervision.

The licensing requirements generally do not apply for employees, but only for those wishing to become contractors themselves or wishing to start a business.

After completing your four years as a Journeyman, you can apply for a California Contractor’s license, a C-36 classification and the whole process begins with the contractor’s license application, the submission of any documentation to support your previous work experiences, such as copies of W-2 forms, certifications from your apprenticeship program, and a diploma from your trade school and a $480 fee.

Then, you must schedule a business and law exam through the CSLB website.

According to the CSLB website, the minimum experience required to apply for a contractor’s license is as follows:

“The contractor or other person who will act as the qualifying individual must have had, within the ten years immediately before the filing of the application, at least four full years of experience at a journey-level, or as a foreman, supervisor, or contractor in the classification for which he or she is applying. The experience claimed on the application must be verifiable and individuals who have knowledge of the experience must certify the accuracy of the experience information provided by the applicant.”

The California Department of Consumer Affairs has a license search feature that can be used to check the public status of a particular license.

Plumbing Journeyman Exam

We cannot exactly state the necessary score which is required so as to pass the exam, but once you finish it, you will be told whether they pass or fail.

You should devote some time to the preparation for this exam by reviewing the publicly posted study guide for more information regarding the specifics of the exam.

Make sure to use CSLB provided resources to prepare for the exam.

Plumbing Apprenticeship Requirements

Being that the California Department of Industrial relations partners with a number of colleges and companies that provide accredited apprenticeship programs to people who wish to make their start in a trade career, you can start your search for plumbing apprenticeship programs that are delivered in partnership with the state so as to get the best possible education and training.

You will get familiar with requirements, examinations, and fees in the description of each program.

Plumbing Trade Schools in California

California has hundreds of trade schools.

If you are sure that plumbing is your future career, it is good to know that many of the plumbing apprenticeship programs only require GED diplomas, so no further education is necessary to begin training as an apprentice.

It is worth mentioning that state-approved apprenticeship programs may or may not be offered by a trade school or college.

Most plumbing trade school programs take two years to be completed and then, you can work as an apprentice for another two to four years and apply to become a Journeyman plumber.

Every trade school or community college offers financial aid options for those who cannot afford to pay the tuition.

Some courses are available online.

Here are some of the best plumbing schools in California:

  • Bakersfield College
  • Central County Occupational College
  • Central County ROP
  • City College of San Francisco
  • College of San Mateo
  • East Los Angeles Occupational Center
  • Harbor Occupational Center
  • Institute for Business & Technology
  • LA Trade & Technical College
  • Modesto Junior College
  • National Institute of Technology
  • North Orange County ROP
  • PHCC Vocational School
  • San Diego City College

Insurance for Plumbers in California

It is worth mentioning that you will need public liability insurance as a plumber in California.

This insurance will provide coverage for any property damage or injury and protective gear is recommended on all jobs.

You also should get any immunization shots recommended by your doctor.

Salary

The average pay for a plumber in California is just over $26.00 an hour.

You can expect to work as a plumber up until your retirement age.

The average Plumber salary in California is $64,095.

Annual Salary Range:

$55K
$64K
$73K

Average Salary of Plumbers in California

City NameSalary
Los Angeles$64,595
San Diego$61,695
San Jose$72,014
San Francisco$71,899
Long Beach$63,981
Fresno$57,496
Sacramento$62,024
Oakland$67,997
Santa Ana$64,038
Anaheim$64,124
* Salary information last updated 2020

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