How to Become a Licensed Plumber in North Carolina


Plumbing is a progressive industry that employs 1.5 million skilled tradesmen and -women in the United States. Aside from drain cleaning and the plumbing activities itself, the plumbing trade encompasses careers in field work, management, estimating, sales and design, as well as self employment and education. Those engaging in the plumbing business in North Carolina must become licensed, except those who make minor repairs to existing plumbing and heating systems.

Step 1:

Determine whether you wish to start your plumbing career by attending a trade school or working as an apprentice with a plumber or plumbing company. Licensure requires either 4,000 hours of documented on-the-job full-time experience, or half plus 2,000 hours of academic or technical training. Submit job applications to plumbing companies or apply to plumbing training programs. Be prepared to spend 2-5 years obtaining the necessary education and experience to become a plumber in North Carolina.

Step 2:

Choose the type of plumbing license you wish to pursue. Licensure is in North Carolina is granted by the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors ( . North Carolina plumbers are classified as either unrestricted (Class I) or restricted (Class II). Unrestricted plumbers may cover plumbing, heating and fire sprinkler work for all structures, while restricted plumbers may only cover single-family detached residential dwellings.

Step 3:

Once you have the requisite experience and education, apply for licensure by downloading and completing the application packet at Select the exam(s) you wish to pursue. North Carolina plumbers seeking licensure may sit for examinations in plumbing and/or heating, fuel piping, and fire sprinklers. Fuel piping and fire sprinkler licensure requires additional training, education and documentation. You will be required to purchase current plumbing code books, textbooks and related study materials in preparation of your examination(s).

Step 4:

Upon application approval, schedule and pay for the plumbing examination as outlined in your acceptance letter. Depending on the license you are pursing, examination times range from 1-5 hours. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the testing site at least 30 minutes early. If the location is far away or heavy traffic may be an issue, consider checking into a nearby hotel the night before. Reference materials are allowed in the exam.

Step 5: Obtain examination results either by computer or mail. A grade of 70% or better is required to pass the exam. Some states grade exams immediately upon completion and issue a license or denial letter. Other states mail your license or denial letter, which can take 6-8 weeks to receive.


Your application for licensure also depends on a clean criminal and financial background investigation. Don’t lie or omit pertinent information on your application.

Pay your annual license renewal fees on time to avoid license expiration and additional reinstatement fees or requirements, and document continuing education.


Work only for licensed and reputable plumbing contractors or companies. Unlicensed work is not documentable toward licensure.

Your license can be revoked or suspended for cause, including fraud, deceit, negligence, incompetency, misconduct of failure to comply with the statutes of the state board examiners.

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