Can a Felon Get a Plumber License? -
Finding Employment Legal Issues

Can a Felon Get a Plumber License?

Can a Felon Get a Plumber License

Felons may think no one will hire them after serving their sentence, but there are resources available. Many times, it takes learning a new trade or starting a different career.

For those with experience in plumbing work, becoming a plumber is a possibility. This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can get a plumber license.

  • What is a Plumber?
  • What is a Professional License?
  • What is Required to Get a Plumber License?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action

What is a Plumber?

Plumbers install and repair plumbing fixtures and water pipes in homes and buildings. They also install sinks, toilets, and showers along with dishwashers and water heaters. They must study building plans and determine material requirements and pipe locations.

A plumber:

  • Measures, bends, cuts, and threads pipes
  • Installs pipes and waterlines
  • Inspects faulty systems and appliances
  • Replaces worn pipes and fixtures

What is a Professional License?

A license is issued by a state agency to practice a profession. It’s required to call oneself a licensed professional. Some states have a single license and some have a level system. Both plumbing licenses and requirements vary from state to state.

Licensing can be viewed as mandatory certifications. Under a licensure system, states define the practice of a profession and stipulate that these tasks may be legally performed only by those who are licensed.

A certification, on the other hand, is typically a voluntary process, although certification can be mandatory or required in certain states.

Certification is often provided by a private organization for the purpose of providing the public protection. Those individuals who have successfully met all requirements for the credential and demonstrated their abilities prove they can perform their profession competently.

A license or certification shows that someone has specific knowledge or skill necessary to do a job.  Typically, these types of credentials are attained after completing educational requirements. Often, practical experience through an internship, residency, or on-the-job training is also included.

Earning a license or certification involves meeting standards and typically includes passing an exam. A license and certification are usually valid for a certain term and then must be renewed. An employer may require either a license or certification.

Licenses are legally required by the government to work in occupation while certification is not. Here’s a quick breakdown of the main differences between a license and a certification:

A license:

  • Is awarded by a government licensing agency
  • Gives some legal authority to work in an occupation
  • Requires meeting certain criteria such as having a degree or passing a state-administered exam


  • Is awarded by a professional organization or a non-government office
  • Is not legally required to work in an occupation
  • Requires demonstrating competence to do a specific job through some type of examination process

In most states, a license is required to work as a plumber. Certifications will help someone pursue more job opportunities and get paid more.

What is Required to Get a Plumber License?

There are a number of steps to follow to become a plumber. First, someone must graduate from high school or get a GED. Then, he or she can take plumbing courses at a vocational school to learn the basics.

Plumbers need to complete an apprenticeship that lasts four to five years and combines classroom education with on-the-job training. The majority of apprenticeships are basically paid learning experiences managed by a plumbing union.

In most states, an apprentice license must be acquired before beginning an apprenticeship. Requirements for an apprenticeship typically include 250 classroom hours and as many as 2000 hours of on-the-job training.

Once the apprenticeship is completed and an exam is passed, a journeyman license will be granted.  After gaining experience as a journeyman plumber, another exam will make someone a master plumber.

An Opportunity for Felons?

While the requirements for a plumber license vary somewhat depending on the state, most state regulations indicate specific factors. These will be considered as to whether or not a crime relates to the occupation of a plumber and include:

  • Nature and seriousness of the crime
  • Relationship of the crime to the purposes of plumbing installation or inspections
  • Extent to which a plumbing license might offer for further criminal activity
  • Relationship of the crime to the duties and responsibilities of a licensed plumber
  • Extent and nature of past criminal activity
  • Age when the felony was committed
  • Amount of time since last criminal activity
  • Amount of time since release from incarceration
  • Conduct and work history before and after the conviction
  • Evidence of rehabilitation
  • Other evidence of fitness, including letters of recommendation from law enforcement officials and employers

These factors are considered by the state board to decide about each applicant. Contacting that agency will offer the necessary clarification.

To be successful in this pursuit, it’s essential for felons to be honest about their background. If a felony is discovered that has not been reported, this is considered fraud and may result in going back to prison.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities for felons who need them to show fitness to work as a plumber.

For many felons, having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a plumber license.

Recommended Action

It’s a significant challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon that wants to get a plumbing license. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding in getting his or her plumbing license.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can also make a huge difference.

A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We’re not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a plumbing license with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

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