Searching for a career in Florida that’s high in demand and has a decent paycheque? Look no further than becoming a licensed plumber.

With plumbing systems in every home and establishment, there’s always a need for plumbers. And, Florida happens to be an excellent place to dive into a plumbing career. From 2018 to 2028, the Florida plumbing industry is projected to see an 18% growth in employment, so there are plenty of career opportunities in this field. 

With some education, training, and testing, you’ll have your license and can start your plumbing career.

Not sure where to get started? We’ll cover everything you need to know:

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Do you need a license to be a plumber in Florida?

Yes, you need a plumbing contractor license in Florida to perform plumbing work. Licenses are issued by the Department of Business & Professional Regulation

Obtaining your plumbing contractor license allows you to install, maintain, repair, extend or design various plumbing fixtures such as: 

  • Sanitary drainage or storm drainage facilities
  • Venting systems, public or private water supply systems
  • Septic tanks, drainage and supply wells
  • Swimming pool piping
  • Irrigation systems
  • Solar heating water systems 

You’ll need a plumbing license to complete almost any kind of plumbing work, even work within your own home. According to the DBPR regulations, the only kind of plumbing work you’re allowed to do without a license is:

  • Install or repair irrigation systems that have a backflow preventer (however, you’re not allowed to connect those lines to a drinkable water supply )
  • Install an above-ground pool
  • Add a water filter onto a faucet 

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Types of plumbing licenses in Florida

Unlike some other states, Florida only has one plumbing contractor license type. Within this plumbing contractor license, there are two different variations of licenses: registered or certified. Which you’ll get depends on where you want to work. 

  • Registered plumbing contractor: can work within the local district where you received your license. Each local jurisdiction will have its own regulations pertaining to this license type.
  • Certified plumbing contractor: can work anywhere in the entire state of Florida.

Florida plumbing license requirements

The requirements needed to receive your license are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Obtain a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete the necessary education requirements
  • Pass the required exam for your chosen license type
  • Pay any applicable fees
  • Complete a background check
  • Demonstrate financial responsibility
  • Obtain the necessary insurance

If you’re interested in a registered contractor license, you’ll need to receive a competency card from your local city or county before applying. Check with your local jurisdiction on the requirements for receiving a competency card.

How do you get a Florida plumbing license?

In order to receive your Florida plumbing contractor license, you’ll need to complete a training and testing process. The process is somewhat different depending on the classification you’re applying for.

Certified contractor license

For certified contractor licenses, you’ll need to:

  • Get the necessary experience
  • Take the exam
  • Submit the application
  • Pay any applicable fees
  • Complete a background check and fingerprint scan with a Livescan Provider that’s been approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • Submit a credit report demonstrating financial responsibility (a minimum FICO credit score of 660 or a board-approved 14-hour financial responsibility course)
  • Obtain the necessary insurance

EXPERIENCE

To be eligible for your certified plumber contractor license, you’ll need an equivalent of 4 years of experience. This experience can be earned from an apprenticeship program, college, or on-the-job training. You can earn experience in the following ways:

  • 4-year construction-related degree from an accredited college (equivalent to 3 years experience) and 1 year of proven experience working in your category.
  • 1-year experience as a foreman and no less than 3 years of credits from accredited college-level courses.
  • 1-year experience as a worker, 1-year experience as a foreman, and 2 years of credits from accredited college-level courses.
  • 2 years experience as a worker, 1-year experience as a foreman, and 1 year of credits from accredited college-level courses.
  • 4 years experience as a worker or foreman, of which at least 1 year must have been as a foreman.

EXAMINATION

For the certified plumbing contractor license, you’ll need to take the Florida Plumbing Contractor General Trade exam and the Business and Financial management exam.  If you received a business construction baccalaureate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher from an accredited college, you’re exempt from taking the General Trade exam and will only need to take the Business and Financial exam.

APPLICATION

Applications can be submitted online or by mailApplications can be mailed to:

Department of Business and Professional Regulation
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783

Registered contractor license

For registered contractor licenses, you’ll need to:

  • Earn your local competency card (check with your local jurisdiction on specific regulations)
  • Submit the application that shows proof of local licensure
  • Pay any applicable fees
  • Complete a background check and fingerprint scan with a Livescan Provider that’s been approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • Submit a credit report demonstrating financial responsibility (a minimum FICO credit score of 660 or a board-approved 14-hour financial responsibility course)
  • Obtain the necessary insurance

APPLICATION

Applications can be submitted online or by mailApplications can be mailed to:

Department of Business and Professional Regulation
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783

Insurance

For either license class, you’ll need to get the necessary insurance with the following coverage:

  • General liability insurance: at least $100,000 coverage
  • Property damage insurance:  at least $25,000 coverage
  • Worker’s compensation: required minimum coverage amount dependant upon the number of employees

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Florida plumbing license exam

You’ll only need to take an exam if you’re applying for your certified plumbing contractor license. The registered contractor license doesn’t require an exam and instead requires proof of licensure from a local authority. 

For your certified plumbing contractor license, you’ll need to take two different exams: a General Trade exam and a Business and Financial exam. All testing is conducted by the DBPR in partnership with Professional Testing Inc

The General Trade exam is offered in person multiple times throughout the year in various locations. On the trade exam, you’ll be met with 110 questions and 5 isometric drawings. This portion of the exam will cover content topics such as:

  • plans and specifications comprehension and interpretation
  • codes comprehension and interpretation
  • basic mathematics
  • required components and installation techniques
  • maintenance techniques and analysis
  • OSHA regulations
  • isometric drawing and interpretation
  • tool and equipment use

All application forms and fees must be submitted to Professional Testing Inc. at least 30 days prior to your exam date.

The Business and Financial portion of the exam is offered via computer testing through Pearson VUE. Applicants will need to create an account in order to register for an exam. Within 72 hours after creating an account, you’ll be able to schedule your exam. This portion of the exam will cover content topics such as:

  • establishing a contracting business
  • managing administrative duties
  • managing trade operations
  • accounting functions
  • human resources
  • complying with government regulations

If you’d rather schedule your Business and Financial portion exam by phone you can contact (888) 204-6230.

You’ll need 70% on each section of the exam in order to earn a passing grade. To prepare for both of these exams, individuals can reference the Candidate Information Booklets offered by DBPR.

Reciprocity agreements with other states

Reciprocity agreements are arrangements made between states to allow one state’s license to be accepted in a different state. Florida does not have any reciprocity agreements with other states for plumbing licenses, so your plumbing contractor license will only be valid in Florida. 

Florida plumbing license costs

There are a couple of fees you can expect when getting your plumbing license. These costs vary slightly depending on which license classification you’re getting and the route you choose to fulfill your education requirements

EDUCATION FEES

  • Apprenticeship: programs range from $0-$1,000 
  • Trade schools: tuition can start as low as $600 per semester
  • Accredited college/university: tuition starts at about $15,000 per year

EXAMINATION FEES

  • Registration with Professional Testing: $135
  • General Trade exam: $80
  • Business and Financial exam: $80

APPLICATION FEES

  • Certified contractor application: from May 1 to Aug 31 of an even year the fee is $249. From Sept 1 to April 30 of an odd year, the fee is $149.
  • Registered contractor application: from May 1 to Aug 31 of an even year, the fee is $309. From Sept 1 to April 30 of an odd year, the fee is $209.
  • Background Check: varies based on which provider you choose. Usually, around $55-100

Do I need to renew my plumbing license? 

Yes, you need to renew your plumbing contractor license to keep it active. Licenses expire every other year. The year that your license expires depends on the type of license that you have.

To renew your license, you’ll need to complete the required continuing education and submit any renewal fees. The renewal fee for an active certified contractor license is $105 and the fee for a registered contractor license is $209.

To meet the continuing education requirement, you must complete 14 hours of relevant courses, which must include a minimum of 1 hour in each of the following courses:

  • specialized or advanced module
  • workplace safety
  • business practices
  • workers’ compensation
  • laws and rules

The remaining hours can be any board approved construction related course. To find an approved course for your continuing education, you can use the DBPR’s course search.

You also have the option to renew an inactive license. This is a great option if you’re not currently performing plumbing work but plan to in the future. When renewing an inactive license, you can choose to renew it as active to start performing plumbing work again, or you can choose to renew it as inactive if you don’t think you’ll be performing plumbing work within the next 2 years. 

You’ll only need to complete the continuing education requirement if you’re renewing your license as active, but you’ll still need to pay the renewal fee regardless of how you renew. The fees for renewing are as follows:

  • Certified contractor
    • Delinquent license active: $335
    • Delinquent license inactive: $110
    • Delinquent license active to inactive: $110 (and you must submit the BPR-LIC form)
    • Reactivate an inactive delinquent license: $360 (and you must submit the CILB11 form)
  • Registered Contractor
    • Delinquent license active: $443
    • Delinquent license inactive: $143
    • Delinquent license active to inactive: $143 
    • Reactivate an inactive delinquent license: $393

For both types of licenses, you’ll be notified by the DBPR when the renewal period is open. This renewal period usually opens 90-120 days before a license’s expiration date. Renewal applications can be submitted online via the DBPR online services portal. 

If you’d prefer to mail in your renewal, renewal forms can be sent to:

Department of Business and Professional Regulation
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783

What happens if my plumbing license expires? 

You’re required to have an active plumbing license to perform any plumbing work, so it’s important that you know your license’s expiration date. To check your license status, you can use the DBPR Online Services portal.

In the event that your plumbing license is expired, you must immediately stop any plumbing work. If you miss your renewal deadline and your license expires, your license will be classified as delinquent, and you’ll be required to pay a delinquency fee in addition to the renewal fee. If you miss the renewal deadline and have a delinquent license (either active or inactive), your license will be considered void. A void license cannot be reactivated, and you must reapply for a plumber’s license instead.

Requirements for business owners

To start a plumbing business, you’ll need to complete a few additional steps beyond receiving your license. ​​Only those with a contractor license will be able to operate a plumbing business. 

When starting a business, you’ll first need to establish the structure in which you’ll operate. You can choose from business structures such as an LLC, sole proprietor, or partnership. Once you decide on your business structure, you’ll need to choose a name and register your business with your local government. 

You’ll need to meet the following requirements to start up your business:

  • Get the necessary insurance: Business owners are required to obtain general liability, worker’s compensation, and commercial automobile insurance. The minimum coverage amount required depends on the monetary limit of your contractor’s license. This monetary amount is based on your financial statement.
  • Obtain the necessary permits: The specific permits you need will depend on the local jurisdiction of the location where the project will take place. Check with your local Building and Codes office for what specific permits you’ll need.

On average, it costs around $10,000 to get all the tools, equipment, and insurance needed to start a plumbing business. If needed, you can apply for a small business loan to help cover the initial costs. You can also check with your local government to see if any small business grants are available. 

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Does a plumbing license in Florida increase your earning potential? 

Yes, your plumbing contractor license increases your earning potential since you can take on bigger projects and therefore earn more money. The average plumber salary in Florida is $47,294. As you garner more experience, you increase your earning potential. After 3 years of experience, plumbers see a 24% salary increase. That’s an additional $8,453 straight into your pocket every year!

Our Essential Plumber Salary Guide shows how much your earning potential increases with experience, job title, and geographic location. Check it out if you’re wondering how much to pay your employees or considering starting a career in plumbing.

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