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New York Plumbing License: How to Get Certified as a Plumber in NY State

May 19, 2023 13 min. read

Having a plumbing license can help you earn more money and be more financially stable. If you want a job that pays well when you first start out and has lots of opportunities for advancement, then you might want to consider becoming a plumber, especially in New York.

Plumbers in NY earn an average salary of $56,986, which is 4% higher than the national average of $54,605.

Right now is a great time to pursue your plumbing license and start working towards a bright financial future.

In this guide, we’ll cover all you need to know about getting your New York plumbing license and getting started in this lucrative industry: 

If you’re serious about getting your New York plumbing license, make sure you bookmark this page. This way, you can return to this guide if you have any questions or are ready to start your own plumbing business in New York.

Do you need a license to do plumbing in New York?

If you want to work as a plumber in the state of New York, you must have a plumbing license. This is because the state wants to make sure that plumbers have the right training and expertise to do their job well and without putting anyone in danger.

New York differs from most states in that plumbing requirements and licenses are determined by cities and counties. There is no statewide licensing system, so you’ll need to check in with your local authority before you start the process of getting your plumbing license in NY.  

Here are the types of work that plumbers need licensing to do:

  • Install, repair, and maintain plumbing systems, including pipelines, fixtures, and appliances.
  • Install hot water systems, including water heaters, tankless heaters, and boilers.
  • Diagnose plumbing system problems and perform repairs as required.
  • Test plumbing systems to identify and locate leaks or other issues.
  • Install or repair gas piping systems and related appliances.

Without a plumbing license, you won’t be able to legally perform any plumbing work.

In 2020, a Uniform Building Code was passed in New York State to regulate plumbing requirements, ensuring a universal standard across the state. Although licensing procedures may vary, the quality of plumbing work must comply with the plumbing code.

The rigor of the licensing process to become a licensed master plumber will depend on the location in which you intend to work.

Types of plumbing licenses in New York

The type of license you need depends on the type of plumbing work you want to do and where you plan to do it. New York offers multiple licenses, so make sure you know which one is right for you. 

Here are a few examples of plumbing license types across the main cities in New York: 

New York City:

License TypeDescription
Journeyman Plumber LicenseLicense holders may work as employees under the supervision of a master plumber.
Master Plumber LicenseLicense holders may work as contractors, start their own plumbing business, or supervise and train other plumbers.

Buffalo:

License TypeDescription
Journeyman Plumber LicenseLicense holders may perform plumbing work and are allowed to install, maintain, and repair plumbing systems in residential and commercial buildings under the supervision of a master plumber. 
Master Plumber LicenseLicense holders may work independently without any supervision and can oversee the work of journeyman plumbers. They may design, plan, install, maintain, and repair plumbing systems in residential and commercial buildings. They may also obtain permits, inspect work sites, and ensure that all work meets local plumbing codes and regulations. 

Rochester:

License TypeDescription
Master Plumber license License holders may engage in plumbing and gas fitting and/or the business of contracting for the installation of such work.

Apprenticeships are a valuable way for individuals to learn a trade or skill while on the job. In New York state, the government provides many opportunities to pursue plumbing apprenticeships. These programs offer hands-on training and allow individuals to work alongside experienced professionals to learn the ropes of a particular trade.

New York plumbing license requirements

In order to obtain your plumbing license and start working, you need to meet all the requirements listed by the city, county, or municipality where you want to work. 

Here are the requirements for each type of license in some of the major cities in New York:

New York City:

License TypeRequirements
Journeyman Plumber License• Be at least 18 years old.
• Complete at least 10,000 hours of plumbing work experience.
• Be able to read, write and understand the English language.
• Be fit to perform the work authorized by the qualification/registration.
• Have good moral character. 
• Have at least five years of plumbing experience and at least one year of plumbing work in New York City. 
Master Plumber License• Be at least 18 years old.
• Be able to read, write and understand the English language.
• Complete at least 10,000 hours of plumbing work experience.
• Be fit to perform the work authorized by the qualification/registration.
• Have good moral character. 
• Have at least two years of practical experience as a Journeyman Plumber in New York City. 

Buffalo:

License TypeRequirements
Journeyman Plumber License• Complete at least 8,000 hours of plumbing work experience.
• Submit a background check.
• Write and pass a written journeyman examination. 
• Submit the application and pay the fee. 
Master Plumber License• Complete a four-year apprenticeship program or equivalent.
• Submit a background check.
• Supply proof of at least 12,000 hours of plumbing work experience.
• Write and pass a written master plumber examination. 
• Supply proof of general liability insurance coverage with a minimum of $100,000.
• Submit the application and pay the fee. at least 18 years old.
• Be able to read, write and understand the English language.
• Complete at least 10,000 hours of plumbing work experience.
• Be fit to perform the work authorized by the qualification/registration.
• Have good moral character. 
• Have at least two years of practical experience as a Journeyman Plumber in New York City. 

Rochester:

License TypeDescription
Master Plumber license • Complete a plumbing apprenticeship program.
• Gain experience working as a journeyman plumber.
• Write and pass a written master plumber examination. 
• Submit an application for a plumbing license to the Rochester Division of Mechanical Inspection along with proof of completing an approved apprenticeship program and journeyman experience.
• Obtain liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance.
Submit the application and pay the fee.

How do I get a plumbing license in New York?

As you can see, there are different licenses you need to get to become a fully licensed plumber in New York. 

In the state of New York, aspiring plumbers are required to start as supervised apprentices to gain practical experience and knowledge of plumbing systems. Apprenticeships help aspiring plumbers learn the trade under the guidance of experienced plumbers, ensuring that they’re prepared to handle the job’s demands. 

Now, let’s go over the steps you need to take to get the necessary licenses in each city. 

New York City

Journeyman Plumber License: 

  1. Have at least five years of full-time experience performing plumbing under the direct and continuing supervision of a licensed Master Plumber where at least one year of experience was in New York City.
  2. Complete a New York State registered training program with one year of experience in New York City.
  3. Complete and submit the application form and pay the fee. 

Master Plumber License:

  1. To become a licensed Master Plumber in New York City, you must meet one of the following requirements:
    1. Have at least seven years of experience in the planning, design, and installation of plumbing systems under the direct supervision of a licensed Master Plumber in the United States within the ten years before applying. Two of these years must be as a Department of Buildings’ registered Journeyman Plumber.
    2. Hold a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or appropriate engineering technology from a college or university registered by the New York State Department of Education, and at least five years of experience in the planning, design, and installation of plumbing systems under the direct supervision of a licensed Master Plumber in the United States within the seven years before applying. Two of these years must be in New York City.
    3. Be a New York State-licensed Registered Architect or Professional Engineer with at least three years of experience in the planning, design, and installation of plumbing systems in the United States under the supervision of a licensed Master Plumber within five years before applying. At least one of these years must be in New York City.
    4. Have at least seven years of experience working in the planning, design, and installation of plumbing systems under the direct supervision of a licensed Master Plumber in the United States within the ten years before applying. Two of these years must be as a Department of Buildings’ registered Journeyman Plumber. 
    5. Have experience as an employee of a government agency, private inspection agency, or other entity accepted by the Buildings Commissioner whose duties primarily involve inspecting plumbing work for compliance with the New York City Plumbing Code and/or other laws relating to the installation, alteration, or repair of plumbing systems. This experience, combined with your work experience, must equal at least seven years of work experience within the ten years before applying.
  2. Must pass a written and practical examination. 
  3. Complete and submit the application form and pay the fee. 

All forms and documents can be mailed to the following address: 

NYC Department of Buildings
Licensing & Exams Unit – Exams
280 Broadway, 1st Floor
New York, NY 10007

Buffalo

Journeyman Plumber License

  1. Complete and submit an application for a journeyman plumber license to the City of Buffalo Division of Licenses.
  2. Pass a journeyman plumber examination that tests your knowledge of the trade.
  3. Pay the fees.

Master Plumber License

  1. Complete and submit an application for a master plumber license to the City of Buffalo Division of Licenses.
  2. Pass a master plumber examination that tests your knowledge of the trade.
  3. Pay the fees.

All forms and documents can be mailed to the following address: 

Buffalo, New York 
65 Niagara Square
Room 312
Buffalo, NY 14202

Rochester

  1. Meet one of the following requirements:
    1. Complete an apprenticeship through a state- or federally-approved plumbing, apprenticeship program, and work in the plumbing, heating, or air-conditioning business for at least two additional years.
    2. Complete eight years of experience in one or more of the following occupations: plumbing, steam fitting, plumbing design, heating or air-conditioning, plumbing or heating or air conditioning estimating.
    3. Hold a current New York State license as a professional engineer or registered architect.
    4. Complete ten years’ experience as a maintenance person working in plumbing, heating, air-conditioning or refrigeration trades.
    5. Have any equivalent combination of training and experience, as approved by the Examining Board of Plumbers.
  2. Complete a plumbing apprenticeship program that involves classroom instruction and on-the-job training with a licensed plumber.
  3. Gain experience working as a journeyman plumber under the supervision of a licensed master plumber for a specific number of years.
  4. Pass a written exam to demonstrate knowledge of plumbing codes, regulations, and safety practices.
  5. Submit an application for a plumbing license to the Rochester Division of Mechanical Inspection along with proof of completing an approved apprenticeship program and journeyman experience.
  6. Obtain liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance, as required by law.
  7. Pay the necessary fees for the license, insurance, and any inspections required.

All forms and documents can be mailed to the following address: 

City Hall
30 Church St.
Rochester, NY 14614 

New York plumbing license exam

Since there is no single statewide licensing system for plumbers in New York, tests vary between cities and counties. Despite this, the content of these exams is usually quite similar, because every exam is based on the 2020 New York Plumbing Code.

Does New York reciprocate plumbing licenses?

New York State does not have a statewide reciprocal licensing agreement with any other state for plumbing licenses. This means that if you hold a plumbing license from another state, you cannot simply transfer it over to New York. 

However, some individual cities and counties in New York may have their own agreements with other states for reciprocal licensing. It is important to check with the specific city or county where you plan to work to see if they have any reciprocal licensing agreements in place.

How much is a plumbing license in New York?

The cost to become a plumber depends on the type of licenses you need. You can expect to pay between $50 and $1,950 for the application and exam fees. 

The cost of education and training will depend on the specific program you choose. There will also be exam fees associated with obtaining a plumbing license. In addition to exam fees, you may need to pay licensing and permit fees.

Plumbers must renew their licenses to continue working in their respective locations. These fees are due every two to three years, and the cost varies depending on the licensing authority in the area.

Most plumbers will need general liability insurance to protect against property damage and injuries on the job. The cost of insurance varies depending on coverage levels.

Here are the main licensing costs in each major city:

City LicenseCosts
New York CityJourneyman Plumber license• Application fee: $50
Master Plumber license• Background Investigation fee: $500.00
• License Issuance fee: $200.00
• Seal fee: $50.00
• Written Exam fee: $525.00 
• Practical Exam fee: $350
• Renewal fees: $325
BuffaloJourneyman + Master Plumber license • Application fee: $25
• Review fee: $50
RochesterMaster Plumber license • Base permit fee: $80
• License renewal fee: $120

New York plumbing license renewal

Renewing your license ensures that you have the most up-to-date knowledge and skills required to perform plumbing work safely and effectively and stays in compliance with the laws and regulations governing the plumbing industry. 

City LicenseCosts
New York CityJourneyman & Master Plumber licenseLicenses must be renewed every 3 years.
BuffaloJourneyman + Master Plumber license Licenses must be renewed every 2 years.
RochesterMaster Plumber license Licenses must be renewed every 2 years by December 31 of the expiring year.

What happens if my plumbing license expires? 

If you think your plumbing license has expired, stop performing all plumbing work and renew your license.

Working without a valid license will leave you subject to facing additional penalties, such as fines, disciplinary action, or license revocation. 

These penalties can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case, including the severity of the violation and the plumber’s prior history of compliance with licensing regulations.

New York City licenses can be renewed here

Buffalo licenses can be renewed here

Rochester licenses can be renewed here

Requirements for business owners

Getting your New York plumbing license is a great career move that will benefit your financial future. And if you’re looking to take it to the next level, you can start your own plumbing business. 

Starting your own plumbing business can be done with these 10 straightforward steps:

Now, you’re ready to start your plumbing career in New York! If you need to, refer back here for more information about plumbing licenses or business support. 

Does a plumbing license in New York increase your earning potential? 

Yes, a plumbing license in New York can increase your earning potential. On average, plumbers in New York start at ​​$56,986.

Having a license allows you to take on more complex projects and access higher-paying job opportunities. Additionally, with increased licensing credentials, you may be able to negotiate better rates with clients.

If you want to find out more about your earning potential in this lucrative industry, check out the Essential Plumber Salary Guide for 2023

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