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Can a Felon Get a Plumber License?

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In considering the type of work you might find after your release from prison, you might consider a trade like plumbing. Of course, you must meet all the requirements, likely including a license.

Can a felon get a plumber license? Let’s answer that question here.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the following:

  • What Is a Plumber?
  • Requirements to Get a Plumber License
  • How Much Does a Plumber Earn?
  • Background Check?
  • Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?
  • Steps to Take

What Is a Plumber?

Plumbers install and repair plumbing and water pipes in residences and commercial buildings. 

A plumber deals with all aspects of the plumbing trade, including installing pipes and water lines, inspecting faulty systems, and replacing worn pipes and fixtures. They are often considered to be an expert when it comes to all things related to pipes and water systems.

They work at construction sites and often are called upon to deal with residential water issues, depending on which area of the plumbing trade they are in.

If you have experience as a pipefitter, you might have the basic skills needed to get a plumber license and find a job.

Requirements to Get a Plumber License

Typically, eligibility for a plumber license includes graduating from high school or having a GED. 

Among the steps to follow to become a plumber are to learn the basics of plumbing at a vocational school or possibly at a community college for this education.

Just because you complete some classroom work, that won’t make you a plumber. There are additional steps to take.

You will have to complete an apprenticeship, lasting four to five years and combining classroom education along with on-the-job training.

In most states, you will have to register as an apprentice before beginning an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship typically involves about 250 classroom hours and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training.

After completing that, you will be required to pass an exam to get your journeyman license. After working as a journeyman plumber, you will have to take another exam to become a master plumber.

If you pass the exam, you will be a full-fledged master plumber with a plumbing license.

Almost all states require a plumber to have a plumbing license except for a few, including:

  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wyoming

In those states, while you can become a master plumber, this is not mandatory to work as a plumber.

How Much Does a Plumber Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that as of 2018 more than 500,000 are employed as plumbers, which includes pipefitters and steamfitters. 

The average annual salary for a plumber is about $55,000.

If the construction industry continues to grow, there should be a steady increase in demand for this trade. By 2028, as many as 570,000 plumbers will likely be needed.

Background Check?

Of course, there’s a background check as part of getting a plumbing license.

Why would we expect anything different?

Just as with many other professional trades that often require a license, there are a number of similarities in the background check process.

This is not because there is a central agency that regulates all of these trades, but certain standards have been set that impact many trades in a similar manner, especially those that involve having a license.

Those are professional standards that have been developed and are maintained throughout many such trades and crossing the U.S. 

Background checks are an essential one.

There will be more than one background check required in the process of qualifying for a plumbing license.

The first would be for a plumbing training program for learning the basics of becoming a plumber.

Remember that typical vocational schools or community colleges are fairly lenient in their background check. 

They will likely focus on felonies within the past seven years. More serious felonies, such as violent or sexual offenses could work against you in passing the background check. 

Otherwise, you may have a good chance of passing, depending on the particular school involved.

Then, if you successfully complete your plumbing education, you will have to deal with the professional board in the state where you live for additional background checks. 

Based on the state, these background checks will be different, but they will likely share some similarities as professional trades.

It will depend on several factors as to whether or not you will be accepted for licensure based on your criminal history.

Generally, state trade licensing boards consider many factors like the nature of the crime and how serious it was. 

It also makes a difference as to how the crime is related to plumbing and whether or not that license could give you an opportunity to commit a similar crime.

These factors are also important regarding your criminal history:

  • Extent and nature of your past criminal activity
  • Age at which you committed a crime
  • Amount of time since your last crime
  • Your work history 
  • Conduct since your conviction
  • Evidence of rehabilitation
  • Letters of recommendation

That’s a lot to think about.

However, remember that as you progress through the licensing steps, each background check should become a little easier to pass. Of course you will need to remain crime free and live honestly. 

Passing each of these steps will involve a lot of time and work so that achieving each phase means it will be a longer and longer time since your conviction. 

It will take you several years to complete the guidelines for becoming a master plumber and achieving a license, if you reside in a state that requires you to be licensed as a plumber. 

Your conviction will still be there, but you could pass the seven-year mark since your conviction and completion of your sentence.

Then there will be the challenge of passing a background check to get a job as a plumber. By then, you should be up to the task.

Seeking work from a smaller company as a plumber could give you a better chance of passing an employer background check.

Does the Type of Felony Make a Difference?

Yes, the type of felony does make a difference.

The exact requirements for a plumbing license differ somewhat depending on the state. Typically, state regulations indicate that specific convictions are not eligible for licensing. 

These include offenses: 

  • Involving fraud or deceptive trade practices 
  • Against children or a sexual crime 
  • Against property like theft or burglary 
  • Involving homicide, kidnapping, or assault 

Steps to Take

You must be honest about your background if you want to get a plumbing license. Lying about your criminal history could jeopardize your chances.

You could run a background check on yourself to see what a plumbing program or a state licensing board would find if they did a background check on you. To give yourself the best chance at a plumbing license, it would help to have your record expunged. That way you could honestly state on an application that you have not been convicted of a felony.

You have made many mistakes in your past, but you don’t have to be defined by them. What is true is that you are defined by how you deal with those mistakes.

Don’t get discouraged and give up if you really want a plumbing license.

You can live an honest lifestyle and get a plumbing license.

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, and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Get a Plumber License?”

  1. Thank you so much for this! My husband has been incarcerated since he was 17 for 22 years for a failed assault robbery of a gas station with 2 gun specs. He got his GED, did many college courses and is Biochemical/HAZMAT & OSHA certified. He is getting out this Fall and wants to become a plumber, so I’m trying to get as much information as I can before that. This really helped!

    Reply

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