The statistics of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) state that there are approximately 6,390 plumbers, pipe-fitters and steam-fitters in Tennessee. The state of Tennessee is located in the South-eastern region of the Unites States of America. With a population of 6,829,174, it is the 16th most populous state of the USA. The population of this state has been constantly growing. In 2019, Tennessee had a gross domestic product of $330.8 billion. It is one of the very few states to have an assets’ surplus. The poverty rate in Tennessee is higher than the national average. But a positive change has been noticed as many corporations are shifting their headquarters to this state. Tennessee has a very low-tax burden which makes it a good option for citizens to reside in. Reports state that Tennessee has abundant water resources to support population and economic growth in the years to come. In this context, it is very important to address infrastructure needs. This article will explore the career prospects of a plumber and provide a guide on how to become a plumber in Tennessee.

Plumbing in Tennesse


As mentioned above, there are about 6,390 people engaged in the plumbing, pipe-fitting and steam-fitting industry in Tennessee.  2.12 persons people out of every 1000 people are employed in this sector. The average annual salary of a plumber in Tennessee is $52,050. Wages typically start from $31,710 and can go up to approximately $71,450. On an average, apprentice plumbers enjoy wages of around $14.46 per hour. Wages keep increasing as and when plumbers gain more education and experience. Plumbers enjoy an average hourly wage of $21.99. Journeyman plumbers earn an hourly wage of $24.43. As plumbers gain more experience and level up, their salaries keep increasing. The cities of Knoxville, Kingsport and Chattanooga pay the highest wages to plumbers in the state of Tennessee. As the population keeps growing with the rising need to manage the water resources effectively, the demand for plumbing technicians will also increase.


It is recommended that all plumbers consider getting insurance coverages to protect themselves and their businesses from unnecessary expenditures. Several risks emerge due to the nature of tasks involved in plumbing. There are various types of insurance policies that plumbers could choose as per their requirements.

Insurance policy

In Tennessee, it is mandatory to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance for all plumbers working with one or more employees. It offers coverage against the medical costs of workers who get injured while at work.

The monetary limit on the contractor’s license will dictate the minimum of general liability insurance that one must carry. For example, if the monetary limit is $500,000, a plumbing contractor would need to provide a minimum coverage of $100,000. 

One could also consider getting the general liability coverage that offers all round protection and the commercial auto insurance to protect the vehicles that are used for commercial purposes.


  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • High School or GED Certificate
  • College Degree or Vocational Courses (optional)
  • Complete an apprenticeship
  • Pass the Licensing Tests

Provided here is a step by step guide on how to become a plumber in Tennessee.

One must be at least 18 years of age and must have a high school GED or diploma in order to apply for an apprenticeship and become a plumber in Tennessee. A vocational degree in plumbing is optional. However, such courses are in high demand today as they could offer the same training as apprenticeship programs. A number of colleges offer certificate courses in plumbing.

Plumber cartoon


The first step to get a license is to complete an apprenticeship training program. These are earn while you learn programs that go on for about 4-5 years. These are offered by local unions, professional plumbing companies etc.

After completing the apprenticeship, one can work without a license as long as they are employed by a plumber or contractor who is licensed by the state. After gaining the required hands-on experience, the next step is to apply for the plumbing license.


there are two kinds of plumbing licensed in this state

  • Limited Licensed Plumber / LLP
  • Mechanical Plumbing Contractor License/CMC-A

The type of license required depends on the monetary value of the work performed.


How to become an LLP in Tennessee

If the monetary value of the work being performed is under $25,000 then one can work as a limited licensed plumber. One must show proof of one year of work experience before applying to become an LLP. They must pay a fee of $75. Candidates must also take an exam which is open-book and consists of 40 questions, covering multiple topics.  A score of 73% is required to pass the exam. The examination fee is $57. Individuals and not firms, apply for LLPs.

Different counties have different licensing requirements and even different licensing exams which must be checked before applying.

How to become a mechanical plumbing contractor

If the monetary value of the work being performed is over $25,000 or must apply for a CMC-A. This type of license is issued to entities and corporations. One must show proof of three years of work experience before applying for this license. The application fee is $250. One also has to pass the exam with a score of 73% or higher. It is an open book exam consisting of 110 questions. The examination fee is $114. It consists of two portions – one on trade knowledge and the other on business and law.

A plumber at work

For this kind of license, candidates must also attach a letter of reference. They must submit a financial statement which will enable the licensing board to assign a monetary value to the license. Candidates applying for CMC-A license must show proof of general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

Having gained their plumbing license, plumbers in Tennessee can perform all types of plumbing work including gas piping, installing irrigation systems, utility connections etc.

A plumbing license in Tennessee must be renewed every 2 years, the cost of which is $200. There is no continuing education requirement for license renewal.


As mentioned above, vocational courses are not mandatory but could be a substitute for apprenticeship programs. These formal educational courses offered theoretical as well as practical training to prospective plumbers. These courses add substantial weight to their resumes and could be beneficial while applying for the plumbing license. It also helps plumbers in gaining instant employment in this field. This later adds on to their work experience which is necessary for acquiring a plumbing license in this state. This section of the article will provide a list of some of the best plumbing schools in Tennessee.

Plumbing training
  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Knoxville – offers a full-time certificate course in plumbing and pipe-fitting technology. The course duration is 12 months. Students learn about pipe and valve installation, drawings, blueprint readings, soldering, use of tools etc. The total cost of tuition, books, supplies and other materials is about $5,300.
  • Total Tech LLC, Nashville – offers a 100-hour course on plumbing service protocols where students learn all about residential plumbing. Students are taught about the fundamentals of plumbing and also trained in advanced plumbing. It is a hands-on training course where students will have full access to all kinds of study materials and also attend practical sessions in high-tech labs.
  • Moore Tech College of Technology, Memphis – offers a one-year certificate course in plumbing. Night classes are conducted for this course. Students are trained in maintenance/repair, commercial plumbing fixtures, water heating and distribution systems, drain, waste, vent systems etc. The coursework includes lectures as well as hands-on lab work.
  • Tennessee Association of Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors, Knoxville – offers an online apprenticeship program where students learn the textbooks fundamentals of HVAC and plumbing trade. It is a 12-months program.
  • Memphis Plumbers JAC, Memphis – is a plumbing school that offers a plumbing apprenticeship program. Students must be 18 years of age, must have a High School or GED certificate and must have a valid driver’s license. Interested students can check the website for the course fee and other details.

There a number of other plumbing schools that interested students can look into. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every industry in the world. It has brought about changes in the plumbing sector too. Most plumbing technicians are offering virtual advices and services. They have limited physical contact as far as possible. Service workers are also maintaining extra safety precautions while working in customers’ homes. Cancelled projects have taken a toll on plumbers. However, plumbing has been declared as an essential service. Owing to the nature of plumbing systems, emergencies can occur at any time. The demand for plumbing services therefore continues to remain high in the state of Tennessee.

The plumbing industry is prioritizing safety

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