According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 9,810 people employed in the plumbing, pipe-fitting and steam-fitting Industry in Washington State. The state of Washington is situated in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. With more than 7.6 million residents, Washington is the 13th-most populous state of the USA. It is the 18th largest, one of wealthiest and socially liberal states of the country. With a gross state product of $569.449 billion in 2018, Washington has a relatively strong economy. As of 2020, the minimum wage in Washington is $13.50 per hour. The rate of unemployment in the state is 4.3%. Washington is among the few states which do not levy a personal income tax. At over 80%, the state has a significant amount of hydroelectric power generation. Washington also ranks among the 5 best environmentally states to live in. This article will focus on the career prospects of plumbers and provide a guide on how to become a plumber in Washington State.

Plumbing in Washington State


As mentioned above, there are 9,810 plumbers in Washington State. 2.96 people out of every 1,000 people are engaged in this trade. The average annual salary of a plumber in this state is $72,830. Wages typically start from $34,960 and go up to $108,070. On an average, plumbers earn $26.92 per hour. The average hourly wage of an apprentice plumber is $19.09 and that of a journeyman plumber is $35.98. the cities paying the highest wages to plumbers in Washington are Spokane, Tukwila and Everett.


Considering the nature of plumbing tasks, a plumber’s property and other assets may be exposed to risks. It is therefore recommended that plumbers consider getting insurance coverage to protect their businesses from unforeseen damages.

All plumbers in Washington State who wish to perform work must be registered with the Department of Labor and Industries, post a bond and carry proof of General Liability Insurance Coverage. This kind of insurance protects property, finance and other assets of a plumbing contractor’s business.

 Employers must also provide coverage to the employees working under them. Workers’ Compensation Insurance provides this kind of coverage. It offers protection against any bodily injury to employees caused while at work.

 There is another program called self-insurance where employers offer industrial insurance benefits directly to the injured worker. Employers must meet specific financial and safety standards in order to quality and participate in this program.

Plumbing businesses using vehicles could also look into carrying Commercia Auto Insurance policy.

Insurance for plumbers in Washington State is regulated by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).


  • Must be 16 years of age or above
  • Must have a high School or GED Certificate
  • College Degree or Vocational Courses (Optional)
  • Must have work experience as an apprentice plumber
  • Must pass the Licensing Tests

Provided below is a step-by-step guide on how to become a plumber in Washington State.

A plumber at work


In order to become a plumber, it is mandatory to enrol in an apprenticeship program. These programs can be found on the L&I website. An apprentice must have a valid Washington State Driver’s License. These programs prepare students for an on-the-job experience.

Unless an individual has an equivalent plumbing license from another state, it is mandatory to start off as a plumber trainee under a senior and certified plumber. These programs include classroom instructions as well as hands-on technical training

The first step to become a plumber trainee is to fill out an application form and pay a fee. A candidate must be at least 16 years of age. After the completion of this training and receiving the plumber trainee certificate, a candidate must keep the certificate active until the completion of the required number of supervised hours for becoming a licensed plumber. Plumber trainees must keep renewing the certificate every year until they are ready to take the plumbing license exam. A plumber must fulfil 8 hours of continuing education training every year for renewal.


There are two kinds of plumbing licenses in Washington State:

  • Journeyman plumber license
  • Specialty Plumber License

How to become a journeyman plumber:

Journey level plumbers can work in all sectors of the plumbing construction trade. In order to become a journey-level worker, a plumber must have completed 8,000 hours and a minimum of 4 years of work as a plumber trainee. At least half of these hours must be fulfilled doing work related to commercial and industrial plumbing installations.  Having fulfilled this requirement, plumbers need to pay a fee and apply for the written license examination. Securing a score of at least 70% is essential to pass the exam. After receiving the journey-level certificate, if a plumber wishes to work with medical gas piping systems, it is mandatory to take a 32-hour specialised training course approved by the DL&I and then take the appropriate exam.


How to become a specialty plumber:

A specialty plumbing license allows plumbers to work in residential single-family homes and small buildings, on drinking and irrigation pumping systems, and on backflow prevention assemblies. The requirements vary in accordance with the different types of specialty licenses. A score of 70% or higher is needed to pass the exam.

  • Specialty Residential Plumber – Must have 3 years and 6,000 hours of residential plumbing experience. This license allows plumbers to install, maintain and repair plumbing systems for single-family homes and in apartments not taller than 3 stories.
  • Specialty Pump and Irrigation Plumber – Must have 4,000 hours and 2 years of experience working on pumping systems that exceed 100 gallons per minute. This license allows plumbers to perform installation, maintenance, and repairs on equipment that moves, treats, or stores water fit for drinking or irrigation purposes. Electrical certification is also needed for this license.
  • Specialty Domestic Well Plumber – Must have at least 2,000 hours and 1 year of experience working on pumping systems not exceeding 100 gallons per minute. With this license, plumbers will be allowed to install, maintain, and repair equipment that acquires, treats, moves, or stores water fit for drinking or irrigation purposes using a pump not exceeding 100 gallons per minute. Electrical certification is required for this license as well.
  • Specialty Backflow Plumber – Plumbers must show an active Backflow Assembly Tester certificate. This certification is issued by the Washington State Department of Health. A backflow plumber’s license allows plumbers to maintain and repair existing backflow prevention assemblies within a building but does not let them install or replace these.

A journey level plumbing license in Washington State must be renewed every other year and requires proof of 16 continuing education hours. The pump and irrigation and domestic well specialty licenses need to be renewed every three years, and the renewal demands a proof of 24 continuing education hours. A medical gas endorsement requires renewal every other year, and so does the backflow certification. Evidence of a certain amount of brazing experience, plus up-to-date medical gas code knowledge is required for medical gas certificate renewal. A number of continuing education classes can be found online. The price for an 8-hour course usually ranges from $80 to $120. The fees for license renewals range from $45 to $121. However, if a license expires, the renewal cost may be twice the original fee.


a number of trade schools and colleges offer vocational courses and training programs on plumbing. These programs enhance a student’s qualifications and expand their knowledge base, therefore making it easier to gain employment. Although not mandatory, these avocational courses are immensely valuable and therefore recommended for plumbers. This section will list out some colleges offering plumbing courses in Washington State:

Vocational training in plumbing schools
  • Seattle Area Pipe Trades Education Centre, Renton – offers a number Continuing Education Courses that help plumbers to fulfil the required quota of hours for license renewal.
  • Construction Industry Training Council, Bellevue – is a non-profit organisation that offers a number of courses ranging from courses focusing on the plumbing industry to those dealing with plumbing codes.
  • The same courses are also offered at the CITC campus in Vancouver.
  • Northwest HVAC/R Association Training Centre, Spokane – offers a career diploma in plumbing. Students learn to read blueprints, install and repair plumbing and water heating systems, troubleshoot and acquire the potential and skills needed to start a plumbing business.
  • AnytimeCE, Brier – is an adult education school that offers a number of Continuing Education Courses for plumbers. These courses are conducted online and cover a diverse range of topics related to plumbing.
  •  PELLCO CEU, Spokane – offers a Continuing Education course on plumbing codes and specialty that aids plumbers with license renewal.

Currently, there is no greater concern for Washington State than protecting the health and safety of its citizens. Plumbers have been recognised as essential workers with the state trying to restrict most activities in order to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.  Under such circumstances, plumbers have come to play a very significant role. The state has also encouraged the residents to keep their household plumbing systems and infrastructure operational and in a good condition. Plumbers are also required to be proactive in maintaining the safety protocols. All plumbers must carry protective gear and must show the necessary documentation while entering homes. There is a great need for ensuring continuous access to healthy and clean water for drinking and hand washing at homes and hospitals. The demand for plumbing services has been growing and will continue to grow exponentially in the days to come.

Role of plumbers in ensuring the good health of citizens in Washington State

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