I’ve been a master plumber ever since I was 19 years old. One of the stipulations for obtaining a master plumber’s license is that you have to wait until after you’re 18. Because I grew up in the plumbing trade and had my experience and schooling done well before then, I sat for the journeyman plumber’s test as soon as I could. You have to hold your journeyman’s license for one year before taking the master’s test, which is what I did. (Just a quick note: when I use the terms ‘journeyman’ or ‘tradesman’, these are the names used by the state for licensing purposes.) You’re required to have 4 years of practical on-the-job experience combined with 240 hours of class time. If you have more field experience, each additional year takes off 80 hours of class time.
One of the more attractive aspects of becoming a tradesman is the fact that there are fewer licensed tradesmen now than ever. It’s a tremendous opportunity for someone to get certified, especially now that many companies are willing to pay your way to obtain a license (like we do). If you were to get a certificate for something like nursing, you’d generally have to pay for the schooling yourself and do it on your own time.
In the state of Virginia, tradespeople can work under the company owner’s license or supervisor’s license. However, we view certification as an accomplishment and a credential that makes employees build confidence. We encourage all of our team members to get their license, even though they don’t need to obtain one to be in a service truck. When they go to a customer’s home they can say they are a licensed plumber or HVAC technician, which feels really good.
Many people might have been in the trade for 10 or 20 years but they just haven’t made it a priority to sit for the test. We have a gentleman here who just got his license after doing plumbing for 30 years. When you talk to him about it, you can tell that it’s an accomplishment in which he takes immense pride. I’m sure it’s something that he’s wanted for a while.
If you’re interested in getting into the industry, the first step is generally joining a company with an apprenticeship program. Then you’ll be able to build on-the-job training and get enrolled in classes. At our company we hire apprentices, put them through training, and give them the platform to learn the trade. Because we are accredited, any in-house training will go towards the 240 hours of class time. If you’re interested in learning more, just head over to WislerJobs.com. If you need help with your plumbing or HVAC, just give us a call at 540-483-9382.