How to Get a Plumbing Contractor License in Ohio

Becoming a licensed plumbing contractor in Ohio allows you to legally perform commercial plumbing work in the state. The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB) issues state licenses to plumbers who want to operate their own contracting business after gaining sufficient experience.

This guide covers the steps, requirements, and costs for getting an Ohio plumbing contractor license. It also includes details on license renewal, reciprocity with other states, bond requirements, insurance needs, and licensing at the local level.

Ohio Plumbing Contractor License Types

There is one type of state-level plumbing contractor license issued in Ohio:

  • Commercial Plumbing Contractor – Allows you to operate a plumbing business and perform commercial plumbing work. Licensed under the OCILB.

Some Ohio cities and counties have additional licensing requirements for journeyman plumbers working under a licensed contractor. Be sure to check local regulations for the area where you plan to work.

Licensing Requirements

To qualify for an Ohio plumbing contractor license, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legally authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Have at least 5 years of experience as a plumber immediately prior to applying
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass the licensing exams
  • Carry a minimum $500,000 in contractor liability insurance
  • Pay all licensing fees

Experience Requirements

To sit for the plumbing contractor exam in Ohio, you need at least 5 years of experience working in the trade. This can be met by either:

  • Working as a plumber for 5 years immediately before applying. You’ll need to provide proof like W-2s, permits, and the license number of the contractor you worked under.
  • Being a registered engineer in Ohio for 3 years with experience in plumbing contracting.


There are two exams required for an Ohio plumbing contractor license:

  • Business and Law – 2 hour open book exam with 50 questions on business operations, regulations, safety, tax laws, etc.
  • Plumbing Trade – 4 hour open book exam with 100 questions on technical plumbing knowledge and code requirements.

You’ll need to score at least 70% on each exam to pass. The cost is $69 per exam section.

How to Apply

Follow these steps once you meet the experience requirements:

  1. Submit an exam application to the OCILB. Include documentation of your plumbing experience.
  2. Upon approval, complete a state and federal background check.
  3. Pass both licensing exams through PSI Exams.
  4. Apply for your license by submitting the exam results, application, proof of insurance, and fees to the OCILB.
  5. Receive your Ohio Commercial Plumbing Contractor license.

You can expect it to take 1-2 months to get your license after passing the exams. All communications will be through mail.

Application Fees

You’ll need to pay these fees during the Ohio plumbing contractor licensing process:

  • Exam Application Fee: $25
  • Exam Fees: $138 ($69 x 2 sections)
  • License Application Fee: $25

The total fees are approximately $188.

Maintaining the License

Once licensed, you must renew your Ohio plumbing contractor license each year. Requirements include:

  • 10 hours of continuing education annually, with at least 5 hours in-person
  • $60 annual renewal fee
  • $500,000 contractor liability insurance

The license can also be renewed every 3 years for $180. You still need to complete the continuing education each year.

Plumber License Reciprocity in Ohio

Ohio has reciprocal licensing agreements for commercial plumbers with these states:

  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia

With reciprocity, you may be able to get an Ohio plumbing contractor license without taking the state exam. Check with the OCILB for specific requirements.

License Bond Requirements in Ohio

Ohio requires plumbers to obtain surety bonds based on the location and type of work:

  • Cincinnati – $10,000 street contractor bond
  • Cleveland – $25,000 plumbing contractor bond
  • Columbus – $10,000 plumbing permit bond
  • Dayton – $10,000 plumbing contractor bond

These bonds can often be obtained instantly online starting at $100 for a 1-year term. They ensure compliance with regulations and provide consumer protection.

Insurance Needs for Plumbers in Ohio

At minimum, plumbers in Ohio need these insurance policies:

  • Contractor Liability Insurance – All plumbers need at least $500,000 in coverage to get a state license. Higher limits are recommended.
  • Workers’ Compensation – Required if you have employees. Helps cover medical and lost wage costs for job-related injuries.
  • Business Auto Insurance – Necessary if using vehicles for work purposes. Protects against liability and damage claims.
  • E&O Insurance – Recommended for protection against financial loss from errors, omissions, or negligence.

Consult a commercial insurance broker to find the right coverages for your plumbing business. If you’re interested in learning more about the costs associated with plumbing in Ohio, feel free to explore our comprehensive Ohio Plumbing Insurance Guide & Quotes article.

Local Licensing

In addition to the state commercial license, many Ohio municipalities require registration or licensing for plumbers working in residential settings.

For example, Cleveland and Columbus require plumbers to register with the city. Cincinnati requires licensing for residential plumbers.

Be sure to check local regulations based on where you’ll be working. See the Ohio Municipal League directory for building department contacts.


Becoming a licensed plumbing contractor in Ohio allows you to legally perform commercial plumbing work and operate your own plumbing business.

The key steps are meeting the 5 year experience requirement, passing the exams, and maintaining insurance and continuing education. Ohio also offers license reciprocity with certain states.

Be sure to check additional local licensing regulations based on where you plan to work. With preparation and hard work, you can get licensed and start growing your plumbing contracting career in Ohio.