How to Become a Licensed Plumber in Tennessee

Becoming a licensed plumber in Tennessee requires meeting education and experience requirements, passing exams, and applying for the appropriate license. This guide provides an overview of the different plumbing licenses available in Tennessee, steps to get licensed, license reciprocity, renewal requirements, and bond requirements.

Types of Plumbing Licenses in Tennessee

There are three main types of plumbing licenses in Tennessee:

  • Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) – Allows plumbing work on projects less than $25,000. Requires 1 year of experience.
  • Certified Mechanical Contractor – Plumbing (CMC-A) – Allows plumbing work on projects $25,000 and up. Requires 3 years experience.
  • Certified Mechanical Contractor (CMC) – Allows plumbing, HVAC, and other mechanical work on large projects. Requires 3 years experience.

Some counties and cities also require local journeyman plumber and master plumber licenses to perform plumbing work.

Eligibility Requirements for a Plumbing License

The main requirements to be eligible for a plumbing license in Tennessee include:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Meet experience requirements
    • LLP: 1 year of plumbing experience
    • CMC-A/CMC: 3 years of plumbing experience
  • Complete an approved training program or apprenticeship
  • Pass the required exams

Apprenticeships and technical college programs can satisfy the education and experience requirements. More details on training options are provided later in this guide.

Steps to Get a Plumbing License in Tennessee

Follow these main steps to get licensed as a plumber in Tennessee:

1. Gain the Required Experience

Gaining on-the-job experience is key requirement before getting licensed. Here are two paths to get the required experience:

  • Apprenticeship – Apprenticeships provide 4-5 years of supervised on-the-job training along with classroom education. This fully meets the experience requirement.
  • Technical College + Work Experience – Complete a 1 year plumbing program at a technical college, then work for a licensed plumber for 1-2 years.

2. Take and Pass the Required Exams

The required exams depend on the type of license.

  • For an LLP license, you only need to pass the LLP trade exam.
  • For a CMC-A or CMC license, you must pass the Business and Law exam and the CMC-A or CMC trade exam.

Both exams are administered by PSI Exams. See the Tennessee Contractor Licensing Board for details on scheduling exams.

3. Submit a License Application

After passing the required exams, you must submit a completed application to the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors.

  • The application fee is $75 for an LLP and $250 for a CMC-A or CMC.
  • Licensing typically takes 4-6 weeks after the board receives your application.

See the Board’s How to Become Licensed page for the full application process.

4. Maintain General Liability and Workers Comp Insurance

Licensed plumbers in Tennessee must maintain general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. Required coverage amounts depend on the plumbing license type. If you need information on the expenses linked with running your business, check out our detailed guide on Tennessee Plumbing Insurance Guide & Quotes.

Reciprocity for Tennessee Plumbing Licenses

Tennessee has license reciprocity agreements for plumbers with Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Plumbers licensed in these states can get licensed in Tennessee without taking the trade exam, but must still take the Business and Law exam.

See Tennessee’s License Reciprocity page for details.

Renewing a Tennessee Plumbing License

Tennessee plumbing licenses expire every two years and must be renewed:

  • LLP – $50 renewal fee
  • CMC-A/CMC – $200 renewal fee

There are no continuing education requirements for renewing a plumbing license in Tennessee.

See the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors for details on license renewal.

Plumbing License Bond Requirements in Tennessee

Licensed plumbers in Tennessee may need to obtain a surety bond depending on their license type:

  • LLP – No bond required. Can perform plumbing work less than $25,000.
  • CMC-A/CMC – $25,000+ projects require a license bond if the license has a cash-only financial statement:
    • $500,000 bond if license limit <= $1,500,000
    • $1,000,000 bond if license limit > $1,500,000
  • Home Improvement Contractors – Must obtain $10,000 license bond if project value >= $25,000

See Tennessee Contractor Bond Requirements for more details.

Finding a Plumbing Apprenticeship in Tennessee

Apprenticeships are a great way to gain experience required for plumbing licensure in Tennessee. Here are a few options:

Plumbing Technical College Programs in Tennessee

Many technical colleges and community colleges offer 1-2 year plumbing technology programs that help prepare students for a plumbing career and licensing exams:

See the Tennessee Higher Education Commission for a full list of approved TN plumbing programs.

Finding Work as a Plumber in Tennessee

As a licensed plumber in Tennessee, you’ll have opportunities to work for plumbing companies or run your own business.

The Tennessee Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors and Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association are good resources for finding plumbing job openings and networking opportunities within the state.

Major plumbing companies with operations in Tennessee include:

Many plumbing companies are often hiring due to demand. Getting licensed can make you a more attractive candidate.

In summary, becoming a licensed plumber in Tennessee involves meeting education and experience requirements, passing licensing exams, and applying for a state plumbing license. Key steps include completing an apprenticeship or college program, taking the required exams with PSI Exams, and submitting a license application to the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors. Licensed plumbers must also maintain liability insurance and may need to obtain a surety bond.