How to Get and Renew a Plumber’s License in Virginia

Becoming a licensed plumber in Virginia requires meeting education and experience requirements, passing exams, and maintaining your license through renewal. This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to know to get your plumber’s license in Virginia and keep it valid.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Virginia

To legally work as a plumber in Virginia, you must obtain a license from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Licenses are issued by the Board for Contractors.

There are three main license types:

  • Journeyman Plumber License – Allows you to work under a master plumber’s supervision on projects up to $1,000.
  • Master Plumber License – Allows you to work independently and supervise others. Required for projects over $1,000.
  • Plumber Contractor License – Required for plumbing contractors bidding on or engaged in projects over $1,000. Issued at three levels – Class A, B, and C – based on project size.

Journeyman Plumber License

To qualify for the journeyman plumber exam, you must meet experience and education requirements through one of these paths:

  • 1 year experience + bachelor’s degree in engineering or relevant field
  • 2 years experience + associate’s degree or technical certificate
  • 4 years experience + 240 hours vocational training
  • 5+ years experience (reduces vocational training hours required)
  • 10 years verified experience

Once approved by the state, you must pass the journeyman plumber exam.

Master Plumber License

To qualify for the master plumber exam, you must:

  • Have 1 year of experience as a licensed journeyman plumber
  • Have 10 years of verified practical plumbing experience

Once approved, you must pass the master plumber exam.

Plumber Contractor License

To become a licensed plumber contractor, you must:

  • Hold a current master plumber license
  • Complete 8 hours of pre-license education
  • Meet experience requirements:
    • Class A: 5 years
    • Class B: 3 years
    • Class C: 2 years
  • Pass contractor exams
  • Carry general liability insurance
  • Post a $50,000 license bond

Contractors are classified based on project size:

  • Class A: Unlimited
  • Class B: Under $120,000 for individual projects, under $750,000 annually
  • Class C: Under $10,000 per project, $150,000 annually

Getting Your Virginia Plumber’s License

Follow these steps to get licensed as a plumber in Virginia:

1. Meet Education and Experience Requirements

Determine which license type you need based on your experience level and intended work. Journeyman requires the least experience, followed by master and contractor.

Gain practical plumbing experience through an apprenticeship, technical college program, or working under a licensed plumber. Track your hours carefully.

Take vocational courses from accredited colleges, technical schools, or apprenticeship programs. 240 hours is the base requirement.

2. Submit Your Plumber License Application

Fill out the Tradesman Exam & License Application for journeyman or master plumber.

For contractor, use the License Application.

Submit with fees:

  • Journeyman: $130 fee
  • Master: $130 fee
  • Contractor: $235-$385 based on class

Allow 30 days for application review. You’ll receive exam eligibility notification.

3. Pass Your Plumber Exam(s)

Virginia uses PSI Exams for licensing tests. Journeyman and master exams are 80 questions over 210 minutes. Contractor exams have 1-3 sections depending on license class.

Exam locations are available throughout Virginia. Schedule your exam through PSI after you are approved.

Bring valid ID. Tests are open book. Reference materials are specified in the exam bulletins.

Exam fees:

  • Journeyman: $100
  • Master: $125
  • Contractor: $40-$85

You will receive passing/failing score information immediately after computerized exams.

4. Maintain General Liability Insurance

Plumbing contractors in Virginia must carry general liability insurance coverage. Minimum amounts are:

  • $300,000 for Class C
  • $500,000 for Class B
  • $1,000,000 for Class A

5. Obtain a Virginia Plumber License Bond

All contractor applicants must acquire a $50,000 license bond. This is submitted with your contractor license application.

Class C applicants are exempt from the bond requirement.

6. Submit Your License Application

Once you have passed exams and met all requirements, the Board will approve your license application.

New licenses are mailed within 30 days of approval. You can then legally work as a licensed plumber in Virginia.

Renewing Your Virginia Plumber’s License

Plumber licenses in Virginia must be renewed every 2 years before expiration to remain valid.

Renewal Requirements

  • Submit renewal application and $90 fee prior to license expiration
  • Complete 3 hours of continuing education (tradesmen only – journeyman, master). Due every 2 years.
  • Gas fitter designated plumbers need 1 hour gas CE every 2 years
  • Renew online or use paper application

Late Renewal

If you renew up to 30 days past expiration, you must pay the normal fee plus a $35 late renewal fee.

After 30 days, licenses lapse. You must reinstate by submitting a reinstatement application, fees, and continued education certificates.

Lapsed over 1 year? Must re-apply for a new license.

Status Checks

You can check your license status and view license details on Virginia’s DPOR website.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Plumbers

Virginia has a reciprocity agreement for plumbers with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) serving Maryland counties.

Plumbers licensed in this jurisdiction can apply in Virginia using the standard license application.

Other than this arrangement, Virginia does not offer full reciprocity for out-of-state plumbers. You must meet Virginia’s license requirements and pass state exams to become licensed.

However, holding an active plumbing license in another state may help satisfy some of Virginia’s experience requirements. The state will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.

Tradesman License Bonds for Plumbers in Virginia

Although Virginia state law does not mandate license bonds for individual plumbers, some localities have bond requirements that apply to plumbers and tradespeople.

For example, the City of Newport News requires a $5,000 license bond to register as a plumber or other contractor. The City of Danville also needs a $5,000 plumber’s license bond.

Contact local business licensing offices to ask about tradesman bond requirements before applying for your plumbing business license.

Purchasing these license bonds is fast and affordable through online surety bond companies. In most cases, bonds can be obtained instantly without a credit check.

Small Business Insurance for Virginia Plumbers

Properly insuring your plumbing business is crucial for protection. Virginia mandates plumbers carry general liability insurance. But you also need other key coverages.

Recommended minimum insurance for Virginia plumbers:

  • General Liability: $500,000 to $1,000,000
  • Errors & Omissions: $100,000 to $300,000
  • Property Coverage: Insured value of tools, equipment, vehicles
  • Commercial Auto: $500,000+
  • Workers’ Comp: As required
  • Business Owner’s Policy (BOP): Combines general liability, property, and business income insurance

Work with an insurance broker to review your risks and get quotes for the right plumber’s insurance policy. Learn more about the intricacies of Virginia Plumbing Insurance Guide & Quotes to safeguard your plumbing business in Virginia.

Virginia Plumber License Fees & Requirements Summary

License TypeExperience RequiredExamFees
Journeyman4-10 years (see options)Yes$130 application + $100 exam
Master1 year as journeyman OR 10 years experienceYes$130 application + $125 exam
Contractor2-5 years (see class)Yes$235-$385 application + $40-$85 exam

*Contractor applicants must also complete 8-hr pre-license education and carry general liability insurance.

**All licenses require renewal every 2 years with continuing education.

Get Licensed as a Plumber in Virginia

We hope this guide provides the essential information you need to obtain your plumbing license in Virginia. Key steps include:

  • Meeting extensive experience requirements
  • Taking exams through PSI
  • Maintaining insurance coverage
  • Renewing your license every 2 years

Be sure to verify requirements with your locality for any additional plumbing bonds or business licenses. Follow the step-by-step process to set yourself up for success as a licensed plumber in Virginia!