How to Become a Licensed Plumber in Wisconsin

Becoming a licensed plumber in Wisconsin requires completing an approved apprenticeship program and passing state examinations. Licensure is mandatory for anyone who wants to work as a plumber in the state. Wisconsin issues licenses for plumbers at the apprentice, journeyman, and master levels.

Apprenticeship Requirements

To become a licensed journeyman or master plumber in Wisconsin, you must first complete an approved plumbing apprenticeship. Apprenticeships provide the necessary on-the-job training and classroom education.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards recognizes plumbing apprenticeship programs that meet state and federal standards. Approved programs are typically 4-5 years long and consist of at least 8,000 hours of combined work experience and classroom instruction.

Specific apprenticeship requirements include:

  • At least 7,428 hours of on-the-job training
  • At least 572 hours of related classroom instruction
  • Coursework in areas such as plumbing code, blueprint reading, welding, and math
  • Registration as an apprentice with the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS)

To qualify for an apprenticeship, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Hold a valid driver’s license

Once enrolled, apprentices must register annually with the DSPS and pay a $15 registration fee.

Plumber Licenses Issued in Wisconsin

Wisconsin issues plumbing licenses at three levels:


  • Plumbing Apprentice
  • Plumbing Learner Restricted Appliance
  • Plumbing Learner Restricted Service


  • Journeyman Plumber
  • Journeyman Plumber Restricted Appliance
  • Journeyman Plumber Restricted Service


  • Master Plumber
  • Master Plumber Restricted Appliance
  • Master Plumber Restricted Service

Each license has specific eligibility criteria in terms of training, experience, and exams.

Journeyman Plumber License

To become a licensed journeyman plumber, you must complete an approved 5-year apprenticeship program and pass the state licensing exam.


  • Complete a plumbing apprenticeship program recognized by the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards
  • Submit proof of completion to take the journeyman exam
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Hold a valid driver’s license

Application Process


The journeyman plumber exam consists of two 3-hour test sessions:

  • Part 1: 87 questions
  • Part 2: 120 questions

The content covers topics such as plumbing code, drainage systems, water supply systems, and more. The passing score is 70%.

Exams are offered in Appleton, Brookfield, Eau Claire, and Madison several times per year.


After passing the exam, you must submit the $180 license fee prorated based on the 4-year term cycle. The DSPS will then issue your journeyman plumber license.

Master Plumber License

To qualify for a master plumber license, you must meet experience requirements and pass the master plumber exam.


  • Hold a journeyman plumber license for at least 3 years, with at least 1,000 hours of work experience per year
  • Possess an engineering degree in a relevant field

Application Process


The master plumber exam takes place over two 4-hour test sessions:

  • Part 1: 110 questions
  • Part 2: 132 questions

Content covers topics such as plumbing code, drainage systems, accounting principles, and more. You must score at least 70% to pass.

Exams are offered in Appleton, Brookfield, Eau Claire, and Madison several times per year.


After passing the exam, you must submit the $500 license fee prorated based on the 4-year term cycle. The DSPS will then issue your master plumber license.

License Reciprocity in Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not have direct reciprocity with any other state for plumbing licenses. However, the state will consider granting a reciprocal license to plumbers licensed in states with comparable requirements.

To qualify for reciprocity as a master plumber, you must:

  • Hold a current plumbing license in another state
  • Have at least 8 years of licensed plumbing work experience
  • Pass the Wisconsin master plumber exam

Renewing Your Plumbing License

Plumbing licenses in Wisconsin must be renewed every 4 years by March 31. Renewal requires completing continuing education hours:

  • Journeyman: 24 hours of approved continuing education
  • Master: 24 hours of approved continuing education

You can submit your license renewal application and fee online through the DSPS website.

  • Journeyman renewal fee: $180
  • Master renewal fee: $500

If your license has been expired for more than 5 years, you must retake and pass the licensing exam before renewing.

Licensing Requirements by Location

In addition to state plumbing licenses, some local jurisdictions in Wisconsin have their own licensing and bonding requirements:

City of Madison

Contractors must obtain a $5,000 license and permit bond issued by the Department of Engineering.

City of Milwaukee

Concrete contractors must obtain a $5,000 license bond from the Department of Neighborhood Services.

City of Superior

Contractors must obtain license bonds ranging from $25,000 to $5,000 based on their specialty. Bonds can be obtained through the Building Inspection Division.

City of Waukesha

A $5,000 concrete contractor bond is required for concrete contractors. Bonds are issued by the Department of Public Works.

Insurance Requirements

As a plumbing professional, it’s crucial to carry adequate insurance coverage to protect yourself, your business, and your clients. The following policies are recommended:

General Liability Insurance

Covers third-party property damage and bodily injury claims. Minimum $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate is recommended.

Errors & Omissions Insurance

Covers financial loss due to an error, omission, or negligence. Minimum $1 million per occurrence is recommended.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Covers vehicles used for business purposes. Required minimum limits depend on state law.

Workers’ Compensation

Required for businesses with employees. Covers medical expenses and lost wages for work-related injuries.

Disability Insurance

Replaces lost income if you become injured or ill and unable to work.

Bonding Requirements

Contractors who operate their own plumbing business in Wisconsin must obtain a dwelling contractor certification from the DSPS in addition to their master plumber license. This requires obtaining either general liability insurance or a license bond. To better understand the plumbing business, consider reading our detailed article on Wisconsin Plumbing Insurance Guide & Quotes.

The state mandates contractor bonds in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 based on the services provided. Some municipalities also require local contractor bonds.

Bonds can be obtained through insurance companies or specialty surety bond agents. Key requirements include:

  • Sufficient credit score/financial history
  • Business licenses and registrations
  • Proof of contracting experience