One of the hardest parts about owning a plumbing company is finding capable employees.

You might not think of plumbing as the most glamorous job in the world, but the truth is that it’s a great career. Future plumbers can look forward to high pay, great benefits, flexible hours, and the option to own your own business in time—all without a college diploma.

So what’s the downside? Outside of getting your hands dirty and dealing with frustrated customers, it can take a little time to become a plumber.

If you think a career in plumbing could be in your future, here’s how long it takes to become a plumber in California, step by step.

Step One: Graduate High School

If you haven’t yet graduated high school, that’s a necessary first step to becoming a plumber. While you’re working towards your graduation, look into a local plumbing apprenticeship program and check out the course requirements. They’ll likely have a minimum grade requirement and some classes you must take in high school to be eligible.

Be sure that program is recognized by the state and has strong connections with plumbers where you can complete your apprenticeship.

Step Two: Apprenticeship Program (4 Years)

Next you will have to complete your apprenticeship program. Most plumbing apprenticeships in California last four years, between coursework and on-the-job training.

Technical schools offer plumbing programs, but these are not the same as apprenticeship programs. Be sure that your placement with a plumber for the on-the-job training is guaranteed, or you may have to find a plumber yourself or start again in a real apprenticeship program.

Step Three: Work as a Journeyman (4 Years)

In order to become a licensed plumber, you need to work under the supervision of another plumber for four years. During this time, you’re called a journeyman. You might find yourself working with one of our plumber clients, learning how to get and handle clients as well as how to fix plumbing issues.

It’s important to keep a strong relationship with whoever supervises you as a journeyman, as they will have to vouch for you when you apply for your license.

Step Four: Apply for Your License (A Few Months)

Once you have four years under your belt, you can become a licensed plumber (in California) by applying for a license and passing an exam. Other states may do it differently, but in California you apply with the California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB):

  • Apply with the Original Contractor License Application
  • Sign up for, and pass, the California Plumbing License Exam
  • Submit proof you have completed four years of journeyman work
  • Pay several fees, to the CSLB
  • Pay for a surety bond, which gives your clients security that the work you start for them will be finished

This process should be completed in a few months. So once you graduate high school, the whole process should take eight years. Remember, for the last four years you’re working and being paid, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Also, unlike in other states, California does not require you to become a Master Plumber before you open your own plumbing business. After those four years, you can start working for yourself.

Of course, if you do open your own plumbing company, you’ll need a little help to get your business off the ground. When that time comes, Contractor Calls can help. Our marketing campaigns for plumbers are designed to help you earn reliable, high-quality leads for the exact services you need to support your business. Whether you want to specialize in sewer repair, grease trap clean outs, backflow certification, tankless water heaters, or 24 hour drain cleaning, Contractor Calls can help you get the calls you need to thrive.

Contact us any time to get started with a free consultation.