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North Carolina plumber license and insurance requirements

North Carolina plumber license and insurance requirements

By Ashley Henshaw
Dec 15, 2021
8 min read
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North Carolina ranks among the U.S. states with the highest number of employed plumbers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina has over 12,000 plumbers, many of whom work in the Piedmont region in the central part of the state.1

With North Carolina offering a bounty of jobs for plumbers, it’s a great place for professionals in this field. But before you can start working as a plumber in this state, you’ll need to get your license, which requires documenting your experience and training and passing an exam.

If you’re thinking about becoming a plumber in North Carolina, this guide will walk you through all the necessary steps and cover important topics, including:

Do you need a license to be a plumber?

In North Carolina, all plumbers must have a license issued by the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors.2 Plumbers may choose from the following license classifications, each of which allows these professionals to pursue a specific scope of work:

Plumbing class I (P-I) contractor 

Potable water and drain/waste/vent piping systems in any building (residential, commercial, industrial).

Plumbing class II (P-II) contractor 

Potable water and drain/waste/vent piping systems in single-family detached dwellings only.

Restricted limited plumbing (RLP) contractor 

Exterior building sewer piping, exterior water service piping 2" or less, exterior backflow preventers on 2" or less piping, and water filtration systems.

Plumbing technician 

Potable water and drain/waste/vent piping systems. Must be a sublicensee of a P-I, P-II or RLP contractor. 

Additionally, there are specific technician licenses available for plumbers who work for a private education institution or for a state or local government.

How to get a plumber license in North Carolina

Follow these steps to get your plumber license in North Carolina:

Complete your application

The first step in obtaining a North Carolina plumber license is filling out the application. Along with your application, you’ll need to submit the following documents:

  • W-2 and/or 1099 forms for your previous plumbing work
  • Notarized work experience verification and employment history forms
  • Printed copy of your criminal background check from Castlebranch.com
  • Statement describing at any criminal history, if applicable
  • Check or money order for the $100 exam fee

Take the exam

After the State Board approves your North Carolina plumber license application, you’ll receive instructions for how to schedule your licensing exam. You must take the exam within 30 days of your application’s approval.

The number and length of exams you must take depends on the type of license you are applying for:

  • P-I contractor: Technical exam (4 hours) and business and law exam (1.5) hours
  • P-II contractor: Technical exam (4 hours) and business and law exam (1.5) hours
  • RLP contractor: Technical exam (2 hours) and business and law exam (1.5) hours
  • Plumbing technician: Technical exam (4 hours)

You may use approved reference materials during the exam. You’ll receive the results at the testing location on the day of your exam.

Submit a license activation form

Within 45 days of passing the exam, you must submit a license activation form along with a check or money order for the appropriate licensing fee:

  • P-I contractor: $150
  • P-II contractor: $150
  • RLP contractor: $150
  • Plumbing technician: $75

North Carolina plumber license requirements

You must fulfill specific work experience requirements to apply for your North Carolina plumber license:

P-I or P-II contractor 

You must have two years (4,000 hours) of hands-on experience in the installation, maintenance, service or repair of plumbing systems. You may substitute directly related academic or technical training for up to one-half (2,000 hours) of the experience requirement.

RLP contractor 

You must have nine months (1,500 hours) of hands-on experience in the installation, maintenance, service or repair of plumbing systems. You may substitute directly related academic or technical training for up to one-half (750 hours) of the experience requirement.

Plumbing technician 

You must have 18 months (3,000 hours) of hands-on experience in the installation, maintenance, service or repair of plumbing systems.

Requirements for North Carolina plumber license renewals

Licenses expire each year on December 31. You must submit a renewal form along with the appropriate renewal fee:

  • P-I contractor: $150
  • P-II contractor: $150
  • RLP contractor: $150
  • Plumbing technician: $75

North Carolina plumber license reciprocity

North Carolina’s State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors does not have reciprocity agreements with any other state. Regardless of past experience or licensure in other locations, you must meet North Carolina’s requirements and pass the necessary exam(s) in order to obtain a plumbing license in this state.

The State Board does allow one exception for applicants with a current residential plumbing contractor license in South Carolina who are pursuing a P-II license in North Carolina. These individuals may apply for a waiver that exempts them from taking the technical portion of the exam. They must still meet all other licensing requirements.

What kind of insurance does a plumber need in North Carolina?

Once you receive your plumber license, it’s time to think about plumber insurance. The following list covers some of the most common types of business insurance recommended for licensed plumbers.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

According to the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, employers in this state must have workers’ compensation insurance if they have three or more employees.3 In the event that you or one of your employees gets hurt on the job, this type of insurance helps cover lost wages, medical costs and more.

General Liability insurance

Many plumbers need general liability insurance to get coverage for common incidents that can occur in their line of work, like damage to a client’s property.

Tools and Equipment insurance

If someone damages or steals the gear you use for work, tools and equipment insurance provides coverage for some repairs or replacements.

Commercial Auto insurance

You’ll need commercial auto insurance if you drive to different job sites for work. This type of insurance provides coverage for accident-related costs, such as towing, rental reimbursement and repairs depending on the policy. 

Commercial Property insurance

Commercial property insurance provides coverage for damage or vandalism to a property that you own or rent along with any inventory or equipment stored there.

How NEXT Insurance supports North Carolina plumbers

Whether you need small business insurance or self-employed plumber insurance, NEXT can help you find the perfect policies to protect your professional work.

The application process takes place 100% online, so you can get a quote and obtain a certificate of insurance in just minutes from any computer or mobile device. That’s especially convenient when you’re always on the go for your work as a plumber.

Because we specialize in coverage for small businesses and self-employed individuals, we’re one of the best resources for plumber insurance. We’ve helped thousands of contractors get affordable insurance packages customized to meet their unique needs.

Get an instant quote online today.

Are you planning to work as a plumber in another U.S. state? Discover what states require plumber licenses in our summary of plumber license requirements.

Sources

1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors

3. North Carolina Industrial Commission


North Carolina plumber license and insurance requirements

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About the author
Ashley Henshaw is a contributing writer at NEXT Insurance and a writer and editor at BrainBoost Media. She specializes in small business topics, covering everything from insurance and branding to web hosting and cryptocurrency. Her work is focused on helping independent business owners and entrepreneurs access the tools they need to succeed.
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