For many years, Ohio held a special claim to fame in plumbing history. According to a 1917 article by journalist H. L. Mencken, the first bathtub in the U.S. was installed by Cincinnati resident Adam Thompson in 1842. That same bathtub would go on to inspire President Fillmore to have one installed in the White House.
Unfortunately, the whole story turned out to be a hoax — Mencken made it all up, though he didn’t admit it until 1926.1
Despite the false connection to plumbing history, Ohio remains a great place for professionals in the industry. In fact, individual plumbers don’t need to have a license in this state. That allows plumbers to get to work as soon as they set foot in the state and eliminates the costs and inconveniences associated with maintaining a professional license.
However, you will need a license if you plan on being a plumbing contractor. In this guide, we’ll deliver helpful details about how to obtain an Ohio contractor license, including information on the following topics:
- Do you need a license to be a plumber?
- How to get a plumber license in Ohio
- Ohio plumber license requirements
- Requirements for Ohio plumber license renewals
- Ohio plumber license reciprocity
- Bond requirements for Ohio plumber licenses
- What kind of insurance does a plumber need in Ohio?
- What is the certificate of insurance requirement in Ohio for plumbers?
Do you need a license to be a plumber?
Ohio doesn’t require individual plumbers to have licenses. However, if you plan to work as a plumbing contractor, you’ll need a license issued by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board.2
How to get a plumber license in Ohio
Follow these steps to get your plumbing contractor license:
Submit your application
You must submit a notarized Ohio plumber license application for contractors. You will need to include your contracting company name on this application. Attach W-2s from the past five years and include a check for the $25 application fee.
Get a background check
Upon approval of your application, the Board will notify you by mail. Then, you must obtain a BCI and FBI background check and submit it to the Board.
Take the exam
After the Board approves your background check, you'll receive information on how to schedule your licensure exam. PSI conducts all exams using computer-based testing at a number of locations throughout the state. The open-book exam consists of two parts:
- Plumbing contractor exam: 4 hours
- Contractor business and law exam: 2 hours
The cost to take both parts of the exam is $138. You must score 70% or better on each part of the exam in order to pass.3
You will receive your results immediately after completing your exam. You must submit a copy of your exam results, a $25 check and a certificate of liability insurance coverage to the Board to receive your license.
Ohio plumber license requirements
To become a licensed plumbing contractor in Ohio, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or legal alien. In addition, you’ll need to meet specific requirements in several key categories:
You must fulfill one of the two following work experience requirement options:
- You must have at least five years of experience as a plumber. With your application, you must include at least one permit for each of the last five years and the license number of the contractor you worked under.
- You must be currently registered as an engineer in Ohio and have at least three years of business experience in the construction industry as a plumber.
You must not have any convictions that would disqualify you from holding a plumbing contractor license. The state of Ohio considers certain crimes of moral turpitude to be disqualifying offenses.4
If you’re not sure whether your criminal history prohibits you from applying, contact the Board for more information.
You must carry a minimum of $500,000 in plumbing contractor liability coverage. See more details in the what kind of insurance does a plumber need in Ohio? section below.
Requirements for Ohio plumber license renewals
You may renew your plumbing contractor license in one-year or three-year increments.5 Different fees and continuing education requirements apply for each renewal option:
- One-year renewal: 8 hours of continuing education, $60 fee
- Three-year renewal: 24 hours of continuing education, $180 fee
Ohio plumber license reciprocity
The Board allows plumbing contractors from the following states to apply for a reciprocal license in Ohio:
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
To get your license via reciprocity, you must submit a state-specific reciprocity application available for download on the Board’s website.
Bond requirements for Ohio plumber licenses
Many cities and counties in Ohio require that all plumber contractors be registered and bonded. For example, in Hamilton County, plumbing contractors must register with the Hamilton County Public Health department and submit proof of a $10,000 bond.6
Check with your local government to find out if there are any bond requirements for plumbing contractors in the area where you plan to work.
What kind of insurance does a plumber need in Ohio?
It’s important for all plumber contractors to have the right Ohio business insurance. The following are some of the most common types of insurance needed by plumbing professionals.
General Liability insurance
You must show proof of general liability insurance to get your plumbing contractor license. This insurance helps cover the costs of non-employee injuries, property damage and more up to policy limits.
Workers’ Compensation insurance
In Ohio, all employers must either be self-insured or have workers’ compensation insurance.7 If you or one of your employees gets injured at work, this insurance provides wage protection and other benefits.
Tools and Equipment insurance
Tools and equipment insurance provides repair and replacement coverage for damaged or stolen gear that you need to do your job.
Commercial Auto insurance
If you drive for work, you’ll need commercial auto insurance to cover costs related to accidents, such as rental reimbursement, repairs and medical expenses.
Commercial Property insurance
In the event of damage or vandalism, commercial property insurance provides coverage for equipment, inventory and owned or rented property.
What is the certificate of insurance requirement in Ohio for plumbers?
You must show proof of contractor liability insurance with at least $500,000 in coverage by submitting a certificate of liability insurance to the Board. This insurance must be assigned to the same contracting company listed on your license application.
How NEXT Insurance supports Ohio plumbers
NEXT Insurance helps you get the right plumber insurance to satisfy Ohio’s licensing requirements and protect your business.
With our online services, you can apply for coverage and get a certificate of insurance in just minutes. Access our site from any computer or mobile device to share additional COIs at no extra cost or manage your account.
We’re 100% focused on small businesses, which is why NEXT is the perfect choice for your plumbing contractor insurance. We’ve helped thousands of contractors like you get customized insurance packages at affordable monthly rates.
Get an instant quote online today.
Do you have projects in a U.S. state besides Ohio? Learn what states require plumber licenses in our summary of plumber license requirements.