How to Become a Plumber in North Carolina

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Plumbers will always be needed, therefore becoming one means entering a lucrative field.

What’s more is that individuals can even climb a career ladder in this trade, with the right schooling and experience.

If you want to know what it takes to become a plumber in North Carolina, this is where you’ll find all the information you need.

Plumber Job Description

Plumbers don’t only repair your water pipes or sewage system.

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They also work for construction companies where they have to design and install the piping system for water and gas supply, as well as the waste system.

They need to follow strict regulations to avoid accidents from happening when people use those systems.

To complete these tasks, professionals need to also:

  • Know how to read and interpret blueprints
  • Use tools for measuring, cutting, and soldering
  • Perform various calculations
  • Know if various materials and tools can be used together
  • Maintain their tools

The North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors oversees plumbers and issues them licenses.

Individuals also need a general contractor license if the work they’ll perform will cost more than $30,000.

Becoming a Plumber Apprentice

Like in most other states, future plumbers in North Carolina need to train first and then apply for a license.

The training can be completed in one of these 2 ways:

  • 4 years or 4,000 hours of direct apprenticeship
  • 2 years of formal education in the field and 2,000 hours of direct apprenticeship

Even if you choose to go for the first option, with 4,000 hours of apprenticeship, you’re still expected to attend some education in a classic classroom setting.

Generally, you’re supposed to attend about 144 hours per year.

Choosing the formal education route, you have more and better options when it comes to developing a career.

To enroll, candidates will usually be required to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • ID with photo, such as a driver’s license

As an apprentice, you’ll work under the supervision of a licensed plumber.

You’ll learn:

  • Installation of plumbing systems
  • Reading blueprints
  • Trade safety measures and regulations
  • Layout and design of plumbing systems
  • Measuring, cutting, soldering

Becoming a Plumbing Contractor

North Carolina is unique when it comes to the licenses that plumbers can earn.

In this state, there are no journeymen nor master plumbers as the individuals can work on their own once their training completes.

They need to become plumbing contractors if the value of the project exceeds $30,000.

There are 3 types of plumbing licenses one can earn:

  • Plumbing-Class I, or P-I Contractor
  • Plumbing-Class II, or P-II Contractor
  • Restricted Limited Plumbing, or RLP Contractor

P-I Contractors work on potable water, drain, waste, and vent piping systems, found in any type of building.

P-II Contractors work on potable water, drain, waste, and vent piping systems found in single-family housing that is also detached from others.

RLP Contractors can only work on interior or exterior building sewer piping, as well as water filtration systems.

For this, you’ll need a few documents:

  • The Licensing Board’s Laws and Rules book;
  • Exam application form – filled in
  • The fee associated with the exam application -$25
  • Proof of the completed apprenticeship

You’ll have to take and pass the exam before you can earn your license.

The Board’s Laws and Rules book have the knowledge you need to pass the test.

The test is administered by PSI, costs $100, and the minimum score you need is 70%.

You’ll have 4 hours to answer 100 questions.

Once you get licensed, you should apply for business registration.

Additionally, you’ll need to have some sort of insurance for the following incidents:

  • Accidents
  • Health
  • Disability
  • Malfunctions that can lead to accidents

Plumber Salary Information

Plumbers can operate as private businesses, work for public or private institutions, or other entities.

They start earning as soon as they become apprentices, though their pay will be lower compared to the other plumbers.

The more you work and accumulate experience, the more your salary will increase.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
Charlotte $56,388
Raleigh $55,704
Greensboro $55,013
Durham $55,383
Winston Salem $55,146
Fayetteville $52,820
Cary $55,704
Wilmington $52,504
High Point $55,342
Greenville $55,301

Regional Salary in North Carolina

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Asheville, NC570$50,020$24.05$69,960$31,650
Burlington, NC260$50,800$24.42$71,790$34,600
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC3,660$52,230$25.11$69,410$36,890
Durham-Chapel Hill, NC550$54,080$26$76,180$36,330
Fayetteville, NC290$47,300$22.74$62,870$33,190
Goldsboro, NC150$50,010$24.04$74,370$31,840
Greensboro-High Point, NC1,340$48,650$23.39$63,430$35,210
Greenville, NC230$49,490$23.8$63,810$33,400
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC240$47,240$22.71$60,050$36,040
Jacksonville, NC230$46,320$22.27$59,800$34,580
New Bern, NC110$46,790$22.5$70,160$29,220
Raleigh, NC2,380$51,110$24.57$70,700$36,400
Rocky Mount, NC130$45,580$21.91$66,300$30,850
Wilmington, NC490$46,950$22.57$64,630$31,320
Winston-Salem, NC880$47,390$22.79$62,590$28,870
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters, OCC Code 47-2152, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Additional Information

North Carolina doesn’t have any license reciprocity agreement with any other state, at least not at the plumbing level.

Your license needs to be renewed every year.

For this, you’ll need to complete 6 hours of continuing education.

Schools Offering Plumbing Programs in North Carolina

School Name Address
Guilford Technical Community College 601 E. Main Street P.O. Box 309 Jamestown, NC 27282
Fayetteville Technical Community College 2201 Hull Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28303
Blue Ridge Community College 180 W. Campus Dr. Flat Rock, NC 28731Blue Ridge Community College
Cleveland Community College 137 S. Post Rd. Shelby, NC 28152
Cape Fear Community College 411 North Front Street, Wilmington, North Carolina 28401-3910
Forsyth Technical Community College 2100 Silas Creek Pky, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103-5197
Halifax Community College 100 College Drive, Weldon, North Carolina 27890
Pamlico Community College 5049 Hwy 306 South, Grantsboro, North Carolina 28529
Wake Technical Community College 9101 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603-5696
Grady Harlow Inc 1230 Davis Bugg Rd, Warrenton, NC 27589
UA Local 421 Plumbers & Pipefitters 285 Litaker Ln, Concord, NC 28025
Technical Training Institute 5540 Centerview Dr, Suite 200 Raleigh, NC 27606
School of Skilled Trades 1440 S Briggs Ave | Durham, NC 27703
Durham Tech 1637 East Lawson Street Durham, NC 27703
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