How to Get Your Plumbing License in Tennessee?

It requires patience, dedication, and perseverance to master something as complicated as plumbing, but it’s a technical skill that will always be in use. Legislators around the state acknowledge the importance of this sector to the public’s health and safety. That’s why, in most areas, obtaining a plumber’s license requires a certain level of skills and education.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, these specialists are in high demand. From 2019 to 2029, the need for plumbers is expected to expand by 4%. According to the Bureau, there are 490,200 plumbers employed nationwide, with 6,390 in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s Plumbing Licensing Requirements

State and local governments both grant licenses. Standard journeyman or expert contractor local licenses are issued by local jurisdictions throughout the state, while the state offers a Contractor license with a Plumber Classification (CMC or CMC-A) and a Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) license.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, through the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors, issues state-level licenses.

For projects $25,000 and above (including materials and labor), a Tennessee contractor’s license is necessary BEFORE bidding or proposing a quote, as a prime (general) contractor; and subcontractors doing electromechanical, technical, plumbing, Ventilation, tiling, and other services.

Tennessee’s Different Types of Plumbers’ Licenses

In Tennessee, plumbers can be licensed in one of three categories. Two of these are contractual licenses, which need at least three years of experience and are required for works worth $25,000 or more.

  • CMC: Full Mechanical Contractor: This license includes both plumbing and HVAC education and training, and you must be pre-approved by the Board before taking the exam.
  • CMC-A: Plumbing and Gas Piping Contractor:  Testing is also subject to pre-approval under this license.

The third license is designed to govern plumbers who work on works worth less than $25,000 and need one year of experience.

  • LLP: an abbreviation for Limited Licensed Plumber: An LLP License is intended to guarantee that plumbers across the state satisfy a certain level of professionalism. Many cities and counties have their own license that takes precedence over an LLP. Check with the city or county’s Local Codes Enforcement office to discover if the LLP is approved for permits and inspections, or if they need to have their own local plumbing journeyman/master license. In addition, the LLP license is not required in 15 counties. Benton, Decatur, Dickson, Giles, Henderson, Henry, Hickman, Humphreys, Lake, Lawrence, Lewis, Obion, Perry, Stewart, and Weakley are the names of the counties.
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How to Obtain a Tennessee Plumber’s License (All types covered)

You must be at least 18 years old in order to participate.

A high school diploma or GED is required.

Through an apprenticeship or a technical college program, you can gain job experience and classroom training. A four- to five-year apprenticeship will provide you with verifiable experience. A year-long curriculum in a college or technical school is expected.

After gaining sufficient understanding through an apprenticeship or job following college/vocational school, you will most likely take a locally mandated test and apply for a journeyman license in the jurisdiction where you wish to work or study. Evaluate and qualify for a state-level limited liability partnership (LLP) that means working on projects worth less than $25,000 in value.

If you choose to take on jobs, there are a few things to consider.

If you wish to bid on projects worth more than $25,000, you must pass the statewide trade test as well as the Business and Law exam to become a licensed contractor. You should always be pre-approved to undertake the professional test for either a CMC-A License or the full CMC.

WORK EXPERIENCE: Plumbers in Tennessee start as entry-level workers, apprentices, or students to earn the expertise in the field they need to qualify for state or municipal licenses. You must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED equivalent. After that, you’ll need a mix of academic learning and technical experience. There are a few options for satisfying these two requirements. Local jurisdictions around the state have different regulations. Contact your local licensing board for further information.

To apply for your local journeyman plumbers license, you typically need a prerequisite of 8,000 hours (or four years) of job experience and anywhere from 576 to 900 hours of lecture hall education.

This can be accomplished by earning a technical college diploma and then working with a licensed plumber or by completing a certified apprenticeship.

APPLY TO TAKE THE EXAMINATION: Once you’ve completed the required work experience, you may apply to take the local plumbing test. You will be awarded a journeyman or master license, depending on whether you passed the exam and provided any other paperwork required by the local authorities.

A Board of Plumbing Examiners, for example, oversees the testing and licensing of master and journeyman plumbers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You should also enroll as an assistant first because the board can track your hours for the 5 years of experience necessary for the master license.

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STATE CONTRACTOR LICENSE: You’ll need your Tennessee Contractor’s License if you want to participate in activities worth $25,000 or more. Additionally, even on plumbing jobs worth less than $25,000, you may need to be licensed at the state level in some communities. That is a license for a Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP). The LLP test, which charges $57 and the registration price is $75, does not require pre-approval. Every two years, this license must be reactivated for a fee of $50.

You must complete a professional and technical exam as well as a trade exam, as well as obtain the final application and related documentation, which includes financial statements and liability insurance, to receive a Full Mechanical or Plumbing and Gas Piping contractor license.

The Advantages of Obtaining a Tennessee Plumber’s License

Getting your Tennessee plumbing license comes with a slew of advantages:

  • Most significantly, unless you are an employee of a professional plumber, you must be licensed by the state or local government to lawfully do plumbing work in Tennessee.
  • A trade license verifies your knowledge and abilities.
  • Only licensed plumbers are allowed to run a company and promote their services, receive commercial insurance, obtain building permits and pass inspections, and bid on public and government projects.
  • A license protects both your business and your consumers.
  • A license provides you a leg up on the competition in the employment market.
  • It also improves your earning capacity.

Insurance for plumbers in Tennessee

After completing examinations, you must submit the Contractor’s License Online Application, which includes a financial report approved or certified by a qualified public accountant, as well as proof of liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.


Reciprocity of plumbing license in Tennessee

Plumbing licenses are issued by local governments. Municipalities can issue their own contractor license, however, individuals who already have any state-issued full Certified Mechanical Contractor (CMC) or Contractor Plumbing and Gas Piping (CMC-A) certificate are not ordered to carry the assessment.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia are the states that have limited test waiver reciprocity.

What Is the Average Plumber Salary in Tennessee?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the yearly mean salary for a plumber in Tennessee is $52,050. According to, that compensation rises as you get more expertise, as you might anticipate.

  • Apprentice: In Tennessee, an apprentice plumber earns $14.01 per hour and $5,429 in overtime per year.
  • Journeyman: In Tennessee, a journeyman plumber earns an average of $24.34 hourly and $10,331 in extra annually.

The average licensed plumber income in Tennessee is $52,800 as of January 29, 2021, according to, however, the range often falls between $45,900 and $60,400. Salary varies significantly based on where you perform and other considerations.

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How Much Does a Plumber’s License in Tennessee Cost?

The numerous different plumbing licenses in Tennessee come with a variety of costs.

You should anticipate paying $4,000 to $5,000 per year for in-state tuition if you start with a technical or vocational school background. Apprenticeships are far less expensive — often $2,000 to $2,500 per year for four to five years — and your company will generally pay the expenses as long as it keeps a B average or higher and is paid right from the moment you start the job.

At the municipal level, licensing application costs and tests differ from city to city and county to county. The cost of the statewide business and law test is $57, as is the cost of the statewide trade exam. The application cost for a Full Mechanical Contractor (CMC) or Plumbing & Gas Piping (CMC-A) license is $250. The exam price for a Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP) license is $57, and the fee structure is $75.

Every 2 years, all licenses must be updated. The price of renewing a contractor’s license is $200. The LLP must be renewed every two years for a fee of $50.

Details on the Tennessee Plumber Licensing Exam

Exams for local licensing differ per city and county.

For all Tennessee Board of Licensing Contractor tests, the state has partnered with PSI Testing Services. The assessment and procedure are described in the Tennessee Contractors Candidate Information Bulletin.

There are 50 questions on the Business and Law Management Exam, and you have 140 minutes to complete it. It includes the following topics:

  • Requirements for Licensing
  • Bidding and Estimating
  • Financial Management and Business Organization
  • Laws Concerning Taxation
  • Labor Regulations
  • Lien Law and Project Management
  • Contracts
  • Management of Risk
  • Environmental and Health and Safety

The Licensing Board must first approve the CMC – Full Mechanical Contractor Exam. It comprises 120 questions and you have 325 minutes to complete it. It includes the following topics:

  • Controls, motors, and electrical knowledge
  • Refrigeration, hydronic, steam, and process piping are all examples of piping.
  • Theory and Principles of Heating and Cooling
  • Materials and Technology for Heating and Cooling
  • Cooling and Refrigerants are two terms that are often used interchangeably.
  • Combustion of Fuel and LP Gas Vents, Chimneys, Flues, and Air
  • Emissions, Exhaust, and Conduits
  • Plumbing
  • Calculation of the Load
  • Protection against fire and smoke

The Licensing Board does not require pre-approval for the LLP — Limited Licensed Plumber Exam. This license does not need you to take the Law and Business test. According to the Candidate Information Bulletin for this exam, the examination comprises 40 questions and you have 135 minutes to complete it.

Other Tennessee-Specific Requirements

Tennessee mandates you to update your state-issued official contractor license every two years to keep it valid. The cost of renewal is $200.

The LLP must also be renewed every two years for a fee of $50.

At present time, there is no obligation for certified plumbing contractors in Tennessee to continue their education.


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