Master Plumber Test Guide
What you need to know to get certified and licensed as a master plumber.
As a journeyman level plumber, you are aware of the regulations that apply to the trade. You may have had to take a test to become a journeyman plumber or its equivalent. Some states do not use a journeyman/master plumber designation but license plumbers in terms of being a "contractor". For purposes of this guide, when we use the term "master" we are identifying the highest level of plumbing authority given within regulation, be it designated master or contractor or any other term.
In states that break down the plumbing trade along the traditional lines of authority, i.e. journeyman and master plumber, a difference exists in the authority given to journeyman and master plumbers. In such jurisdictions, typically, only master plumbers can bid on or contract to do work along with other limitations, i.e. in some jurisdictions, only master plumbers can size and design piping. The licensing exam for master plumbers are consequently a bit different than those given to apprentice level plumbers seeking to become journeyman.
The trade knowledge sections in a master plumber exam, while covering the same subjects as the journeyman plumber exam, such as venting, water supply and fixtures, will pose some of the questions in a more challenging way and in terms of the authority given a master plumber. For instance, where the journeyman exam may pose a situation where the master plumber instructs the journeyman plumber to do a certain task and asks which of the proposed answers is correct in term of the situation, the master exam will put you in the place of the master plumber and ask what you should instruct your journeyman plumbers to do in a certain situation. So, while the subject matter may be similar to the journeyman test, the perspective of the test-taker is different.
Many of the questions will be very similar to what you faced in a journeyman exam. To make them a bit more challenging to reflect the added experience and responsibility of a master plumber, some of the questions will be a bit more complex than experienced on the journeyman test. A key to preparation for the master exam is to not take the exam or preparation lightly. You may be a great journeyman plumber, with much experience. However, plumbing a new commercial location is not the same as sitting down at a testing facility to take a timed test with multiple choice answers. The stresses are different. While your experience in the field is to be respected, it is not to be completely relied on in the exam. You may find that the state-wide exam bases some questions on a strict interpretation of the plumbing code, where local practice has always interpreted it liberally. You may be used to a certain practice that is within the code but not be familiar with the outer limits of what the code allows in a given situation. It is such challenging test questions on the master exam that can ruin the plans of even the most skilled field plumber.
Journeyman plumbing exams usually do not involve sections on business and law matters. Many master plumber exams across the country have sections on business and law regulation. The business and law sections will typically touch on the following subjects:
Insurance and Bonding
To prepare for the master plumber exam, you should obtain one or more of the following: study guide, practice test and flashcards. Start studying about 2 months prior to the exam. Preparation is necessary to learn how to read a question in order to understand exactly what it is asking. Often times, test-takers fail to pay attention to what the question is asking and read more into the question than is required. It is in these situations, that even knowledgeable practitioners can be inadvertently led astray. Preparation taking practice tests, for example, can train the mind to focus on what the question is asking to help the test-taker identify the correct answer.
Finally, read the plumbing code book and know it well. Have a friend or family member pose you questions from the code. Some jurisdictions allow test-takers to bring their code book into the test and use it during the test. Do not let this opportunity to refer to your code during the test make you overconfident on passing the exam. An open book test will not be any easier if you did not spend time understanding how the code book is broken down and what subjects are covered within its covers.