Legislation addresses Louisiana’s plumber shortage

A proposal making its way through the Louisiana Legislature aims to ease the state's shortage of plumbers, a gap that is expected to widen as the current generation of skilled workers retires.

House Bill 753 would relax regulatory restrictions on plumbers who have not yet obtained a master plumber's license. The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Daryl Deshotel, R-Marksville, was approved Tuesday by the House Commerce Committee without objection and will be sent to the House for consideration.

Plumbing in Louisiana is a highly regulated profession with strict requirements and multiple levels of licensing: apprentice, craftsman, journeyman and master. Additional certification is required for specializations such as medical gas pipelines and water supply protection.

Each level of licensing can take years to complete and requires thousands of hours of on-the-job experience under the supervision of a master plumber. Each license also has its own state exam.

“I’m trying to figure out a way we can get more residential plumbers into the business,” Deshotel said. “We have a shortage of plumbers, especially in our rural areas.”

His bill would allow trade plumbers to perform more work independently and without the direct supervision of a master or journeyman plumber.

At the lowest level, an apprentice plumber must always work directly under a journeyman or master plumber. To apply for a craftsman's license, an apprentice must work for approximately two years and gain 4,000 hours of work experience. These experience requirements are then doubled to allow a craftsman to advance to the next level.

Under current law, a plumber is permitted to perform some work without supervision. A craftsman can independently carry out repairs to existing plumbing systems in one- and two-family homes, provided this is done on the instructions of a master plumber.

Deshotel's bill would expand the scope of services provided by a plumbing trade. It would allow a tradesman to install, modify and maintain plumbing systems independently, rather than just repairing them at the direction of a master. Additionally, the license would be renamed from commercial plumber to “residential plumber.”

Louisiana is relaxing licensing requirements for plumbers and contractors

There is a global shortage of licensed plumbers and other skilled trades.

In the United States, the Home Builders Institute Labor market report for the construction industry For spring 2021, 55% of contractors reported a plumber shortage. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics Estimates Over the next decade, there will be 42,600 job openings for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters each year.

Similar findings have emerged from Australia, the United Kingdom and across Europe. The shortage became particularly evident during the coronavirus pandemic, but began long before that as the population aged and a more educated generation entered the workforce.

According to a Pew Charitable Trust, Generation Z, typically people born between 1997 and 2012, is on track to become the most educated generation, with fewer and fewer choosing manual labor jobs in the skilled trades and technical industries report.

Deshotel said he worked with the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana and industry groups to develop the proposal in a way they supported.

Ashley Tullier, executive director of the state plumbing agency, said Louisiana introduced and adopted the handyman plumber license in 2017 other changes since then to address the shortage and get more trainees on the path to full license.

There are now about 1,800 master plumbers in Louisiana, which Tullier said is a significant increase from a few years ago, but did not disclose comparable data.

If Deshotel's bill goes into effect, master plumbers in private homes will be able to perform simple plumbing work that currently requires the supervision of a master or journeyman. This would help alleviate the shortage, Tullier said.

You might also like

Comments are closed.