How licensing works in reality

BRUCE STEINMETZ VIA E-MAIL I read Georgian Lussier's Forum article "Battle cry for licensed plumbers" (May, pg. 24), and while she is bringing up many important points, the reality (at least in some counties) is totally different. In the county where I live, the licensing board is managed by a bunch of old plumbers where all they are doing (in the name of safety) is keeping away new plumbers from

BRUCE STEINMETZ

VIA E-MAIL — I read Georgian Lussier's Forum article "Battle cry for licensed plumbers" (May, pg. 24), and while she is bringing up many important points, the reality (at least in some counties) is totally different.

In the county where I live, the licensing board is managed by a bunch of old plumbers where all they are doing (in the name of safety) is keeping away new plumbers from entering the trade. Case in point: I have a friend who was an apprentice to one of the plumbers on the board for six years. The requirement at the time was that after six years, you can go for the test. The week that this young fellow applied for his license, the law was changed to a requirement of eight years.

The tests for new plumbers, which are established by plumbers with years of experience (in other counties), are full of insignificant questions and equations you have never needed since high school.

If a plumber gets a big job and does not have the workforce for the job, he is not allowed to subcontract to a licensed plumber from a different town. The only workers permitted on the job-site are “workers that get a payroll check from the licensed plumber.” If the issue is quality and safety, I think that:

  1. The state, or an agency such as Underwriter Laboratories for electrical contractors, should issue the license;
  2. Work should be allowed to be subcontracted to others with full supervision from a licensed plumber; and
  3. There is no reason to apprentice for so many years. An average person can learn the trade in two years. That way the consumer can save, and the monopoly would be weakened.