Should Everyone Be Licensed?

Let’s put the drain cleaner v. plumber licensing rivalry to rest, once and for all.
Should Everyone Be Licensed?
At the risk of playing the “let’s all get along” card, is it fair to give drain cleaners who’ve been in the industry for decades the you’re-just-a-hack treatment?

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Let’s put it all out there. Plumbers have to go through years of apprenticeships, training and testing to earn required licensing. Most states, however, do not require the same type of certification (if any) for drain cleaners. It begs the question — Are licensing laws in this industry fair and can anything be gained from requiring a drain cleaner credential? 

Some drain cleaners and plumbers argue that we need more restrictive licensing to prohibit unlicensed tradespeople from touching a plumbing system without proper education and training. Others might dispute that drain cleaners and plumbers are two unique groups of people who provide different levels of service, and therefore, should be treated as such when it comes to regulated certification. 

At the risk of playing the “let’s all get along” card, is it fair to give drain cleaners who’ve been in the industry for decades the you’re-just-a-hack treatment? Most have extensive training and years of experience cleaning drains, solving root problems and inspecting lines. They just don’t have a license to prove it. Even so, they’re professional tradespeople who deserve respect. 

There will always be, in any industry, those few who give the entire trade a black eye, the ones who don’t play by the rules, do shoddy work and create rather than solve problems for customers. But that’s the exception rather than the rule, and a regulated licensing process would make it much more difficult for Joe Shmoe to simply buy a cable machine and call himself a drain cleaner. As it stands now, the average customer has no way of knowing if one drain cleaner is more or less qualified than another, or even qualified at all.

More training and education — for everyone — should always win out over a lack of experience and credentials. But the issue here is whether regulations should exist to create a balance — a level playing field — for drain cleaners and plumbers. Drain cleaners would be required to earn a certification, and plumbers would be required to earn the same certification if they provide drain cleaning services. 

If everyone were required to earn the same credentials, it would raise the verifiable expertise — and accountability — across the industry.

Perhaps I’m opening up a can of worms, but I want your opinions:

Plumbers: If drain cleaners were required to earn a credential similar to plumbers, would this benefit or hinder your marketplace?

Drain cleaners: Would you support a drain cleaner credential if it meant you gained more education and training, which could boost your business and make you more appealing to potential customers?


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