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Illinois Electrical License: How to Become an Electrician in Illinois

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Table of Contents
  1. License Requirements for Electricians in Illinois

  2. Steps to Get Electrician Certification in Illinois

  3. Types of Electrical Licensure in Illinois

  4. Benefits of Becoming a Certified Electrician in Illinois

  5. How Much Does It Cost for Electrician Certification in Illinois?

  6. How Long Does It Take to Get an Electrician Certification in Illinois?

  7. Illinois Electrician Training Programs and Schools

  8. Illinois Electrician Certification Exam Details

  9. Who Issues Electrician Licenses in Illinois?

  10. Does My Illinois Electrical License Work in Any Other State?

Being an electrician isn’t just a job, it’s a solid career path. Electrical contractors enjoy a wide range of employment opportunities and earn a respectable income. There’s also job security—customers will always need skilled trade professionals to install and service electrical systems in their homes and businesses. 

The process of becoming an electrician takes time, but you get paid while you learn and gain experience!

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License Requirements for Electricians in Illinois

Is a state license required to be an electrician in Illinois? Yes.

Illinois requires a license to perform electrical work; however, there is not a statewide regulatory electrical licensing board. Instead, local municipalities issue electrical licenses and certifications. A license is not required to begin work as an electrical apprentice.

Steps to Get Electrician Certification in Illinois

  1. Gain hands-on work experience, as well as classroom training.

  2. Take an exam to obtain initial certification.

  3. Become a licensed independent electrical contractor.

GAIN NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: Because electrician licenses get issued on the local level, rather than by the state, requirements vary by county. In most cases, you need about four years or 8,000 hours of electrical trade work experience before you become eligible to obtain initial certification. This experience is usually obtained through an apprenticeship program, and between 500 and 800 hours of classroom training. Both union and non-union apprenticeship programs are available. 

Most apprenticeship programs require you to be at least 18 years old, earn a high school diploma or GED, have reliable transportation, demonstrate you're physically fit, and pass an aptitude and Algebra test.

TAKE INITIAL CERTIFICATION EXAM: After completing the necessary job training, you are eligible to sit for an exam that in most states is the equivalent of a journeyman license exam. Exam fees vary by individual cities and counties. 

In the city of Chicago, for example, there is a supervising electrician certification exam. This electrical exam will enable you to work under an already licensed electrical contractor, if you don’t plan to open your own business and want to continue to work as the equivalent of a journeyman electrician. To take the exam, you must be at least 21 years old, obtain two years of experience as an electrician, and provide proof of your work history. Once you pass the exam, certification remains valid between one and four years. Certifications must be renewed through the City of Chicago website. 

In contrast, many local municipalities skip journeyman licensure and the electrician certification process entirely, jumping right to electrical contractor licenses.  

BECOME AN ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: In Illinois, electrical contractors must register in each city or county where they plan to conduct business.  In many cases, the electrical contracting process involves working as a supervising electrician, becoming familiar with local government ordinances, and proving general liability insurance coverage. Electrical contractors are required to renew their licenses yearly in most Illinois counties. 

Fees associated with obtaining an electrical contractor license vary by individual municipalities. For more information about specific electrical contractor requirements at your local level, contact the county department of buildings. 

Types of Electrical Licensure in Illinois

Unlike plumbers, licensing requirements and professional regulations in the state of Illinois vary at the local level and differ by individual city and county. Licensees typically pass a certification exam equivalent in other states to a journeyman license and then go on to earn independent electrical contractor licenses. Illinois does not offer a state-recognized master electrician license. 

Benefits of Becoming a Certified Electrician in Illinois

The state of Illinois expects the number of licensed electrician jobs, similar to those of journeyman electricians, to increase by 15% through 2024. The average electrician in Illinois earns $26.29 per hour, or $54,682.20 per year.

There are many benefits you’ll see from pursuing Illinois electrician certification:

  • Most importantly, most Illinois municipalities require electricians be licensed or certified to legally perform electrical work in a specific city or county.

  • A trade license provides proof of your experience and skill.

  • Only certified electrical contractors and supervising electricians can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits, and pass inspections, bid on public and government projects.

  • A license protects your company and customers.

  • Electrician licensure gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.

  • It also increases your earning potential.

How Much Does It Cost for Electrician Certification in Illinois?

Tuition costs for trade and vocational schools in Illinois vary, depending on if you live within the school’s district or just an Illinois state resident. Generally speaking, tuition ranges from $4,000 to $12,000 per year, plus the cost of books and other materials. Fees associated with certification exams and licensing also apply, but vary by county.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Electrician Certification in Illinois?

Obtaining initial electrician certification in Illinois, which is similar to an electrical journeyman license in other states, takes about four years of experience, along with an average of 575 hours of classroom time and technical-based job training. After that, you become eligible to apply for a supervising electrician or licensed electrical contractor.

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Illinois Electrician Training Programs and Schools

There are many community colleges, trade schools, technical and vocational schools, located all across the state, that provide the training and classroom instruction you will need to become an electrical professional in Illinois. Some specialty training schools offer associate degrees that you can complete in about two years.

Lincoln College of Technology-Melrose Park 8317 W. North Ave. Melrose Park, Illinois, 60160-1605 708-344-4700

Offers an electrical training associate program that takes 18 to 24 months to complete. Tuition costs just under $30,000 per year, plus another $800 for books and study materials.

Coyne College 1 North State St. Chicago, Illinois, 60602-3304 773-577-8100

Offers an electrical construction and planning certificate program, as well as an associate program in electrical construction industry and maintenance. The program can usually be completed in about two years and costs approximately $29,000 per year, plus about $130 in study materials.

Program Prerequisites: Program prerequisites vary. Most programs, however, require you to be 18 years old, earn a high school diploma or GED, hold a valid driver’s license, and show a passing Algebra grade. 

On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you will gain an understanding of electrical standards, as well as math and scientific principles. Electricians need keen eyesight and good hand-eye coordination, as well as proper time management skills. They also must demonstrate good customer service skills, be able to work independently, maintain good physical endurance, and use logical problem-solving techniques. Electricians also learn how to read blueprints, circuit diagrams, and other technical documents.

Illinois Electrician Certification Exam Details

The Chicago supervising electrician certification exam contains 75 questions, as well as an additional 25-75 questions from the Chicago Electrical Code. You must score at least a 70% to pass. Study materials are available and the open-book exam allows applicants to use the National Electrical Code (NEC) for reference. 

Some exam topics include:

  • Fundamental Concepts

  • Electrical Blueprint Reading

  • Conductors, Conduit, and Grounding

  • Transformers, Delta, and Wye loads

  • Power Factor and Volt-Amps

  • Service and Voltage Drops

  • OSHA Regulations and Workplace Safety

Topics covered on electrical contractor exams vary by city and county. Generally speaking, a passing score equals 70% or higher. In most cases, applicants can use the National Electrical Code (NEC) for reference. 

Frequently covered exam topics include:

  • Local Electrical Requirements

  • Electrical Wire Safety

  • OSHA Regulations

  • Fire Detection and Alarm Systems

Who Issues Electrician Licenses in Illinois?

The state of Illinois does not have a regulatory licensing board overseeing electricians. Instead, licenses get issued by municipalities at the local government level. Each city and county has different requirements for electricians performing work in their area.  

Does My Illinois Electrical License Work in Any Other State?

No. Unlike states such as Texas and Arkansas, Illinois does not have reciprocity agreements with any other states. This is not uncommon. Many other states, including Michigan, Missouri, Arizona, Connecticut, and New York also do not have reciprocity agreements with other states.

National Electrician Certifications

While optional, national certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency in certain aspects of the electrical trade to potential employers and clients, which often translates into more job opportunities and higher pay.

These include the Independent Electrical Contractors' Certified Professional Electrician (CPE) distinction, certification through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), among dozens of additional electrician certifications available.

Electrician Resources

You can stay up to date on all electrician industry news in several ways: