Illinois Electrical License: How to Become an Electrician in Illinois
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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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 711,200 electricians nationwide and 21,050 work in Illinois. The national number is predicted to grow 7% from 2021 to 2031, adding more than 50,000 to the ranks. According to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, that growth rate is expected to be much higher in Illinois at 13%.
Many contractors nationwide are trying to find skilled tradesmen. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 36% of firms in Illinois had unfilled hourly craft positions like plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians. So, if you get the training you need you will have a lot of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.
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 no statewide regulatory electrical licensing board. Instead, 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
Gain hands-on work experience, as well as classroom training.
Take an exam to obtain initial certification.
Become a licensed independent electrical contractor.
How to Become an Electrician in Illinois
GAIN NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: Because electrician licenses are 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 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 proof of 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 Electrician Licensure in Illinois
Unlike plumbers, electrician 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
There are many benefits to pursuing Illinois electrician certification:
Most important, 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.
What Is the Mean Wage for an Electrician in Illinois?
The annual mean pay for electricians in Illinois is $83,140 per year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. That salary, as you might expect, increases as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.
Electrician Apprentice: The average pay for an electrician apprentice is $20.62 per hour in Illinois and $6,000 overtime per year.
Electrician: The average pay for an electrician apprentice is $28.54 per hour in Illinois and $9,438 overtime per year.
Master Electrician: The average pay for an electrician apprentice is $52.39 per hour in Illinois.
Salaries can vary widely, depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
What Business Owners Need to Know
Getting the most out of an electrical technician, no matter where they are in their licensing journey, takes work. ServiceTitan’s cloud-based, all-in-one electrician software gives technicians and business owners the technology they need to do the work efficiently, and the data they need to do it smartly.
SMS communications that keep customers informed about the technician’s visit.
Location-specific service history, including recorded calls, accessible from the mobile app.
Required forms that ensure every job is done right, driving consistency.
The ability to build multi-option proposals with photos, on-site, in minutes.
Sales presentations that make conversations with customers easier and drive average ticket.
Mobile payment acceptance, eliminating lost checks and increasing cash flow.
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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 are 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 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, have 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:
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
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 are 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 Electrician 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.
You can stay up to date on all electrician industry news in several ways: