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Illinois Plumbing License: How to Become a Licensed Plumber in Illinois

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Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Illinois

  2. Types of Plumbing Licenses in Illinois

  3. Steps to Get a Plumbers License in Illinois

  4. Requirements For Plumbing Contractors in Illinois

  5. Requirements For Irrigation Contractors in Illinois

  6. Requirements to Obtain a Retired Plumbing License in Illinois

  7. Benefits of Getting a Plumber’s License In Illinois

  8. What Is the Median Salary for a Plumber in Illinois?

  9. How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbing License in Illinois?

  10. Illinois Training Programs and Schools

  11. Illinois Plumbing Licensing Exam Details

  12. Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Illinois?

  13. Does My Illinois Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

  14. Other Requirements Unique to Illinois

Plumbers are essential to our society. We need professionals who know how to do the job right to protect us from potential adverse health issues such as toxic gases and contaminated drinking water. The state of Illinois points to safety as the reason for the need to regulate the plumbing trade and require a minimum amount of training and education for all plumbers. 

It will take you four to six years to learn the trade in Illinois but once mastered, you will have credentials that will guarantee you a solid career path.

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Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in Illinois

Is a license required for plumbers in Illinois? Yes.

To legally perform plumbing work in the state of Illinois, you must be licensed.

Plumbing licenses are issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health or the City of Chicago.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, to become a licensed plumber in Illinois, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen (or in the process of declaring citizenship)

  • Be at least 16 years of age

  • Possess a valid driver’s license

  • Meet the educational/experience requirements

  • Obtain a passing score on both parts (written and practical) of the Illinois Plumbing Licensing Examination

  • Pay all applicable fees

  • Plumbing contractors must register with the state, pay a fee, and must maintain minimum general liability insurance, bodily injury insurance, property damage insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance.

Types of Plumbing Licenses in Illinois

What are the different types of plumbing licenses in Illinois?

The state issues five different types of licenses:

  • Apprentice plumber’s license

  • Plumber’s license

  • Plumbing contractor license

  • Irrigation contractor license

  • Retired plumber license

Steps to Get a Plumbers License in Illinois

  1. Find an apprenticeship. Illinois plumbing license law requires you to be at least 16 years old and have completed at least two years of high school before beginning an apprenticeship. Many apprenticeship programs require you to be at least 18 years old and be a high school graduate or have a GED equivalent.

  2. Apply for your Plumber’s Apprentice License through the state or the city of Chicago and pay a $100 application fee.

  3. Accumulate 48 to 72 months of work experience under a licensed plumber. You must work under a licensed plumber for at least 4 years before applying for licensure. After a maximum apprenticeship period of 6 years, if you do not apply for the plumber’s licensing exam (or you fail the exam), you will not be eligible for a renewal of the apprentice license.

  4. Meanwhile, get 144 hours of classroom instruction through a vocation or college program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.

  5. Take the Plumber’s Exam. The application form is due 30 days prior to the date of the exam. The Application for Examination for Plumber’s License fee is $175. The application fee for Plumbers Registered or Licensed in Chicago or Outside the State is $225.

  6. If you pass the test, you will receive your plumbers license. If not, you can retake the exam but you must complete the Plumber’s License Examination Retake Form and pay an additional fee of $175.

  7. All plumbers licenses, including apprentice licenses, must be renewed every year by April 30 via the online renewal page. Illinois state law requires all applicants, whether or not they have children, to certify whether they are delinquent in the payment of child support. The license application will not be approved until this information has been completed. Applicants for renewal must also complete continuing education requirements (four hours of continuing education in an approved course) and pay a $100 fee.

Requirements For Plumbing Contractors in Illinois

If you wish to own your own business, you must apply to be a Plumbing Contractor. Plumbing contractors must maintain minimum general liability insurance, bodily injury insurance, property damage insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance. You must also secure a surety/indemnification bond or letter of credit for $20,000. A plumbing contractor license renewal costs $150 per year.

Requirements For Irrigation Contractors in Illinois

Irrigation contractors install or supervise the installation of lawn sprinkler systems. Each irrigation contractor in Illinois must register annually with the state by completing the Irrigation Contractor Registration Application. It is required by law that every company has licensed plumbers, employed by a State of Illinois Registered Plumbing Contractor, on staff or by contract. The application fee ranges from $400 to $1,500, determined by the number of plumbers required based on the number of employees you have.

Requirements to Obtain a Retired Plumbing License in Illinois

Finally, a Retired Plumber License can be applied for using this form. To be eligible for a retired plumber license, you must:

  • Hold an Illinois plumber license

  • Be at least 62 years old or physically unable to perform the responsibilities of a licensed plumber demonstrated by a signed affidavit from a physician, and

  • Voluntarily surrender your plumbers license in exchange for a retired plumber license.

A retired plumber license is intended for those who want to retire and do not expect to perform plumbing in Illinois. It allows plumbers to continue to carry a state license proving their plumbing competence at a substantially reduced fee of $25 annually and gives them the option of reinstating or restoring their regular plumber license for much less than if it expires.

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Benefits of Getting a Plumber’s License In Illinois

There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Plumber’s License.

  • First and most important, it is required by law in Illinois to be licensed through the state or the city of Chicago to legally perform plumbing work.

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

  • Only licensed plumbing contractors can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits and act as a plumbing inspector, bid on public and government projects.

  • Having a license protects your company and customers.

  • Gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.

  • Increases your earning potential. The annual mean income for a plumber in Illinois is $86,120, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is the Median Salary for a Plumber in Illinois?

The salary for a plumber in Illinois increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com. Though the state doesn’t classify plumbers as journeyman or master, the salary site is presumably referencing levels of experience and expertise.

Apprentice: The average salary for an apprentice plumber is $23.73 per hour in Illinois and $5,429 overtime per year.

Journeyman: The average salary for a journeyman plumber is $29.04 per hour in Illinois and $10,331 overtime per year.

According to Salary.com, the average licensed plumber salary in Illinois is $59,500 as of November 25, 2020, but the range typically falls between $51,700 and $68,000. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the municipality and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Plumbing License in Illinois?

  • Plumber’s apprentice

    • Application fee is $100.

    • Required fee for renewal is $100.

  • Plumber’s license

    • Application for examination for license fee is $175.

    • Application fee for Plumbers Registered or Licensed in Chicago or Outside the State is $225.

    • Renewal fee is $100.

  • Plumbing contractor license

    • Application fee is $150.

    • Renewal fee is $150.

  • Irrigation contractor license

    • Application fee is:

      • 0-7 employees, 1 plumber required $400

      • 8-12 employees, 2 plumbers required $600

      • 13-20 employees, 3 plumbers required $900

      • 21-28 employees, 4 plumbers required $1,200

      • 29-35 employees, 5 plumbers required $1,500

      • 36 or more employees, 6 plumbers required $1,500

  • Retired plumber license

    • Application fee is $25.

    • Renewal fee is $25.

Illinois Training Programs and Schools

There are many programs to get the training you need to become a plumbing professional in Illinois. You’ll need to find a contractor or company with an opening for an apprentice. You can do that independently or enroll in a trade school or local union apprenticeship program. Those programs can often help connect you with a licensed plumber to oversee your apprenticeship. You can also choose to earn a degree in a plumbing program at a college or university. It will take about four years to get the classroom and hands-on training you need to prepare for the licensing exam.

You’ll learn about plumbing systems including:

  • Underground water supply

  • Stormwater

  • Sewer drainage

  • Fixture installation

  • Waste and vent piping both inside and outside of buildings

  • Residential and service plumbing

Any program should also cover OSHA safety training, detailed instruction in chemistry, mathematics, physics, blueprint reading and drafting, in-depth examination of state plumbing codes, and advanced training about water treatment systems, water heaters, plumbing appliances, and plumbing fixtures.

  • Here are three great lists of the best plumbing colleges and universities in Illinois:

    • Universities.com: Best Plumbing Colleges in Illinois

    • Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Illinois

    • Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Illinois

Trade schools are plentiful and can be found doing a simple computer search. Among them are: Illinois Plumbing Consultants, Building and Fire Code Academy, and UA Local 130 Plumbers and Tech Engineers.

Tuition: The Cost of Tuition depends on the program you choose and varies widely. The good news is in many programs you’ll be earning while you’re learning. Tuition for a trade school can be as little as $600 to $700 per semester or a four-year degree runs about $15,000 a year.

Program Prerequisites: Most programs require you to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) degree. Many require you to pass a physical and a drug test.

On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you will need to have good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have mechanical capability, and be physically fit because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing, and working in tight spaces. 

Illinois Plumbing Licensing Exam Details

The Illinois Plumber’s Licensing Examination is made up of 50 multiple-choice questions designed to test your knowledge on a wide variety of plumbing topics. It is broken down into five sections:

  • Drawing

  • Practical

  • PVC

  • Cast Iron

  • Copper

The Chicago plumbing exam is 3 hours long.  You must score at least a 70% to pass. The test covers:

  • Plumbing Practice, Theory, and Safety

  • Code Requirements for Plumbers and Contractors

  • Plumbing Systems

  • Rehabilitated Requirements

  • Drawings, Charts, and Plans

  • Cutting and Assembling Plumbing System Components

  • Troubleshoot, Maintenance and Repair

Who Issues Plumbers Licenses in Illinois?

The Illinois Department of Public Health is the state agency responsible for licensing plumbers in Illinois.

Does My Illinois Plumbers License Work in Any Other State?

According to the National Center for Construction Education & Research, Illinois will consider reciprocity based on an existing license from other states or the city of Chicago. You would need to contact and verify with the Illinois Department of Public Health the details of obtaining a license via reciprocity.

Plumbing Certifications

Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. National Inspection Testing and Certification (NITC),  International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (ASSE Certifications), and other professional certifications are not required but may make you a more attractive hire to prospective employers or can increase your marketability to customers. There’s also an organization specific to Illinois called the Illinois Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors that you might be interested in investigating.

Other Requirements Unique to Illinois

Illinois law requires all advertising of plumbing services to include the plumbing license number in the advertisement. Failure to display the correct number or allowing shared use of licensing numbers can result in prosecution of a Class A misdemeanor and may lead to a fine of $1,000 and suspension/revocation of the license. The law further states that businesses and individuals offering plumbing services “shall, at their place of business, display the plumbing license of at least one of the members and maintain a register listing all the names and license numbers of all licensed plumbers and licensed apprentice plumbers currently employed by them.”

Resources

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