Illinois Plumbing License: How to Become a Licensed Plumber in Illinois
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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.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there are roughly 469,000 plumbers, pipefitters, and gasfitters nationwide, and 15,790 work in Illinois. The national number is projected to grow 2 percent from 2021 to 2031 adding 9,100 of these skilled workers 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 10%.
Contractors are struggling to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVACR professionals. In fact, 60% of firms in the United States and 36% of firms in Illinois had unfilled hourly craft positions, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey. So, if you get the training you need you should have a variety of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.
Licensing requirements for plumbers vary from state to state and in some cases from municipality to municipality. 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 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.
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 workers' compensation insurance.
Types of Plumbing Licenses in Illinois
What are the different types of plumbing licenses in Illinois?
The state issues five types of licenses:
Apprentice plumber’s license
Plumbing contractor license
Irrigation contractor license
Retired plumber license
Steps to Get a Plumber's License in Illinois
Find an apprenticeship. Illinois plumbing license law requires you to be at least 16 years old and complete 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.
Accumulate 48 to 72 months of work experience under a licensed plumber. You must work under a licensed plumber for at least four years before applying for licensure. After a maximum apprenticeship period of six 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.
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.
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.
If you pass the test, you will receive your plumbing 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.
All plumbing 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 workers' 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, apply for a Retired Plumber License 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 plumbing 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 Plumbing License In Illinois
There are many benefits to getting your Plumbing 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.
What Is the Median Salary for a Plumber in Illinois?
The annual mean wage for a plumber in Illinois is $86,200, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.That salary 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 wage for an apprentice plumber is $24.90 per hour in Illinois and $5,500 overtime per year.
Journeyman: The average wage for a journeyman plumber is $78,859 per hour in Illinois.
Salaries can vary widely depending on the municipality 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
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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 to Get a Plumbing License in Illinois?
Application fee is $100.
Required fee for renewal is $100.
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
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:
Niche: 2023 Best Colleges with Plumbing Degrees in Illinois
Prepler: Best Plumbing Colleges & Universities in Illinois
Trade schools are plentiful and can be found with 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; 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 into five sections:
The Chicago plumbing exam is three 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
Drawings, Charts, and Plans
Cutting and Assembling Plumbing System Components
Troubleshoot, Maintenance and Repair
Who Issues Plumbing 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.
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.”
You can stay up to date on all plumbing industry news several ways: