How to Become a Licensed Plumber in Illinois

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In the state of Illinois, plumbers are required to obtain an Illinois plumbing license before they can work. There are several ways to obtain this license, including through an apprenticeship, a trade school program, or on-the-job training.

License Requirements

Plumbers must be licensed to work on jobs in Illinois. This requires meeting certain inherent, educational, and experiential requirements, passing the relevant examinations, and paying all applicable fees.

For plumbing contractors, getting licensed also means registering with the state and maintaining minimum general liability and workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

Types of Illinois Plumbing Licenses

Illinois issues five different types of plumbing licenses:

  • Apprentice
  • Plumber
  • Plumbing contractor
  • Irrigation contractor
  • Retired plumber

This system is different from most states in that the licenses are more specialized.

Requirements for apprentice plumbers are very basic, as no previous experience or training is needed to get an apprentice license.

Plumbing licenses can be obtained only after getting relevant experience and taking an exam.

Irrigation contractors must register annually with the state and employ a certain number of licensed plumbers.

Retired plumbing licenses are available to current Illinois plumbing license holders who are either at least 62 years old or can produce a signed affidavit from their physician saying that they are physically incapable of performing the ordinary work required of a licensed plumber.

Retired plumbers have the option of reinstating their regular plumbing licenses in the future.

Cost to Get an Illinois Plumbing License

The cost to get a plumbing license in Illinois varies on what level of license a person wants to get and what type of work they plan to do.

Plumbers apprentices pay application and renewal fees of just $100.

While plumbers pay the same $100 renewal fee, they must also pay a $175 application fee to take the plumbing license exam or, if they are already registered or licensed in Chicago or other states, a $225 fee to transfer their licenses.

Plumbing contractor licenses cost $150 both for the initial application and for each renewal.

Irrigation contractor licenses have different fee schedules depending on how many employees the contractor has.

What that means is that application fees vary from $400 for 0-7 employees to $1,500 for 36 or more employees. The number of plumbers per unlicensed person also varies.

Retired plumber licenses are very affordable at $25 per application or renewal.

Plumbing Licensing Exams

The state’s Plumber’s Licensing Examination consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. The test itself is broken down into five sections:

  • Drawing
  • Practical
  • PVC
  • Cast Iron
  • Copper

Plumbers who want to get licensed in Chicago will need to take a separate exam. It’s three hours long and requires a 70% score or above to pass.

The Chicago plumbing exam covers plumbing practice, theory, and safety, plus code requirements and rehabilitated requirements, drawing, charts, and plans, and questions about cutting and assembling system components, troubleshooting problems, providing maintenance, and plumbing repairs.

Who Issues Plumbing Licenses in Illinois?

State plumbing licenses are issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, plumbers that want to be licensed to work in the city of Chicago must pursue a separate license.

Plumbing Certifications

No plumbing certifications are offered or required by the state of Illinois.

However, plumbers and plumbing contractors may want to apply for national certifications through reputable organizations like the NITC and the ASSE. These certifications can make it easier to prove competence to employers and clients, alike.

Can I Transfer an Illinois Plumbing License?

Illinois does not offer plumbing license reciprocity, meaning they cannot transfer their license out of state.

However licensed Chicago plumbers can usually transfer their licenses to other districts.