Considering getting into the plumbing business? Illinois is a great place to get a plumbing license and jumpstart your career. Within the past 5 years, the industry has seen steady growth. The market expanded at a rate of 3.2% between 2017 and 2022, and the plumbing sector was worth $107 billion in 2021 alone.

With this demand increase and a relatively low entry barrier, becoming an Illinois plumber is an excellent career choice.

All you need to kick off your career as a plumber is some education, on-the-job training, and a license.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. We’ll cover everything you need to know below:

We have everything you need in one guide, so bookmark this page and check it whenever you have a question about plumbing licenses in Illinois.

Do you need a license to be a plumber in Illinois?

Yes, you need a license to work as a plumber and advertise your services in Illinois. The license is required to plan, inspect, install, alter, extend, repair and maintain plumbing systems. This license requirement applies to both professional plumbers and DIY projects at home.  

When advertising your plumbing services, proof of licensure must be shown in your ad. In the event that you fail to show proof of license on the ad, you’ll face prosecution, fines, or even a license suspension.

Licenses are issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the City of Chicago’s Department of Buildings. Though the city of Chicago tends to have specific allowances regarding licenses, they do accept Illinois state-issued licenses.

Types of plumbing licenses in Illinois

There are a few variations of plumbing licenses available in Illinois, depending on the type of work you’ll be doing. 

  • Plumber’s license: required for any individual to conduct any kind of plumbing work
  • Apprentice plumber’s license: allows an individual to complete work under the direct supervision of a fully licensed plumber.
  • Plumbing contractor license: allows plumbing work to be completed by a licensed business. You can only apply for this after receiving your plumbers’ license.
  • Irrigation contractor license: allows a licensed plumber to complete work on sprinkler systems.
  • Retired plumber license: does not permit an individual to complete any plumbing work. Rather, it offers proof that they have previously completed and obtained their license should they want to reinstate their license later. This is only available to those who are 62 years old and over.

Illinois plumbing license requirements

In order to obtain your plumbing license, you’ll need to meet the required age, training, and work experience requirements. To be eligible for your license, you’ll need to fulfill the following:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Successfully complete at least 2 years of high school or equivalent
  • Complete an approved course instruction through a college, university, or trade school
  • Work under a licensed plumber as an apprentice for 4-6 years
  • Pass a state licensing exam
  • Submit any relevant annual fees to the IDPH

For a retired plumber license, you’ll need to abide by a different set of requirements:

  • Hold an active plumbing license
  • Be at least 62 years old (or physically unable to perform plumbing work)
  • Surrender the active plumbing license

How do I get a plumbing license in Illinois?

In order to obtain your license, you’ll need to complete a process of education, training, and testing. While the exact process can vary based on the training route, generally, it takes about 4 years to complete your license. 

The process is as follows:

  1. Complete the required training. Before applying for a plumbing license, you must complete the required training via an apprenticeship or a course from an approved college, university, or trade school. To apply for an apprenticeship, you must have completed at least 2 years of high school and be at least 16. After successfully completing an apprenticeship, you can apply for your Apprentice Plumbing License.
  2. Gain work experience. Upon completing the required training via an apprenticeship or other route, you must work under a licensed plumber for 4-6 years to build up your work experience. After completing the required on-the-job training, you’re then eligible to apply for your plumbing license.
  3. Take the exam. You must pass a state licensing exam to earn your plumber’s license. To be eligible to take the exam, you must complete the application and pay the $225 exam fee at least 30 days before your testing date. If you have to retake the exam, you’ll have to fill out a separate application for a retake. You have 6 years to pass the plumbing license exam before your Apprentice Plumbing License is deemed void and ineligible for renewal.  

Applications for the plumbing license exam can be mailed to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Plumbing Program
525 W. Jefferson St., 3rd Floor
Springfield, IL 62761

Reciprocity agreements with other states

Some states offer reciprocity agreements that allow a state’s plumbing license to be valid in other states. Illinois will consider reciprocity from other states or the City of Chicago based on an individual’s existing license and previous experience. Plumbers must contact the IDPH to verify that their license will be accepted. 

Plumbers in Illinois who are looking to move out of state will not find any reciprocity agreements with other states. However, some states will exempt you from taking the exam portion of the application.

How to get a plumbing license in every state

Find out what it takes to become a licensed plumber across the U.S. and Canada.

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How much does it cost to get a plumbing license in Illinois?

The cost of obtaining your plumbing license varies depending on the specific route you take for your education and training. 

EDUCATION FEES

  • Apprenticeship: programs range from $0-$1,000 
  • Trade schools: tuition can start as low as $600 per semester
  • Accredited college/university: tuition starts at about $15,000 per year

APPLICATION FEES

  • Apprentice license: $100
  • Plumbing license: $175 ($225 for the city of Chicago)
  • Plumbing Contractor license: $150
  • Irrigation Contractor license: ranges from $400-$1,500 based on the number of employees and licensed plumbers. It starts at $400 for 0-7 employees with 1 licensed plumber.
  • Retired plumbing license: $25

Do I need to renew my plumbing license? 

Yes, you need to renew your plumbing license. Illinois requires that plumbing licenses are renewed every year by April 30 following the issue date of the license to stay active. Licenses can be renewed on the IDPH renewal portal.

In order to successfully renew your license, you’ll need to meet a few requirements:

  • Pay the renewal fee: $150
  • Complete the continuing education requirement: Illinois requires that plumbers complete 4 hours of continuing education from an accredited course. You can visit the State of Illinois Data Portal to learn more about available courses. 
  • Pay child support, if applicable: You must certify that any child support payments you are responsible for are current and not delinquent.

To check your license status and what requirements you still need to meet, you can visit the Plumber License Verification Site.

What happens if my plumbing license expires? 

It’s important that you know the expiration date of your license so that you can keep your license active. To check your license status, head to the Plumber License Verification Site for your license’s current standing.

If your license expires, you’ll need to stop any plumbing work and pay the $100 late fee. If you don’t renew your license promptly and your license is expired for 5 years or more, you’ll be required to pay a $500 fee and retake the initial license exam. 

Requirements for business owners

Looking to start a plumbing business? You’ll need to take a few other steps beyond getting your license.

Before jumpstarting your business,  you’ll need to establish what structure you’ll use. You can either operate as an LLC, sole proprietorship, or partnership. Once decided, you’ll need to register your company name and acquire the necessary licenses and permits needed to operate as a business. 

In Illinois, the requirements to start your own plumbing business are:

  • Apply to register as a Plumbing Contractor
  • Pay the annual fee ($150 + $100 for late renewals)
  • Obtain the required insurance
    • General liability insurance: $100,000
    • Bodily injury insurance: $300,000
    • Property damage insurance: $50,000
    • Worker’s compensation insurance: variable amount

After meeting the requirements to start your business, you’ll also need to decide how you price your services. You can refer to the Plumber’s salary guide for insights into national and state wages.

Does a plumber license increase your earning potential? 

Yes, obtaining your plumbing license does help to increase your earning potential. On average, apprentice plumbers earn $36,526, with fully licensed plumbers earning an average salary of $54,605.

You also increase your earning potential as you become more experienced within your plumbing career. After getting 3 years of experience, plumbers in Illinois tend to see a jump of 24% in their salaries. This upwards trend continues as you earn more experience, so with every year you work, you increase your earning potential.

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