How to Become a Plumber in Illinois
A career in plumbing is always in high demand due to increases in construction and stricter regulations, as well as the need to replace and repair old plumbing systems with newer technology. Due to this need for constant upkeep, job security for plumbing careers is exceptionally high compared to other career fields.
Education & Training
How Long Does It Take?
The programs listed above are perfect for getting your career started, and they take about 12 months to complete. It is self paced and you can study at anytime.
Receiving a plumbing license in Illinois additionally requires the completion of an apprenticeship program. Individuals seeking a Plumber’s License must work a minimum of 4 years, and at most 6, as an apprentice.
Ultimately, becoming a plumber in Illinois is a multi-step process primarily requiring two licenses: an Apprenticeship Plumber’s License and a Plumber’s License. The Illinois Department of Public Health issues both licenses. A
fter completing at least two years of high school and a prerequisite course at a trade school, college, or university, in addition to passing a basic licensing exam, you will be eligible for an Apprenticeship Plumber’s License. You can acquire a Plumber’s License following the completion of an apprenticeship sponsored by an Illinois-licensed plumber and the completion of the Plumber’s License Exam.
How Much Does It Cost?
About $2300 for the courses listed above. The cost to complete an educational program in plumbing, a requirement for an Apprenticeship Plumber’s License, ranges from $1,300 to $3,000, depending on the institution.
The apprentice license application fee is $100, and the plumbing license application fee varies from $175 to $225, depending on location.
This is a competitive cost compared to other career fields, given that Illinois offers paid apprenticeships, which virtually offset the price of training and registration; the price of HVAC training and licensing, for example, can range from $1,500 to $30,000.
What Do You Study?
A foundational course on plumbing will address the following:
- Practices for plumbing safety and cautionary procedures for hazardous materials and equipment use.
- The mechanisms and components of standard piping and water supply systems and their construction.
- Reading specialty drawings and symbols concerning construction diagrams.
- Identifying piping materials and fixture types in plumbing and appropriately installing standard plumbing fixtures.
- Essential mathematical skills, geometric concepts, and prerequisite knowledge for completing standard services.
- Plumbing codes required for various services, and customer service communication skills.
Benefits of Taking the Course
Completing a foundational plumbing course offers benefits to both your professional education and interpersonal skills fundamental to this line of work.
You will gain the plumbing knowledge necessary to complete the initial exam required to go forward with an apprenticeship, in addition to service skills beneficial for both acquiring sponsorship from a state-licensed plumber and working with customers professionally and compassionately.
How Much Can You Make?
The average salary for a licensed plumber in Illinois ranges from $57,000 to $91,210 annually, with an average hourly wage of $30. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this range encompasses salaries higher than the national average of $59,880 per year. Average salaries for Illinois’ major cities as of 2022 include:
- Chicago: $37/hr, $77,000/year
- Naperville: $32/hr, $66,000/year
- Aurora: $31/hr, $64,000/year
- Joliet: $31/hr, $64,000/year
- Rockford: $28/hr, $58,000/year
Unlike other states, the only state licenses required in Illinois are the Apprenticeship Plumber’s License and the Plumber’s License–except for in the city of Chicago, in which a journeyman license is required.
State License or Certification
Two exams are mandatory to become a licensed plumber–the preliminary Apprenticeship Plumber’s License Examination, which grants you eligibility to acquire an apprenticeship under the sponsorship of a state-licensed plumber, and the Plumber’s License Examination, which demonstrates that your training and education are sufficient to be employed.
To take the Apprenticeship Plumber’s License Exam, a minimum of 2 years of high school is required, in addition to an approved program by a trade school, college, or university.
To take the Plumber’s License Exam, a minimum of 4 years of apprenticeship experience is required in addition to sponsorship by a state-licensed plumber, as well as a GED or high school diploma (in addition to trade school coursework required for the previous exam).
In addition to these licenses, you will need a permit to actively practice as a plumber, issued by your county, following submitting a Plumbing Permit Application form. Additional certification, such as a Plumbing Contractor license, is optional to practice generally but may be required depending on your employment or business type.
Illinois requires all individuals seeking employment as a plumber to complete an apprenticeship of at least 4 (and at most 6) years. Your apprenticeship will entail both educational classroom-style learning and on-the-job training. In addition to this apprenticeship, you will need a sponsorship from an Illinois-licensed plumber, with whom you will work throughout your apprenticeship.
Entry-Level Job Description
As an entry-level plumber, you will be tasked with assisting senior plumbers in reparations, installations, and maintenance. Specific tasks may include installing and repairing pipes, valves, fittings, and drainage systems according to building plans and blueprints. Basic construction and electrical work may also be required.
You may also have to keep plumbing up to date with safety regulations and inspection systems.
In addition to performing many plumbing tasks, your role will involve communication with commercial and residential clientele and record-keeping for preparing cost estimates and documenting your work. Customer service skills and a firm understanding of the engineering of plumbing systems are vital components of the job, as you will be required to communicate the necessary procedures for installing, repairing, or servicing a plumbing system to a customer assumed to be unfamiliar with technical terminology.
Skillsets or Requirements
As a plumber, the skills employers require may vary drastically based on the job assigned to you. These field-specific expectations may entail the following:
- The ability to drive company vehicles to work sites punctually.
- In-depth knowledge of plumbing systems’ structure and function.
- Technical problem-solving skills necessary to perform maintenance and repairs.
- An updated understanding of field regulations, building codes, safety regulations, and additional inspection criteria.
- The ability to read blueprints and diagrams.
- Familiarity with the materials used in plumbing systems, such as PVC, cast iron, and copper.
Additional soft skills are desirable for plumbers, and these may dramatically contribute to the efficacy of your performance:
- Time management skills
- Interpersonal skills for maintaining customer and coworker relationships.
- Attention to detail and the ability to multitask.
- An understanding of basic metric conversions and geometry.
Pros & Cons of the Job
A career in plumbing is always in high demand due to increases in construction and stricter regulations, as well as the existential need to replace and repair old plumbing systems with newer technology. Due to this need for constant upkeep, job security for plumbing careers is exceptionally high compared to other career fields.
Plumbing also offers remarkable flexibility in its employment opportunities, enabling plumbers to work for a plumbing company as an employee or work independently by opening their own business. In general, plumbing is a diverse career oriented in problem-solving and can be appealing due to the unpredictable nature of jobs and the opportunity to interact with customers gratifyingly.
Despite the benefits, a career in plumbing can be physically taxing and laborious. Even with safety precautions and workplace regulations, an occupational risk of getting injured is higher than in other professions.
Plumbers must manage waste and hazardous materials, which pose health risks and may be unpleasant. Plumbers may also be liable for mistakes on jobs and may have to compensate clients. Hours may also be unpredictable due to the demand for emergency repairs, with evening and weekend work being standard practice.
Is it a good career?
A career in plumbing offers a breadth of opportunities for individuals with varying interests. You can pursue a more entrepreneurial path, working for yourself and opening a business that may contract other employees.
You may also choose to work for a company, becoming a senior plumber tasked with jobs that require more technical skills and thus pay more. You may also have the opportunity to gain additional certifications in niche fields, such as in irrigation plumbing, which may offer more competitive salaries due to the advanced training required.
Demand for a career in plumbing is expected to increase by an average of 2% from 2021 to 2031, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics–this is a below-average growth rate compared to the national average of 5% for all occupations. Despite this limited growth, nearly 50,000 positions for careers in plumbing and similar trades are expected to open annually over the decade, with additional openings projected due to the need to replace workers who exit the labor force, for example, due to retirement.