Illinois Plumbing Careers

Information on Becoming a Licensed Plumber in Illinois

Licensing and certification requirements for plumbers are usually determined at the state level and tend to vary slightly from state to state. Often, the job of enforcing and regulating these requirements falls to individual municipalities.

In Illinois, any business or individual performing plumbing work must have a license issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health or the City of Chicago. To become a licensed plumber, you must:

  • complete at least two years of high school or the equivalent;
  • complete four to six years of licensed apprenticeship;
  • pass the Illinois Plumbing exam; and
  • pay the appropriate licensing fee(s).

A plumber's license and apprentice plumber's license must be renewed annually. Licensed plumbers are required to have at least four hours of continuing education credit to renew their licenses. (Visit our Plumbing Continuing Education Page for more information on continuing education classes currently available for licensed plumbers.)


In Illinois, the median salary for plumbers and pipefitters is $72,603 annually. More detailed information on salaries in Illinois and Cook County can be found here. Typically, apprentices earn about half the hourly wage of a licensed plumber.

Career Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for skilled, experienced plumbers is greater than the supply. It is also expected that the need and pay for these experienced tradespeople will remain high due to the amount of new construction and the number of people retiring in the next several years.

Experienced plumbers can also become supervisors/foremen, estimators, distribution managers, building inspectors, project managers or instructors. Some experienced plumbers also go into business for themselves. Some two-year colleges offer credit for life experience to tradespeople who participate in an apprenticeship program.

Is a Plumbing Career Right for You?

Plumbing is a highly skilled, highly regulated profession. It requires commitment. To become a plumber, you must be prepared to complete at least four years of apprenticeship training. Plumbing apprenticeship programs also involve classroom work, which is often completed outside of regular work hours.

And, as in any job, people with certain likes and dislikes tend to perform better in plumbing careers and enjoy their work more. People who answer "yes" to the following questions tend to enjoy plumbing careers:

  1. Do you get a feeling of accomplishment from seeing the results of your finished work?
  2. Do you like to work in friendly, non-competitive environments?
  3. Do you like doing things for others?
  4. Do you like doing a variety of different tasks, working alone and being busy/active?
  5. Do you like solving problems that have practical, hands-on solutions?
  6. Do you like working with tools and do you have good hand-eye coordination?

On the other hand, if having your evenings and weekends free is important to you, you should know that plumbers often work overtime. Plumbers who perform maintenance and repair often work evenings and weekends or have to be on call during those hours.