In the state of Illinois, most construction contractors are licensed on a local level, rather than a state level, although roofing contractors and plumbers are the exceptions to those rules.
The plumbing permits are handled by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the roofing permits are handled by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulations.
If you are, or are in need of, the services of another type of contractor, which includes landscapers, remodeling and others, you need to check with the local city to understand their license requirements.
When you’re getting ready to move forward, we encourage you to use the form below to request quotes from competing contractors the easy way. Filling it out takes just 2 minutes, and it’s free. It will help ensure that you don’t end up overpaying.
Illinois Contractor’s License Board
Are you planning to work as a contractor in Illinois? If so, you need to determine if you need to get your contractor license at the state level or at the city or county level. This is because in the state of Illinois, only those under the roofing and plumbing trades may be granted licenses by the state. For other types of contractors, licenses are issued by the city or county.
Will you be working on plumbing systems and you need to get licensed? Then you need to get in touch with the Illinois Department of Public Health, since it is the issuing authority for plumbing licenses. To make inquiries, you can contact the Plumbing Program at (217) 524-0791. You can also go directly to their office at 525 West Jefferson Street, Springfield, Illinois 62761.
Roofing licenses, on the other hand, are handled by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulations. To contact them, you may call their hotline number 1-800-560-6420, or personally go to their headquarters located at 320 W Washington St, Springfield, IL 62786, USA.
Do you have an interest in bidding on projects handled by the state’s Department of Transportation? Then, you need to know that the state requires you to be prequalified for any of the 42 categories related to the project you want to bid on before doing so. These categories may be found at http://www.idot.illinois.gov/Assets/uploads/files/Doing-Business/Manuals-Guides-&-Handbooks/Highways/Construction/Rules%20For%20Prequal%20of%20Contractors%20.pdf#page=35&view=fit and you can also use it as your reference guide to be prequalified for any project. But if you have questions, you can direct them to the department’s Prequalification Section under the Bureau of Construction. To contact them, call (217) 782-3413 or go directly to the following address: 2300 South Dirksen Parkway, Room 322, Springfield, Illinois 62764. Once you are proven to be prequalified, remember to renew it every 16 months.
For out-of-state corporations, Certificates of Authority must be acquired before bidding on any project within the state. If this applies to you, you must obtain your certificate from the Secretary of State of Illinois, which you can contact at (217) 782-6961. You can also apply for this certificate in person in their headquarters at 501 S. Second St., Ste 328 (or: Ste 351)
Springfield, IL 62756.
Contractor Licenses Classifications
Don’t let the limited number of license classifications fool you. The state of Illinois is strict when it comes to regulating and issuing licenses for both the roofing and plumbing trades. Acquiring these licenses, like in any other state, will need you to prove your skills, experience, and knowledge about the trade. Licenses, regardless of classification, will not be issued to just anybody who wants it.
Plumbing, as defined by the state in the Illinois Plumbing License Law which you can read at http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1343&ChapterID=24, focuses on work done on plumbing systems and their appurtenances, particularly their installation, alteration, maintenance and repair, and extension. While it also includes work on sanitary and building drainages, water supply systems, sprinkler systems, and ventilation systems, this does not allow anyone with a plumber license to work on building sewers, water well drilling and related pumping systems, water softening systems, and plumbing appliances and equipment, among others.
You can choose from three types of plumbing licenses in Illinois. However, you need to start first as an apprentice plumber before applying for the plumber’s and plumbing contractor’s licenses.
So how are these licenses different from each other? Here’s a list to better understand the different license classifications of the plumbing trade:
- Apprentice – someone who is just starting out their plumbing career in Illinois and is undergoing training or part of an apprenticeship program. Any apprentice plumber in the state is required to be supervised by a licensed plumber that has sufficient experience to oversee the work and training of an apprentice plumber. Note that the state refers to these licensed plumbers who will do the supervisory work over apprentices as ‘sponsors’
- Plumber –has successfully completed an apprenticeship program, gained enough experience, and passed the necessary examinations to be able to work independently on plumbing systems within the state. They must be employed by a contractor to do so.
- Plumbing Contractor – unlike plumbers, a plumbing contractor works on plumbing systems independently but they are not employed by any other person. He or she may hire plumbers to work for his or her business or work on plumbing systems himself or herself but without anyone acting as his or her boss
Not all states issue roofing contractor licenses at the state level and Illinois is just one of the 21 that do so. If you are issued a roofing contractor license, you are permitted to work not just on roofing systems per se, such as in terms of their construction and reconstruction, modification, repair, maintenance, and alteration, but also do waterproofing work on them.
A roofing contractor in Illinois is anyone that does roofing and waterproofing work after proving to the state that he or she possesses the knowledge, experience, and skills to do so.
If you are a roofing contractor, you can choose from three license classifications available for this trade:
- Limited (Residential) Roofing Contractor License – applies to contractors who are restricted to working on residential property projects, but with a maximum of 8 units.
- Commercial & Industrial Roofing Contractor License – issued to contractors who will only be working on industrial and commercial properties
- Unlimited (Residential, Commercial, Industrial) Roofing Contractor License – those with this license can do work on all residential, commercial, and industrial property projects, regardless of the nature of work and the quantity. To be issued this license, you must first successfully pass the examination for the Limited Roofing Contractor license
How to Get Your Contractor License and Its Advantages
Applying for contractor licenses in the state of Illinois is a straightforward process. In general, you just need to meet all their requirements and pass the required examinations for you to be granted the license that you are applying for. Of course, the requirements will vary, depending on the license and where you will apply for it. Cities and counties in Illinois have different requirements for licenses issued at the municipal level, unlike those that are issued at the state-level.
Make sure to follow this guide if you are applying for the state-issued plumbing and roofing licenses. Also, don’t forget to inquire in the city or county where you will be filing your license application in if they have other requirements for these licenses, so that you can work in that particular municipality.
The steps to acquire a license will depend on the type of plumbing license you are applying for. Do note that Illinois requires apprentice and plumber licenses to be renewed every year.
If you are just starting out our plumbing career in Illinois, you need to first apply for an apprentice license. To do so, you need to make sure that you:
- Are 16 years old or older during the time of your application,
- Have completed two years or more of your high school education,
- Must fill out this form: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/forms/plumbing-apprentice-license-application-042616.pdf, and
- Join an apprenticeship program where you will be mentored and supervised by a sponsor or licensed plumber. You also need to identify your sponsor in your application form, so make sure to find one before you apply.
- Pay the license fee of $175
After working as an apprentice plumber in the state for a minimum of 2000 hours, as well as have spent 144 hours or more on classroom trainings and 10 hours to be OSHA-certified, you may now apply for the plumber or plumbing contractor licenses in Illinois. For the plumber license, the requirements are:
- Completion of your apprenticeship program, which should be a minimum of four years
- Have finished relevant plumbing trade courses for two years or more
- Completely fill out the application form for the examination for this license, which you can download at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/forms/plumber-license-examination-application-042616.pdf
- Payment of $175 for your license application but if you live in Chicago or you are an out-of-state business, you need to pay $225. Make sure to file your application not more than 30 days before your examination schedule
- Successfully pass the trade examinations
The requirements for the Plumbing Contractor license are quite similar to that of the Plumber license. If you are applying for this license, you need to make sure that you meet the same requirements when it comes to experience. That is, you need to have completed your apprenticeship program and meet the minimum required hours of work. Aside from that, you also need to:
- Fill out the application form found here: http://dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/forms/plumbing-contractor-application-renewal-042616.pdf
- Provide a surety bond worth $20,000, with the beneficiary being the state’s Department of Health. This bond must have an expiration date of September 30 of the same year when you filed your application
- Have a certificate of insurance, which shows that you have a minimum insurance coverage of $500,000 for workers’ compensation, $300,000 for injury and bodily harm, $100,000 for general liability, and $50,000 for property damage
- Pay $175 for your application if you are applying anywhere in the state, except for Chicago where the required fee is $225
- Take the trade examinations and get a passing grade
How to Get a Roofing License in Illinois
Unless you will be strictly working on commercial or industrial properties, it is recommended that you acquire a Limited or Residential Roofing Contractor License first. This is because having a Limited License allows you to acquire the Unlimited License later on after passing the trade examinations for that license.
The application process for all the license classifications of the trade is the same. You need to meet the following requirements to obtain your license:
- Fill out the application form, which you can get at http://www.idfpr.com/dpr/who/roof.asp
- Submit details of your business or organization
- Show proof that you have obtained a surety bond of $10,000, either worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance, out-of-state workers’ compensation insurance, or a certificate of approval as a self-insurer, property damage insurance of $250,000, and personal injury insurance per occurrence of $500,000
- Identify who your qualifying party is. This person is one of your business’s officers who will be the one to represent your business in filing your contractor license application, taking the examination, and will also be responsible for business or legal transactions that need to be done
- Pay the application fee of $125, as well as the required examination fees. It costs $226 for the Limited and Commercial and Industrial Roofing Contractor licenses examinations and $277 for the Unlimited license examination
- Take the required examination for your license classification
- Be of good character, by means of providing evidence that you are not negligent in terms of child support payments (if applicable) and that you do not have any existing loans, which has guaranteed by any government agency of the state, that are in default status
You need to take note that any Roofing Contractor license will expire every other year and you should renew yours before June 30th of those years.
The Perks of Being Licensed
Should you get yourself licensed? Most definitely! There are so many reasons why but the following should already convince you to do so:
- There’s proof that you have the ability to work on the contract – your license will speak for itself. Potential clients know that having a licensed is earned through hard work, knowledge, and having the right skills of the trade. Having a license automatically assures your prospective clients of your credibility – that you can do the job, even before showing them your portfolio
- You get more clients – having a contractor license is actually a great and effective marketing tool. Since the state requires that you display your contractor license prominently, it allows anyone to see it, even those just passing by your office. Even those who have never heard of your business can be a client once they see your license
- It allows you to do work for a larger clientele – it’s a given that unlicensed contractors are limited to working on small scale and low-cost projects. They do this so that they can work under the radar and avoid being flagged as unlicensed and face penalties when they get caught. Licensed contractors, on the other hand, never encounter this issue. They can work not only on low-cost and small-scale projects, but also on large scale ones that have huge budgets, including those that are handled by the government
- To avoid tarnishing your record and paying fines – the state of Illinois regulates licenses and in order to do so, it has established various laws and regulations regarding it. This includes paying various fines and punishment for anyone that has been proven to do contracting work in the state without a license, when it is required for a particular trade. In fact, fines that an unlicensed contractor must pay when they get caught can cost as much as thousands of dollars. Unlicensed roofing contractors, for example, may have to shell out $5000 at maximum. Not to mention the possibility of filing cases against them by their clients if they are unsatisfied with the work or once the client finds out that they are actually working as unlicensed contractors
Why You Should Hire Licensed Contractors
It’s true that construction projects typically cost so much. Not only do you pay for labor but also for the materials needed for your project. This is something that you must think of when looking for a contractor for your property.
Hiring unlicensed contractors is always a gamble. Sure, you might get lucky and get an unlicensed contractor who did an amazing work on his or her projects for a fraction of the price as that of a licensed contractor. However, this is a huge risk that would have great consequences if it ends up otherwise. Unlicensed contractors are quite notorious and the following are some of the biggest issues you will face if you are thinking about hiring them:
- There’s no guarantee that they will do a good job – sure, the work they did looks good now but what about in the following year? Or after a decade? If you hire unlicensed contractors, you should know that you are also risking the integrity of your structure or property. You do not have any proof of their skills so there’s no assurance that they were able to do the job properly, even if it looks good on the outside
- You are not assured that the employees are properly compensated – rarely will an unlicensed contractor follow fair labor practices. Why should they, when they charge cheaper compared to licensed ones? Cheaper rates mean cheaper pay for the workers and sub-contractors, if they even get paid on time and at all by the unlicensed contractor
- The one who will shoulder the bills in case of workplace-related accidents and injuries is you – unlicensed contractors likely do not have insurance coverage for both the workers and for property damage. This means that if there are any accidents, you will be the one required to pay the bills, not the contractor, since it happened on your property. Your contractor is not responsible for the bills since the unlicensed status of the contractor means that you are technically the workers’ employer, not the contractor
- No surety bond means you’re not protected – surety bonds work as a safety net for homeowners of the state who hire licensed contractors. This protects them from contractor-related issues, such as poor workmanship, non-payment of sub-contractors and materials, and unfinished projects. Once you encountered any of these issues due to your contractor, you can get compensation from the state through this bond. But since unlicensed contractors are not issued bonds, you are not eligible for this once you hire an unlicensed contractor
These are just some of the many issues that you will potentially face if you hire unlicensed contractors. The main point is that the risks far outweigh the possible benefits if you decide to do so. In the end, you’ll likely end up losing more money, despite your assumption that you should hire an unlicensed contractor to cut costs on your project.
Contractor License Search & Lookup For Roofing and Plumbing
Do you want to confirm the status of the license of a contractor? To do that, make sure that you have the necessary details, such as the full name of the contractor and the field he or she is licensed in. The online databases will require you to input that information.
In the state of Illinois, you can check license statuses online, especially for all state-issued licenses. For plumbing licenses, you can use the online database of the Department of Public Health, which you can find here: https://plumblicv5pub.dph.illinois.gov/clients/ildohplumb/public/verification/plumber_license_verification.aspx. Roofing licenses, on the other hand, the lookup tool is located at https://ilesonline.idfpr.illinois.gov/DPR/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx.
Contractor licenses issued at the municipal level, on the other hand, most often do not have this option. You can only verify contractor license by personally getting in touch with the issuing authority in that city or county. However, the bigger cities usually have a database where you can check the list of licensed contractors in that particular city. You can verify this by going to the official website of the municipality.
Contractor Licenses in the Biggest Cities
If the state only issues two general types of licenses, this is usually not the case for contractor licenses issued at the city and county level. More often than not, the cities and counties have more license classifications available, compared to the two general types offered by the state. Do note that the types of contractor licenses vary per state and you should always confirm with their issuing authority, usually the municipal hall, as to which contractor licenses you need to apply for.
If you aim to work on projects in Illinois that have big budgets, aim for those found on its biggest cities or wealthiest neighborhoods. This guide will show you how you can work as a contractor for some of those cities in the state.
City of Chicago
Aside from the plumbing and roofing licenses issued by the state of Illinois, the city of Chicago, which is also the most identified city of the state due to the fact that it is among the most populous in the whole country, issues various contractor licenses for those who will be working on different construction-related trades in their city. So, if you are a contractor but will not be doing plumbing or roofing work, you need to apply for your contractor license in the city’s Department of Buildings. The following are the trade and contractor license classifications available in Chicago:
- General Contractor
- Supervising Electrician
- Supervising Elevator Mechanics
- Elevator Mechanic Contractor
- Private Alarm Contractor
- Apprentice Crane Operator
- Stationary Engineer
- Crane Operator (Class I & II)
- Brick Masonry Contractor
- Plumbers Apprentice
- Plumber Practical
- Plumbing Contractor
- Steam Boiler Erector
- Concrete Masonry Contractor
- Wrecking Contractor
The requirements for these licenses will depend on the classification you are applying for. To apply, you can get the necessary forms at http://continentaltestinginc.com/city-of-chicago-downloadable-forms/ and fill them out. Most of these licenses also require you to pass the trade examinations.
Licenses issued by the city of Chicago expire annually and are renewable.
How to Become a General Contractor License in Chicago, Illinois
General contractors need to have a license in the City of Chicago, Illinois which needs to be renewed on an annual basis. You can find a list of all the licensed general contractors in Chicago on the Department of Buildings website.
You can find the application to obtain a general contractor license on the website of City of Chicago. This is the list of things they require along with the application.
City of Aurora
In the city of Aurora, the second largest in the state, the following trade and contractor licenses are available:
- General Contractor
- Sign Contractor
- HVAC Contractor
- Electrical (both residential and commercial) Contractor
- Roofing Contractor
- Fire Suppression Contractor
- Dumpster Contractor
- Mechanical Contractor
- Fence and Driveway Contractor
Except for Mechanical, Dumpster, and Fence and Driveway Contractors licenses applications, the application form that you should use is found at https://www.aurora-il.org/DocumentCenter/View/848/Contractor-License-Application-PDF?bidId=. Aside from applying for your license, you can also get licensed in Aurora through reciprocal agreements but only with other municipalities. However, this still does not guarantee that you will be issued a license.
The city also requires plumbing contractors who got their license from the state to get themselves registered in the city of Aurora. Registrations cost $200.
City of Rockford
Only a selected number of contractor licenses are issued by the city of Rockford. In fact, it does not even require general and electrical contractors to be licensed in the city. However, the city does require an electrical contractor to register with the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.
On the other hand, Rockford requires demolition contractors and those working on the mechanical trade to get themselves licensed.
The city of Rockford also regulates the following trades and projects:
- Awning, canopy, and marquee
- Commercial and industrial buildings
- Residential properties
- Fire protection
- Parking lots
City of Joliet
When you register as a contractor in the city of Joliet, you need to know that doing so is free of charge, regardless of your license. Among the contractors that need to be registered with the city are:
- Demolition Contractor
- Plumbing Contractor
- Contractors who have projects that can be found in Public Right-of-Ways
- HVAC Contractor
- Roofing Contractor
- Plumbing Contractor
- Sliding Contractor
- Electrical Contractor
But before you can get registered, you should know that there are requirements that you should meet, such as bonds, licenses, and or certificates. Check with the city about the specific requirements when filing your registration. Do note that certificates of Insurance are also required for all contractors.
City of Naperville
Like other cities in the state of Illinois, the city of Naperville also requires those working on specific construction-related trades to obtain their licenses or be registered in the city. For contractors, these trades require you to register or be licensed with the City Clerk before you can bid on and accept any contract:
- Air Conditioning
When registering with the City Clerk, you also need to pay the necessary license fees, such as $50 for electrical contractors and $30 for sidewalk contractors. Surety bonds are also required for contractors.
City of Elgin
If you plan to work on projects in the City of Elgin, you are not only required to be licensed but you must also submit your letter of intent, which must either be written using your company letter head and sealed (done by a notary public) or stamped with the official seal of your business or company, that has been signed by the license holder and is addressed to the city.
If you are a contractor that falls under the following classifications, you need to be licensed in the city and provide permit bonds as well:
- Roofing Contractor
- Mechanical Contractor
- Electrical Contractor
- Sewer Contractor
- Plumbing Contractor
- Fire Sprinkler Contractor
License reciprocity applies for electrical and mechanical contractors, but this is a case-to-case basis. If you will be working on HVAC and electrical systems, you are also required by the city to take their trade examinations.
Village of Hinsdale
While not technically a city, the village of Hinsdale deserves to be included in the list. Why? Simply because it is one of the country’s wealthiest areas. This means that even the smallest projects can have big budgets. As a contractor, you need to go for these types of contracts.
Hinsdale, however, requires general contractors to be registered only. To do so, you must fill out the form found at http://cms4.revize.com/revize/hinsdale/Contractor’s%20Registration%20Application%201-8-18.pdf and submit it to the Village Hall, together with your surety bond and certificate of insurance. Remember to pay the $250 license fee.
This village is quite strict when it comes to hiring contractors for public property projects, and rightfully so, given the average cost of contracts. If you are interested in such contracts, you should inquire with the Village Hall on how you can be qualified to bid on them.
Village of Winnetka
The Village of Winnetka is another wealthy neighborhood in the state of Illinois that contractors like you must aim to have projects in. Wealthy neighborhoods equal to higher contract costs. Not only can you bag high cost projects but you may also get referrals to work for other residents in the village, as long as you do a commendable job.
Before you can work as a general contractor in the village, you need to confirm the requirements with their Building Permit and Construction Department. This is because the requirements for contractors will depend on the projects up for bid. Make sure to provide surety bonds that have terms of just a year and have the village as its Obligee.
If you are a license holder of the following trades, you may also be able to work on projects in the village:
- Water Service
Contractor License Reciprocity
It’s a given that there’s legwork, paperwork, and money involved when it comes to applying for contractor licenses. But what if there’s a shortcut for it? The fact is, it does exist! This is best explained in two words: license reciprocity.
Acquiring your license through this method only applies if you already have a license that you got from another state that has a reciprocity agreement with the state you are currently applying in. If this is the case, then you’re exempted from submitting some of the requirements for your license application, such as your work experience and even the trade exams. There’s less hassle on your part to get the same type of license you already have that was issued in another state. Great, right?
In the case of the state of Illinois, however, license reciprocity with other states is only applicable on a case-to-case basis, particularly for plumbing licenses. The Department of Public Health will have the final say if your license from another state can be considered for the reciprocity method of application, regardless of which state you got it. You need to contact the Department if you want to use this method to acquire your plumbing license in Illinois, since there’s no exact criteria as to which plumbers and plumbing contractors can get licensed this way. Roofing contractors of the state, on the other hand, do not qualify for any license reciprocity.
Some cities will accept licenses, especially electrical and mechanical licenses, that were obtained in another city. But this applies only if the cities are both located in the state of Illinois. This is especially true for those that require electrical or mechanical licenses but do not actually issue them. In cases like these, you need to apply for an electrical or mechanical license in another city that does issue them, just for you to be licensed to work in the city you actually want. It’s unfortunately a time-consuming, and even costly, process that needs a lot of improvement. This is one of the state’s most problematic policies regarding construction-related licensing.
General Contractor and Electrician License Search and Lookup
Other states such as North Carolina and Washington State both license general contractors and electricians, but since they’re not classifications that are regulated state-wide in Illinois, you will need to search for the validity of the claimed licenses through the local building departments. The same is the case when you’re trying to lookup HVAC licenses.
Contractor License Exams
We have partnered with a company to help you get ready for the exams to obtain your contractor license, no matter if you’re in Illinois or another state. Simply use the bot to your right to find the appropriate course.l