How to Become an Electrician In Illinois?

It is amazing how several children will grow up together and seem to like similar things but end up opting for different professions. This is always bound to happen as you cannot expect everyone to go for the same profession. Whether you decide to become an electrician, a doctor, an attorney, the important thing is meeting all the requirements and choosing to become the best there is in your chosen field.

How to Become an Electrician in Illinois?

Like other professions, there are certain requirements expected to be fulfilled by anyone who desires to become an electrician. These requirements could vary from state to state. For the state of Illinois, some of these requirements are:

Step 1 – Need to Gain on the Job Experience

Unlike some other states, electrician licensing in Illinois occurs at the local level instead of at the state level. Hence, the requirements vary from county to county. However, a person can be given an electrician license after gaining four years (8000 hours) of job experience through an apprenticeship. There is also a need to have acquired 500 – 800 hours of classroom and lab-based technical training. Some of the ways a person can meet these requirements are:

Enrolling in a Technical Program

Since there are different requirements for different counties in Illinois, enrolling in a technical program is a great way to ensure an education that is not only consistent but also accredited. This way, there is an assurance that what they are taught is in line with current electrical standards and local licensing laws.

Getting a diploma in electrical technology or a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, or something similar will meet all the classroom requirements. A degree will make one a strong candidate for employment in an electrical contracting company. While on the job, you can then work towards fulfilling other licensing requirements in your county. While in school, you could even get a job placement with your school’s career counseling office’s assistance. You could also decide to do this on your own by participating in a union or non-union apprenticeship program to acquire all the experience required of you. Whichever way you decide to follow hardly matters. What matters is meeting all the requirements for your license.

Apprenticeship Opportunities

This is another way a person can meet the requirements of becoming an electrician in Illinois. In Illinois, the union apprenticeship programs are structured in a way that is in line with the rigorous standards of the National Training Alliance. This National Training Alliance is a joint effort between two local chapters. These two local chapters are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). There are some criteria you must meet before you can be offered admission into the union apprenticeship programs.

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Requirement to Join the Union Apprenticeship Program

Below are some of these requirements to be eligible to join the union apprenticeship program:

  • You must have been up to 18 years of age at the time of application.
  • You must be physically fit to perform the requirements of being an electrician.
  • You must be capable of transporting yourself to the classroom and job location.
  • You must have passed a general aptitude test.
  • You must have a high school diploma /GED.
  • You must have successfully completed an algebra class at the high school or post-high school level.

Other than the above-listed requirements, there is also the need to sign up for membership and become a dues-paying, card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

The non-union apprenticeship programs are not as demanding as the union apprenticeship programs. Those looking to become an electrician without joining the union can. Open shops are a great option for them. Those without a post-secondary education and those that have already completed a college degree or diploma program can also become electricians through the non-union apprenticeship programs. In non-union apprenticeship programs, there is also a guarantee of education and employment resources, including access to apprenticeships with non-union contractors in the state of Illinois. Some of the offices for non-union organizations that can assist in facilitating apprenticeship programs in Illinois are Midwest IEC, ABC-Illinois Chapter (Elk Grove Village, Springfield), and IEC Greater Saint Louis Illinois (serving Illinois localities in Bridgeton, Missouri).

How Does an Apprenticeship Work?

Although there could be variations, an electrical apprentice works side by side with professional electricians for two to five years. During this period, the apprentice observes the work of the work performed by the electricians and is guided on how to perform the techniques that are used in electrical works. The apprentice is then given some tasks that he has to complete with little or no supervision.

Step 2 – Pass the Exam for Certification

After you are done with gaining hands-on experience, you are expected to earn a certificate known as the “Supervising Electrician Certification,” which is obtained by passing an examination. You could also earn a certificate that lets you work as an electrical journeyman, but this is not provided in many cities and counties in Illinois except Chicago. So, it is advisable you take the exam offered by Chicago and get certified as a supervising electrician. Once you get this, you will have to work under electrical contractors. This certification could be the final step for you in your quest to becoming an electrician if your plan is to work for existing contractors. However, if you plan to still go into business yourself, this certification is only a step towards the final one.

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Some of the requirements for your certification as a supervising electrician include:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age.
  • You must have at least two years of experience as an electrician.
  • You must have passed the exam.
  • You must be able to show your work history under another supervising electrician.

Once you take the exam and it comes out successful, you will be given a license which will be valid between one and four years, after which you will have to go for a renewal.

Step 3 – Become Certified as an Independent Electrical Contractor

There is a need for every electrical contractor to register with the county or city they intend to do business in Illinois. The requirements for being an electrical contractor in Illinois vary from county to county as follows:

Cook County

In Cook County, before one can become an electrical contractor, the following requirements must be met:

  • You must have been certified as a supervising electrician in Cook County.
  • You must submit the application in person at the Department of Building and Zoning Office.
  • You must have a certificate of General Liability of up to $ 1 million.
  • If your company is a corporation, then you will have to submit a copy of your corporation papers, including a list of corporate officers.
  • You must also submit a Child Support Compliance Data Form.

Your application will be processed immediately after submitting it as long as it meets all the requirements.

DuPage County

In DuPage County, there is an opportunity for you to choose between working as an electrical contractor or a subcontractor. There is, however, a limit to the work a subcontractor can do. While an electrical contractor can perform alteration and installation work on buildings within a large number of trades, a subcontractor can only work in one of the listed trades, such as the electrical trade.

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Becoming a contractor or subcontractor in DuPage County requires filling out the application found on the Contractor Registration Information Page of the County’s website. The requirements for becoming either a contractor or subcontractor include:

  • You must pay the proper registration fee.
  • You must be familiar with the DuPage County ordinances, regulations, and codes.
  • You must possess the necessary liability insurance.

The required liability insurance varies for both contractors and subcontractors.

 If you are considering becoming a contractor, then you have to prove the following liability insurance:

  • General liability: $1 million
  • Worker’s compensation and employee liability – Broad from coverage as indicated by law.

On the other hand, if you are looking to become a subcontractor, then you have to prove the following liability insurance:

  • There is no particular amount of general liability insurance, but you must still have general liability insurance.
  • Worker’s compensation and employee liability – Broad from coverage as indicated by law.

Once you have been given your license as a contractor or subcontractor, you are expected to renew it every year.

Will County

Working as an electrical contractor in Will County requires you to fill out the Contractor Registration Application on the Will County Building Division page. Some of the things required from you as a potential electrical contractor in Will County include:

  • The expected fee
  • A copy of your certificate as a supervising electrician, including the date of the test.

Once your license gets issued, you are expected to renew it every year.

Electrician License Reciprocity in Illinois

In Illinois, there is no license reciprocity. This is because there is no state requirement; however, the reciprocity agreement can be determined by each local level authority or county. Therefore, you will need to contact each local government or county for the specific requirement at each local government.

Final Words

It is obvious that training to become an electrician is no small task. It is a profession that requires hard work, commitment, and dedication. Just when you think you have crossed one hurdle, another shows up and requires careful concentration to surmount. But here is a great thing: There are over 12 million people in Illinois that would at one time or the other require the services of an electrician. If you give your all into becoming the best there is, you just might become that sought-after electrician in Illinois.


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