How to Become an Electrician in Illinois: A Step-by-Step Guide

Electrician working

Ask anyone who's been an electrician for over ten years, and they'll tell you, this industry is booming—and it won't stop anytime soon. There will always be a demand for trained, skilled, and licensed electricians in the state of Illinois.

If you've ever thought of becoming a supervising electrician or licensed electrical contractor in the state of Illinois, now's the time to act. Our step-by-step guide walks you through everything you need to know about becoming an electrician in Illinois. Keep reading to learn about electrical training and apprenticeship programs, Illinois electrician license requirements, and finding work as a journeyman electrician.

If you're looking to obtain your first electrical contractor's license or expand your business to a new state, book a start-up consultation with a licensing specialist to sort out your next steps to securing your contractor's license!

Otherwise, keep reading below to see the three steps you must follow to become an electrician in Illinois.

1. Gain Experience: Apprenticeship Programs and On-the-Job Training, and

The electrical industry is one of the fastest-growing industries on the market, with growth projections expected to top 8% in the next few years. Rapid growth means that opportunities to gain experience are plentiful.

One thing to note is that there is no Illinois state governing body that regulates what you need to do before you apply to take the electrical exam and obtain your license. Instead, you’ll need to get in touch with the city or county where you reside and ask what requirements you must meet.

Generally, you’ll need to gain four years (an equivalent of 8,000 hours) of on-the-job electrical experience through an apprenticeship program. You can also seek an entry-level job working for an electrical contractor in Illinois.

There are apprenticeship programs all over Illinois, from the most densely populated cities to the most rural counties. Don't worry about finding one close to you, but be sure to inquire about their prerequisites for enrollment. Apprenticeship prerequisites often include:

  • Being 18 years or older
  • Holding a high school diploma or GED
  • Being physically capable of performing the work of an electrician
  • Have a decent course history in math

2. Learn the Trade: Lab-Based Technical Education

In addition to hands-on experience, you must obtain 500-800 hours of class time to become an electrician in Illinois. Class time includes instruction, examination, and technical education.

You can pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering or other associated electrician's program to fulfill the educational requirements. Degree programs teach the fundamentals of electrical technology, the National Electrical Code (NEC), and the various Illinois municipality license and code requirements.

You can get this education by enrolling at a vocational school, community college, or trade school. You’ll need to provide the certification or degree to your city/county's contractor certifying office to confirm you have completed the requisite class time.

3. Take Your City or County's Electrician Exam

Once you have completed all the necessary schoolwork and obtained the required on-the-job training, you're ready to sit for your journeyman examination.

Each state has different rules, regulations, and guidelines around what kind of work licensed and unlicensed electrical contractors can perform.

In the state of Illinois, you must obtain an electrician license to perform residential and commercial electrical work. That doesn't stop small-time, self-trained electricians from performing quick fixes for their friends and neighbors. But you need the electrician license if you want to start a business in Illinois, work under an independent electrical contractor, or do top-dollar electrical work.

As noted earlier, no state board in Illinois regulates the electrical trade. That means the city or county in which you live and work will issue your electrician license. Once you obtain that electrician license, however, that doesn't mean you're limited only to work within that city, county, or even the state of Illinois.

Those who take the exam must earn 75% or above to pass and obtain a license. The cost runs around $100.

The contractor license examination will cover a wide variety of subject matter, including:

  • OSHA regulations
  • Electrical wire safety
  • Wiring fire detection and alarm systems
  • Local and national electrical requirements

Remember that you will have sat for a minimum of 500 hours in an educational setting per Illinois requirements and worked for a minimum of 8,000 hours under a supervising electrician or licensed electrical contractor by the point you are qualified to take the exam. This means that your exam proctors will expect you to be at the top of your game.

  1. Obtain Your License and Find Work in Illinois

Once you’ve sat for the exam and obtained your license, you’re ready to join the workforce. It’s a lucrative industry with new electricians getting starting rates averaging about $25 per hour.

A licensed electrician in Illinois can perform electrical work just about anywhere around the state and at the residential, commercial, or even federal contract level.

Many young journeymen electricians who have recently obtained their proper license requirements serve as employees of more senior supervising electricians. But just as many strike out on their own, try to gin up clients, and get a business of their own running.

The Bottom Line

If you have your high school diploma and are willing to submit to the grueling preparatory regimen, you have everything you need to become an electrician in Illinois.

From apprenticing to school to the exam, you can contact Contractor Training Center for help at any and every stage of the process. From courses to books and start-up consultations, CTC has everything you need to change your life.

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