Illinois Contractor License Courses, Classes & Exam Prep

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Overview & Benefits

Obtaining a Contractor's License in Illinois

Are you trying to get your contractor’s license in Illinois? If so, you might be overwhelmed by how much work is to come. There’s a lot that goes into the process. Even when you do your research, it’s hard to find the right answers when there’s so much information online. 

That’s why we’ve compiled everything you need to know about obtaining your contractor’s license in Illinois in this guide. Here, we’ll go over the requirements and everything else you need to know to get licensed!

If you need specific guidance, contact Contractor Training Center today! We will help you figure out exactly what you need to do to get your license. 

In Illinois, you do not need a general contractor’s license at the state level. However, this does not mean you can get away with not having a license. 

Your city or county will require you to have your general contractor’s license. Exact requirements vary depending on where you live. Be sure to check with your local governing body to know what is expected of you. 

What If You’re a Roofer or Plumber?  While the state does not regulate general contractor’s licenses, it does regulate permits for roofing and plumbing. If you’re a roofer or plumber, you must get your license through the state.

The Benefits of Having a Contractor’s License in Illinois

It might seem like you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get your license. You have to figure out how to apply, pass exams, pay fees, etc.

This is enough to deter some contractors from applying at all. They might think they can get away with not having their license. 

However, it’s in your best interest to get your license. Some of the most compelling reasons to do so include:

It’s the Law

As we’ve already mentioned, your city or county will require you to have your general contractor’s license. And, if you’re a roofer or plumber, you will have to get your permit through the state. 

If you fail to comply with local and state laws, you may face legal repercussions.

It Builds Your Credibility

Getting your license doesn’t just ensure you comply with the law; it also builds your credibility. 

Before hiring you, clients will likely check your credentials. They’ll want to make sure you know you have experience and the necessary certification. If they see that you don’t have your license, they won’t want to hire you. 

A license shows that you are professional and responsible. So, when clients see that you have yours, they will be eager to hire you.

It Opens Doors

New contractors start by taking on smaller projects. This helps them gain experience and build a name for themselves. 

Once you have your license, you’ll be able to take on bigger projects. Clients will love that you can offer more services. Plus, bigger projects translate to more pay. 

It Protects Your Business

Most licenses require you to get coverage like general liability insurance, workers’ compensation, etc. Even though coverage like this is good to have, you might not have sought it out had it not been required of you. 

By getting your license, you are protecting your business. You’ll be covered if your equipment is damaged, an employee becomes injured, etc. 

What's on the Exam?

What You Can Expect From Us

Getting your contractor’s license in Illinois can be confusing. You may not know what type you need to apply for, whether to apply through your state or county, etc.

We have experience helping contractors like you throughout the United States. Our team knows the application process in Illinois and can offer you specific guidance. 

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Exam Preparation

What you'll need to prepare for the exam

Which Exam Should You Take?

Which exams are required depends on the class of license you’re looking to get, the type of work you’ll be doing, etc. 

Check with the City of Chicago Department of Buildings (or your city’s department) to see which exams are required of you. 

For help finding out which exams to take, contact Contractor Training Center! We will be able to point you in the right direction.

License Requirements

How To Get A Contractor’s License In Illinois

The process for getting your contractor’s license in Illinois depends on factors, such as where you live, and the kind of work you will do.

Here’s an overview of the steps you should take: 

Step 1: Determine If You Need To Go Through The State

You will need to get your license from the state if you are a roofer or plumber. State governing bodies will help you through the process.  

For Roofers

If you are a roofer, contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations. You will have to choose between the two types of roofing licenses available at the state level. These are: 

Limited - This type limits you to working on residential roofs. The residences must consist of 8 units or less.

Unlimited - This type is broader and allows you to work on any type of roof (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.).

For Plumbers

If you’re a plumber, you will have to apply for a plumbing license through the Illinois Department of Public Health. Other work that requires a license from this state department includes: 

Installations/repairs/maintenance of heating systems
Irrigation work
Removal of asbestos
Removal of lead  

Step 2: Fulfill Requirements For Your License Application

Unlike roofers and plumbers, general contractors usually get their licenses from their cities. These professionals specialize in:

Electrical work
Mechanical work

Regardless of where they live or their work, all contractors will have to fulfill certain requirements for their application. These requirements often include:

Registering your business with the Illinois Department of Revenue
Registering your business with the Illinois Secretary of State (if your business is a partnership, LLP, LLC, or corporation)
Obtaining the required business insurance 

States and cities have varying application requirements. If you don’t meet its specific requirements, the governing body won’t consider your application.

While we cannot describe every city’s specific process, the rest of these steps will describe how to get your general contractor’s license in Chicago. For information specific to your case, contact your county or city. 

Step 3: Go To City Of Chicago Department Of Buildings

At the City of Chicago Department of Buildings, you can confirm that you’re on the right track and request an application. 

Step 4: Fill Out Your Application

When filling out your information, you’ll need to provide: 

Basic information (name, address, etc.)
Description of the work you wish to do
Details about your business and its structure
Proof of business insurance
Proof of financial stability
Payment of licensing fee

Step 5: Decide What Type Of License Your Business Needs

On your application for a general contractor’s license, you’ll also have to note what kind of class of license you’re requesting. In Chicago, the different classes are as follows:

  • Class E 

With Class E, you cannot work on projects exceeding $500,000. 

  • Class D

Class D means you cannot work on projects exceeding $2,000,000. 

  • Class C

With Class C, you cannot work on projects more than $5,000,000. 

  • Class B

Class B means that you can only work on projects less than $10,000,000.

  • Class A

With Class A, you can work on projects of any value. 

Step 6: Take Your Exams

Before submitting your application, you must take and pass the required exams. 

Exam Times and Dates
Once you’re prepared to take your exams, visit Continental Testing Centers. This site displays testing locations, times & dates, and exam fees. 

Step 7: Wait For Approval

Once you submit your application, it will go to the city for review. It takes about 28 days to hear back. 

If the city approves your application, you will receive your license in the mail. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the contractor licensing process.

How Long Does It Take To Get Your License?

The state or city will take about 28 days to review your application. Once they approve it, they will mail you your license to the address you provided. You should receive it within ten days or so of approval. 

To get your license as quickly as possible, be thorough with your application. Fill in all the blanks and provide all required documentation. This prevents delays and saves you from having to resubmit your application. 

What If I Have a License From Another State?

You were a licensed contractor in another state. You recently moved to Illinois and want to continue doing the same type of work. Do you need to go through the process all over again? 

You can’t just work in Illinois under your old license. However, you may not have to start from scratch. A license reciprocity agreement can make it easier to start working in Illinois. You will still have to comply with all state and local regulations, but you may save yourself time and money. 

Whether or not you are eligible for a license reciprocity agreement depends on the state you’re moving from. Contact your local governing body to see if you are eligible. 

What are the Insurance Requirements?

Insurance requirements will vary depending on the area you work in. Be sure to check with your local governing body. 

Typically, Illinois general contractors are required to have general liability insurance. This type of insurance protects you in the event of an accident or injury. It provides coverage for nonemployees injured on the job site, property damage, legal defenses, etc. 

You may also need workers’ compensation insurance. Illinois requires this type of insurance if you have at least one part-time or full-time employee. 

Additionally, you will need commercial auto liability insurance if you have a company vehicle. This is a requirement for all Illinois businesses. It will cover you in the event of injuries or damage resulting from an accident. 

How Often Do I have to Renew my License?

Illinois requires you to renew your general contractor’s license every year. Be sure to start the renewal process at least 90 days before your current license expires. 

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