Improper plumbing can result in the introduction of pathogenic organisms into drinking water and the escape of toxic gases into the environment. These outcomes have the potential to lead to disease and adverse health effects. To protect public health, the Illinois Department of Public Health regulates plumbers and the plumbing trade by maintaining a minimum code of standards for plumbing practices. Individuals who plan, inspect, install, alter, extend, repair, and maintain plumbing systems in state of Illinois must be licensed. IDPH licenses approximately 8,900 plumbers and 2,000 apprentice plumbers. To obtain a license, individuals must pass a state licensing exam after working under a licensed plumber as a licensed apprentice for a 48 to 72 month period. Additionally, licensed plumbers are obligated to maintain and improve their skills and knowledge related to plumbing by completing continuing education requirements annually. IDPH similarly regulates lawn irrigation systems and licenses irrigation contractors to safeguard public health. IDPH licenses over 200 lawn irrigation contractors who oversee a combined total of nearly 1,000 irrigation employees.

Who does IDPH license?

Under the Illinois Plumbing License Law (225 ILCS 320), the Department licenses plumbers, plumbing contractors, plumbers’ apprentices, irrigation contractors and retired plumbers.

Plumbing Licensing Requirements

Individuals seeking to be initially licensed as a plumber with the Department must complete a “Plumber’s License: Application for Examination” form at least 30 days prior to the exam date and pay the required fee. Applicants must be U.S. citizens (or in the process of declaring citizenship), have been employed as a licensed apprentice plumber for a minimum of 4 years, and have successfully completed at least 2 years of high school or equivalent in addition to completing an approved course instruction through a college, university or trade school. If an applicant must retake the plumbing examination, the applicant must complete the “Plumber’s Licenses: Examination Retake Form” and submit the applicable fee to the Department.

Plumbing License Renewal

Plumber licenses must be renewed by April 30th following the date of issuance via the online renewal page. Illinois state law requires all applicants, whether or not they have children, to certify whether they are delinquent in the payment of child support. The application will not be approved until this information has been completed.

Requirements for the Licensing of Apprentice Plumbers

Individuals must be at least 16 years old, complete the “Apprentice Plumber’s License Application” form, and provide proof of sponsorship by an Illinois licensed plumber or approved apprenticeship program. After a maximum apprenticeship period of 6 years, those individuals who do not apply for the plumbers licensing exam (or fail the exam) will not be eligible for a renewal of the apprentice license. If a licensed plumber terminates sponsorship of an apprentice plumber, the “Apprentice Plumber: Notice of Cancellation of Employment/Supervision” form must be completed and submitted to the Department within 15 days after an apprentice is no longer employed or supervised by that plumber or program.

Requirements for Plumbing Contractors

Plumbing Contractors are any licensed plumber or apprentice plumber who performs work for another person. All plumbing contractors must register with the state and pay an annual fee. Plumbing contractors must maintain minimum general liability insurance, bodily injury insurance, property damage insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance. To register as a plumbing contractor, applicants should complete the “Plumbing Contractors: Application for Registration” form.

Requirements for Irrigation Contractors

Irrigation contractors install or supervise the installation of lawn sprinkler systems. Each irrigation contractor in the state of Illinois must register annually with the Department by completing the “Irrigation Contractors: Application for Registration” form. Additionally, employers must register all employees who install or supervise installation of lawn sprinkler systems, as well as inform the Department when employment is cancelled via the “Irrigation Contractors: Notice of Cancellation of Employment” form.

Illinois state law requires all applicants, whether or not they have children, to certify whether they are delinquent in the payment of child support. Applicants can submit that information by completing the “Irrigation Contractors: Application Child Support Certification” form. The application will not be approved until this information has been completed.

Requirements to Obtain a Retired Plumbing License

The retired plumber’s license is intended for those individuals who wish to retire and do not anticipate to continue practicing plumbing in the state of Illinois. This license allows plumbers to carry a state license proving competence, while still providing the option of reinstating or restoring their plumbing license at a lower cost than renewal of an expired licensed. A retired plumber cannot sponsor or supervise apprentice plumbers, and cannot inspect plumbing.

To be eligible for a retired plumbing license, an individual must hold an active Illinois plumbing license, be at least 62 years old or physically unable to perform the responsibilities of a licensed plumber, and voluntarily surrender their current Illinois plumbing license.

Advertisement of Plumbing Services

Pursuant to the Illinois Plumbing License Law (225 ILCS 320/5), businesses and individuals offering plumbing services shall, at their place of business, display the plumbing license of at least one of the members and maintain a register listing all the names and license numbers of all licensed plumbers and licensed apprentice plumbers currently employed by them.

All advertisements for plumbing services must include the plumbing license number in the advertisement. Failure to display the correct number or allowing shared use of licensing numbers can result in prosecution of a Class A misdemeanor and may lead to a fine of $1,000 and suspension/revocation of the license.