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How to Become an Electrician in Chicago, Illinois

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The state of Illinois does not directly regulate electricians, who install, maintain or alter building wire systems. However, individual municipalities in Illinois may choose to require licensure for such work. In Chicago, any contractor engaging in electrical work must employ at least one licensed supervising electrician to oversee on-site work. Licensure is not required for electricians working directly under a supervising electrician. To obtain work as an electrician in Chicago, you will first need to obtain training.

Enroll in an electrician apprentice program. The Illinois Department of Economic Security (IDES) provides resources to help you find apprenticeship opportunities in Chicago. Visit your local IDES Apprenticeship Information Center for more information (see Resources). Working as an apprentice will provide you with on-the-job training under a licensed supervising electrician. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to build relationships in the city’s construction industry. Alternatively, or additionally, study at a local trade or vocational school. For information about educational opportunities, access the IDES online Career Information System and access the "Electrician" section (see Resources).

Work as an electrician. Because electricians are not licensed so long as they work under a supervising electrician who is licensed, your employment will depend on your skills as an electrician, your range of electrical knowledge and your reputation in the field. However, if you want to achieve the highest levels of responsibility and pay, you must obtain a Chicago Department of Buildings Supervising Electrician license.

Visit the Department of Buildings website and download an Application for Supervising Electrician License Exam. You must be 21 years old to sit for the licensing exam. You must choose a category of licensure. The options include general, maintenance, sign, theater, health maintenance, low voltage and elevator electrician.

Obtain a letter, on company stationery, from a current or past employer verifying that you have at least two years of experience as an electrician working in the category for which you want to be licensed. The letter must include your employer’s Electrical Contractor license number and must be signed by a supervising electrician with an active city license.

Complete the application and submit it, along with supporting documents and fees, to the indicated address. You will be sent an authorization to sit for a licensing exam, along with instructions on how to prepare.

Schedule your exam with Continental Testing Services according to the instructions in your authorization document. You must pay an associated fee. If you pass, you will be issued a supervising electrician license.


William Carpenter began writing professionally in 2004, working with nongovernmental organizations and business clients while living in China. He maintains clients in China while writing for a variety of U.S. publications. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from Portland State University.

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