The Illinois Commercial Education Association (ICEA) was formed in the mid 1930's at the University of Illinois as an outgrowth of the annual High School Conference. In 1936, the ICEA joined the Illinois Vocational Association (IVA) as an affiliate organization.

In 1941, the name of the Illinois Commercial Education Association was changed to the Illinois Business Education Association. The first constitution and by-laws were prepared in 1949. The first statewide conference was held in 1953. Annual conferences have been held since that date. The IBEA Reports has been published continuously since 1956-57.

Over the years, many organizations have affiliated with IBEA. One of note is the sponsorship of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). IBEA has served as the sponsor of FBLA since 1963. IBEA provides scholarships each year to deserving students.

As the years have passed, IBEA has grown and become a stronger organization year by year. At the fall conference in 2020, IBEA will celebrate 84 years of existence as an organization dedicated business education in the state of Illinois. The organization will also celebrate its 58th year of holding the fall conference in 2020.