Connecticut HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Connecticut
Table of Contents
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration technologies keep evolving and becoming more complex, especially as the emphasis on energy efficiency grows. Connecticut is known as a forerunner in the campaign for energy efficiency in HVAC/R systems. Learning this trade can mean not only job security in Connecticut but a healthy paycheck, too. The Constitution State is one of the top-paying states for HVAC Mechanics and installers in the United States. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also reports that there are over 376,800 Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers nationwide and 4,760 work in Connecticut.
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That number nationwide is expected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029 — adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. In Connecticut, that projected growth rate is even higher at 11%, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website. The news is even better for Boilermakers in Connecticut, with a projected growth rate of a whopping 18%.
And, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, contractors are hiring. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. had unfilled hourly craft positions.
A large part of what HVAC contractors and technicians do is replace and repair existing systems. As that emphasis is placed on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to comply with these new standards. Licensing requirements for HVAC technicians and contractors vary from state to state and, in some cases, from locality to locality. Connecticut is uniform statewide.
Licensing Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Connecticut
Is a license required for HVAC technicians and contractors in Connecticut? Yes, and from the very beginning! You must be licensed in the state of Connecticut to perform ANY kind of HVAC/R work. You must also be registered to begin work as an apprentice under the supervision of a licensed journeyman or a licensed contractor.
The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) based in Hartford issues all professional licenses and oversees the Heating, Piping, Cooling, and Sheet Metal Examining Board.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Connecticut
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Connecticut?
Connecticut has 20 specific licenses for HVAC professionals, depending on the exact type of work. The Heating, Piping and Cooling licenses, as they are called, have distinct codes, scope of work permitted, and specific requirements that must be met to qualify for licensure and are issued at the contractor and journeyperson level. To qualify to take the examination for any of the contractor level licenses, you will need two years of documented work as a properly licensed journeyperson or equivalent experience. To qualify to take the examination for any of the journeyperson level licenses, you will need to complete a registered apprenticeship program or equivalent experience and training of a certain number of hours, depending on the complexity of the work. Apprentices are registered in each of these specific areas of expertise depending on the license held by the contractor for whom they work.
The Unlimited Heating-Cooling Licenses (S-1 and S-2) are the broadest, covering all HVAC work.
S-1 UNLIMITED HEATING, PIPING, AND COOLING CONTRACTOR
S-2 UNLIMITED HEATING, PIPING, AND COOLING JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 8,000 hours (four years)
The Limited Heating-Cooling Licenses (S-3 and S-4) cover work related to piping for heating systems, boilers, condenser water systems, and steam piping in air conditioning systems but excludes sheet metal work, air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
S-3 LIMITED HEATING, COOLING AND PIPING CONTRACTOR
S-4 LIMITED HEATING, COOLING, AND PIPING JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 8,000 hours (four years)
The Limited Heating, Hot Water and Steam Licenses (S-5 and S-6) cover work limited to hot water or steam heating systems for smaller buildings, not over three stories high with total heating load not exceeding 500,000 BTU's and steam pressure not exceeding 15 pounds, but does not cover the installation or servicing of oil burners of any size.
S-5 LIMITED HEATING, HOT WATER, AND STEAM CONTRACTOR
S-6 LIMITED HEATING, HOT WATER, AND STEAM JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 8,000 hours (four years)
The Limited Contractor and Limited Journeyperson Licenses (S-7 and S-8) also cover work limited to hot water or steam heating systems for smaller buildings, not over three stories high with total heating load not exceeding 500,000 BTU's and steam pressure not exceeding 15 pounds, but these do allow for the servicing and installation of oil burners handling up to five gallons per hour, as well as gas burners and gas piping for the work.
S-7 LIMITED CONTRACTOR
S-8 LIMITED JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 8,000 hours (four years)
The Limited Heating Cooling Contractor and Limited Heating Cooling Journeyperson Licenses (S-9 and S-10) allow you to perform only work limited to hot water or steam heating systems for buildings not over three stories high with total heating load not exceeding 500,000 BTU's, steam pressure not exceeding 15 pounds, and/or cooling installations up to 35 tons per systems. This license also covers the installation or servicing of oil burners handling up to five gallons per hour as well as LP gas supplied by gas containers and/or natural gas piping.
S-9 LIMITED HEATING COOLING CONTRACTOR
S-10 LIMITED HEATING COOLING JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 6,000 hours (three years)
The Limited Gas and Oil Burner Licenses (B-1 and B-2) apply to exactly that — installing, servicing and repairing gas or oil burners for domestic and light commercial installations that consume five gallons or less per hour.
B-1 LIMITED GAS AND OIL BURNER CONTRACTOR (Residential/Light Commercial)
B-2 LIMITED GAS AND OIL BURNER JOURNEYPERSON (Residential/Light Commercial): Requires 2,000 hours (one year)
The Limited Gas and Oil Burner Licenses (B-3 and B-4) are actually unlimited within the context of installing, servicing and repairing gas or oil burners. There’s no capacity cap, allowing the holder of these licenses to work on any size gas or oil burner.
B-3 LIMITED GAS AND OIL BURNER CONTRACTOR
B-4 LIMITED GAS AND OIL BURNER JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 4,000 hours (two years)
The Limited Warm Air, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Licenses (D-1 and D-2) as the title indicates, allows for the installation, repair, replacement, maintenance or alteration of any warm air, air conditioning and refrigeration system, including necessary piping, but does not allow the holder to install or servicing oil burners of any size.
D-1 LIMITED WARM AIR, AIR CONDITIONING AND REFRIGERATION CONTRACTOR
D-2 LIMITED WARM AIR, AIR CONDITIONING AND REFRIGERATION JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 4,000 hours (two years)
The Limited Cooling Licenses (D-3 and D-4) cover refrigeration only. They are required for the installation, repair, replacement, maintenance or alteration of all refrigeration systems included in food storage, air conditioning, or special process systems.
D-3 LIMITED COOLING CONTRACTOR LICENSE (Refrigeration Contractor)
D-4 LIMITED COOLING JOURNEYPERSON LICENSE (Refrigeration Mechanic): Requires 4,000 hours (2 years)
The Limited Heating, Piping, and Cooling Licenses (G-1 and G-2) apply to gas systems only. The license permits you to work solely on the installation, repair, replacement, alteration, and maintenance of gas piping systems and approved gas appliances, gas utilization equipment and accessories for use with LP gas supplied by gas containers and/or natural gas.
G-1 LIMITED HEATING, PIPING, AND COOLING CONTRACTOR
G-2 LIMITED HEATING, PIPING, AND COOLING JOURNEYPERSON: Requires 1,000 hours
Steps to Becoming an HVAC Professional in Connecticut
1. Complete a registered apprenticeship.
2. Apply for licensure and pay the application fee.
3. Once approved, take and pass the license exam.
4. Pay initial license fee and receive license.
5. Work indefinitely as a licensed journeyperson for a licensed contractor; OR
6. If you want to become a contractor yourself, you must work for two years as a licensed journeyperson to qualify to take the contractor level license examination.
7. Pass the exam, apply for a license and pay fee.
8. All license types must be renewed annually.
Benefits of Becoming an HVAC Professional in Connecticut
There are many benefits to getting your HVAC license in Connecticut:
Most important, it is required by law in Connecticut to be licensed through the state to perform heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration work at every level, beginning with being registered as an apprentice.
You will earn as you learn during your apprenticeship with a guarantee of pay increases as you develop new skills.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed HVAC contractors can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits and pass inspections, bid on public and government projects.
Having a license protects your company and customers.
A license gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It also increases your earning potential.
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What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Technician in Connecticut?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers nationally as $53,410. Connecticut has one of the highest annual mean wages in the country at $64,370. The salary for an HVAC Technician increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.
HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $29.45 per hour in Connecticut and $6,094 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $29.11 per hour in Connecticut and $7,000 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average salary for an HVAC Mechanic is $25.69 per hour in Connecticut and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $91,141 per year in Connecticut and $11,250 overtime per year.
Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
How to Become an HVAC Professional in Connecticut
To qualify for any kind of HVAC license in Connecticut you need to learn and begin gaining the necessary work experience. Connecticut doesn’t have predetermined steps but does have uniform requirements for licensure. You can choose the order in which you meet them as is explained in this Apprenticeship & Educational Pathways Map. You’ll need to acquire classroom training and get hands-on work experience. These two elements combine to make an apprenticeship, but the state allows you to decide whether you get your education first or get it while you’re working as a registered apprentice. So, the first few steps can be reordered to suit your preferences. All the details of these requirements can be found on the Office of Apprenticeship Training website. They’ve even published “A Career in the Trades” guide and a message to current and prospective apprentices.
APPRENTICESHIP (EDUCATION & WORK EXPERIENCE): In Connecticut you can get a jump on your HVAC/R education at one of the technical high schools in the state that offer HVAC training. The Connecticut Technical Education and Career System website is: www.cttech.org. That’s the state’s technical high school system website and also serves adults through its extension program in the evenings. If you accumulate the classroom instruction you need to qualify for testing for your journeyperson license as a high school student, then when you graduate you’ll just need to find a job in the industry to get the paid on-the-job training that’s required to complete a registered apprenticeship. That’s just one option, though.
Alternatively, you can also choose to enroll in an HVAC program through the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System or another college after graduating from high school to complete your required formal education before accumulating the necessary work experience. Again, you would then need to find a job in the field, and your employer must register you as an apprentice. Make sure you receive a copy of your approved registered apprenticeship agreement from your sponsor (employer). This is your record of registration and lists important information such as your wage progression, trade registration category and any credit for previous registered experience.
If you’d rather earn while you learn, you can apply for an apprentice position with a local union or trade organization or a sponsoring employer. You will be required to attend classes at night or on weekends to get the requisite theoretical training, but you’ll be getting your academic instruction in tandem with your practical experience and you probably won’t be paying for all of it. Often your employer or union will pick up some or all of those costs.
At whichever point you begin working for a licensed HVAC contractor, make sure your employer registers you as an apprentice to get your work experience documented. Unregistered work hours will not count toward completion of your apprenticeship program. Also make sure you obtain your apprentice identification card from your sponsor after your registration is approved. You must carry a valid apprentice identification card at all times while on the job and to register for the related instruction. Your apprentice identification card is valid only for the sponsor with whom you are registered and carries an expiration date. If you leave a sponsor and go to work for another sponsor, you must be re-registered. The Office of Apprenticeship Training makes it easy for you to navigate the process and keep track of your hours. They’ve put an Apprentice Handbook up on line with all of the pertinent information you’ll need as well as a place to record the hours you’ve worked.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: Once you’ve completed an approved registered apprenticeship, you’ll need to apply for whichever of the unlimited or limited license designations in which you’ve acquired your experience. You’ll send your completed application, $90 journeyperson application fee, and the original copy of the Letter of Apprenticeship Completion Certificate to:
PSI Licensure Certification
3210 East Tropicana Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89121
If everything is in order, you will be issued an Examination Eligibility postcard with instructions for scheduling and paying for the examination.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The Department of Consumer Protection has contracted with PSI Exams to administer all of the professional licensing exams. Each exam portion costs $65. More details on the exams below. Once you have successfully passed the journeyperson exam, you’ll need to pay your initial license fee of $120 and you will receive your license.
CONSIDER BECOMING AN HVAC CONTRACTOR: You may work indefinitely as a licensed journeyperson, OR if you choose to apply for your contractor's license, you will need to work as a licensed journeyperson for two years and then once again send your completed application, $150 contractor application fee, and any required documents to PSI at the address above.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: For contractor licenses you must take both the appropriate trade exam and the Connecticut Business and Law Examination. Each portion costs $65 for a total of $130.. Once you have successfully passed both exams, you’ll need to pay your initial contractor license fee of $150 and you will receive your license.
All licenses must be renewed annually, which can be done through an online portal on the Department of Consumer Protection website.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a licensed HVAC professional in Connecticut?
Since Connecticut requires all HVAC professionals to begin their career path with a registered apprenticeship, it’s possible to get started with very little expense. Apprenticeships are sometimes referred to as “The Other Four-Year Degree,” because it’s like college for the trades. If you get one of the coveted apprentice openings through your local Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, it’s like getting a full-ride scholarship to college. If you begin your HVAC education through the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System, you’ll pay $325 per in-person course, $345 for online course, and a nonrefundable registration and technology fee of $50. You may also be able to receive tuition reimbursement under the Apprentice State Expansion (ASE) Federal grant awarded to the Connecticut Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship Training. The details can be found at this link. Other colleges and universities have different rates.
The application fee for any of the journeyperson licenses is $90. The examinations cost $65. The journeyperson initial license fee of $120 will be due after successful completion of the exam. The application fee for any of the contractor licenses is $150. The examinations cost $65 per portion; at the contractor level, you will need to take both the trade and the Business and Law exams, so that will be $130. The contractor initial license fee of $150 will be due after successful completion of the exam. All heating, cooling and sheet metal work licenses expire annually on Aug. 31. Renewal fees are $150 for contractors and $120 for journeypersons.
How Long Does it Take to Become an HVAC professional in Connecticut?
The length of time it takes to become licensed depends on which one is being sought. Each of the designations has different license requirements for the number of hours worked to complete the apprenticeship. All of those requirements are listed here. The heating-related license with the fewest on-the-job training hours is the G-2, which only requires 1,000 hours. The rest require 4,000 to 8,000 hours, which means two to four years.
Connecticut HVAC Training programs and schools
There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Connecticut and they are located all over the state. The US Department of Labor’s careeronestop.org website lists 752 training programs for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Engineering Technology Technicians in Connecticut. An HVAC license in Connecticut requires you to complete an approved apprenticeship. The Department of Consumer Protection lists the Education, Exam, and Training requirements on its website. As part of that, you will need academic training but can get it from many approved sources. As mentioned above, the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System (CTECS) offers HVAC programs for high school students and as part of the extension program for adults offered from 5 to 9 p.m. The Connecticut Technical Educational and Career System Apprenticeship Related Instruction program is fully approved by the CT-Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship Training in the Licensed Occupational Construction trades. Students in grades 11 and 12 are eligible to participate. They receive up to 720 hours of instruction upon successful completion of the program. Students may be able to receive 1500 hours towards a career affiliated apprenticeship upon graduation upon employer acceptance. This program allows companies to hire students during the school day to work as a pre-apprentice in the plumbing and heating industry.
There are two main organizations that approve HVAC programs and schools nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). There are no programs in Connecticut accredited by either organization, but there are some well-respected options statewide. The Connecticut Department of Labor provides a list. On that list you’ll find the Lincoln Technical Institute, which has campuses in East Windsor and New Britain. The East Windsor program tuition is about $28,000; the New Britain program is about $27,000.
The Porter and Chester Institute program is about a year long and costs roughly $25,000. The Bristol Technical Education Center, which is part of CTECS, has an estimated tuition of $4,000 per year for its two-year HVAC program. Another option is Entech, which offers an accelerated S2 license program that provides the educational requirements for the unlimited S-2 license, allowing students to get the academics out of the way and work full-time to complete their apprentice training.
You might be lucky enough to get one of the coveted apprentice spots with United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs Local 777 based out of Meriden. The apprenticeship program is five years and meets all requirements of the state as well as the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship standards. Apprentices will be paid a percentage of the journeyman wage rate and will receive periodic wage increases as they meet program requirements.
Here are three great lists to the best HVAC schools in Connecticut:
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job you will need good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have some mechanical capability, and be physically fit, because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing and working in tight spaces.
Connecticut HVAC Licensing Exam Details
Both the trade and Law and Business examinations are administered by PSI testing services. Once you are eligible to take the examination(s), you will need to mail the original application which can be found in the Candidate Information Bulletin, application fee, and any required documents to PSI licensure: certification. If all application requirements are met, PSI will issue you an Examination Eligibility postcard with instructions for scheduling and paying for the examination(s). It is your responsibility to contact PSI. You may go online at www.psiexams.com or call 855-746-8171. Each portion of the exam is $65, so if you are only taking a journeyperson level exam it will only cost $65. If you are taking a contractor level exam, which requires both the trade portion and the Business and Law exam, the total is $130.
To prepare, PSI suggests that you start with a current copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin and use the examination content outlines as the basis of your study. Read/study materials that cover all the topics in the content outline and take practice tests. Take notes on what you study. Putting information in writing helps you commit it to memory, and it is also an excellent business practice. Also, discuss new terms or concepts as frequently as you can with colleagues. This will test your understanding and reinforce ideas. Your studies will be most effective if you study frequently, for periods of about 45 to 60 minutes. Concentration tends to wander when you study for longer periods of time.
On the day of testing, you must bring two forms of identification, which bear your signature and one must also have your photograph. Your name as shown on the application form must exactly match the name on the photo I.D. used at the testing site.
Each of the exams is described in detail in the bulletin, including the number of questions and the time limit to complete it as well as which reference materials you may use and what items are not allowed in the testing centers. There are six locations listed. Two are in Connecticut — one in West Hartford and the other in Milford. There are four others listed in Massachusetts in Auburn, Boston, Fall River, and Springfield.
The Business and Law Examination is required for all contractor licenses. It is made up of 50 questions and has a two-hour time limit. It covers:
Estimating and Bidding
Environmental and Safety
The HVAC-related exams for the 20 different licenses have different numbers of questions and time limits depending upon the scope of the material covered. The unlimited contractor license has 80 questions and three hours to complete them. Check the Candidate Information Bulletin for details of what’s covered in each and what reference materials you should be studying to prepare. Most require knowledge of the International Mechanical Code.
All of the exams are open book and require a 70% to pass.
After successfully passing your examination(s), you’ll need to submit the licensing fee indicated on the passing score report for your trade examination with all passing score reports to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection and you will be issued your license.
Everywhere throughout the country, including Connecticut, federal-level EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act require that technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere must be certified. EPA section 608 HVAC Certification is required for any professional who conducts refrigerant line-pressure tests or handles or adds refrigerant to existing air conditioning systems.
Most training programs can direct you to how and where to get that certification, and many even make it part of the curriculum, or your employer will require you to get it before handling refrigerant. You can also go to EPA.gov and key in 608 Certification in the search bar to find out which institutions in your state offer certification programs.
Certification Exam: You must acquire your EPA Certification from an approved organization. A list of these organizations can be found on the EPA’s website. There are four types of EPA Certifications for Refrigerant. They allow for different levels of certification for different scopes of work.
Type I – for servicing small appliances containing five pounds of refrigerant or less.
Type II – for servicing high-pressure units that contain five pounds or more of refrigerant (including most small commercial and residential systems).
Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances.
Universal – for servicing all systems and appliances covered under Types I, II, and III. Generally more useful than targeting any one specific certification.
For all certifications, you must pass the “Core Section” of the EPA certification exam. It covers the following topics:
Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol
Section 608 regulations
Substitute refrigerants and oils
The Three R’s (Recover, Recycle, Reclaim)
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Connecticut?
The Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection issues all professional licenses including for HVAC professionals, plumbers, and electricians.
Does My Connecticut HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
No, the state of Connecticut does not have reciprocal agreements with any other states for Plumbing/Gas fitters or HVAC/R.
National HVAC Certifications
Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. North American Technical Excellence (NATE) certification, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) certification and other professional certifications are not required but can add to your marketability as a service provider and therefore increase your opportunity to make more money.
Connecticut does not have any continuing education requirements for any of its Heating, Piping, Cooling Licenses.
All heating, cooling and sheet metal work licenses expire every year on Aug. 31. To renew a journeyperson level license you must pay the $120 renewal fee. It can be done online using this link. The cost to renew a contractor license is $150.
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways:
Read about the latest industry trends
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