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Between 2014 and 2024 the state’s economy will add an average of 80 HVAC technician jobs every year.Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development
Under the rules of the Heating, Piping, Cooling and Sheet Metal Examining Board, if you’re going to work in HVAC in Connecticut you must either be working as an apprentice under a licensed contractor or have a journeyman or contractor license of your own.

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Connecticut recognizes three HVAC professional classifications:

  • Apprentices

    Apprentices must work under the direct supervision by sight or hearing of a journeyperson or contractor. You must find a contractor willing to employ you on as an apprentice, and then register with the state’s Office of Apprenticeship Training. Apprenticeships last between 1 year (2,000 hours) and 4 years (8,000) depending on the license you’re pursuing. The type of jobs your employer specializes in, whether residential service or industrial installation, will determine the type of license you need. The types of specialized licenses available in Connecticut are listed below.

  • Journeyperson

    Journeypersons may work without supervision in their licensed HVAC field and must be employed by a licensed contractor. You must pass the appropriate journeyperson exam and either complete a registered apprenticeship program or have equivalent specialized experience and training.

  • Contractors

    Contractors may independently bid jobs and employ journeypersons and apprentices for the installation, repair, replacement, maintenance, and alteration of equipment within their area of HVAC specialization. You must pass the appropriate contractor exam and either have two years of experience as a journeyperson or an equivalent amount of specialized work experience.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, Occupational and Professional Licensing Division is responsible for issuing journeyperson and contractor licenses.

Substituting Trade School Training for Apprenticeship and Work Experience Requirements

Service technician testing a furnace

As you work toward your journeyman license, you can substitute up to 2 years of supervised trade school education or 4,000 hours of relevant work experience for up to 2 years of the apprenticeship requirements if the education is in a specialized area of HVAC recognized in Connecticut and the program is approved by the state’s Department of Education, Division of Vocational Education. Even if your program hasn’t been approved by the Department of Education, you can still request a credit evaluation for equivalency.

This means a full two years of trade school would make you eligible for the following licensing exams as soon as you graduate:

  • Limited Heating Journeyperson B-2 License (Domestic, Commercial)
  • Limited Heating Journeyperson B-4 License (Domestic, Commercial, Industrial)
  • Limited Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Warm Air License
  • Limited Cooling License

This is why many aspiring HVAC technicians prefer to earn a diploma, certificate, or AAS in HVAC before going into the workplace.

Employers also prefer graduates of HVAC programs because they have an academic record that testifies to concrete skills.

Some HVAC education programs also include EPA Section 608 exam preparation and certification.

Connecticut’s massive licensing hierarchy includes 12 different types of licenses issued for HVAC service technicians, on-site building engineers and installers for different functions and types of equipment. Each license type is issued at the journeyperson and contractor level.

The first license listed here – Unlimited Heating-Cooling License – is the all-encompassing license for general HVAC professionals and covers all HVAC work. Other licenses are also available for specific HVAC niches in lieu of the unlimited license.

Licenses must be renewed each year and do not have continuing education requirements.

EPA Section 608 Certification

EPA Section 608 Certification is standard for virtually all HVAC professionals. In addition to the state licensing process you also must become certified under the federal EPA’s Section 608 to work with ozone-damaging refrigerants, which virtually all HVAC techs do. There are four types of certification options you can choose from depending on what type of work you’ll be doing:

For servicing small, self-contained appliances containing five or fewer pounds or refrigerant

In most cases your education and training program will include test preparation and proctoring for EPA exams. Your employer can also provide information about where you can get this certification.

To earn any of these certifications you must pass the EPA exam specific to the certification type. You can often find same-day education and certification programs locally.

If you are working with motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) systems you must complete a separate Section 609 EPA-approved technician training and certification program.

Going to Work in Connecticut

If you’re entering the job market without prior experience or schooling, you’ll likely be doing so as an apprentice. If you are entering the field after graduating from a trade school program and/or some relevant experience in an entry-level position, you may be able to immediately meet eligibility requirements for certain journeyperson exams as described above.

Apprenticeships

Private employers, industry associations, and labor/trade unions may offer apprenticeships. The state’s Office of Apprenticeship Training maintains a list of all approved apprenticeships in the state.

You get on-the-job training, education, and a wage throughout the duration of your apprenticeship. You’ll spend your days with your employer on the worksite, and also spend time in the classroom on the weekends or evenings.

Once you’ve located a company or organization to sponsor you as an apprentice, you register your apprenticeship with the Office of Apprenticeship Training.

Licensed Journeyperson

If you already have qualifying experience, education, or have completed your apprenticeship then you can apply for a journeyperson’s license.

Becoming a journeyperson in your HVAC specialty involves passing an examination specific to that specialty. These exams are proctored and managed by a third-party company, PSI Examination Services.

The application for your exam with PSI also serves as your journeyperson application with the state. Once you’ve filled out an application for the license type you’re testing for with PSI, they will confirm you are eligible and then send you information about how to schedule your exam.

PSI publishes a candidate information bulletin (CIB) that has information about applying for your license examination in general, and specific information about each type of HVAC license examination.

You must score at least 70 percent on your examination. Once you pass, PSI will give you a passing score report that you will then submit along with your licensing fee to Connecticut’s Occupational and Professional Licensing Division so you can receive your license.

PSI exam sites are located throughout the country, including in:

  • West Hartford – 45 South Main Street, Suite 209
  • Milford – 500 BIC Drive, Suite 101
  • Auburn, Massachusetts – 48 Sword Street, Unit 204
  • Boston, Massachusetts – Inner Tech Park, 56 Roland Street, Suite 211
  • Fall River, Massachusetts – 218 South Main Street, Suite 105
  • West Springfield, Massachusetts – 1111 Elm Street, Suite 32A
  • Cranston, Rhode Island – Garden City Center, 100 Midway Road, Suite 2113

Journeyperson to Contractor

Once you have the requisite journeyperson-level experience to take the contractor exam you’ll apply through PSI, then submit your passing exam results along with a licensing fee to Connecticut’s Occupational and Professional Licensing Division.

Your contractor examination is divided into two parts: a section on your HVAC area of specialization and a section on business and law. Information on exam content for each specialty area is available in the CIB. The business law section is the same for all contractors regardless of specialty area.

You’ll have two hours to complete the business and law exam, which is comprised of 50 questions.

You’re permitted to consult the Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management, Connecticut, 5th Edition, National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA).

The subjects covered on this exam are:

  • Licensing
  • Estimating and bidding
  • Lien law
  • Financial management
  • Tax laws
  • Labor laws
  • Project management
  • Contracts
  • Business organization
  • Risk management
  • Environment and safety

Why the HVAC Industry is Strong in Connecticut

Despite being the third-smallest state by area, Connecticut ranks in the top half of states with the largest economies and has the highest per capita personal income in the nation. The three largest industries in the state – insurance/financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing – are all heavily reliant on HVAC systems.

It’s not just industrial and commercial growth that is driving Connecticut’s HVAC industry. The state’s population has continued to increase every decade for the past century, and as new residences are built they demand the latest heating and ventilation systems.

Cost savings is another factor that drives demand for HVAC technicians and installers. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that of all the states in New England, Connecticut’s residential sector electricity cost is the most expensive. In 2014 Connecticut consumed 209 million BTUs per person. With climate control accounting for up to half of all energy expenditures, government and industry have recognized that one of the most cost-effective ways to save money is to provide incentives for more energy efficient HVAC systems.

That’s where programs like the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund come into play. Created by an act of the legislature, this is a program funded by utility ratepayers throughout the state. It provides energy efficiency incentives that quickly pay for themselves by offering major rebates on the installation of high-efficiency heating and cooling systems in commercial and industrial buildings.

Growth in Connecticut’s industrial, commercial, and residential sectors and initiatives that promote the most energy efficient climate control systems help to explain why the job outlook in the HVAC industry is so strong. The Connecticut Department of Labor projects that over the decade leading up to 2024 there will be 80 new HVAC jobs added every year.

HVAC Technician Salaries in Connecticut

Unlike some states, Connecticut has four seasons. That means snow in the winter and sunshine in the summer. That also means regular HVAC repairs, upgrades, and maintenance.

The importance of HVAC maintenance is highlighted by several recent scares that have made headlines. A Walmart in Cromwell had to be evacuated last July because of dust coming from the air ducts into the store, and a high school in Fairfield had to be evacuated in 2015 when a malfunctioning electrical motor in an air handling unit caused the school to fill with smoke.

In addition to safety, HVAC maintenance and upgrades also save money. A more efficient system means more bang for the buck. The US Energy Information Agency reports that Connecticut’s residential and commercial sectors both pay the most for electricity compared with their counterparts in all other New England states. Many HVAC efficiency upgrades pay for themselves in the long-term, a fact that contributes to the strong demand and high salaries for HVAC technicians in the state.

In fact, these factors combine to explain why Connecticut offers the sixth-highest average HVAC technician salary in the nation. In May of 2015 this came out to $26.33 an hour, or $54,770 per year statewide. More experienced HVAC technicians, those in the top 10th percentile, earned $76,490 that year (US Department of Labor).

Connecticut HVAC Technician Salary (median)
$54,770
Connecticut HVAC Technician Salary (top 10%)
$76,490

The state also enjoys positive job growth projections. Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development estimates that between 2014 and 2024 the state’s economy will add an average of 80 HVAC technician jobs every year.

HVAC Technician Salaries in Connecticut by City

The following salaries represent hourly and annual statistics. They are presented as a range between the median and the 90th percentile. Numbers are sourced from the US Department of Labor in May 2015:

  • Bridgeport

    • Hourly: $27.77 – $41.13
    • Annual: $57,770 – $85,540
  • New Haven

    • Hourly: $27.17 – $38.61
    • Annual: $56,500 – $80,310
  • Stamford

    • Hourly: $27.77 – $41.13
    • Annual: $57,770 – $85,540
  • Hartford

    • Hourly: $26.28 – $35.20
    • Annual: $54,670 – $73,210
  • Waterbury

    • Hourly: $26.81 – $38.20
    • Annual: $55,760 – $79,460
  • Norwalk

    • Hourly: $27.77 – $41.13
    • Annual: $57,770 – $85,540
  • Danbury

    • Hourly: $23.36 – $35.17
    • Annual: $48,580 – $73,150
  • West Hartford

    • Hourly: $26.28 – $35.20
    • Annual: $54,670 – $73,210
  • Greenwich

    • Hourly: $27.77 – $41.13
    • Annual: $57,770 – $85,540
  • Hamden

    • Hourly: $27.17 – $38.61
    • Annual: $56,500 – $80,310