By: Daniel Duffy, Principal Analyst
July 28, 2005

You asked for a comparison of licensing requirements for air conditioner technicians and plumbers in Puerto Rico and Connecticut.


Connecticut law requires tradesmen who work on air conditioning systems and plumbers to obtain a state license. It establishes a licensing system by which these trades and several others are licensed. Licensing boards in the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) authorize DCP to issue licenses to candidates they deem are qualified. Among their duties, the boards also make recommendations to establish limited licenses to work in an area of a trade. Air conditioning work is such an area of the heating, piping, cooling, and sheet metal work trade. Plumbing is its own trade.

Under Connecticut law, there are three levels of expertise: apprentice, journeyman, and contractor. Apprentices must register with the Department of Labor as well as have a permit from DCP.

Puerto Rico requires refrigeration and air conditioning technicians and plumbers to be licensed. To obtain a license, candidates must, as in Connecticut, successfully complete an apprenticeship program.

Copies of relevant Connecticut and Puerto Rican law are enclosed.


Levels of Licensure

Occupational licenses are authorized by one of six licensing boards and issued by DCP (CGS § 20-330 et seq. ). The boards determine who is qualified to take a licensing examination, create or select the appropriate licensing examination, determine who is qualified for a license, rule on disciplinary matters, and recommend regulations to the consumer protection commissioner. The law requires the consumer protection commissioner to adopt regulations to establish the amount and type of experience and training required to qualify to take a licensing exam and to determine the specific area of a trade for which limited licenses must be issued and the areas for which no license is required.

The law establishes three levels of expertise: apprentice, journeyman, and contractor. Workers must meet education and training requirements to pass from one level to the next. The statute authorizes DCP, when authorized by a licensing board, to issue an apprentice permit to work in a trade for training. An apprentice, in addition to having a permit from DCP, must register with the Connecticut State Apprentice Training Division of the Labor Department. An apprentice may only work under the supervision of a licensed contractor or journeyman. An apprentice must pass a licensing exam to become a journeyman. A journeyman must work for a contractor. A contractor may offer his services to the public.

Contractors and journeymen may have either of two types of licenses—unlimited or limited. An unlimited license allows its holder to work in all areas of the trade. A limited license allows its holder to work in a specific area of the trade.

Air Conditioning

Connecticut requires anyone performing “heating, piping, and cooling work” to be licensed and defines it as the installation, repair, replacement, maintenance or alteration of (1) any apparatus for piping, appliances, devices, or accessories for heating systems and (2) air conditioning and refrigeration systems, boilers, including apparatus and piping for the generation or conveyance of steam and associated pumping equipment and process piping.

The unlimited licenses in heating and cooling work are designated S-1 (contractor) and S-2 (journeyman). There are two limited licenses related to air conditioning. The limited air conditioning, refrigeration, and warm air contractor’s license (D-1) allows work on a warm air, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems (Conn. Agencies Reg. § 20-332-4(m). An applicant for a D-1 license must have been a journeyman for at least two years. The limited cooling journeyman’s license (D-2) may perform the same work under the supervision of a D-1 license holder (Conn. Agencies Reg. § 20-332-4(n). Applicants for a D-2 license must have completed a registered apprenticeship-training program.


Connecticut requires anyone performing “plumbing and piping work” to be licensed and defines it as the installation, repair, replacement, alteration, or maintenance of gas, water, and associated fixtures, laboratory equipment, sanitary equipment (other than subsurface sewage disposal systems), fire prevention apparatus, water systems for human use, sewage treatment facilities and associated fittings, process piping, swimming pools, including making connections to back flow prevention devices.

The unlimited licenses in plumbing and piping work are designated P-1 (contractor) and P-2 (journeyman). There are eight limited licenses related to plumbing. They are related to work on petroleum tanks and pumps; water pumps and conditioning; water, sewer and storm lines; and lawn sprinklers. Applicants for a journeyman must have completed a registered apprenticeship-training program.


Air Conditioning

Under Puerto Rican law, a “refrigeration and air conditioning technician” is someone engaged in the installation, repair, or maintenance of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment or related equipment in homes, commercial establishments, industries, hotels, offices, motor vehicles, recreation and theater areas, and similar places.

Puerto Rico requires applicants for a license as a refrigeration and air conditioning technician to be: (1) at least 18 years old, (2) a U. S. citizen and have lived in Puerto Rico for at least one year, (3) successfully completed four years of high school, (4) passed the licensing exam, and (5) met the following educational requirements. Applicants must have completed (1) an approved one-year or 800-hour course in refrigeration and air conditioning techniques at a public vocational school or technological institute or at another accredited institution; (2) a training course prescribed by the Apprenticeship Council of Puerto Rico; or (3) 200 hours of vocational training offered by the Apprenticeship Division of the Right to Work Administration through accredited educational institutions, at least one year as an apprentice, and one or more certificates of training or seminars offered by the College of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technicians (T. 20 Puerto Rico Code § 2059).


A “journeyman plumber” is someone who installs, repairs, or maintains to plumbing systems with the purpose of guaranteeing the work. Puerto Rico requires applicants for a journeyman plumber’s license to have (1) an apprentice license and (2) completed the training course prescribed by the Apprenticeship Council. It also allows students of legally recognized plumbing schools in Puerto Rico to be admitted to the licensing examination if they hold a certificate issued by the school. Further, until December 1, 1981, anyone who had worked in the plumbing trade for at least five years under the direction of a master plumber (T. 20 Puerto Rico Code, § 944).

Applicants for an apprentice license must be (1) at least 16 years old and (2) enrolled in a training course with a minimum of three months of studies (T. 20 Puerto Rico Code, § 944). An “apprentice” is someone who works as a plumber under the direction and supervision of a master plumber while training to become a journeyman plumber.

Puerto Rico requires journeymen to take at least nine credit-hours of continuing education per year (T. 20 Puerto Rico Code, § 945).
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