A bill has been introduced in the Connecticut legislature that, if passed, would require pool and spa builders to obtain a construction license specific to the profession.

The law would lay out the qualifications, testing and education necessary to attain and renew a pool-builders license, making it one of only a handful of states with such specific demands. Most others across the country only require registration on par with a business license.

If made into law, SB 863 also will raise penalties for violators of the state’s existing pool service license.

The bill, endorsed by the Northeast Spa & Pool Association and its Connecticut chapter, CONSPA, contains language similar to that of Connecticut’s service licensing law.

The hope is that SB 863 will increase the industry’s barriers to entry, thereby raising the standard of professionalism.

“You won’t have a carpenter working out of a pickup truck all of a sudden claiming that he’s a pool builder, so it helps in that manner,” said Ed Nejame Jr., co-owner of Nejame & Sons in Danbury, Conn.

SB 863 has passed its first committee and now must be reviewed by a second to make sure it won’t impose a fiscal burden on the state. If the bill passes there, it goes to Connecticut’s Congress for approval.

Last year, a similar piece of legislation progressed all the way to the Senate, but died on the last day when a senator unexpectedly pulled it.

The bill states that Connecticut’s commissioner of consumer protection would have until July 1, 2012 to define how the state will implement the license, including the cost, experience, examination and continuing education that would be required.

Experienced builders can be grandfathered in if they meet the regulations. Such contractors would have until Jan. 1, 2014, to apply for that status.

Holders of the pool builders license would not be permitted to perform work in electrical, plumbing, heating or cooling, unless the equipment is actually part of the pool or spa. Connecticut requires a master electrician to wire panel boxes, and a licensed plumber to connect the fresh water supply to the pool and connect gas lines for heating.

A contractor who operates without the appropriate license or willfully employs someone without the document would be required to pay restitution or serve up to five years’ probation. In addition, the violator could be sentenced to up to six months in prison, a fine up to $1,000, or both.

The Department of Consumer Protection also can impose civil penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation, up to $1,500 for a second violation, and up to $3,000 for subsequent violations within three years after the second.