How to Become a Licensed Handyman

woman applying drywall compound with a wide trowel
  • Intermediate

Whether you’re still in high school or are looking for a second career later in life, it’s important to understand the requirements for any job you’re interested in.

What Handymen Do

In short, a handyman tackles all the little things that need doing around the house. They make repairs, handles upkeep, and perform maintenance on everything from exterior surfaces to HVAC.

A handyman is an avid DIY type but typically has a bit more experience in home repair than the standard homeowner.

Some of the most common tasks for a handyperson are installing shelves, painting, installing tile, flooring, deck repair, duct cleaning, dealing with plumbing issues, minor electrical work, replacing doors and windows, and hanging cabinets.

Handymen have experience in various fields, and it’s often a job someone does when semi-retired or looking for a change in their career.

Job Titles

Handymen, by definition, are generally skilled, so they might be called a Jack of all trades, fixer, handyperson, or handyworker.

Work Environment

Handymen work in existing homes and businesses. They work indoors and outdoors. The job often requires working in dusty, dirty, cramped spaces and may involve work in adverse weather conditions such as thunderstorms, wind, and snow. Most handymen set their own hours and may work occasionally, part-time or full-time. Work may require morning, evening, and weekend hours. As a handyman, you may work alone, with a contractor on-site, or as part of a large crew completing a home project.

two workers nailing shingles onto roofing

Licensing and Insurance

You can take a few different routes to become a handyman. Each state has its own requirements, so you’ll need to check into licensing and insurance requirements. Since the job of a handyman is typically focused on small tasks and repairs, many states allow you to perform the work without licensing. It’s kind of an exemption to the rule for general contractors.

However, it comes with restrictions, and those vary depending on where you live. Some states limit your work to a certain dollar amount, say $500 or $1,000, as a maximum payment for work rendered. Other states have regulations around the type of work handymen can perform. For example, a handyman may be allowed to change a light fixture but not complete home-wide wiring. A handyman can likely snake a clogged drain or replace a pipe or toilet but not complete extensive plumbing installation.

Working as a handyman means performing tasks in other people’s homes and businesses. Because anything can happen, most states require handymen to have some level of insurance to cover accidents or damage. Again, this requirement varies by state. Check with your state’s contractor board for more information, but know that there are often restrictions regarding what services you can advertise and whether you need to mention your licensing or not.

Required Experience

There are no specific experience requirements to become a handyman. Most people who choose to go into the field have either worked in a related industry or have acquired a lot of general home improvement experience by self-study.

If you’re interested in becoming a handyman but don’t have the know-how, you can take classes at a local community college or through another program.

Strong Personal Characteristics for Handymen

Every job has certain personal characteristics that help the job be a more natural match for the person. Becoming a handyman requires strength, strong organizational skills,

agility, fine motor skills, and critical thinking skills. If you’ve ever worked in construction or even completed some DIY projects in your home, you know no project goes as planned, so flexibility and adaptability are key. You will also need strong customer service and communication skills to interact with home and business owners effectively.

worker with tablet looking at pipes under a kitchen sink

Salary Range

In contrast to a professional position as a contractor, a handyman typically works on a per-project or hourly rate. You can charge anywhere from $15 to $100 per hour, depending on your skills and the requirements of the task. However, the position is often the result of not wanting full-time responsibilities. As a side income, being a handyman will supplement but isn’t a reliably high-paying job.

Job Outlook

As systems become more complex and knowledge is less likely to be passed on to the next generation, handymen will continue to be in high demand. After all, every homeowner knows there’s no end to the ‘honey do’ list.


Working as a handyman comes with the inherent risks of working on ladders and roofs and using power tools.