Do you need a license to be a handyman? I get asked this question all the time so I figured it’s something I should address here. The problem is, there’s not a clear cut and dry answer to this question but I can shed some light on the situation.
Question: Do you need a license to be a handyman?
Answer: Yes and no.
Here’s the thing. First, in most states (if not, all), you need a license to run any business. This will usually be issued by the city you do business in. Do not let this scare you off for any reason. It’s really no big deal to get a business license in your city.
Secondly, you may or may not need a license to be an actual handyman. As far as I know, there is no such thing as a handyman license in any state yet. I can only speak for the state that I’m in, but in California we have a CSLB (Contractors State License Board) that issues licenses to the construction trades. You may have something similar in your state. In California there is no license specific to the handyman trade. This may be the case in your state too. However, if you do work that totals over $500 you must have a contractors license. For a handyman business that does work over $500, a general contractors license is usually the best choice.
On the other hand, if you plan to do small jobs and keep it under $500, you do not need a license from the CSLB. A business license alone should suffice. Remember, this is for California specifically. I do not know the laws in other states so you will need to do a little research to find out what your state requires.
Don’t let licensing keep you from ever starting
Getting licensed can sound like a scary task. Don’t let this stop you from ever starting though. Really, it’s not that big of a deal. If you find out that your state requires some type of license to be a handyman, don’t let that stop you from being a handyman. Getting a license is usually no more than filling out some paperwork and sometimes taking a test. Often times that also includes paying a small fee or two. The state likes to regulate who operates businesses so they like to have some paperwork on those businesses.
Don’t let that stuff scare you off though. If you know you wan’t to run a handyman business and you know there’s a demand for it in your area, get the proper licensing. It shouldn’t take you much time at all and after you do it you’ll be glad you did.
Disclaimer: I am not a legal professional so you should not rely on the advice I’ve given here. You should do your own due diligence to determine what’s required in your area.