Do I need a handyman license?

Whether you actually need a handyman license depends on the state or province that you live in. Most regions base licensing requirements on the monetary value of a project. For example, in some states, you may require a license if a job exceeds $1000, and in others, you may need one regardless of the value of the project.

If you plan to offer specific services, like plumbing, HVAC, or carpentry, you will need specialized permits and additional training.

Related: Learn more about plumbing licensing and HVAC certifications

In some states, handymen and general contractors are lumped together, while other states divide the two into separate types of work. 

In states that separate them, licensed contractors generally work on larger projects with bigger budgets that require specific licenses or certifications. For example, jobs that require electrical, gas, or plumbing work. Handymen typically take on smaller, one-off projects, like patching a wall or installing a new door.

Depending on the type of work that you do and the state that you live in, you may need either a handyman license or a general contractor license. We provide state-specific handyman licensing information below.

How long does it take to get a handyman license?

It can take anywhere from a matter of weeks to a matter of years to qualify to be a handyman where you live. Some states don’t have any special requirements at all, meaning you can get started right away.

How long it will take you to get your handyman license depends on which state you live in and what its requirements are.

For example, some states require one or more of the following:

  • Completion of a trade and/or business and law exam
  • Minimum of 2 years experience in home improvement
  • Certificate of insurance 
  • Completion of state-designated educational coursework 
  • Registration with your state’s department of labor or contracting board
  • Experience as a handyman apprentice

It’s recommended that you also check your city or town’s handyman rules and regulations, as some localities have their own requirements on top of state-level qualifications.

See below for state-specific handyman licensing information, or contact your state’s contractors board directly.

How much does it cost to get a handyman license?

Handyman licensing can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the types of services you want to offer and your state’s licensing requirements.

In states where you only need to complete a single exam, you’ll typically pay anywhere from $200-$350 to take the exam and an additional $100-$200 for your license.

In states where you must complete courses at a community college or trade school, the cost will depend on how many courses you must take, tuition costs, and any additional licensing fees such as taking an exam.

Additionally, the type of services you plan to offer can affect the cost of your handyman license. For example, some states don’t require a license for general handyman services but do require you to have a license or certification to remove asbestos or apply pesticides.

Why should I have a handyman license?

In places where it’s required, having a handyman or contractor’s license helps to legitimize your handyman business and ensure that you’re operating within the law. In states and provinces with handyman licensing requirements, working without the necessary paperwork can result in a fine, or, even worse, the closure of your business.

Operating with a license can also make it easier to expand your business in the future by offering new services, taking on larger projects, increasing your prices, or even hiring employees.

It also makes customers more likely to choose you over other handymen and contractors who don’t have a formal license. You can advertise having a license on your website and social media pages to give potential customers peace of mind and confidence in your business.

Having a license and being part of a board or organization is also a great way to keep your skills up-to-date, network with other industry professionals, and even hear about new jobs or clients.

It also means that you can take on larger projects with bigger budgets, increasing your earning potential from each client.

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Handyman licensing in each state

Each state has different licensing handyman licensing requirements which vary significantly from one place to another. Remember to check both your state and city requirements before starting a job since handyman criteria can change depending on the region you’re in.

Here’s a list of each state’s handyman licensing requirements to help get you started.

Alabama

You don’t have to have a handyman license in Alabama unless you’re working on a project that’s worth over $50,000. 

To start the handyman licensing process, contact the Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors.

Alaska

In Alaska, you need to have a specific handyman license for any projects valued at no more than $10,000.

To get your license, you must have proof of general liability and property damage insurance.

To start the handyman licensing process in Alaska, contact the Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.

Arizona

In Arizona, handymen don’t need to have a license for individual jobs that don’t exceed a value of $1000, as long as the project is minor and doesn’t require a building permit. If a building permit is required, it doesn’t matter if the project is worth less than $1000, you will require a license.

To get your license, you must pass an exam and provide proof of a bond.

For more information on handyman licensing and to get one in Arizona, contact the Arizona Registrar of Contractors

Arkansas

In Arkansas, you do not need a license to do general handyman work worth up to $2000. However, if you plan to do any specialty work, which includes flooring and painting, you will need a license, even if it is worth less than $2000.

To get your license, you will need to provide a financial statement for your business as well as proof of worker’s compensation insurance.

To start the handyman licensing process in Arkansas, contact the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board.

California

In California, you need to have a handyman license if you work on any job that’s total value exceeds $500, including parts, or services from other professionals.

A license isn’t required when providing minor services that don’t permanently affect the structure, like repairing or assembling a piece of furniture.

To get your license you will need to have:

  • Four years’ worth of work experience
  • A contractor’s bond
  • A certificate of insurance

To start the handyman licensing process in California, contact the California Contractors State Licensing Board.

Colorado

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in Colorado. However, certain regions, like Denver, have specific requirements so be sure to check local requirements before getting started.

Connecticut

You do not need a license to provide minor handyman services to clients in Connecticut. However, if you offer any services that result in permanent changes to your client’s homes (like installing a fence, pool, or windows), you may need to register with the state as a Home Improvement Contractor.

To register as a Home Improvement Contractor in Connecticut, visit the Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection.

Delaware

You do not need a handyman license in Delaware unless you are categorized as a general contractor. If so, you’ll need to obtain a business license and register with the state if you plan to work on any projects that exceed a $50,000 value.

To learn more about general contracting in Delaware, visit the Delaware Division of Revenue.

Florida

In Florida, you will need a general contractor license if you plan to do any work that will affect the structure of a building. For example, building a garage, renovating a bathroom, or putting in a new floor. Minor services like paint touch-ups, replacing trim, or putting up a shelf don’t require a license.

To get your license you will need to have:

  • Four years’ worth of previous handyman experience
  • Completed and passed an exam
  • Proof of workers’ compensation insurance
  • Proof of general liability insurance

To start the process for obtaining a general contractor license in Florida, contact Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Georgia

In Georgia, you will need a license to work on any projects worth more than a total of $2500.

To obtain a license you will need to:

  • Provide proof of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance
  • Have a minimum of 2 years’ worth of trade experience
  • Complete and pass both a trade exam and a business and law exam

To start the handyman licensing process in Georgia, visit Georgia’s State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors.

Hawaii

In Hawaii, you will need to have a license if you plan to work on any projects that exceed a total value of $1000, including materials, supplies, and labor.

To get your handyman license in Hawaii, you will need to have:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Four years’ worth of handyman experience
  • Completed and passed a trade exam
  • Completed and passed a business and law exam

To start the process for getting a handyman license in Hawaii, contact Hawaii’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Idaho

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Idaho.

Illinois

In general, you do not have to have a license to work as a contractor in Illinois. However, like Colorado, many cities and towns in Illinois, such as Chicago, require you to have a general contractors license if you plan to offer your services there.

Indiana

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Indiana.

Iowa

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Iowa.

Kansas

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Kansas.

Kentucky

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Kentucky.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, you have to have a license if you plan to work on projects valued at more than $7500 total, including material, supplies, and labor.

In order to obtain a license, you will need to:

  • Have proof of insurance
  • Pass an exam, depending on the specific services you offer
  • Register any projects valued between $7500 to $75,000

To start the handyman licensing process in Louisiana, visit the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors.

Maine

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Maine.

Maryland

You will need a license to work as a handyman in Maryland.

To obtain your license, you must:

  • Provide a certificate of insurance
  • Have 2+ years’ worth of handyman or home improvement experience
  • Complete and pass a business and law exam

To start the process of getting your handyman license in Maryland, visit the Maryland Department of Labor.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, you do not need a license to work as a handyman. However, if you provide services related to home improvement or repairs, you will need to register as a home improvement contractor.

To register as a home improvement contractor in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Registration and Renewal website.

Michigan

You do not need to have a license to work as a handyman in Michigan unless you offer services such as masonry, insulation, siding, or roofing. If you do, you will need to obtain a Maintenance and Alteration Contractor License, which requires:

  • 60 hours of educational training courses
  • A completed exam

To find out whether you need a Maintenance and Alteration Contractor License in Michigan, visit the Michigan Department of Labor and Regulatory Affairs

Minnesota

Handymen who make more than $15,000 a year working on existing buildings and structures need to have a Residential Remodeler License. If you only provide services in a single, specific area, like painting or drywalling, you do not need to have a license.  In order to obtain the license, you will need to: 

  • Pass an exam
  • Provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance
  • Provide proof of general liability insurance

To learn more about handyman and contractor licensing in Minnesota, visit Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry.

Mississippi

In Mississippi, you only need to have a handyman license if the job you’re working on is valued at more than $10,000.

To get a license, you will need to:

  • Pass a business and law exam
  • Pass a trade exam
  • Provide proof of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance

To start the process of getting your handyman license in Mississippi, visit Mississippi’s State Board of Contractors.

Missouri

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Missouri.

Montana

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Montana unless you have employees. In this case, you must register with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

Nebraska

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Nebraska, but you do have to register with theNebraska Department of Labor.

Nevada

In Nevada, you will need a handyman license for any projects that exceed a value of $1000 or that require a building license.

To obtain a license, you will need to:

  • Have four years’ worth of work experience in a managerial or supervisory contracting role
  • Provide proof of insu
  • Complete and pass an exam

For more information, contact the Nevada State Contractors Board.

New Hampshire

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in New Hampshire.

New Jersey

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in New Jersey, but you do have to register as a Home Improvement Contractor with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Mexico

In New Mexico, there is no specific division between handymen and general contractors. Instead, whether you need a license depends on the type of services that you offer.

To learn more about general contractor licensing in New Mexico, visit the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department.

New York

You do not have to have a permit to work as a handyman in New York.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, you only need a handyman license if you work on projects worth more than $30,000. You do not need a license if you work on projects valued at less than $30,000 or if you are a subcontractor.

For more information about handyman licensing in North Carolina, visit the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, you need a handyman license to work on any projects valued at over $4000. 

To learn more about obtaining a handyman license in North Dakota, visit the North Dakota Secretary of State website.

Ohio

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in Ohio.

Oklahoma

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in Oklahoma.

Oregon

In Oregon, you will need a handyman license if you plan to work on a project that exceeds a $1000 value.

To obtain a license, you will need to:

  • Complete training
  • Pass an exam
  • Provide proof of both workers’ compensation and general liability insurance

To learn more about getting a handyman license in Oregon, visit the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.

Pennsylvania

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in Pennsylvania, but if you make more than $5000 per year through your handyman services, you will need to register with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

Rhode Island

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in Rhode Island. However, depending on which services you offer, you may need to register with the State of Rhode Island Contractors Registration and Licensing Board.

South Carolina

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in South Carolina, but you do need to register with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.

South Dakota

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in South Dakota.

Tennessee

You do not need a handyman license in Tennessee for projects worth less than $25,000. You do have to have a home improvement license for any remodels valued between $3000 to $24,999.

To obtain a home improvement license, you will have to:

  • Provide proof of general liability insurance
  • Provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance
  • Pass a trade exam
  • Pass a business and law exam

To apply for a home improvement license, visit Tennessee’s Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Texas

You do not have to have a license to work as a handyman in Texas, however, many cities and towns within Texas have specific requirements related to licensing and permits.

Utah

In Utah, you do not have to have a handyman license unless a project’s value exceeds $3000. Projects below a $3000 value are part of the handyman exemption, but if they are worth more than $1000, you must provide proof of insurance and submit an affirmation of exemption.

For projects worth more than $3000, you will need to obtain a license by:

  • Demonstrating a minimum of two years’ worth of professional experience
  • Completing and passing an exam
  • Providing proof of insurance

To learn more about handyman licensing in Utah, visit Utah’s Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

Vermont

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in Vermont.

Virginia

In Virginia, you need a handyman license to complete projects that are worth more than $1000.

Depending on the type of license you apply for, you will need to:

  • Complete a board-approved training course
  • Demonstrate two years’ worth of professional experience

To learn more about handyman licensing in Virginia, visit Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

Washington

You do not need to have a license to work as a handyman in Washington, but you are required to register with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

West Virginia

In West Virginia, you will need to obtain a contractor’s license for any projects valued between $2500 to $10,000.

To get a license, you will need to:

  • Provide proof of workers compensation insurance
  • Complete and pass an exam

To find more information about contractor licensing in West Virginia, visit the West Virginia Division of Labor website.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, you will need a license to work as a handyman. To obtain your license, you’ll need to complete and pass a course through the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.

Wyoming

You do not need a license to work as a handyman in Wyoming.

Handyman licensing in Canada

In Canada, handyman licensing is handled from both a federal and provincial level. Federally, handymen are not required to have a license if:

  • The job is valued at less than $500
  • It covers basic tasks like putting up a shelf, installing a doorknob, or fixing a leaking tap

Otherwise, you need to look into obtaining a general contractor’s license within your province or territory.

Specialized Trades Licensing in Canada

Specialized tradespeople, like electricians, plumbers, and gasfitters in Canada may also need additional certification and training through their province. For example, they may have to be a registered apprentice or certified journeyperson in order to perform work related to their trade.

In most Canadian provinces, specialized trades require either a certificate of qualification or a license. A certificate of qualification (also called a qualification certificate) certifies that you have met the requirements in your province or territory related to practicing your trade and that you have passed an exam.

Use the Canadian government’s business permit and licensing service to learn about regional requirements, licensing costs, and to get contact information for your local registries or licensing office.

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