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What Can a Handyman Do Without a License? Jobs & Qualifications Explained

handyman installing wooden fence

The humble handyman is the backbone of America, with a diverse range of home repair knowledge and skills. When your gutter’s overflowing or you need random bits and bobs around the house fixed, a handyman is a lifesaver. The only catch with hiring one is that it can be tricky to figure out what they’re legally allowed to do without a license or other qualifications.

Generally speaking, handymen can do jobs that don’t involve major structural, electrical, plumbing, and other specialized work. As you can imagine, that leaves out a lot. Another quirk is that handymen typically only handle small-scale jobs under certain monetary amounts, and these may vary from state to state. Let’s check out some stuff handymen are generally allowed to do without formal qualifications.

divider 4 Jobs Handymen Can Do Without Formal Qualifications

This is hardly an exhaustive list, but hopefully, it’ll give you an idea of the scope that handymen work within. Bear in mind that these tasks may be regulated by state laws, which we’ll touch on later.

Jobs Handymen Can Do Without Formal Qualifications:
  • Painting
  • Repairing plaster & drywall damage
  • Mounting TVs
  • Assembling & repairing furniture
  • Cleaning gutters & downspouts
  • Minor landscape work
  • Laying tile
  • Repairing stuff outside, including fences, sheds, decks, driveways, walkways, etc.
  • Checking & fixing loose nuts, bolts, screws, and so on
  • Changing air filters
  • Looking for signs of general wear and tear around the house
  • Installing countertops & backsplashes


Painter painting white window frame
Photo Credit By: Ksenia Chernaya, Pexels

What Types of Jobs Require Licenses or Other Qualifications?

Broadly, handymen aren’t allowed to do work within specialized fields like those mentioned above, but they may flirt around the edges of the letter of the law. Some jobs around the house are just too much for a handyman, no matter how knowledgeable he may be. Check out some stuff they aren’t typically allowed to do below.

Jobs Handymen Can’t Do Without Qualifications:
  • Major construction: Major renovations and add-ons will call for a licensed general contractor, especially for stuff like load-bearing walls, foundation repairs, and roof work.
  • Electrical work: many handymen can do some minor electrical stuff, but you should always hire a qualified electrician to take care of your fuse boxes and other wiring needs around the house.
  • Plumbing: handymen are allowed to do some minor plumbing jobs in most states, but more complex jobs require plumbing credentials.
  • HVAC work: most states have laws requiring HVAC technicians to be properly trained and qualified to install or repair your HVAC system.
  • Pest control: pest control is another heavily regulated industry that requires special training & licensure.
  • Asbestos disposal: asbestos and other hazardous materials like lead often require chemical safety training, licenses, and other qualifications.
  • High-value projects: this varies from state to state, but handymen typically aren’t allowed to work jobs valued over a certain dollar amount. For example, in Alabama, the upper limit is $50,000.

We should mention that these fields aren’t totally inaccessible to handymen. If a handyman wants to be able to do electrical work, for instance, they would have to train and become licensed in the field. This can give a handyman an edge over his unqualified competition.

When Does a Handyman Need a License?

There’s no universally recognized handyman license in the US, and only some states even have a specialized license for handymen. The most common requirements are to pass a license test and to carry valid insurance. Let’s list some states that do have this type of license for your reference.

States with Handyman Licenses:
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Nevada
  • Louisiana
  • Oregon

Keep in mind that the licenses from these states do not carry over when traveling to other states because they all have their unique allowances and restrictions on what a handyman’s allowed to do.

For example, a handyman in Arizona needs a license to work jobs valued at $1,000 or more, but in California, you need a general contractor’s license to work on jobs over just $500. We suggest checking your state’s laws about handymen for more specific information because there are some wild differences from state to state.

divider 4 Conclusion

If you’re not the handy type, having a trustworthy and skilled handyman can help keep your home in tip-top condition before major repairs are needed. They can install toilets, clean your gutters, and do other minor work, but the serious stuff should be done by licensed and insured specialists.

Featured Image Credit: Khromova Anna, Shutterstock


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