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California Handyman License: Everything You Need to Know

With a strong housing market, the handyman and general maintenance worker industry is expected to grow nearly 10% in the next decade. Becoming a handyman is a rewarding career with the potential to start your own business. This guide covers how to obtain your California handyman license.

Do You Need a License in California to Become a Handyman?

You do not need a California handyman license. An unlicensed handyman can perform a wide range of services as long as the scope of work is less than $500 per job (including labor and materials). As an unlicensed handyman in California, you can perform the following tasks:

  • Fix fences

  • Repair doors

  • Hang and patch drywall

  • Mount televisions

  • Repair appliances

  • Install ceiling fans

  • Repair faulty toilets

To perform work that exceeds this limit, you must apply for a general contractor’s license from the California Contractors State License Board. The requirements include:

  • 4 years of on-the-job experience

  • Proof of insurance

  • Contractor’s bond of $15,000

  • Passing the trade and business & law exams

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Handyman License in California?

For the California general contractor’s license, you will pay $330 for the application and $200 after passing the exam.

How to Get a Handyman License in California

You can start your handyman career in California right now if you wish to stay unlicensed. However, you must stay under the $500 per project limit.

To go beyond the limit, you will need a general contractor’s license. Here are the basic legal requirements for obtaining the license:

  • At least 18 years old

  • 4 years of journeyman experience

  • Drivers’ license or state identification

  • Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number 

  • Not currently on probation or parole

Journeyman experience

If you wish to obtain your contractor’s license, you are required to have at least 4 years of journeyman experience before you submit your application. A journeyman works unsupervised on a job site performing all of the duties.

Verification of journeyman experience

California State License Board will need proof of your journeyman experience. The state needs a credible source to prove your work history. The referral can be any of the following:

  • A licensed general contractor

  • Former or current employer

  • Current or past employee

  • Union representative

  • Current or past foreman/supervisor

General contractor exam

In California, the general contractor exam requires legal knowledge and applied competency of general contract work. The 3-hour exam is a closed-book test with 115 multiple-choice questions. Applicants take the exam at a California State License Board testing facility center. Learn more here: www.cslb.ca.gov.

Education resources and certifications

Here is a list of educational resources and certifications to help bolster your resume and knowledge base:

These programs are available online, and the costs vary.

License renewal

According the California State License Board, an active general contractor’s license needs to be renewed every 2 years (inactive every 4 years). The renewal for your license will cost:

  • $400 if active renewal received before expiration

  • $200 if inactive renewal received before expiration

  • $600 if active renewal received after expiration

  • $300 if inactive renewal received after expiration

Any changes to the business address, name, or any other general information regarding the business should be reflected on the renewal application.

How to Use Your Handyman License to Get a Job

An unlicensed handyman can find work by tapping into his or her current network. You also can ask for referrals from prior clients.

As an employee, you can build your skills and experience by working for an organization. Here are a few businesses seeking workers:

Many potential employers will run a background check, contact your references, and require reliable transportation.

Handyman Industry Trends

Whether you're a licensed or unlicensed handyman in California, it's important to stay on top of industry trends. Trade shows can help you learn the latest industry technology. They also are a great way to network with other industry professionals. Check out the California Construction Expo and the Construction Institute Summit.

Start Your Career as a Handyman in California

In California, you have the option to work as an unlicensed handyman or get your general contractor’s license. Whichever course you take, you should use business software to help advance your trade.


New to the Handyman industry and looking to get licensed, or already a seasoned veteran and want to take your business to the next level? Find out more about Housecall Pro’s all-in-one Handyman Software.