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.
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:
Hang and patch drywall
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
For the California general contractor’s license, you will pay $330 for the application and $200 after passing the exam.
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
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.
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
Current or past foreman/supervisor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.