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Washington Handyman License: How to Get Certified as a Handyman in WA

April 6, 2023 9 min. read
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In a growing job market, becoming a handyman is a great way to secure your financial situation long-term. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 75K handyman jobs will be added across the U.S. in the next 10 years. 

The average salary for handymen in the United States is about $40,000. But in Washington state, the average salary for entry-level handymen starts at $42,657—and you can earn even more as you build experience.

If you’re a handyman who wants to take on larger projects and earn more money, this post has all you need to know about getting your specialty contractor license in Washington state:

Make sure you bookmark this page as a reference when you have questions about the specifics of the licensing process or starting your own business.

Does a handyman need a license in Washington State?

Yes, you need a handyman license in Washington if your project value exceeds $2,000. In this case, you must have a contractor license in the category of work you’re doing.

The difference between a handyman and a contractor can be unclear. As a handyman, you can complete small residential projects, like home repairs and maintenance. To take on bigger jobs or specific types of regulated work, you need to be licensed as a specialty contractor.  

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries regulates professional licenses, including specialty contractor licenses.There are additional requirements for education, examination, and licensing for contractors working with plumbing, electrical, elevators, mobile home installation, boilers, and asbestos.

Types of handyman licenses in Washington

If your handyman work surpasses $2K in value, you will need a specialty contractor license. These licenses let you perform specific types of specialized work you may perform on projects as a handyman.

Below are the types of specialty contracting work you will need a license for:

License TypeDescription
Appliances, equipmentLicense holders can install or replace appliances where minimal gas and water connection are required.
Awnings, canopies, patio covers, and exterior screensLicense holders can install or replace window awnings, door hoods, exterior screens, freestanding or attached canopies, and patio covers constructed of metal, fabric, fiberglass, and plastic.
Cabinets, millwork, and finish carpentryLicense holders can install cabinets, countertop frames, cases, sashes, doors (including hardware), trims, nonbearing partitions, closets and other items of finish carpentry by cutting, surfacing, joining, gluing, and framing wood and wood products.
ClosetsLicense holders can install, repair, and maintain the lateral or horizontal shelving systems, racks, rails, or drawers involved in a closet or storage system.
Doors, gates, and activating devicesLicense holders can install, modify or repair all types of residential, commercial, or industrial doors including sliding door assemblies.
Drain cleaning and snakingLicense holders can perform camera examination, cleaning, or snaking of building drainage and vent pipes and/or sewer pipe.
DrywallLicense holders can install gypsum wallboard and gypsum wallboard assemblies including nonstructural metal framing members, as well as perform the taping, primer, and texturing operations, including the application of compounds that adhere to wall board to produce a continuous smooth or textured surface. This includes interior lath and plaster repair.
FencingLicense holders can construct, erect, alter, or repair all types of fences, corrals, runs, railings, cribs, game court enclosures (excluding the  roof), guard rails and barriers, backstops, posts, flagpoles, and gates.
Floor covering and countertopsLicense holders can install, repair, or replace floor covering materials and related accessories including preparation of the surface to be covered.
Glass and glazingLicense holders can select, cut, assemble, and/or install, replace, and repair all makes and kinds of glass, glass work, mirrored glass, and glass substitute materials for glazing; execute the installation and glazing of frames, panels, sashes, skylights, and glass doors; and/or install these items in any structure.
Gutters and downspoutsLicense holders can install, repair, or replace gutters and exterior downspouts of metal, wood, and plastic, and can channel devices common to the industry for the use of water run-off of the exterior of a building.
HandymanLicense holders must be individuals who do all work personally without employees or other specialty contractors. License holders may perform more than one unrelated specialty trade or craft provided they do all the work themselves. All work shall be limited to minor and casual work of existing residential maintenance and repair with a total dollar value of time and materials under $2K. Work requiring a building permit may not be done by this specialty.
LandscapingLicense holders can install, develop, repair, or replace landscape systems and facilities for public and private gardens and other areas which are designed to aesthetically, architecturally, horticulturally, or functionally improve the ground within or surrounding a structure or tract or plot of land. They can also prepare and grade plots; treat, condition, prepare, and install topsoil; perform hydroseed spraying; and plant all decorative vegetation.
Locks, security alarms and warning systemsLicense holders can install, repair, or maintain all doors and door assemblies, gates, locks and locking devices, panic and fire rated exit devices, manual and automatic operated gate and door closures and releases, jail and prison locking devices, permanently installed or built-in safes and vaults, as well as early warning systems.
MasonryLicense holders can install concrete units and baked clay products; concrete, glass, and clay block; natural and manufactured stone; terra cotta; and firebrick or other material for refractory work.
Overhead/garage doorsLicense holders can install wood, wood panel, steel panel or steel roll-up doors, and the rails and support systems common to the industries.
Painting and wall coveringLicense holders can apply materials common to the painting and decorating industry for protective or decorative purposes.
Paving/striping/seal coatingLicense holders can install, excavate, grade, compact, and repair asphalt/cement on streets, driveways, parking lots, boat ramps, and landing strips and taxiways for an airport.
RoofingLicense holders can install and repair materials common to the industry that form a water-tight, weather-resistant surface for roofs and decks, including all accessories, plywood, coping, flashing, valleys, gravel stops, and roof insulation panels above the roof decks.
Scaffolding and safety railingsLicense holders can erect metal or wood scaffolding including temporary sidewalk, sheltered construction work barricades, safety railings, stages, and bleachers.
SidingLicense holders can install all types of exterior siding including–but not limited to–wood, wood products, vinyl, aluminum, and metal siding on new or existing buildings.
Swimming pools, spas, and hot tubsLicense holders can construct, alter, and repair permanent swimming pools and spas or hot tubs, including associated equipment.
Tile, ceramic, mosaic and natural and manufactured stoneLicense holders can prepare surfaces as necessary and install glazed wall, ceramic, mosaic, quarry, faience, glass mosaic and stone tiles, thin tile that resembles full brick, natural or simulated stone slabs for bathtubs, showers and horizontal surfaces inside of buildings, or any tile units set in the traditional or innovative tile methods, excluding hollow or structural partition tile.
Tree removalLicense holders can fall and/or remove trees, stumps and/or branches on residential or commercial property or near a residential or commercial structure, outbuilding or fence.
Window coveringsLicense holders can install window treatment rods and other handling devices and covering products.

Washington handyman license requirements

To work on projects valued over $2,000, here are the contractor license requirements you must meet: 

Complete and submit the specialty contractor application form and pay the application fee.

How to get a handyman license in Washington State

Take the following steps to get your contractor’s license from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries: 

  1. Create either a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, corporation, or other permitted entity that you can attach your license to. 
  2. Complete and submit the contractor license application indicating that you need a specialty license. 

All contractor application forms must be sent to the following address: 

Department of Labor & Industries

Contractor Registration Section

PO Box 44450

Olympia WA 98504-4450

Washington state contractors license exam

Currently, Washington state has no education and examination requirements for contractors. Although you are not required to take contractor courses, it’s a good idea to enroll in a training program to develop your skills.

Here are training programs for general and specialty contractors:

Does Washington reciprocate licenses?

Reciprocity allows license holders who are not residents of Washington to apply for a specialty contractor license without additional testing where comparable categories exist.

The state of Washington does not reciprocate with any other state for specialty contractor licenses at this time.

Washington handyman license cost

There is no handyman license in Washington, but if you need a specialty contractor license, there are some fees you’ll need to pay.

Licensing StageCost
Business Registration + License$200
Contractor License$124.70

How often do I need to renew my license?

Contractor licenses are valid for two years in Washington. You can renew your license in person, online, or by mail with your renewal card, which is your current license. 

Here are the three different options for renewing your contractor license in Washington:

  1. In-person renewal – Bring your renewal card to your nearest local Department of Labor and Industries office.

    You’ll need your renewal card and a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express credit or debit card to pay the required fee. 
  2. Online license renewal – You can renew your contractor’s license here. Submit your 12-digit Contractor Registration number and your UBI number, then pay the required fee via Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express credit or debit card. 
  3. Mailed license renewal – You can renew your license by mail at the address below. Mail your renewal card and a check or money order in the amount of the required fee.

Department of Labor & Industries

Contractor Registration Section

PO Box 44450

Olympia WA 98504-4450

Requirements for business owners

It’s time to decide if you’re ready to take the next step to secure your financial future—opening your own business. 

Here’s everything you need to do to legally start, own, and operate a business in Washington state.

For an in-depth guide to starting your own handyman business—including getting your financing, buying equipment, and hiring staff—check out our comprehensive guide. Here’s a summary of what’s involved:

  • Write a handyman business plan.
  • Research local handyman license requirements.
  • Get startup funding for your handyman business.
  • Decide which handyman services to offer.
  • Define your business’s ideal customers.
  • Set prices for your handyman services.
  • Register your handyman business.
  • Get small business insurance.
  • Start marketing your handyman services.
  • Plan to offer amazing customer service.
  • Hire other handymen as employees.

Do handyman contractor licenses in Washington increase your earning potential? 

As a handyman in Washington, your earning potential increases as you gain more experience and get a contractor license to take on bigger jobs. And starting your own business can help you earn even more. 

When starting out as a handyman, you’ll earn approximately $42,657 per year. This can grow to $66,086 within the first 3-5 years as you gain experience.

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