Working as a handyman allows you to be your own boss while earning a good living performing home repairs and upgrades. While Georgia doesn’t require a license for minor projects under $2,500, you do need proper licensing for larger jobs.

Obtaining a contractor license shows consumers that you’re a true professional committed to safety and quality work. It also allows you to expand your business by legally bidding on bigger handyman projects.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about getting licensed as a handyman in Georgia.

Handyman License Exemption in Georgia

Georgia offers a handyman license exemption that allows you to operate without a contractor license on smaller jobs.

According to Georgia Code ยง43-41-2, you do not need a state license if the total value of the handyman work contract does not exceed $2,500.

This exemption permits you to perform minor handyman services like:

  • Basic carpentry and woodwork
  • Minor handyman repairs
  • Installing cabinets, shelves, and mirrors
  • Interior and exterior painting
  • Tile repair
  • Door adjustments and lock installations

Essentially, you can legally operate as a handyman on small projects that you can complete independently. This allows you to get started without undergoing the licensing process.

However, there are important limitations:

  • You may not perform electrical, HVAC, or low voltage work under the handyman exemption. Those trades require licensure even for projects under $2,500.
  • Once you exceed $2,500 on a single project, you must have an active Georgia contractor license. Otherwise, you’ll be operating illegally.

The $2,500 license exemption allows easy entry into the handyman business. But long-term success usually depends on getting properly licensed so you can tackle larger, more profitable jobs.

Requirements for a Georgia Handyman License

To qualify for a handyman license in Georgia, you must meet experience, exam, insurance, net worth, and other requirements.


You need a minimum of 2 years of experience working in a role related to residential contracting. This includes:

  • Working as a licensed residential contractor
  • Being employed by a licensed residential contractor
  • Completing an apprenticeship program

During this 2 year period, you must have completed at least 2 hands-on projects that fall under the scope of a Residential-Basic Contractor.

This experience verifies that you can competently perform a range of basic repairs and renovations in and around homes.

Licensing Exams

Once the licensing board approves your application, you must pass two exams:

  • Business and Law Exam: Covers topics like business organization, estimation, taxation, liens, contracts, insurance, and regulation.
  • Trade Exam: Focuses on building codes, construction techniques, blueprint reading, tools and materials, and safety.

Each computerized multiple-choice exam contains 100 questions. You must score at least 70% on both tests to pass.

Insurance Requirements

You must show proof of the following minimum insurance coverage:

  • General Liability Insurance: $300,000
  • Workers’ Compensation: As required by Georgia law for any employees

Net Worth

You must have a minimum personal net worth of $25,000. For a business entity applicant, the company must have a net worth of at least $25,000.

License Bond

A $25,000 license bond is required when applying for your handyman license. This surety bond helps protect consumers if the contractor engages in misconduct.

Application Fee

You must submit a non-refundable $200 application fee when you apply for a Georgia handyman license.

Applying for a Georgia Handyman License

Follow these steps to earn your handyman license in Georgia:

1. Determine Your License Classification

There are a few handyman licensing options in Georgia:

  • Residential-Basic Contractor: Ideal if you want to focus on smaller residential projects like minor renovations and repairs. This is the most common classification for handymen.
  • Residential-Light Commercial Contractor: Allows you to perform residential-basic work plus light commercial projects like office buildouts and multi-family renovations. Requires more experience.

Once you decide on your license class, it’s time to begin the application process.

2. Submit Your License Application

You can download the appropriate handyman license application from the Secretary of State website. Here are the options:

Your application must include supporting documentation that verifies you meet the experience, insurance, and net worth requirements.

You can submit your handyman license application either online or by mail. The non-refundable $200 application fee is payable by credit card (online) or check (mail).

3. Pass the Licensing Exams

Once approved, you’ll receive exam eligibility notifications from the licensing board. You can then register for exam dates through the testing provider, PSI Exams.

Be sure to schedule your tests soon, since your exam approval is only valid for one year. The exam fee is $135 per test.

You must pass the business and law exam and the trade exam to become licensed. Each test contains 100 multiple choice questions, and you need a minimum score of 70% on both.

If you fail either exam on the first try, you must wait 30 days before retaking. You have up to 3 total attempts before you have to reapply for licensure.

4. Maintain Required Insurance

To complete the licensing process, you must have active general liability and workers’ compensation policies meeting Georgia’s minimum requirements.

Provide proof of your insurance coverage to the licensing board. They will not issue your license until you have proper insurance in place.

Passing the Licensing Exams

Passing both the business/law and the trade exam is required to get your Georgia handyman license. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

Study the Content

The exams cover a broad range of key topics. Be sure to thoroughly study the content outlines:

Business and Law Exam:

  • Business Organization
  • Estimating and Bidding
  • Tax Laws
  • Lien Laws
  • Safety
  • Environmental Laws
  • Contracts
  • Insurance and Bonding

Trade Exam:

  • Sitework and Foundations
  • Concrete and Masonry
  • Carpentry
  • Roofing
  • Associated Trades (drywall, insulation, painting, etc.)
  • General Code, Plan Reading, and Estimating

Focus your preparation on areas you feel least confident about.

Use Study Guides

Study guides can provide structured training to help you learn and retain the material. Two options are:

  • NASCLA Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management
  • PSI Exam Prep Book for Business and Law

Both offer content review, practice tests, and test taking tips.

Take Practice Exams

Practicing with sample questions helps you get comfortable with the exam format. Two sources for practice tests are:

  • PSI’s Business and Law Practice Exam ($35)
  • NASCLA Online Practice Exams ($99)

Aim to score at least an 85% on practice tests before taking the actual exam.

Know What to Expect

  • The exams contain 100 multiple choice questions
  • You’ll have about 3 hours to complete each test
  • Tests are administered on a computer at approved testing centers
  • You cannot bring any reference material into the testing room

Avoid surprises by understanding the rules and testing conditions in advance.

With diligent preparation using study guides and practice tests, you can pass the Georgia handyman licensing exams on your first attempt.

License Renewal and Continuing Education

Once licensed, you must renew your Georgia handyman license every 2 years prior to June 30th. For instance, licenses issued in 2020 must renew by June 30, 2022.

The standard renewal fee is $100. You can complete the online renewal process through the Georgia Online Licensing portal using your login credentials.

Late renewals made in July will incur an additional $100 late fee, bringing the total to $200. If you fail to renew by the end of July, your license will lapse.

At this time, Georgia does not require continuing education credits for handyman license renewal. However, it’s wise to regularly complete CE courses to keep your skills sharp.

Some reasons to take continuing education include:

  • Learning about updated building codes and regulations
  • Improving your knowledge of new tools, techniques, and materials
  • Acquiring specialized skills like tiling or deck building
  • Maintaining licensure in other states that require CE

Look for CE courses offered by industry groups like the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

You should also join professional handyman associations to access training resources and networking opportunities.

While optional, continuing education is a smart investment for ensuring you provide quality work as a licensed handyman.

Reciprocity with Other States

If you hold a handyman license in another state, you may qualify to transfer it to Georgia through license reciprocity.

Georgia has reciprocity agreements for residential contractor licenses with these states:

  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Louisiana
  • Tennessee

To obtain reciprocity, you must:

  • Hold an active residential builders license from one of the approved states
  • Have passed that state’s licensing exam
  • Submit a verification of your existing license to Georgia

If approved, you’ll only need to take and pass the Georgia business and law exam. The application fee for license reciprocity is $200.

Reciprocity allows you to leverage your out-of-state license to save time and skip exams you’ve already passed.

Georgia does not have reciprocity agreements in place for commercial contractor licenses. So if you have a commercial license from another state, you would need to fully qualify and test for a Georgia commercial license.

License Bond Requirements

As part of the Georgia handyman licensing process, you must obtain a $25,000 license bond. This surety bond helps protect consumers financially in the event that a licensed contractor engages in misconduct or fails to fulfill their professional duties.

If you violate licensing laws or building codes, or fail to complete a job fully, the harmed consumer can file a claim against your license bond. The $25,000 serves as an insurance policy to remedy damages.

When applying for your bond, you’ll need to provide personal and business financial information. The cost will vary based on your credit score and other factors. Most bonds cost $100 – $500 per year from a surety company.

You’ll submit your active bond documentation to the licensing board along with your application. Maintaining an active bond at all times is a condition of licensure.

If you ever need to file a claim against your license bond, contact the issuing surety company. You’ll need to provide evidence to support the claim and show how you suffered quantifiable monetary harm.

Insurance Requirements in Georgia

Licensed contractors in Georgia must maintain appropriate insurance coverage to protect their business from common risks.

General Liability Insurance

This is the most essential policy for handymen. It covers costs related to third-party property damage or bodily injury caused by your business operations.

For example, if you accidentally damage a client’s home while on a job or an employee gets injured on site, general liability insurance can pay for repairs or medical treatment.

At minimum, Georgia requires:

  • $300,000 General Liability Insurance

Higher limits are recommended when possible. For instance, $500,000 or $1 million policies are common.

Workers’ Compensation

If you have three or more employees, you must carry workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia.

This mandatory policy pays for medical treatment and lost wages if an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness.

Even if it’s not required, having workers’ comp protects your business and avoids serious liability risks associated with on-the-job injuries.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Liability and physical damage coverage for your business vehicles is highly recommended. This protects your handyman business whether you or an employee is driving.

Make sure your policy covers all drivers and vehicles used for business purposes.

Tools & Equipment Insurance

Consider this optional policy if you have expensive tools and equipment for carpentry, handyman, electrical work, etc.

It compensates you for theft of or damage to your professional gear and tools while on a job site or in transit.

Commercial Property Insurance

This covers damage to your business property, whether you rent or own your shop or office space. It also protects inventory stored onsite.

Maintaining continuous, adequate insurance coverage is crucial for Georgia handymen. Let policies lapse and the State Licensing Board can suspend your license.

Work with an insurance broker to review your risks and build a custom policy with proper limits.


Becoming a licensed handyman in Georgia involves meeting experience requirements, passing two exams, and submitting a thorough application with all documentation.

The effort pays off by allowing you to legally operate as a Residential-Basic or Residential-Light Commercial Contractor. This opens the door for bidding on larger, more complex projects.

Renewing your Georgia handyman license every two years is straightforward. Just pay the renewal fee and complete any required continuing education courses.

Following the licensing requirements shows customers your professionalism and commitment to delivering quality handyman services safely. It also equips you with risk management through proper insurance and a license bond.

Use this comprehensive guide to help you get started on the path to becoming a fully licensed handyman in the state of Georgia.