How to get started as a handyman

December 7, 2023

If you have strong practical skills and are good with people, a career as a handyman (also referred to as a handyperson), could be for you. You can enjoy independence in your professional life, as well as variety in your work environments and the people you meet. Handymen work in settings such as people’s homes, workplaces, schools, hospitals or other public buildings.

The entry route to becoming a handyman is fairly straightforward, with the potential for a good income if you grow your entrepreneurial abilities and continue building your business. By gaining plenty of hands-on experience and continuously expanding your skills, you can enjoy a fulfilling career.

In this guide, we’ll explore how to become a handyman, covering qualifications, responsibilities, potential earnings and progression opportunities.

Window cleaner


Are handymen in demand in the UK?

The demand for handymen in the UK can be influenced by various factors such as economic conditions, population growth, and the housing market. The demand for specific services may vary based on location. However, research in the last few years has shown that handymen work an average of 10 hours per day to fulfil the high demand for work.

The demand for handymen is helped by the following:

  • Homeownership: Around a third of the UK population own their own homes, and homeowners often require maintenance and repair work.
  •  
  • Ageing housing stock: Many properties in the UK are older and may require regular maintenance and renovations, creating a steady demand for handyman services.
  •  
  • Lifestyle changes: Busy lifestyles and dual-income households often lead people to hire handymen for tasks they don’t have the time or expertise to handle.
  •  
  • DIY limitations: While DIY is popular, some tasks are beyond the skill level or time constraints of homeowners, prompting them to seek professional help.
  •  
  • Rental market: Around a fifth of the UK are private renters. Landlords and property managers often require maintenance and repairs for rental properties, contributing to the demand for handymen.
  •  
  • Home improvement trends: Homeowners investing in home improvements and renovations contribute to the demand for skilled professionals.

Qualifications and experience

Unlike many professions, becoming a handyman doesn’t require a formal education. However, gaining relevant qualifications and offering particular services can enhance your skills and marketability. Consider specialising and pursuing courses in carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, and general maintenance.

Vocational qualifications, such as a City and Guilds diploma in Maintenance Operations or Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards, may be required depending on your job, which you can add to your CV to boost your credibility.

Hands-on experience is the most crucial element to bringing in a steady amount of work. Apprenticeships, volunteering schemes, or assisting an experienced handyman can give you valuable insights and help you refine your skills.

What does a handyperson do?

Here are some of the typical responsibilities you can expect to carry out as a handyman.

Minor repairs and maintenance

You can expect to handle a range of general practical tasks as part of your day-to-day. You might be fixing leaky taps, repairing broken doors or installing shelves. You could also be putting up curtain rails, fitting smoke alarms or assembling furniture.

Plumbing and electrical work

Basic plumbing repairs fall within a handyman’s scope too. These could include unblocking sinks or dealing with leaks. Simple electrical tasks, such as fixing small appliances and installing thermostats and doorbells, can also be part of your duties.

More complex issues will likely fall under the remit of professionals, who are more specialised in these areas.

Painting and decorating

Handymen also carry out basic painting and decorating tasks. You might be working on areas such as walls, window frames, furniture and doors. These could be inside or outside buildings.

Roofing

Another area you can offer services in is roofing. This could include cleaning up, repairing or repainting roofs, on the interior and exterior, as well as applying insulation, replacing any fixtures and improving structural components.

Gardening work

You can also base your services outside of the home, with this kind of work particularly in demand over the spring and summer months. Handymen services in the garden can include mowing grass, erecting and painting sheds, clearing out debris and jet-washing driveways.

Tiling and flooring

Installing or repairing tiles and flooring is a common responsibility too. This kind of work may involve measuring floor spaces, applying adhesive, cutting, laying and sealing tiles and other flooring materials.

Window fitting

You could base your business around installing or fixing windows, replacing panels and frames, and attending to smashed glass.

Customer service

If you work for yourself, interacting with clients, understanding their needs, and providing excellent customer service are essential aspects of the job. This could mean answering emails and calls, outreaching for new clients over the phone or online, or making door-to-door sales calls.

Required skills

Becoming a handyman requires a diverse set of skills to effectively address the varied tasks and challenges involved. By honing these skills, you can increase your chances of success by providing a quality service. Continuously learning and staying updated on industry trends and technologies will help you to thrive in this profession.

If you want to know how to become a handyman, read more about the most important skills you’ll need.

Technical skills

The practical and technical skills you may need include:

  • Carpentry – A proficiency in woodworking for tasks like furniture repair, door installation, and building shelves.

  • Plumbing – Basic knowledge of plumbing systems to fix leaks, install faucets, and address common plumbing issues.

  • Electrical work – Understanding of basic electrical systems for tasks such as installing light fixtures, outlets, and switches.
  •  
  • Painting and decorating – Skill in painting walls, ceilings, and trim, as well as basic knowledge of decorating techniques.

Problem-solving skills

It will greatly benefit you to be able to apply analytical thinking and to be able to quickly identify practical solutions to problems. You’ll also need to be adaptable, being able to apply yourself to various different tasks and unexpected challenges on the job.

Communication and interpersonal skills

Strong communication skills will help you to understand your customer’s requirements, explain your work processes and negotiate contracts. A customer-centric approach is essential, as you’ll need to make sure they’re satisfied with your work. Happy clients are key to building a strong reputation, encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations and securing good reviews.

You’ll need to work well in a team too. Whether you work for someone else and divide your daily duties with colleagues, or you manage people and have responsibility for others’ livelihoods, it’s critical that you can talk to teams, managers or employees effectively, pass on instructions and feedback, and hear what others have to say.

You may also regularly interact with suppliers, fellow industry professionals and other third parties. You’ll need to cultivate good working relationships with people from all walks of life, at all levels of seniority.

Manual dexterity

Hand-eye coordination is highly important. You’ll need precise control and coordination for tasks such as using tools, handling materials, and performing intricate work.

Organisation and time management

You should be able to plan and prioritise tasks efficiently to complete jobs within deadlines, which is one of the most important parts of your job. If you can carry out good work in a shorter timeframe than other professionals, this can give you an edge over competitors. It can allow you to increase your prices as you become more efficient over time. You could also give the option for a shorter turnaround at a higher fee.

Effective time management skills will also help you to handle multiple tasks in different locations when you are balancing projects for a range of different clients.

Physical fitness

Strength and stamina are also an important asset in this work. The job can be physically demanding, so being in good physical condition is important for tasks that involve lifting, carrying, and working in various positions.

Attention to detail

Precision is everything when it comes to making clients happy. Paying attention to detail ensures that your work is completed to a high standard and meets customer expectations. One minor lapse in concentration, or a failure to check over your work, could be the difference between a good review and a bad one, or even a refusal to pay.

Knowledge of tools and equipment

Tool proficiency is important too. You’ll need to be familiar with a variety of tools and equipment used for different tasks, from basic hand tools to power tools.

You’ll need to have the right kit to be a handyman, so make sure you have a reliable set of tools, ladders, protective clothing and, ideally, a van. Depending on the work you do, you may require and need to be comfortable using painting supplies, electric drills, spirit levels, circular saws and tape measures.

Safety awareness

Health and safety is paramount as a handyman. You’ll have to adhere to safety regulations and protocols at all times, to prevent accidents and injuries on the job. This isn’t only for your own protection, but that of your clients and anyone you employ. This also means protecting yourself financially with the right insurance, in case an incident occurs and a lawsuit is brought against you.

Business skills (if self-employed)

Entrepreneurial skills are highly valuable, especially if you work for yourself and want to grow your business. Understanding basic business principles, including budgeting, pricing, and marketing, is essential for self-employment.

If you do go self-employed, you’ll need to register with HMRC and make sure you file and pay your taxes before each annual deadline.

Earnings

Handyperson earnings can vary based on experience, location, and the services you offer. However, the average salary is between £19,000 and £42,000. As you grow your experience and portfolio, you can expect to earn at the higher end of the scale.

The average self-employed handyman hourly rate in the UK is around £30, though many have a minimum call-out fee to make the job worth their while. Specialised skills or emergency call-outs may command higher rates.

When you start out, the hourly rate will usually be lower. If you work for yourself, it’s up to you to increase your income over time and bring in your worth as your career develops.

Progression opportunities

You can either start out as a handyman working for a construction company in a team, or working for yourself. However you enter the industry, over time you can start to develop your services and reputation to for more financial and job security.

Here are a few ways you can progress as a handyperson:

  • Specialisation – As you gain experience, you can choose to specialise in certain areas such as plumbing, electrical work, or carpentry, expanding your expertise and potential income.
  • Entrepreneurship – Experienced handypeople often start their own businesses, offering a wider range of services and managing a team.
  • Further education – You could opt to take up additional training in specific trades, enhancing your qualifications and marketability. Acquiring relevant qualifications will help you to market yourself and set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Networking – Building a strong professional network can help you secure partnerships, collaborations, and a greater number of job opportunities.

Get builders insurance with Protectivity

Being a handyman comes with certain hazards, as with any trade. Starting a company also has elements of risk, as you navigate finances, build a customer base, try to deliver good work and establish your reputation. Therefore, protecting your business is important if you want to make a success of your new vocation.

Whether you need Builders Insurance, Painters and Decorators Insurance or another similar trade, Protectivity’s small business insurance has been created to help businesses just like yours to thrive.  This is because you can focus on maintaining high standards for your clients knowing you have financial protection if claims are brought against you.

Find out more and get an instant quote designed for your needs. If you need any help, our experienced team are on hand to help.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.