Many businesses and homeowners employ people doing handyman work to perform small construction or renovation projects, routine maintenance or repairs, or other odd jobs on their property. Iowa does not require people in this occupation to obtain an Iowa handyman license or another type of license, unless they perform HVAC, mechanical, electrical, or plumbing work. However, any self-employed person who earns $2,000 or more working as a handyman must register as a contractor.
Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. You should consult your local regulations and a qualified attorney for legal advice.
Do You Need a License To Be a Handyman in Iowa?
There is no specific handyman license in Iowa. There is also no general contractor’s license. However, any self-employed person engaging in construction work, which the state defines as additions, alterations, new work, reconstruction, repairs, installations, or demolitions, must register with the Iowa Division of Labor if they earn $2,000 or more per year doing this work.
Examples of construction work include:
- House painting
- Installation of windows, landscaping, cable, and elevators
Individuals who perform HVAC, mechanical, plumbing, or electrical work must obtain the appropriate license from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Is There a Specific Handyman License in Iowa?
There is no specific handyman license in Iowa. However, most people performing handyman work as anything other than an occasional side gig will earn more than $2,000 and be required to register with the Iowa Division of Labor.
Iowa Handyman License Requirements
There is no need to learn how to get a handyman license in Iowa. However, if you are self-employed and earn more than $2,000 per year doing handyman work you must register as a contractor with the Iowa Division of Labor.
No license is required unless you perform any mechanical, HVAC, electrical, or plumbing work. You must obtain the appropriate license from the Iowa Department of Public Health for this type of work.
These resources may help you with additional questions you have about working as a handyman:
- Does a Handyman Need a License? (What Kind and From Whom)
- Can a Handyman Do a Remodel Job? (Bathroom, Kitchen & More)
- Can a Handyman Hire Subcontractors?
All contractors must apply for an Iowa unemployment insurance number before they can register, even if they don’t have any employees. Contractors who have employees must also obtain a Certificate of Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, out-of-state contractors doing work in Iowa must secure a $25,000 bond.
While commercial liability insurance is not required by the state, you may want to consider purchasing it. Commercial liability insurance provides you with financial protection if you cause an injury or damage someone’s property while you are doing handyman work.
Use the tool below to request a free commercial insurance quote from our partners.
Iowa Handyman Licensing and Registration Fees
Because there is no license requirement for handyman work or general contractors, there is no associated license fee. However, contractors who are required to register with the Iowa Division of Labor must pay a $50 registration fee. You can either pay this fee online by credit or debit card or an ACH transfer from your checking or savings account when you submit your electronic registration application or mail a check or money order.
Self-employed contractors who pay $2,000 or less to employees and do not perform work with or for other contractors do not have to pay this fee. They must submit a signed and notarized Fee Exemption Form with their applications.
These fees are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change.
Handyman Training and Certification Programs
There is no formal education requirement to work as a handyman. However, there are training and certification programs that may help you gain the skills you need to be successful.
Property Handyman Skills Camp
Hawkeye Community College offers a camp that teaches students foundational skills in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work.
Building Maintenance Certificate Programs
Des Moines Area Community College provides a 175-hour Building Maintenance Competency-Based Certificate. This certificate includes five courses on the topics of electrical work, HVAC, steam plant operations, boiler room maintenance, and 10-hour OSHA.
Specific certifications or memberships, such as obtaining a home inspector certificate or joining The Association of Certified Handyman Professionals, can lend credibility to your business. It is also essential to understand fundamental business principles, which you can gain through an online training program.
Iowa Handyman License Application
Iowa Division of Labor
150 Des Moines Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-1836
This detailed guide will help you with the process.
To complete the application you need several types of information:
- Federal Employer Identification Number or Social Security Number
- Business name
- Email address
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Unemployment insurance account number
- Workers’ compensation provider, expiration date, and policy number if applicable
- Out-of-State Bond company name, number, and effective date if applicable
If you are required to provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance or bond documents you must either mail the documents or attach them to your electronic application.
Individuals who are required to obtain a license to do HVAC/R, mechanical, plumbing, or electrical work should go to the Iowa Department of Public Health site to complete licensing and registration instead of completing the general contractor’s application.
Handyman License Iowa FAQ
1. What Happens If I Do Not Have the Right License?
The labor commissioner may issue a citation to contractors who violate the registration requirements and impose a penalty of up to $500 for a first violation. Additional violations may result in fines of up to $5,000 each.
2. How Long Is My Iowa Contractor Registration Valid?
All contractors who are required to register in the state must renew their registrations once per year. The renewal fee is $50.00. You may submit your renewal application by mail or online. You can access detailed instructions in this guide.
3. Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
Iowa Division of Labor
150 Des Moines Street
Des Moines IA, 50309-1836
Email: [email protected]
4. Why Are Contractors Required To Register?
Contractors must register for several reasons:
- Ensure unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance laws are complied with
- Facilitate collection of payments owed by out-of-state contractors
- Provide a resource for the general public
5. What Do I Do If My Registration Information Changes?
Provide the Iowa Division of Labor a written notice of any changes to the information on your registration application. You may be penalized if you don’t provide this notice.
6. Do I Have To Register Again If I Incorporate?
If you are registered as a sole proprietor or partnership and later incorporate your business, you must apply again under your new business name.
7. Do I Have To Register If I Work for a Registered Contractor?
Sub-contractors must register, but if you are working as an employee of a registered contractor you do not need to register.
8. How Much Does a Handyman Make in Iowa?
The average wage for a handyman in Iowa is $21.52 per hour.
If you enjoy doing a variety of jobs related to repairing, maintaining, and improving homes and buildings and are looking for an industry that is relatively easy to enter, working as a handyman could be a good fit for you. Because there is no Iowa handyman license, you can try out the profession without any registration or handyman license requirements in Iowa as long as your earnings don’t go over $2,000.