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How to become a handyman

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Always been a bit handy around the house? Ever thought about turning it into a career? If you like variety in your days and have a knack for fixing things, you could become a professional handyman or handywoman...

MyBuilder research shows that DIY skills are on the decline in Britain, so the demand for professionals who take on a variety of home improvement projects is growing all the time.

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A day in the life of a handyman

As a handyman or woman, you’ll likely be working on your own or in people’s homes or gardens. This type of work can be varied and you’ll be on the go a lot of the time, travelling to different jobs, sometimes at short notice. That means that being organised is essential.

Some of the jobs you get will be very physically demanding and could include a lot of heavy lifting, while others will see you climbing ladders or heading into dark and cramped spaces. The potential tasks are endless, so you have to be similarly flexible and adaptable, though as you gain experience and a reputation you’ll be able to focus on the kind of work you want to do.

Typical tasks you might undertake day to day might include:

  • Changing light bulbs and fixtures
  • Hanging pictures or mirrors
  • Putting up shelves
  • Hanging curtains
  • Assembling flat pack furniture
  • Painting and decorating
  • Moving furniture
  • Clearing waste
  • Fixing taps
  • Unclogging drains
  • Maintaining gardens
  • Fixing cupboards or doors

A lot of self-employed handymen and women work alone, but once you’re established and have started building a reputation, you could choose to expand and hire a team. Ultimately, you could decide to specialise in one area and consider taking a qualification in a particular trade, such as plumbing, electrical work or carpentry, and move to doing those jobs full time.

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Handyman training and experience

You are not legally required to have any qualifications to become a handyman or woman, but you will need to have a wide range of skills if you want to be able to put yourself out there and go for a variety of jobs.

Lots of these skills can be built up by being a keen DIYer, and learning from books and online tutorials, but real experience will always serve you best. There are a few ways to get started if you don’t have much previous experience:

  • Take a short DIY course at your local college
  • Approach local firms about entry level roles or just helping out, and begin to build on the job experience with them
  • Become a handyperson’s apprentice - entry for apprenticeships usually requires some GCSEs
  • Volunteer work - you could volunteer to help charities, schools or housing associations while building up your skills. You can look for opportunities on Do-it.
Just because you don’t have to have a qualification to get started, doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. There are lots of different qualifications you could consider at some point to broaden or deepen your skills.

City & Guilds, BTECs, and NVQs in health and safety, plumbing, plastering, carpentry, and general maintenance would all be very useful and could enhance your profile.

Depending on what your circumstances are and what you’re learning, you may be able to access help with funding your training. Find out more about financial support for further education at Gov.uk.

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Handyman salaries

As with many trades, if you’re self employed you can schedule your own days and work where you want; you’re also in charge of your pricing so there’s the potential to earn more.

The rates you charge will need to factor in your level of experience and where you work, and the type of job, but to give you an idea handymen/women typically charge anywhere between £10-£60 per hour and many will have a minimum call out fee of around £50.

Handymen who work as employees can expect to earn an annual salary between £18,000 and £30,000 a year, depending on location and experience.

A career in the trades