How much Do Handymen Actually Make?
The most commonly cited dollar figure for what the average handyman makes is $37,000 per year.
That’s not a lot.
You could make more driving a subway car, ranching, installing elevators, or being a detective, none of which require a degree beyond high school graduate.
But maybe you don’t live in a major city, or don’t like cows, or are scared of heights, or are not a keen observer of detail. And maybe you are actually pretty handy, so you’re going to stick with that.
You can make more as a handyman. $37,000 is not the ceiling, it’s the average, which means there are plenty of guys making more than that. There’s no reason you can’t be one of them. Here’s how:
Aside from the freedom offered by self-employment, the potential for income and growth is much greater if you work for yourself. Will there be greater up-front expenses? Yes. Will there be more responsibility? Definitely. But you get to make all the decisions, and no one is as motivated as you are to make sure you make money.
As a professional handyman, you’ll want to think of yourself as a businessman first. Being competent with tools is certainly part of the job, but to be really successful and to increase your profits, you have to run your business like a pro. That means promptly returning phone calls, having and handing out business cards, being on time, providing references, writing up estimates, registering with the Better Business Bureau, and sending out bills. You won’t get paid to do any of that, but you’ll be able to charge more if you do (to cover all that overhead) because customers will respect and value your professionalism.
You’re going to be working in people’s homes, crawling around their closets, standing in their bathtubs, rooting under their kitchen sinks. Customers don’t want a chatty Cathy, but they do want a presentable-looking, pleasant human being sharing their home for a few hours. Wash your hands, tuck in your shirt, and pet their dogs.
This means having the necessary licenses and required insurance to do the jobs you say you can do. If you want to hire yourself out as a plumber or electrician, get the licenses your state or municipality requires. If you bring someone along to help you out, have workers’ compensation insurance (because the business insurance you already obtained won’t necessarily extend to your employees). Anyone who doesn’t ask for these basics from their handyman isn’t someone you should be working for.
If you live in or near a major metropolitan area, investigate companies like TaskRabbit or Thumbtack. Potential customers use these websites (and apps) to find handymen. Once you register with certain skills, you’ll receive notifications that a potential client is looking for someone like you. After a quick back-and-forth to clarify the price and the parameters, you go do the job. If your regular business is a little slow or you are just starting out, this is a great way to make a few extra dollars and gain some experience, all on your own schedule.
How will you even know how much money you’re making if you don’t keep track of it coming in and going out? There are easy-to-use computer programs that will teach you simple bookkeeping. And once you can see that the most lucrative jobs are the closest, or the carpentry-heavy ones, or the apartment-dwellers, you can focus in on those types of work and clients and make more money.
$37,000 a year is better than zero dollars a year, but it doesn’t represent the money you could be making as a handyman. With a little perseverance, you can make significantly more than that. Like many things in life, you’ll get more out of it if you put more effort into it.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!