If you want to start a handyman business, you may be interested to learn that New Jersey is a popular spot for this profession. The New York, Newark and Jersey City metropolitan area ranks first in the nation for the highest employment level of general maintenance and repair workers. It also boasts higher wages for handypeople, with an average annual salary of $53,520 — over $8,000 more than the national average.1
In addition to the abundance of jobs and high pay, New Jersey also offers a lower barrier to entry in terms of professional licensing. In fact, the state does not enforce any New Jersey handyman license requirements. Instead, professionals in this line of work must simply register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs2.
So, what type of work can a handyman do legally in New Jersey? We’ve put together a helpful guide to cover this question along with other key details you need to know, including:
- Does a handyman need a license in New Jersey?
- How to get a handyman license in New Jersey
- Requirements for registered home improvement contractors in New Jersey
- Penalties for failure to register as a home improvement contractor
- New Jersey contractor registration renewal
- What kind of insurance does a handyman need in New Jersey?
Does a handyman need a license in New Jersey?
You do not need a New Jersey handyman license. However, according to the state's Contractors' Registration Act, you must register your business with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.3
The Contractors’ Registration Act requires all contractors that make or sell home improvements to register. This includes individually owned businesses as well as partnerships, LLCs, associations and corporations. Full-time and part-time operations are included in this requirement, so even if you only do handyman work “on the side,” you’ll still need to register your business.
What can a handyman do without a license in New Jersey?
As long as they are registered as a home improvement contractor with the state, an unlicensed handyman in New Jersey can construct, install, replace, improve or repair most parts of existing residences. This includes windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, basements and more.
Essentially, this registration permits you to perform the same type of work as a general contractor in New Jersey. When deciding how to advertise your business, consider whether the types of projects you work on are handyman jobs or contractor jobs. For more details on the differences between these types of work, see the chart below.
Handyman vs. Contractor
How to get a handyman license in New Jersey
Handypeople in this state do not need a handyman license. New Jersey requires registration with the Division of Consumer Affairs instead. To complete your registration, you must fill out and submit an application to become a registered home improvement contractor.4
When submitting your application, be sure to include the following:
- Proof of general liability insurance coverage of at least $500,000 per occurrence
- A signed Disclosure Statement (included in the application form)
- A check or money order for the $110 registration fee
- A copy of your Alternate Name Form C-150G or Trade Name Certificate (if you use any other business names)
Requirements for registered home improvement contractors in New Jersey
The Contractors’ Registration Act requires all home improvement contractors in New Jersey to display their original registration certificate in their place of business. In addition, business owners must display their registration number in the following locations:
- In all advertisements
- In correspondence with consumers
- On business documents and contracts
- On commercial vehicles
If a home improvement contractor works on any project over $500, the contract for that project must include certain information, including the contractor’s registration number and a copy of the certificate of general liability insurance. Plus, the contract must include an option to cancel within three business days of receipt.
Penalties for failure to register as a home improvement contractor
If you fail to register as a home improvement contractor and are found to be in violation of the Contractors’ Registration Act, you may be subject to civil monetary penalties. For the first offense, penalties may total up to $10,000, and up to $20,000 for each subsequent offense.
Those who knowingly violate the Contractors’ Registration Act may be considered guilty of a crime of the fourth degree, which means they could face additional fines and possible jail time.
New Jersey contractor registration renewal
You must renew your New Jersey home improvement contractor registration before March 31 of each year. You will receive instructions for renewal in the mail each October, so be sure to keep your address up to date in the state’s records.
What kind of insurance does a handyman need in New Jersey?
Whether you’re running a one-person, part-time side gig or a full-time operation with several employees, the right handyman insurance can help protect your business. Plus, you must meet certain business insurance requirements to register as a New Jersey home improvement contractor.
Consider the following types of recommended insurance policies for your handyman business:
General Liability insurance
General liability insurance helps cover the costs of certain accidents involving a third party, including damage to someone else’s property or an injury to someone other than you or an employee.
To register as a home improvement contractor in New Jersey, you must have a certificate of general liability insurance for a minimum amount of $500,000 per occurrence.
Workers’ Compensation insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance can protect your business if you or an employee gets hurt on the job. This insurance helps pay for medical expenses, wage protection and other benefits.
In New Jersey, any business with one or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance or obtain approval for self-insurance. The penalties for failing to provide workers’ comp coverage may include fines of $5,000 for the first 10 days and up to $5,000 for each additional 10-day period.5
Tools and Equipment insurance
Many handypeople get tools and equipment insurance to protect their work gear. If someone damages or steals your insured gear, this insurance can help cover the repair or replacement costs.
Commercial Auto insurance
Most people in this line of work frequently drive to different job sites. Commercial auto insurance can help pay for costs like towing, repairs and medical expenses if you get into an accident while driving for work.
Commercial Property insurance
Commercial property insurance is recommended for handypeople who own or rent property for their business. This type of insurance helps cover damage to the property and any equipment or inventory stored inside.
How NEXT supports New Jersey handypeople
NEXT offers convenient and affordable handyman insurance for small businesses. We create custom policies to ensure you get the right coverage to satisfy New Jersey contractor registration requirements and protect your business.
It only takes minutes to get the coverage you need. Simply apply from any computer or mobile device using our online services. It’s easy to see all your coverage options, and you’ll receive an instant certificate of insurance once you finalize your purchase. As a NEXT customer, you can log in anytime to adjust your coverage or download and share unlimited COIs.
Get an instant quote online today.
Do you want to work as a handyman outside of New Jersey? Learn about the licensing and registration requirements in each U.S. state in our summary of handyman license requirements.