Should You Need the Government’s Permission to Work?

Should you need a government permission
slip before you can earn an honest living? It’s called occupational licensing, and a new national report released by
the Institute for Justice shows just how widespread and costly it has become. In
the 1950’s only one in twenty workers needed a government license to

work. Today it’s one in three. To get a license to work, the government
forces you to clear one hurdle after another; Education or training, passing tests, paying fees, and more. Too often these hurdles take time and money to jump. They make it harder and harder for
people to find jobs and to build new businesses that create jobs. How much harder? To find out, we examined licensing laws
for a hundred and two occupations. In all fifty states, and the District of
Columbia. We looked only at low and moderate-income
jobs, like interior designers, massage therapists, and shampooers. Not doctors or lawyers. On average, these licenses require you to pay two
hundred and nine dollars, pass an exam, and complete more than two hundred
seventy five days, or about nine months of training and experience. One-third of these licenses take one two, or even as many as six full years to earn. That’s a lot of time and effort spent
getting permission to work, instead of working. And, we haven’t even talked about costs,
like tuition for required schooling. Which states are the worst for licensing? Louisiana licenses the most lower-income
occupations at seventy-one. Hawaii has the highest hurdles, and the
very worst states for would-be workers have a lot of licenses and high hurdles.
Arizona leads that list followed by California, Oregon, Nevada, Arkansas, Hawaii,
Florida, and Louisiana. In those eight states it takes an
average of one and a half years of training. an exam, and more than three hundred
dollars in fees to get a license. Unfortunately, research provides a little
evidence the government licensing like this makes the goods and services you
buy any safer, or better. Instead, it raises costs for consumers, and reduces opportunities for workers. We found at least four other reasons to
doubt that many of these hurdles are necessary. First, some licenses simply don’t make sense. Should you really need a license to
shampoo hair, be an interior designer, or work is a
funeral attendant? Second, the vast majority of jobs we study, in one state or another, without licensing. Shampooers are licensed in only five
states, interior designers in only three states and D.C., and funeral attendants in a mere nine
states. The question is, what’s happening in states not licensing
these jobs? It’s hard to believe there is a
dangerous epidemic of shampoo in forty-six states. Licenses like these should probably be
scrapped. Third, licensing requirements are often wildly
inconsistent from one state to another. Take manicurist, ten states require at least four months
of training, but Iowa requires only nine days,
Alaska just three. Do manicurists in say, Alabama or Oregon,
really needs so much more training? Lowering hurdles like these would make
it easier for more people to find work, and create jobs for others. Fourth, the difficulty of jumping licensing
hurdles often has little to do with the safety risk of the job. The hardest occupation to enter in our
study is Interior Designer. It takes six years of education training, plus an exam and fees all for a harmless occupation that is
practiced safely in forty-seven states, without licensing. Compare that to emergency medical
technicians, who quite literally hold lives in their
hands, yet sixty-six other occupations have heavier
licensor burdens than EMT’s including landscape workers, manicurist, and a host of contractor
designations. The average EMT spends about a month
in training and takes two exams.
00:04:11.469 –>00:04:14.909
The average cosmetologist spends about a year. More than ten times the training of an EMT. This doesn’t mean that EMT’s should face higher hurtles. Other occupations should face lower
hurdles, or not at all. Licensing may have little to do with
protecting public health and safety, but it does protect those who already
have licenses from competition. Raising barriers keeps new competitors
out and prices high. If state law makers want to help more
people find jobs they should start by clearing away licensing barriers that do
little more than protect some people from competition, by keeping others out of work. discover more at

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. The reason the government don't request more licensing for EMT is because the mess would be evident immediately. Messing cosmetologist isn't immediately evident to the the voters. The same for Interior designer. Why do they need 6 years of training? Because it is possible to earn well, so they lobbied to have competition curtailed. Less Interior designers, higher their prices. In the process, people is left without jobs and can not afford to hire an I.D. for their home if they are not wealthy.

  2. With governments this is guarantee to happen to all people in the same time (well connected people apart).
    Without government this is not guaranteed to happen to all people at the same time, only to the stupid, improvident, lazy ones. Rarely to the unlucky. Why? Because people like to help the unlucky but don't like to help the improvident, stupid or lazy. The dislike to help them because they see it as a waste of their time and resources.

  3. exactly safty is a front for the real agenda which is mercantilsim using the power of the state to control the market and keep prices up.

  4. We need to systematically get all these fees, fines, licenses and other barriers to making a living repealed – and I would go so far as to say repeal mandatory vehicle insurance and driver's licenses. NONE of these keep anyone any safer from anything. All they do is keep those who want to work from working and put more on government assistance.

  5. Yes. For example, Electrical Engineer licenses are passed down from person to person because of the requirements and it is next to impossible for new people to enter that field.

  6. I was licensed as a massage therapist and annual fees were $50 to the city along with individual business license, tax id and insurance. When the state board Was created it was on the premise of "organizing and establishing themselves in similar fashion as board of cosmetology" ($40 fee every two years). What actually happened was annual licensing requirements went up substantially. Cost for new therapists went from about $1000 for license, city lic, tax I'd etc went to $1500 for background and

  7. 3. Regarding the interior designer, it all depends on what kind of interior design is it. For breaking down walls yes, since the houses have regulations how they can be built to be safe! For rewiring electric cables yes, for the same reason as for the breaking down walls, also, because people don't want to loose electricity, or being shocked to death, and it has the way in LAW how to do it!

  8. Also, the government don't want people without education taking away jobs from people who actually DID finish a degree. And as a customer I want a legal, safe, BEST quality work, and when so many people are advertising the same, it is a pain in the butt to look for a legitimate one!

  9. And I want to be sure that I will have a LEGAL US worker, without a criminal record like physical abuse of several people etc. And I want to support MY own country, and hire my own people!

  10. And paying money for licencing, and a required education is also necessary because if those wouldn't be required, way too many people would do the same, destroying the market (that they are working in), and bankrupting it, which is also unfair to the people who have the education and licence, and if those professions will be bankrupt, it also hurts US economy!

  11. I would like to add several points to the interior designer point They have to learn where to "put stuff",so it will not be a source of fire hazards!They have to learn how to design the interior of a home that it will be child safe. Also, they are working on regulated apartments, and rented houses, and owned houses.With rented houses,and regulated apartments, the design has to meet with the standards of the fire department,and the health department,since they have to be efficient to save lives.

  12. Would it be illegal for a family to move the furniture of their home in ways that wouldn't be fire safe? If not, then it is perfectly within the right of the family to reorient their furniture however they please.

  13. Supply and demand laws are all we need to prevent overproduction. All permits do is promote inefficiency and raise prices by creating artificial scarcity.

  14. You don't need a permit to look up the criminal records of an individual. Also, if you wan't to hire someone who has a criminal record, instead of condemning them to eternal poverty and cycles of crime, that should be your choice. If you want to feel secured knowing that the person that you are doing business with is a honest man, that should be your choice to. We don't need one single policy to shovel the government's choice down our throats.

  15. Did you read the rest of my comments. And NO! You can check criminal record but it is not the same as a thorough criminal background check, involving your social security number, ID number, past name changes, and past passport checks, and in SOME/ not all cases global (where the person used to live) background check!!! So I still stand behind all of my points! And I am pretty sure that my choice is the vast majority's choice also!

  16. And NO I don't condemn all PAST criminals, but I do want to know who I let into my house! I have a beautiful house, kids, jewelry personal information lying around so….. Just guess. It is better to be careful, than naive. Also, I think you know waht lots of criminals do when they get out of jail. JES, mess up again! I am pretty sure has an estimated percentage of those cases! I GUARANTEE that you WILL be surprised! That is why i want companies do full background checks.

  17. And I am not sure that you read any of my other comments. Which also make sense. But EVEN if they would partially make sense to a senseless person, they all add together! I only go to places that are corporations. So I know that I get a legitimate business. But lots of small companies do full background checks, you just gotta ask it!

  18. Nothing about criminal background is inherently tied to the permit process. Nothing about requiring education and tests has anything to do with it. As for the majority opinion, I'm not sure why that matters. I think that government should do what is right, not what's trendy.

  19. I actually do know the recidivism percentages of criminals, as it is an area of personal study for me. It varies from state to local level, but averages around 40% for most correctional facilities. It is much lower for those who have their records expunged and is much, much lower for those who go through alternative sentencing systems, which indicates that much of recidivism has to do with societal pressure, and not some inherent flaw of the criminal.

  20. Sure, you can go to corporations if you want to. I do to.

    But if I want to hire a man who's on the street and down on his luck to shine my shoes or give me a haircut, the government has no right, no right at all, to tell me that I can't pay him and he can't work.

    This isn't to say that licensing won't exist if we get rid of state mandated requirements. Look at an electronic device that you own. Look for the UL label. That's a private safety guarantee. No products are sold without one.

  21. Agreed the state is evil. Minarchy leads to despotism. Anarchy is the solution. The state is not necessary at all. Everything the state does, private parties can do better or it's not needed.

  22. sorry., as a reformed anarchist I simply cannot agree. An anarchist society is no less despotic., I dont fancy repeating the war of the roses

  23. The worst scenario you can come up with for an anarchist society is that a government may develop. So, your solution is to form a government on purpose.

  24. it is true. My Mother has a License for a medical assistant, and that took her very little to study.
    but she now is a cosmetologist and she went to study for about 2 and a half years. fucking logic.

  25. Government shouldn't carry anyone cradle to grave if they can't even pay for health insurance yet can still pay for weapons of mass genocide.

  26. It is unfair that many professions need special skills, licenses pass exams, even medical tests – but most imortant jobs – i.e. congress,presidents etc does not require any qualification at all.
    I think that sociopath in government is more dangerous than any gunman or terrorist on street.

  27. The government should make sure each baby born attends private school for the first five years.  That would make a better economy.  Think about it?
    However, A typical Licensed Registered Nurse.  Got Arrested for stealing the patient drugs.  So, there you go.  Stripped of her career for as long as she lives.  What would have been the difference if she was just certified and not licensed?  Nothing.

  28. Airport shuttles; ya already have a state driver's license and plenty of liability insurance but that isn't enough; gotta have common carrier insurance plus more licenses.

  29. The Institute for Justice is full of shit.  Most of their lawyers claim to be against occupational licenses, but they refuse to take a stand against law licenses.  It doesn't get more hypocritical than that.  

  30. No man should be able to stand in front of any occupation and require his approval for entry, even if that man is a government bureaucrat.   Industry peer reviews, certifications, and publications are the proper way to regulate a market, where a man's suggestions and recommendations can be considered, but those opinions do not become a requirement.

  31. Abolish occupational licensing altogether. It solves exactly no problems while causing many more. The free and open competition of a laissez faire capitalist economy yields the best results for all in the most efficient manner without the unnecessary coercive force of government intervention in the economy. Does anyone actually believe that bureaucrats in the labor department know better who should be able to work in what profession than the people whose business it actually is? Or that existing businesses should be protected from new competition arising like some perverse modern version of mideval guilds? We live in an era of abundance and yet government intervention has "managed" us into a state of scarcity. The more socialist and authoritarian a society becomes, the poorer it will be. Freedom is the font of prosperity. Topple the bureaucrats and the Progressive Establishment dragging and shoving us into despair and malaise. Let freedom reign and let all who wish to work seek it, and allow those who wish to hire to hire. Abolish occupational licensing altogether.

    Michael Paul Foye

  32. Abolish licences to mow a hard and mandate a license to breed. In Oregon i can not set a ladder up at my neighbor's house and clean his gutters without a licences but I can be poor with no job, on welfare, have multiple felony convictions and pump out another useless eater every year or less. Want to pump gas? Forget it! Need a license. Want to make toast for someone outside your home? Need a license. Want to get laid and hate condoms or the free birth control and abortions the state gives out? No problem. No !license Needed for that kid. We here in Oregon would love to pay for another pile of crap to come down the line from a bad home and born addicted to crack.

  33. Hospitals used to offer nursing diplomas, but I guess that was before the National Council of State Boards of Nursing was founded in 1978. Milton Friedman called out the AMA for their monopoly on physicians and it appears the need for a sister monopoly was needed for registered nurses to either back them up or take the fall, one of the two.

    Although, the real problem with healthcare in America is directly related to the nonsensical war on drugs. You should have prescriptive authority, not a state sponsored actor under government control for their livelihood.

  34. As a Chief of Police and former licensed Paramedic I ask myself how come a Barber requires thousands of hours of training. But for a Police Officer That Can take everything you have including your life they can be certified with as little as 400hrs…Why? It's insane.

  35. America is so lost it's hard to fathom. Tyranny, corruption, systemic fraud and collusion, apathetic citizens, hedonism, fantasizing…..on and on. The pain America is going to have to go through will be unlike anything seen to date. And who will suffer this reckoning? The citizens. The bankers and politicians will make off with all pension money and they will kill Social Security.

    Congrats America!!!! You had the greatest country on Earth and PISSED it all away!!! Fools!

  36. How licensing works in the Real World. NYC edition.
    Pay thousands of dollars, attend 1000 hours of training, take state board exam, obtain license, start work as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Maintain EUs to relicense every 5 years.
    OR Open a money laundering operation, Call it Hidden Jade Spa, obtain forged license to display at front desk, and use human trafficking to provide bodywork to stressed out businessmen. Pay your "pickup" man and worry not.

  37. Boycott the crony bureaucrat states take away there tax revenue so the greedy a-holes there protecting go out of business

  38. This is where ideology hits my brick wall. You are making the case to abolish all licensing based on cherry picked occupations. Each occupation needs to be looked at individually not as a lump sum withcherry picked examples. I noticed you avoided lisenced electricians because that wouldn't fit the narrative. Also giving a blanket statement of how long it takes to get certified for each position when it is state specific is disengenuous. And your EMT training is an out right lie this is what I found.
    Required Program Length EMT-B: 3-11 weeks,
    EMT-I: 30-350 hours (in addition to EMT-B training),
    Paramedic: 6-24 months
    Other Requirements State and/or NREMT certification for each level
    Projected Job Growth 24% from 2014 to 2024*
    Average Salary (2015) $35,430 annually*

  39. I want to agree with all of this and I concur that there should be reform for these issues, especially when its for a job that doesn't seem like it should require a license but its equally frustrating for those of us who can't find work simply because we don't have the experience and the job doesn't require a license. Both systems need to be fixed and soon.

  40. California loves its licenses. Getting to the point though where most people won't get them and most people don't care if you have them.

  41. We shouldn't need their permission for anything and they should need our permission for everything. We arn't here for them. They are here for us. We should have the right over them.

  42. This is why we do or don't have a problem with illegals… I'm an American why do I need permission? Fuck that. Lets crash everything.

  43. He Has Erected A Multitude Of New Offices, And Sent Hither Swarms Of Officers To Harass Our People, And Eat Out Their Substance

  44. Mwuauhuuauhuahuahuahuahuauhauha, your making me get an evil plan to shampoo hair without a license and get thrown in a county jail for a few months.

  45. I'm a liberal Democrat who normally supports the concept of big government, but even I think these restrictions need to be re-examined. I am a retired computer programmer who did not have a college degree until I had been working in this field for about a decade. When I first started out in the 1970s, I read in trade publications about efforts to license my profession. One hard and fast requirement for this license would have been a 4-year degree. From the 1960s through the early 1980s, computer programmers were in such demand that it was not difficult for a non-degreed person to break into and remain in the field.

    Another problem raised by licensing requirements is that they sometimes (more and more often these days) keep people parolees out of work opportunities. Even people who served their time years ago are kept out of some licensed jobs because of a prohibition against felony convictions, moral or ethical requirements, or just the prospect of a background check. Except for the positions that deal with children, most of these requirements should be removed.

  46. These occupational licenses provide an extrajudicial means of black listing a person from employment without criminal convictions: For example: If your are a licensed teacher and your principal doesn't like you, he can build a dirty case for your dismissal. These dismissal cases, by law, MUST get forwarded to the state licensing agency for discipline against your teaching license. With a mark against any professional license, it is often impossible to get licensed in any other field that also requires a license. Additionally, your license can be taken away for child support or DMV issues, also prohibiting employment in a wide range of middle class professional occupations. These wide ranging Professional licensing state requirements seems to violate the U.S. declaration of independence regarding the unalienable right of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness

  47. Licensing = government dangling more carrots to those who already have carrots to keep others from having share of carrots.

  48. I became a certified Massage Therapist in 2001. I can attest that licensure has only made it expensive to work while limiting my life choices. When I first started out, only a handful of states required a state license. Instead, you just had to be Certified and if you wanted to move and work somewhere else, you took the National Exam and became a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist. Now that all states except 5 require their own license, my dreams of traveling and working virtually anywhere have been smashed. It’s completely unfair because I’m a fabulous therapist and I truly enjoy the work, but at this point I’d probably make more money as a waitress😢 I don’t mind one license for ALL states, but to have to obtain a different license for each state is just ridiculous! Especially for people in my region of the country! I live in Pennsylvania, but the New York and New Jersey border are both about 15 mins from my home. I would like to be able to work in all three states because of the short distance, however each state has separate requirements and I would have to apply for licensure and pay for it in 3 separate states! I’m ready to just quit, but after nearly 2 decades and my entire adult life, what else can I do at this point?

  49. I don't understand why this subject never get to mainstream, so many persons get their dreams and their health shutdown because of some greedy governance.

  50. Sad part, it takes no education and only 6 months of training, to be certified to kill, kidnap, and cage, those that don't have proper licenses. Also known as being "Law Enforcement".

  51. Hell no! I do not need a 3rd party to act on my behalf or on the behalf of others who may want to hire me.

  52. You need a cosmetology license to braid hair in 13 states, AND THEY DON'T EVEN TEACH HAIR BRAIDING IN COSMETOLOGY SCHOOL!!!

  53. Actually, Michigan is only 1 of 2 states that require permission to work on cars. The other is Hawaii, and the kicker? The state testing is not over all technology and knowledge, but over technology and knowledge that, in 2012, was over 20 years old.

    What I don't understand is if the "right to work" exists, and the Supreme Court has held: 1) A license is a flat tax (Murdock v Penn., 1943), and 2) That "no state may convert a secured liberty (right) into a privilege, and issue a license and a fee for it" (Again, the holding in Murdock, above), how is the licensing in any state still legal, and therefore constitutional? I mean, if the SCOTUS case of Obergefell in 2015 ruled that marriage was a right, and that ruling prohibited states from outlawing gay marriage, then I would think that a SCOTUS ruling that prohibits the licensing of other rights (Murdock in 1943 was about licensing the First Amendment as applied to religious groups, such as the Quakers in Pennsylvania), would also apply in every state that attempts to license an individual's right to work in any common occupation.

  54. Then there oughta be licensing for them baby factories, make em learn about costs & responsilities of pumping out babies.

  55. && then too, what the h e double standards is a marriage license good for when it takes two to consent to commence but only one to annihilate? ? ?

  56. 100 years ago you didn’t need a License to: hunt, fish, drive, build a house, fix a house, fix a car, open a business, many more.

  57. I appreciate where IFJ is coming from with this video but I disagree with where they seem to be going with it. This video smacks of anti-union talking points. IFJ's perspective seems to be to flood the market with people of varied skills in certain fields which cannot be verified so that when unions go on strike it will be easier for businesses to find scabs to work for them instead of acceding to their union's demands. This is bad thing as in an environment like this the business it trying to get away with paying non-union scabs less money and lower or no benefits to do the same work as the better paid union workers who have benefits so that the business can pocket the money they are NOT spending on their non-union scabs to line their own. Don't get me wrong. Many unions in the U.S. are COMPLETELY fucking useless and the union dues that members are forced to pay amount to nothing more than extortion (I'm talking specifically about UFCW with that statement.) But, just because we have useless thieving unions doesn't mean they are all bad and should all be abolished. It just means the bad ones (like UFCW) need to be re-organized and managed better than they have been for last 50 years. And flooding the market with people of varied skills which cannot be verified is not the way to do it. Unions CAN be great again. They just need people in charge that will LIVE the promises they peddle.

  58. Convicted felons cannot get jobs in a lot of companies due to insurance companies policies which basically tells employers not to hire convicted felons and then Society wonders and scratches its head when the same convicted felon goes into a bank and takes the f**** money it's all about survival in a dog-eat-dog world

  59. If people/public health or safety doesn't depend on you knowing what you're doing. Then licenses aren't needed.

  60. It's sad how on so many fronts, the government has constantly put enmity between their self and we the people. And based off of several unproven theories that only a spineless coward would buy into and gouge the rest of Americans in order to preserve themselves. And politicians allow it. It's a pathetic world we live in.

  61. Can you do a video on section 8 laws and how they hurt not only other places that want to charge less but also home business and other laws that hurt the section 8 people who probably need it the most?

  62. Well let me tell you another little detail. Even after getting the EMT license and certificate, the wages for a newly licenced EMT is minimum wage. Even a paramedic is slightly higher, but nowhere near what it should be for a person who is trying to save your life.

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