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

39 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

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

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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*

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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.

  21. Of course you should need the government's permission to work.
    It's just the natural extension of asking government to protect you.

  22. 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.  

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

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