California

76 of 102 lower-income occupations licensed

3rd most burdensome licensing laws

1st most broadly and onerously licensed state

California is the most broadly and onerously licensed state in the nation. Not only does it license 76 of the 102 lower-income occupations studied here—more than all but two other states—its licensing laws rank as the nation’s third most burdensome due to high average fees ($486), lengthy average education and experience requirements (827 days lost), and a high average number of licensing exams (about two). Because it licenses so many occupations so onerously, California is the worst licensing environment for workers in lower-income occupations.

Among the many occupations California licenses are several that are rarely licensed elsewhere. Few other states license dairy equipment still machine setters (two), psychiatric technicians (four), tree trimmers (six) or travel agencies (six). Of those occupations, psychiatric technicians and tree trimmers face particularly steep burdens. Psychiatric technicians must pay $349 in fees to obtain a license to work, compared to a $119 average across licensed states. And tree trimmers must prove 1,460 days (four years) of experience to operate their businesses—more than double the licensed-state average of 574 days.

California also imposes disproportionate burdens on some occupations compared to others that may pose a greater risk to public health and safety. For example, the state’s license for manicurists demands 400 hours (about 93 days) of education. Meanwhile, its license for EMTs requires only 160 hours (approximately 37 days).

As the worst state in the nation when it comes to licensing, California has much work to do. To improve its rankings and expand opportunity, California should repeal or reduce its many needless and irrational burdens, or—if government regulation is necessary—replace them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives.

Burden Rank Occupation States Licensed Fees Estimated Calendar Days Lost Education Experience Exams Min. Grade Min. Age
1 Preschool Teacher, Public School 50 $398 1825 4 years and 1 years 2 0 0
2 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Commercial) 25 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Residential) 30 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Cement Finishing Contractor (Commercial) 24 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Cement Finishing Contractor (Residential) 30 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Drywall Installation Contractor (Commercial) 25 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Drywall Installation Contractor (Residential) 30 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Earth Driller, Water Well 51 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Fire Alarm Installer 39 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Floor Sander Contractor (Commercial) 22 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Floor Sander Contractor (Residential) 27 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Glazier Contractor (Commercial) 26 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Glazier Contractor (Residential) 30 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 HVAC Contractor (Commercial) 37 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 HVAC Contractor (Residential) 35 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Insulation Contractor (Commercial) 25 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Insulation Contractor (Residential) 30 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Iron/Steel Contractor (Commercial) 26 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Iron/Steel Contractor (Residential) 30 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Landscape Contractor (Commercial) 47 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Landscape Contractor (Residential) 48 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Mason Contractor (Commercial) 26 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Mason Contractor (Residential) 31 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Painting Contractor (Commercial) 22 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Painting Contractor (Residential) 28 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Paving Contractor (Commercial) 24 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Paving Contractor (Residential) 28 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Pipelayer Contractor 27 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Security Alarm Installer 37 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Commercial) 37 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Residential) 36 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Commercial) 26 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Residential) 31 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Terrazzo Contractor (Commercial) 23 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
2 Terrazzo Contractor (Residential) 28 $579 1460 4 years 3 0 18
36 Door Repair Contractor (Commercial) 24 $579 1460 4 years 2 0 18
36 Door Repair Contractor (Residential) 29 $579 1460 4 years 2 0 18
38 Mobile Home Installer 39 $529 1460 4 years 2 0 18
38 Tree Trimmer 7 $529 1460 4 years 2 0 18
40 Midwife, Direct Entry 28 $1249 1095 3 years 1 0 0
41 Animal Trainer 9 $250 1095 3 years 2 0 0
42 Pest Control Applicator 51 $716 742 16 clock hours 40 clock hours and 2 years 2 0 18
43 Veterinary Technician 36 $351 730 2 years 1 0 18
44 Psychiatric Technician 5 $349 357 1530 clock hours 1 12 18
45 Cosmetologist 51 $125 373 1600 clock hours 2 10 17
46 Barber 51 $125 350 1500 clock hours 2 10 17
46 Shampooer 37 $125 350 1500 clock hours 2 10 17
48 Makeup Artist 41 $115 140 600 clock hours 2 10 17
48 Skin Care Specialist 50 $115 140 600 clock hours 2 10 17
50 Manicurist 50 $110 93 400 clock hours 2 10 17
51 Optician 22 $424 0 1 12 18
52 Gaming Supervisor 30 $3150 0 0 0 21
52 Slot Supervisor 28 $3150 0 0 0 21
54 School Bus Driver 51 $99 7 20 clock hours 20 clock hours 6 0 18
55 Pharmacy Technician 44 $290 0 1 12 0
56 Truck Driver, Tractor-Trailer 51 $73 0 5 0 18
57 Bus Driver, City/Transit 51 $42 0 5 0 18
58 Truck Driver, Other 51 $73 0 4 0 18
59 Emergency Medical Technician 51 $129 37 160 clock hours 2 0 18
60 Crane Operator 18 $225 0 2 0 18
61 Security Guard, Unarmed 34 $99 1 8 clock hours 1 0 18
62 Gaming Cage Worker 29 $250 0 0 0 21
62 Gaming Dealer 28 $250 0 0 0 21
64 Child Care Home, Family 44 $164 0 0 0 18
65 Fisher, Commercial 43 $137 0 0 0 16
66 Farm Labor Contractor 10 $843 0 1 0 0
67 Vegetation Pesticide Applicator 51 $340 0 2 0 0
68 Still Machine Setter, Dairy Equipment 3 $100 0 2 0 0
69 Milk Sampler 42 $75 0 2 0 0
70 Travel Agency 7 $375 0 0 0 0
71 Upholsterer 10 $360 0 0 0 0
72 Travel Guide 37 $216 0 0 0 0
73 Weigher 25 $75 0 0 0 0
74 Locksmith 14 $69 0 0 0 0
75 Dental Assistant 9 $0 2 10 clock hours 0 0 0
76 Coach, Head (High School Sports) 48 $0 1 4.5 clock hours 0 0 0

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