District of Columbia

60 of 102 lower-income occupations licensed

38th most burdensome licensing laws

26th most broadly and onerously licensed state

Washington, D.C., licenses 60 of the 102 lower-income occupations studied here, and its laws are the 38th most burdensome. On average, D.C.’s licenses require $400 in fees, 261 days of education and experience, and roughly one exam. D.C. ranks as the 26th most broadly and onerously licensed state, placing it in the middle of the pack.

D.C. is one of only four states that license interior designers—the most arduously licensed occupation in this study. Aspiring interior designers must complete six years (2,190 days) of education and pay $1,485 in fees to work in D.C. Such high barriers to entry defy common sense given that the vast majority of states do not deem licensure for interior designers necessary.

D.C. imposes education burdens on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for others that likely present greater risks to the public. For example, D.C.’s license for dental assistants requires 211 days of education. Not only is this more than double the average of 92 days required by the nine states that license the occupation, but it is also substantially more than D.C.’s EMT license requires. To become licensed, EMTs need complete only about 28 days (four credit hours) of education. D.C. could open up employment opportunities for lower-income workers by reducing or repealing many of its occupational licensing requirements, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives.

Burden Rank Occupation States Licensed Fees Estimated Calendar Days Lost Education Experience Exams Min. Grade Min. Age
1 Interior Designer 4 $1485 2190 6 years 1 0 18
2 HVAC Contractor (Commercial) 37 $45 1825 5 years 1 0 0
2 HVAC Contractor (Residential) 35 $45 1825 5 years 1 0 0
2 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Commercial) 37 $45 1825 5 years 1 0 0
2 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Residential) 36 $45 1825 5 years 1 0 0
6 Preschool Teacher, Public School 50 $484 1460 4 years 3 0 0
7 Athletic Trainer 49 $300 1460 4 years 1 0 18
8 Crane Operator 18 $260 730 2 years 1 0 0
9 Barber 51 $230 350 1500 clock hours 2 10 18
9 Cosmetologist 51 $230 350 1500 clock hours 2 10 18
11 Dental Assistant 9 $190 211 1 days and 900 clock hours 0 12 18
12 Pest Control Applicator 51 $135 365 1 years 2 0 0
12 Vegetation Pesticide Applicator 51 $135 365 1 years 2 0 0
14 Taxi Driver/Chauffeur 16 $275 365 1 years 1 0 0
15 Makeup Artist 41 $230 140 600 clock hours 2 10 18
16 Skin Care Specialist 50 $230 140 600 clock hours 2 10 17
17 Manicurist 50 $230 82 350 clock hours 2 10 18
18 Massage Therapist 44 $457 117 500 clock hours 1 0 18
19 Child Care Home, Family 44 $300 2 9 clock hours 0 12 18
20 School Bus Driver 51 $236 0 6 0 21
21 Truck Driver, Tractor-Trailer 51 $225 0 5 0 21
22 Bus Driver, City/Transit 51 $206 0 5 0 21
23 Truck Driver, Other 51 $215 0 4 0 21
24 Emergency Medical Technician 51 $125 28 4 credit hours 2 0 18
25 Security Guard, Unarmed 34 $188 11 48 clock hours 1 0 18
26 Wildlife Control Operator 23 $50 0 1 clock hours 1 0 18
27 Auctioneer 30 $229 0 0 0 18
28 Landscape Contractor (Commercial) 47 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Commercial) 25 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Cement Finishing Contractor (Commercial) 24 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Door Repair Contractor (Commercial) 24 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Drywall Installation Contractor (Commercial) 25 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Earth Driller, Water Well 51 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Floor Sander Contractor (Commercial) 22 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Glazier Contractor (Commercial) 26 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Insulation Contractor (Commercial) 25 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Iron/Steel Contractor (Commercial) 26 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Mason Contractor (Commercial) 26 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Painting Contractor (Commercial) 22 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Paving Contractor (Commercial) 24 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Pipelayer Contractor 27 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Commercial) 26 $655 0 0 0 0
29 Terrazzo Contractor (Commercial) 23 $655 0 0 0 0
44 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Residential) 30 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Cement Finishing Contractor (Residential) 30 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Door Repair Contractor (Residential) 29 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Drywall Installation Contractor (Residential) 30 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Floor Sander Contractor (Residential) 27 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Glazier Contractor (Residential) 30 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Insulation Contractor (Residential) 30 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Iron/Steel Contractor (Residential) 30 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Landscape Contractor (Residential) 48 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Mason Contractor (Residential) 31 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Painting Contractor (Residential) 28 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Paving Contractor (Residential) 28 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Residential) 31 $442 0 0 0 0
44 Terrazzo Contractor (Residential) 28 $442 0 0 0 0
58 Fire Alarm Installer 39 $266 0 0 0 0
58 Security Alarm Installer 37 $266 0 0 0 0
60 Coach, Head (High School Sports) 48 $0 0 1 clock hours 0 0 0

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