Rhode Island

72 of 102 lower-income occupations licensed

27th most burdensome licensing laws

10th most broadly and onerously licensed state

Rhode Island is one of the worst states in the nation for occupational licensing, ranking as the 10th most broadly and onerously licensed. The state licenses more lower-income occupations than most states—72 of the 102 studied here. Rhode Island’s licensing laws rank as the 27th most burdensome, requiring an average of $223 in fees, 326 days of education and experience, and around one exam.

Rhode Island licenses some occupations that are rarely licensed elsewhere. It is the only state to license conveyor operators. And few other states license non-instructional teacher assistants (four), tree trimmers (six), bartenders (12) or sign language interpreters (21). Among those, sign language interpreters face particularly steep burdens. Rhode Island’s license requires $700 in fees, four years and 40 hours of education (an estimated 1,469 days), and two exams. Given that so few states see fit to license sign language interpreters at all, such heavy requirements are questionable.

Rhode Island also imposes education and experience burdens on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for other occupations that may present greater risks to the public. For example, barbers and cosmetologists must complete nearly one year (roughly 350 days or 1,500 hours) of education before becoming licensed. These burdens are considerably heavier than those for EMTs. These emergency first responders need less than a month (an estimated 26 days or 110 hours) of education, even though they arguably bear more responsibility for public safety. Rhode Island could improve its rankings by reducing or repealing its heavy occupational licensing burdens for barbers, cosmetologists and other occupations, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives such as inspections or voluntary certification.

Burden Rank Occupation States Licensed Fees Estimated Calendar Days Lost Education Experience Exams Min. Grade Min. Age
1 HVAC Contractor (Commercial) 37 $660 2920 8 years 4 0 18
1 HVAC Contractor (Residential) 35 $660 2920 8 years 4 0 18
3 Preschool Teacher, Public School 50 $566 2555 4 years 3 years 2 0 0
4 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Residential) 36 $468 1825 5 years 3 0 18
5 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Commercial) 37 $558 1825 5 years 2 0 18
6 Interpreter, Sign Language 22 $700 1469 4 years and 40 clock hours 2 0 18
7 Athletic Trainer 49 $360 1460 4 years 1 0 0
8 Optician 22 $255 1095 2 years 1 years 2 12 18
9 School Bus Driver 51 $180 1097 10 clock hours 3 years 7 0 21
10 Midwife, Direct Entry 28 $1080 1095 3 years 1 0 0
11 Security Alarm Installer 37 $505 1095 3 years 1 0 0
12 Bus Driver, City/Transit 51 $170 730 2 years 5 0 18
12 Truck Driver, Tractor-Trailer 51 $170 730 2 years 5 0 18
14 Truck Driver, Other 51 $160 730 2 years 4 0 18
15 Cosmetologist 51 $100 350 1500 clock hours 2 12 18
16 Barber 51 $75 350 1500 clock hours 2 12 18
16 Shampooer 37 $75 350 1500 clock hours 2 12 18
18 Taxi Driver/Chauffeur 16 $23 365 1 years 0 0 21
19 Skin Care Specialist 50 $100 140 600 clock hours 2 10 18
20 Manicurist 50 $100 70 300 clock hours 2 12 18
21 Emergency Medical Technician 51 $205 26 110 clock hours 2 12 18
22 Child Care Home, Family 44 $140 4 24 clock hours 0 12 21
23 Massage Therapist 44 $295 117 500 clock hours 1 0 18
24 Pharmacy Technician 44 $25 140 600 clock hours 0 0 18
25 Auctioneer 30 $630 0 1 0 18
26 Teacher Assistant, Non-Instructional 5 $0 7 30 clock hours 0 12 0
27 Pest Control Applicator 51 $45 0 2 0 18
27 Vegetation Pesticide Applicator 51 $45 0 2 0 18
29 Fire Alarm Installer 39 $462 0 2 0 0
30 Conveyor Operator 1 $117 0 1 0 18
30 Crane Operator 18 $117 0 1 0 18
32 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Commercial) 25 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Residential) 30 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Cement Finishing Contractor (Commercial) 24 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Cement Finishing Contractor (Residential) 30 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Door Repair Contractor (Commercial) 24 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Door Repair Contractor (Residential) 29 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Drywall Installation Contractor (Commercial) 25 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Drywall Installation Contractor (Residential) 30 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Floor Sander Contractor (Commercial) 22 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Floor Sander Contractor (Residential) 27 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Glazier Contractor (Commercial) 26 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Glazier Contractor (Residential) 30 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Insulation Contractor (Commercial) 25 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Insulation Contractor (Residential) 30 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Iron/Steel Contractor (Commercial) 26 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Iron/Steel Contractor (Residential) 30 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Mason Contractor (Commercial) 26 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Mason Contractor (Residential) 31 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Painting Contractor (Commercial) 22 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Painting Contractor (Residential) 28 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Paving Contractor (Commercial) 24 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Paving Contractor (Residential) 28 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Pipelayer Contractor 27 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Commercial) 26 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Residential) 31 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Terrazzo Contractor (Commercial) 23 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
32 Terrazzo Contractor (Residential) 28 $200 1 5 clock hours 0 0 18
59 Wildlife Control Operator 23 $10 0 1 0 18
60 Bartender 13 $0 0 2 clock hours 0 0 18
61 Earth Driller, Water Well 51 $200 0 1 0 0
62 Gaming Supervisor 30 $300 0 0 0 0
62 Slot Supervisor 28 $300 0 0 0 0
64 Gaming Cage Worker 29 $185 0 0 0 0
65 Tree Trimmer 7 $50 0 1 0 0
66 Upholsterer 10 $180 0 0 0 0
67 Coach, Head (High School Sports) 48 $100 1 4.5 clock hours 0 0 0
68 Animal Breeder 28 $100 0 0 0 0
68 Bill Collection Agency 31 $100 0 0 0 0
70 Fisher, Commercial 43 $50 0 0 0 0
71 Travel Guide 37 $25 0 0 0 0
72 Security Guard, Unarmed 34 $5 0 0 0 0

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