Ranking the States

As Table 4 shows, Louisiana and Washington license 77 of the 102 occupations studied here—more than any of the other states. They are followed closely by California (76) and Nevada (75). Just as in the first edition of this report, Wyoming licenses the fewest—a mere 26. It is followed by Vermont (31), Montana (32), and South Dakota (32). On average, states license 54 of the occupations.

When it comes to the burdens states impose on would-be workers, however, a different picture emerges. Table 5 ranks states from most to least burdensome. Hawaii tops the list as the most burdensome state, as it did in the first edition, with an average of almost 988 days in education and experience, more than $430 in fees, almost two exams, and grade and age requirements for the 63 occupations it licenses. Nevada is not far behind, with an average of more than 860 days lost to education and experience, more than $700 in fees, almost two exams, and grade and age requirements for the 75 occupations it licenses. California, Arizona and Florida round out the top five most burdensome states. In all, 18 states require more than a year of education and experience on average for the occupations they license.

Nebraska is the least burdensome state, with 118 days—not quite four months—in education and experience, $76 in fees, one exam, and grade and age requirements. Three states—Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Washington—follow closely with similar burdens: less than six months of education and experience, $138 to $209 in fees, one exam, and grade and age requirements.

Taking into account both how many occupations a state licenses and how onerously, Table 6 ranks states according to a combined measure of number of occupations licensed and average burden of licensing requirements. States that appear high on this list are those that license a large number of occupations and impose more burdensome requirements.

By this measure, California ranks at the top, with an average of almost 827 days—more than two years—in education and experience, $486 in fees and two exams, as well as grade and age requirements. It also licenses 76 occupations. Nevada ranks a close second. Seven of the top 10 most burdensome states, listed in Table 5, remained in the top 10 in Table 6: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Virginia. These states already imposed comparably heavy licensure burdens on their citizens; factoring in the number of occupations licensed merely changed their relative positions among the top 10 most burdensome states.

A handful of other states license relatively few occupations but do so onerously. They rank high in Table 5 but substantially lower in Table 6. Examples include Kentucky (12th most burdensome, but 40th combined), Montana (23rd most burdensome, but 49th combined), South Dakota (19th most burdensome, but 48th combined), Texas (21st most burdensome, but 42nd combined) and Wyoming (25th most burdensome, but 51st combined).

Conversely, some states impose relatively light burdens but license a large number of occupations. Such states include Mississippi (66 occupations, 46th most burdensome), Nebraska (63 occupations, 51st most burdensome), Tennessee (71 occupations, 39th most burdensome), Washington (77 occupations, 48th most burdensome) and West Virginia (70 occupations, 44th most burdensome).

The State Profiles provide summary results for each state as well as tables showing all of the occupations licensed by a given state and their respective burdens, including both our standardized estimate of time lost to education and experience and—in an improvement from the first edition—the actual education and experience requirements.

Table 4: Number and Percentage of Lower-Income Occupations Licensed by State

State Number of 102 Lower-Income Occupations Licensed Percentage of 102 Lower-Income Occupations Licensed
Louisiana 77 75.5%
Washington 77 75.5%
California 76 74.5%
Nevada 75 73.5%
Arkansas 72 70.6%
Rhode Island 72 70.6%
Iowa 71 69.6%
Tennessee 71 69.6%
West Virginia 70 68.6%
Oregon 69 67.6%
Arizona 68 66.7%
Virginia 68 66.7%
Idaho 67 65.7%
North Carolina 67 65.7%
Mississippi 66 64.7%
New Mexico 66 64.7%
North Dakota 65 63.7%
Connecticut 64 62.7%
Utah 64 62.7%
Alabama 63 61.8%
Alaska 63 61.8%
Hawaii 63 61.8%
Nebraska 63 61.8%
District of Columbia 60 58.8%
South Carolina 60 58.8%
Maryland 59 57.8%
Florida 56 54.9%
New Jersey 54 52.9%
Pennsylvania 51 50.0%
Massachusetts 50 49.0%
Michigan 49 48.0%
Maine 45 44.1%
Delaware 44 43.1%
Wisconsin 42 41.2%
Georgia 41 40.2%
New York 41 40.2%
Oklahoma 41 40.2%
Illinois 40 39.2%
Ohio 40 39.2%
New Hampshire 38 37.3%
Indiana 37 36.3%
Kentucky 37 36.3%
Missouri 37 36.3%
Texas 37 36.3%
Kansas 35 34.3%
Colorado 34 33.3%
Minnesota 34 33.3%
Montana 32 31.4%
South Dakota 32 31.4%
Vermont 31 30.4%
Wyoming 26 25.5%

Table 5: States Ranked by Average Burden of Licensing Requirements

Rank State Number of 102 Lower-Income Occupations Licensed Average Fees Average Estimated Calendar Days Lost Average Exams Average Min. Grade Average Min. Age
1 Hawaii 63 $438 988 2 1 16
2 Nevada 75 $704 861 2 2 15
3 California 76 $486 827 2 1 15
4 Arizona 68 $612 765 2 1 16
5 Florida 56 $318 693 1 1 15
6 Arkansas 72 $246 642 1 2 7
7 Virginia 68 $291 620 1 1 14
8 Oregon 69 $335 537 1 1 13
9 New Mexico 66 $266 520 2 2 14
10 Massachusetts 50 $309 513 1 2 11
11 Maryland 59 $288 529 1 1 11
12 Kentucky 37 $240 466 2 4 13
13 Utah 64 $367 504 2 0 4
14 Georgia 41 $185 464 2 3 12
15 Delaware 44 $199 475 1 2 8
16 New Jersey 54 $224 422 1 3 10
17 South Carolina 60 $220 440 2 1 7
18 Oklahoma 41 $234 399 2 2 10
19 South Dakota 32 $198 355 2 4 10
20 Ohio 40 $188 350 1 3 10
21 Texas 37 $253 341 2 3 10
22 Missouri 37 $179 348 1 2 12
23 Montana 32 $261 312 2 4 11
24 Connecticut 64 $264 361 1 1 6
25 Wyoming 26 $345 280 2 4 11
26 Indiana 37 $163 323 1 2 12
27 Rhode Island 72 $223 326 1 1 14
28 Vermont 31 $193 287 2 3 9
29 Minnesota 34 $238 300 2 3 5
30 Idaho 67 $164 332 1 1 7
31 Maine 45 $188 298 1 2 7
32 New York 41 $279 275 2 1 11
33 Michigan 49 $242 255 2 3 12
34 New Hampshire 38 $183 273 2 2 8
35 Illinois 40 $244 249 1 3 13
36 Colorado 34 $344 260 2 1 11
37 Iowa 71 $178 288 1 2 5
38 District of Columbia 60 $400 261 1 1 6
39 Tennessee 71 $327 226 1 1 7
40 Kansas 35 $133 200 2 3 9
41 North Carolina 67 $199 234 1 1 6
42 Wisconsin 42 $259 214 1 1 10
43 Louisiana 77 $360 202 2 1 7
44 West Virginia 70 $172 210 2 2 7
45 Alaska 63 $298 211 1 1 5
46 Mississippi 66 $330 160 2 2 6
47 Alabama 63 $329 142 1 1 5
48 Washington 77 $209 163 1 1 6
49 North Dakota 65 $156 122 1 1 13
50 Pennsylvania 51 $138 117 1 1 8
51 Nebraska 63 $76 118 1 2 6

Table 6: States Ranked by Number and Average Burden of Licensing Requirements Combined

Rank State Number of 102 Lower-Income Occupations Licensed Average Fees Average Estimated Calendar Days Lost Average Exams Average Min. Grade Average Min. Age
1 California 76 $486 827 2 1 15
2 Nevada 75 $704 861 2 2 15
3 Arkansas 72 $246 642 1 2 7
4 Arizona 68 $612 765 2 1 16
5 Hawaii 63 $438 988 2 1 16
6 Louisiana 77 $360 202 2 1 7
7 Virginia 68 $291 620 1 1 14
8 Oregon 69 $335 537 1 1 13
9 Washington 77 $209 163 1 1 6
10 Rhode Island 72 $223 326 1 1 14
11 New Mexico 66 $266 520 2 2 14
12 Iowa 71 $178 288 1 2 5
13 Tennessee 71 $327 226 1 1 7
14 West Virginia 70 $172 210 2 2 7
15 Utah 64 $367 504 2 0 4
16 Idaho 67 $164 332 1 1 7
17 North Carolina 67 $199 234 1 1 6
18 Connecticut 64 $264 361 1 1 6
19 Mississippi 66 $330 160 2 2 6
20 Maryland 59 $288 529 1 1 11
21 Florida 56 $318 693 1 1 15
22 South Carolina 60 $220 440 2 1 7
23 North Dakota 65 $156 122 1 1 13
24 Alaska 63 $298 211 1 1 5
25 Alabama 63 $329 142 1 1 5
26 District of Columbia 60 $400 261 1 1 6
27 Nebraska 63 $76 118 1 2 6
28 New Jersey 54 $224 422 1 3 10
29 Massachusetts 50 $309 513 1 2 11
30 Michigan 49 $242 255 2 3 12
31 Pennsylvania 51 $138 117 1 1 8
32 Delaware 44 $199 475 1 2 8
33 Maine 45 $188 298 1 2 7
34 Georgia 41 $185 464 2 3 12
35 Oklahoma 41 $234 399 2 2 10
36 Wisconsin 42 $259 214 1 1 10
37 New York 41 $279 275 2 1 11
38 Ohio 40 $188 350 1 3 10
39 Illinois 40 $244 249 1 3 13
40 Kentucky 37 $240 466 2 4 13
41 New Hampshire 38 $183 273 2 2 8
42 Texas 37 $253 341 2 3 10
43 Missouri 37 $179 348 1 2 12
44 Indiana 37 $163 323 1 2 12
45 Kansas 35 $133 200 2 3 9
46 Minnesota 34 $238 300 2 3 5
47 Colorado 34 $344 260 2 1 11
48 South Dakota 32 $198 355 2 4 10
49 Montana 32 $261 312 2 4 11
50 Vermont 31 $193 287 2 3 9
51 Wyoming 26 $345 280 2 4 11

    JOIN THE FIGHT!   Sign up for newsletters:

    JOIN THE FIGHT!