Occupational Licensing in Alabama

Ensuring Economic Liberty for All Alabama Workers

What is Occupational Licensing?

Occupational licensing is a permit issued by the government that allows someone to work in a particular field. In Alabama, nearly one in five workers must now get an occupational license before they can legally do their job. But many of these licenses are too strict, and they don’t even improve service quality or protect the public from actual harm.

An occupational or professional license is a permit issued by the government that lets someone work in a particular field. In Alabama, almost one out of every five workers must now get an occupational license before they can legally do their jobs. But many licenses don’t even improve service quality or protect the public from actual harm.

Licenses Create Barriers to Working in Alabama

Occupational licenses often impose high barriers to entry. That makes it much harder for people to find work or to start a new business. According to the Institute for Justice’s report, License to Work, the average license in Alabama for low- and moderate-income jobs takes 154 days of education and experience. And those required classes can be very expensive.

For instance, cosmetology is one of the state’s most popular licenses. In Alabama, it takes at least 1,500 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in Alabama costs $14,437, while the average student takes out $8,578 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of Alabama’s cosmetologists make less than $20,900 a year.

All told, the state’s licensing requirements come with heavy costs. A separate study by IJ, At What Cost?, estimated that occupational licensing in Alabama costs the state’s economy $1.88 billion each year and leads to nearly 21,000 fewer jobs.

The Institute for Justice’s Fight Against Strict Licensing Laws in Alabama

The Institute for Justice is dedicated to protecting economic liberty in Alabama and beyond. We are actively fighting against Alabama’s strict occupational licensing laws, which are too burdensome and can prevent people from getting the jobs they want.

To better foster economic liberty, the Institute for Justice has filed multiple lawsuits against strict occupational licensing laws in Alabama. On behalf of Shelia Champion, IJ challenged an Alabama law that made it illegal for anyone to sell a casket without a funeral director’s license.

Under Alabama law, it was a crime for anyone but a state-licensed funeral director to sell a casket to the public. Shelia joined with the Institute for Justice to file a constitutional challenge in federal court.

Just one month after the lawsuit was filed, the Alabama legislature enacted a reform to let Shelia and other entrepreneurs sell caskets to the public.

IJ also challenged a law that gave dentists a monopoly over teeth-cleaning services. Anyone who wanted to whiten teeth without a license in dentistry could risk a year in jail and heavy fines. Unfortunately, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the monopoly in 2015.

Can You Get a License to Work with a Criminal Record in Alabama?

Unfortunately, many licensing boards can deny licenses to anyone who has been convicted of any felony, no matter how long ago it occurred or how irrelevant it is to the license sought. For those reasons, Alabama received an F in the Institute for Justice’s Barred from Working report.

How You Can Help

If you are an Alabama resident and you want to help fight against these unfair and unnecessary licensing laws, there are a few ways you can get involved. You can donate to the Institute for Justice, sign up for our email updates, and share our message with your network. Together, we can make sure that all Alabama workers have the economic liberty they deserve.

Alabama Occupation Licensing Cases

Alabama Occupational Licensing In the News

Learn more about our Economic Liberty work.

Economic liberty—the right to earn a living in the occupation of your choice without unnecessary government interference—is at the heart of the American Dream. Unfortunately, all too many entrepreneurs find that this dream is under constant attack by unreasonable licensing, permitting and other requirements that stand in the way of honest competition.

Learn More

Occupational Licensing Research

Occupational Licensing

License to Work 3

This third edition of IJ’s landmark License to Work report finds that for lower-income Americans, licensing continues to be widespread, burdensome and—frequently—irrational. It also provides a blueprint for meaningful licensing reform.

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty

Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

Cosmetology is one of the most widely and onerously regulated occupations for lower-income workers, yet little research has explored the experiences of aspiring beauty workers. This first-of-its-kind study takes advantage of federal educational…

Barred From Working

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Barred From Working

Earning an honest living is one of the best ways to prevent re-offending. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for ex-offenders to find work, thwarting their chances of successful reentry.

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

At What Cost

Not only do state occupational licensing laws force people to spend a lot of time and money earning a license instead of earning a living, they also impose real economic costs. This study takes advantage…

Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in Alabama?

Are you not able to exercise your job or open a business because of burdensome occupational licensing requirements in your state?

Are you forced to waste valuable time and money to become licensed?

We might be able to help.

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Reforming Occupational Licensing Nationwide

All Americans deserve the opportunity to earn an honest living. Yet occupational licenses, which are essentially permission slips from the government, routinely stand in the way of honest enterprise. Since our founding, IJ has fought to roll back oppressive occupational-licensing rules in more than two dozen distinct occupations, ranging all the way from tax preparers to florists to traditional African hair braiders. Learn more about IJ’s occupational-licensing work in all 50 states:

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky |Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | Washington, D.C. | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming