Colorado Occupational Licensing
What is Occupational Licensing?
An occupational or professional license is a permit issued by the government that lets someone work in a particular field. In Colorado, one out of every six 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 Colorado
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 Colorado for low- and moderate-income jobs takes 257 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 Colorado, it takes at least 1,500 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in the Colorado costs $17,479, while the average student takes out $8,166 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of Colorado cosmetologists make less than $29,800 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 costs the state’s economy $5.68 billion and leads to 57,000 fewer jobs each year.
Can You Get a License to Work with a Criminal Record in Colorado?
For many licenses in Colorado, applicants with a criminal record can only be denied if they have been convicted of a crime that has a “direct relationship” to the license. Licensing boards must consider whether an applicant has been rehabilitated and the amount of time elapsed since the crime was committed. State law also bans licensing boards from using arrests or sealed records to disqualify ex-offenders.
Unfortunately, those protections don’t apply to licenses involving education and working with “vulnerable persons.” Overall, Colorado received a C for its laws, according to IJ’s Barred from Working report.
Sunrise Review in Colorado
Under sunrise review, whenever a new job regulation is proposed, state regulators must determine whether the regulation is needed, its potential costs and burdens, and if there are any less restrictive alternatives. Between 1985 and 2017, Colorado regulators conducted 145 sunrise reviews across 92 different occupations. Many proposed regulations were unfounded: Only 8% of Colorado’s sunrise reviews recommended creating new licenses. All told, the Institute for Justice found that “Colorado has long produced some of the nation’s most in-depth sunrise reports.”
Recent Licensing Reforms in Colorado
Colorado has enacted a reform that universally recognizes out-of-state licenses. Under the law, licensed workers who move to the state will be free to work when they arrive and will no longer have to waste their time and money trying to obtain another permission slip from the government.
How You Can Help
If you are an Colorado 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 Colorado workers have the economic liberty they deserve.
Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in Colorado ?
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.
If you want IJ to review your case, please share your situation through the following form.
The Institute for Justice is a nonprofit, public-interest law firm dedicated to the protection of constitutional rights, including the right of individuals to produce, procure, and consume homemade foods free from unnecessary and anti-competitive regulations.
Occupational Licensing Research
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…
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…
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
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