Occupational Licensing in Idaho

What is Occupational Licensing?

Occupational licensing is a permit issued by the government that allows someone to work in a particular field. In Idaho, 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.

Licenses Create Barriers to Working in Idaho

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 for low- and moderate-income jobs in Idaho takes 330 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 Idaho, it takes at least 1,600 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in the state costs $16,243, while the average student takes out $7,033 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of cosmetologists make less than $26,040 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 $967 million and leads to 10,800 fewer jobs each year.

Licensing Lawsuits by the Institute for Justice in Idaho

On behalf of Tedy Okech, Charlotte Amoussou and Sonia Ekemon, IJ successfully challenged an Idaho law that banned braiding hair without a cosmetology license, even though Idaho’s cosmetology classes don’t teach African-style hair braiding. With two weeks of IJ’s filing suit, Idaho’s governor signed a law that fully exempted braiding hair from the state’s licensing laws.

Recent Licensing Reforms in Idaho

A 2020 reform created a sunrise review process, which will require the legislature to whether any proposed occupational regulation is needed, its potential costs and burdens, and whether there are any less restrictive alternatives. The reform also enacted universal recognition for out-of-state licenses, which makes it easier for people to move to Idaho, and eased licensing barriers for people with criminal records.

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

Licensing boards can disqualify applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime “currently relevant” to the license and must consider whether an applicant has been rehabilitated. Idaho also requires a predetermination process that lets applicants see if their criminal record could disqualify them, before they invest in any costly training or classes. However, applicants can be denied licenses based on crimes committed years ago or based on arrests that didn’t even result in a conviction. Overall, Idaho received a C in IJ’s Barred from Working report.

How You Can Help

If you are an Idaho 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 Idaho workers have the economic liberty they deserve.


Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in Idaho ?

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.

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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…

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