Occupational Licensing in Missouri
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 Missouri, more than 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 Missouri
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 Missouri takes 281 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 Missouri, it takes at least 1,500 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in Missouri costs $14,629, while the average student takes out $7,793 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of Missouri cosmetologists make less than $23,760 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 $3.55 billion and leads to 38,500 fewer jobs each year.
Licensing Lawsuits by the Institute for Justice in Missouri
To better foster economic liberty in Missouri, the Institute for Justice has filed multiple lawsuits against the state’s strict occupational licensing laws. IJ successfully defended Larry Gegner, who sold affordable caskets and offered advice for private burials, from a crackdown by the state’s funeral director board.
On behalf of Joba Niang and Tameka Stigers, two natural hair braiders, IJ challenged a Missouri law that forced braiders to become licensed cosmetologists before they could braid a single strand of hair. But the state’s cosmetology schools aren’t required to teach African-style natural hair braiding techniques. Prompted by IJ’s lawsuit, Missouri lawmakers created a new specialty license for braiders that only requires watching a short instructional video and paying a $20 registration fee.
Recent Licensing Reforms in Missouri
Working with the Institute for Justice, Missouri eased licensing barriers for ex-offenders and enacted universal recognition for 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.
Can You Get a License to Work with a Criminal Record in Missouri?
Licensing boards in Missouri can only disqualify applicants if they have been convicted of a sexual or violent crime or a crime that “directly relates to the duties and responsibilities for the licensed occupation.” Missouri also requires boards to consider evidence of rehabilitation and to provide a predetermination process. This lets applicants find out if their criminal record would be disqualifying, before they start to invest in any courses or training. However, the state’s protections do not apply to teachers, medical licenses, and multiple white-collar professions. On the whole, Missouri received a B- for its protections in IJ’s Barred from Working report.
How You Can Help
If you are a Missouri 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 Missouri workers have the economic liberty they deserve.
Missouri Occupational Licensing Cases
If you want to braid hair for a living in Missouri, you must spend thousands of dollars on at least 1,500 hours of cosmetology training that teaches you nothing about African-style hair braiding.
Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in Missouri ?
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.
Occupational Licensing Research
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
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
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
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