Occupational Licensing in New Hampshire

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 New Hampshire, 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 New Hampshire

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 New Hampshire takes 326 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 New Hampshire, it takes at least 1,500 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in the state costs $19,413, while the average student takes out $7,166 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of New Hampshire cosmetologists make less than $23,670 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 $818 million and leads to 8,000 fewer jobs each year. 

Recent Licensing Reforms in New Hampshire 

Working with the Institute for Justice, New Hampshire lawmakers exempted natural hair braiders from the state’s cosmetology licensing and eliminated many licensing barriers for ex-offenders. The state also enacted universal license recognition, which lets out-of-state workers work without having to obtain a duplicate license from New Hampshire boards. 

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

New Hampshire has some of the best protections for ex-offenders who want to work in a licensed field, receiving an A- in IJ’s Barred from Working report. Licensing boards can only disqualify applicants who have been convicted of a crime that has a “substantial and direct relationship to the occupation” and must consider whether an applicant has been rehabilitated. Boards must also offer a predetermination process that would let applicants find out if their criminal record would disqualify them, before they invest in any classes or training. New Hampshire bans boards from using arrest or annulled records to deny licenses.  

How You Can Help

If you are a New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire workers have the economic liberty they deserve.

Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in New Hampshire ?

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

Economic Liberty | 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