Occupational Licensing in New Mexico
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 Mexico, 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 New Mexico
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 Mexico takes 495 days of education and experience. In fact, New Mexico has the worst licensing laws in the nation. And those required classes can be very expensive.
For instance, cosmetology is one of the state’s most popular licenses. In New Mexico, it takes at least 1,600 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in the state costs $16,630, while the average student takes out $9,300 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of cosmetologists make less than $21,070 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 $1.66 billion and leads to 16,400 fewer jobs each year.
Licensing Lawsuits by the Institute for Justice in New Mexico
On behalf of interior designers Sherry Franzoy and Caryn Armijo, the Institute for Justice successfully challenged a New Mexico law that banned anyone from calling themselves an “interior designer,” unless they had a license—a license that required six years of education. Prompted by IJ’s lawsuit, New Mexico lawmakers overhauled their interior design laws to comply with the First Amendment.
Recent Licensing Reforms in New Mexico
New Mexico has 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 New Mexico?
Licensing boards in New Mexico can only disqualify applicants if they have been convicted of a crime that “directly relates” to the license. The state also bans boards from considering arrest and expunged records and from using vague standards like “good moral character” to deny licenses. On the whole, New Mexico received a B- for its protections in IJ’s Barred from Working report.
How You Can Help
If you are a New Mexico 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 Mexico workers have the economic liberty they deserve.
New Mexico Occupational Licensing in the News
Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in New Mexico?
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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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