Occupational Licensing in Ohio

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 Ohio, 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 Ohio

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 Ohio takes 269 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 Ohio, it takes at least 1,500 hours of classes to get a license in cosmetology. On average, a cosmetology program in the state costs $16,592, while the average student takes out $7,632 in federal student loans. But despite such a hefty investment, many cosmetologists barely earn enough to get by: Half of cosmetologists make less than $22,250 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 $6 billion and leads to 67,700 fewer jobs each year. 

Licensing Lawsuits by the Institute for Justice in Ohio 

On behalf of Cheryll Hosey, the Institute for Justice successfully challenged an Ohio that forced African-style natural hair braiders to become licensed cosmetologists. But the state’s cosmetology schools aren’t required to teaching those braiding techniques. Prompted by IJ’s lawsuit, Ohio lawmakers created a specialty braiding license.  

Recent Licensing Reforms in Ohio 

Ohio has been at the forefront of licensing reform in recent years. Under a sweeping overhaul, all Ohio licensing boards are set to expire every six years, unless the board can thoroughly demonstrate “a public need for its continued existence.” Ohio also enacted a new “sunrise” review process that provides a rigorous review of all proposed occupational regulations.   

In addition, Ohio exempted makeup artists from licensure, dramatically eased licensing barriers for people with criminal records, 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 Ohio? 

Thanks to recent reforms, Ohio has some of the best protections in the country for ex-offenders who want to work in a licensed field. In Ohio, licensing boards can only disqualify applicants who have been convicted of a crime “directly related” to the license and must consider whether an applicant has been rehabilitated.  

Ohio also bans boards from considering arrests, sealed records, and convictions older than five years, aside from sexual, violent, or fiduciary crimes. Boards must also offer a predetermination process that lets applicants see if their criminal record could disqualify them, before they invest in any costly training or classes. However, the state’s otherwise stellar protections do not apply to certain health care facility licenses. Overall, Ohio received an A- in IJ’s Barred from Working report.   

How You Can Help

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

Ohio Occupational Licensing Cases

Ohio Occupational Licensing in the News

Are Occupational Licenses Preventing You From Working in Ohio?

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.

Where are you located?(Required)
Name(Required)

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