The Occupations

License to Work

Table 1 lists all of the 102 lower-income occupations included in this report. Appendix A describes how we derived this list and collected the relevant data.

Despite sharing the trait of being low- to middle-income, the occupations are diverse. Some, such as family child care home operator, public school preschool teacher and non-instructional teacher assistant, cater to the needs of children. Others, like dental assistant, dietetic technician, optician and psychiatric worker, come from the health care sector. Still others represent the service sector and the construction and transportation trades. These include barber, bartender, cosmetologist, massage therapist, manicurist and skin care specialist; various contractor designations; and bus, taxi and truck driver. Many of the occupations are ideally suited for people initially entering or reentering the economy.

The list of 102 occupations includes some that are commonly licensed—and commonly recognized as such—including barber and cosmetologist, two ubiquitously and long-licensed occupations. Also on the list are many occupations that are generally familiar to the public, though the fact that they are licensed may not be. Such occupations include florist, funeral attendant, home entertainment installer, locksmith and upholsterer. Finally, there are some occupations on the list that are, along with their licenses, highly obscure: milk sampler, conveyor operator and dairy equipment still machine setter, for example. (See the Occupation Profiles for definitions of all 102 occupations.)

Some of the 102 occupations represent jobs in which practitioners work for others as employees. However, many offer opportunities for entrepreneurship. Occupations that frequently offer opportunities for individuals to open their own businesses include various construction and cosmetology trades, massage therapist, mobile home installer, taxi driver and chauffeur, animal breeder and trainer, and tree trimmer. By limiting entry into these types of occupations, licensing does more than reduce job opportunities on the crucial first rungs of the economic ladder; it also restricts new business growth in that same sector of the labor market.

Table 1: Breadth of Licensure

Number of States That License 102 Lower-Income Occupations

Occupation States Licensed
Barber 51
Bus Driver, City/Transit 51
Cosmetologist 51
Earth Driller, Water Well 51
Emergency Medical Technician 51
Pest Control Applicator 51
School Bus Driver 51
Truck Driver, Other 51
Truck Driver, Tractor-Trailer 51
Vegetation Pesticide Applicator 51
Manicurist 50
Preschool Teacher, Public School 50
Skin Care Specialist 50
Athletic Trainer 49
Coach, Head (High School Sports) 48
Landscape Contractor (Residential) 48
Landscape Contractor (Commercial) 47
Child Care Home, Family 44
Massage Therapist 44
Pharmacy Technician 44
Fisher, Commercial 43
Milk Sampler 42
Makeup Artist 41
Fire Alarm Installer 39
Mobile Home Installer 39
HVAC Contractor (Commercial) 37
Security Alarm Installer 37
Shampooer 37
Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Commercial) 37
Travel Guide 37
Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Residential) 36
Veterinary Technician 36
HVAC Contractor (Residential) 35
Security Guard, Unarmed 34
Bill Collection Agency 31
Mason Contractor (Residential) 31
Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Residential) 31
Auctioneer 30
Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Residential) 30
Cement Finishing Contractor (Residential) 30
Drywall Installation Contractor (Residential) 30
Gaming Supervisor 30
Glazier Contractor (Residential) 30
Insulation Contractor (Residential) 30
Iron/Steel Contractor (Residential) 30
Door Repair Contractor (Residential) 29
Gaming Cage Worker 29
Animal Breeder 28
Gaming Dealer 28
Midwife, Direct Entry 28
Painting Contractor (Residential) 28
Paving Contractor (Residential) 28
Slot Supervisor 28
Taxidermist 28
Terrazzo Contractor (Residential) 28
Floor Sander Contractor (Residential) 27
Pipelayer Contractor 27
Glazier Contractor (Commercial) 26
Iron/Steel Contractor (Commercial) 26
Mason Contractor (Commercial) 26
Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Commercial) 26
Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Commercial) 25
Drywall Installation Contractor (Commercial) 25
Insulation Contractor (Commercial) 25
Weigher 25
Cement Finishing Contractor (Commercial) 24
Door Repair Contractor (Commercial) 24
Paving Contractor (Commercial) 24
Terrazzo Contractor (Commercial) 23
Wildlife Control Operator 23
Floor Sander Contractor (Commercial) 22
Interpreter, Sign Language 22
Optician 22
Painting Contractor (Commercial) 22
Crane Operator 18
Taxi Driver/Chauffeur 16
Locksmith 14
Bartender 13
Farm Labor Contractor 10
Upholsterer 10
Animal Trainer 9
Dental Assistant 9
Animal Control Officer 7
Title Examiner 7
Travel Agency 7
Tree Trimmer 7
Packer 6
Psychiatric Technician 5
Teacher Assistant, Non-Instructional 5
Interior Designer 4
Funeral Attendant 3
Still Machine Setter, Dairy Equipment 3
Dietetic Technician 2
Electrical Helper 2
Log Scaler 2
Nursery Worker 2
Conveyor Operator 1
Florist 1
Forest Worker 1
Home Entertainment Installer 1
Psychiatric Aide 1
Social and Human Service Assistant 1