Iowa’s licensing laws for lower-income occupations are the 37th most burdensome. The state’s average barriers to entry are $178 in fees, 288 days lost to education and experience, and around one exam. Because Iowa licenses a relatively high number of the 102 occupations studied here—71—it ranks as the 12th most broadly and onerously licensed state, making it one of the worst states for occupational licensing for lower-income workers.
Iowa frequently licenses occupations that are rarely licensed elsewhere. For example, few other states license travel agencies (six) or dental assistants (eight). Iowa’s dental assistant license requires 20 hours of education and six months of experience (about 185 days total), $86 in fees, and three exams, steep requirements given that most states do not license the occupation at all. Iowa also licenses commercial and residential HVAC contractors and HVAC sheet metal contractors—some of the most heavily burdened occupations in the nation—much more onerously than the three dozen or so other states that license them. These occupations require 2,190 days—a full six years—of experience in Iowa compared to averages of about half that across licensed states.
Iowa also places some of the highest experience requirements in the nation on barbers and cosmetologists. Aspiring licensees must demonstrate 2,100 hours (roughly 490 days) of experience, while EMTs need only demonstrate 110 hours (roughly 26 days) to become licensed. Iowa should evaluate whether its high burdens for barbers, cosmetologists and other occupations can be reduced, repealed or—if government regulation is necessary—replaced with less restrictive regulatory alternatives.