West Virginia’s licensing laws for lower-income occupations are the nation’s 44th most burdensome. They require, on average, $172 in fees, 210 days of education and experience, and around two exams. But because West Virginia licenses more occupations than most states—70 of the 102 studied here—it ranks as the 14th most broadly and onerously licensed state.
West Virginia licenses several occupations that are not licensed elsewhere, such as upholsterers (licensed by nine other states), crane operators (17 others) and sign language interpreters (21 others). West Virginia also licenses auctioneers—who are unlicensed in 21 states—and does so quite onerously. While the licensed-state average of days lost to education and experience is an estimated 94 days for auctioneers, West Virginia requires more than twice as much: an estimated 201 days, or six months of experience and 80 hours of education.
West Virginia also imposes requirements on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for others with a stronger connection to public safety. For example, in West Virginia, manicurists and massage therapists face more stringent requirements than EMTs. To provide their services, these workers must complete between 93 and 117 days of education. EMTs, on the other hand, can become licensed after completing only around 35 days (150 hours) of education. West Virginia could create more economic opportunity by reducing or repealing many of its occupational licenses, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives.