Wisconsin licenses 42 of the 102 lower-income occupations studied here, which is fewer than most states. Ranking as the 42nd most burdensome, Wisconsin’s licensing laws require, on average, $259 in fees, 214 days of education and experience, and around one exam. The state ranks as the nation’s 36th most broadly and onerously licensed.
Wisconsin frequently licenses occupations that are unlicensed by other states. For example, few other states license animal trainers (eight), farm labor contractors (nine), bartenders (12) or sign language interpreters (21). Among those, sign language interpreters face particularly steep education and experience requirements: 1,469 days (four years and 40 clock hours) of education. The average in states that license the occupation, meanwhile, is 1,088 days. And bill collection agencies, which are unlicensed in 20 states, face unusually high fees in Wisconsin ($1,200 versus an average of $551).
Wisconsin also imposes burdens on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for other occupations that may present a greater risk to public safety. For example, it takes over 10 times as long to become a cosmetologist in Wisconsin as it does to become an EMT. EMTs must complete roughly 35 days (150 hours) of education, while cosmetologists need an estimated 362 (1,550 hours). Wisconsin could expand lower-income employment opportunities by reducing or repealing its licensing burdens for cosmetologists and other occupations, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives such as inspections or voluntary certification.