Rhode Island

72 of 102 lower-income occupations licensed
27th most burdensome licensing requirements
10th most widely and onerously licensed occupation

Rhode Island is one of the worst states in the nation for occupational licensing, ranking as the 10th most broadly and onerously licensed. The state licenses more lower-income occupations than most states—72 of the 102 studied here. Rhode Island’s licensing laws rank as the 27th most burdensome, requiring an average of $223 in fees, 326 days of education and experience, and around one exam.

Rhode Island licenses some occupations that are rarely licensed elsewhere. It is the only state to license conveyor operators. And few other states license non-instructional teacher assistants (four), tree trimmers (six), bartenders (12) or sign language interpreters (21). Among those, sign language interpreters face particularly steep burdens. Rhode Island’s license requires $700 in fees, four years and 40 hours of education (an estimated 1,469 days), and two exams. Given that so few states see fit to license sign language interpreters at all, such heavy requirements are questionable.

Rhode Island also imposes education and experience burdens on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for other occupations that may present greater risks to the public. For example, barbers and cosmetologists must complete nearly one year (roughly 350 days or 1,500 hours) of education before becoming licensed. These burdens are considerably heavier than those for EMTs. These emergency first responders need less than a month (an estimated 26 days or 110 hours) of education, even though they arguably bear more responsibility for public safety. Rhode Island could improve its rankings by reducing or repealing its heavy occupational licensing burdens for barbers, cosmetologists and other occupations, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives such as inspections or voluntary certification.

Burden Rank Occupation Fees Estimated Calendar Days Lost Education Experience Exams Minimum Grade Minimum Age
1 HVAC Contractor (Commercial) $660 2920 - 8 years 4 0 18
1 HVAC Contractor (Residential) $660 2920 - 8 years 4 0 18
3 Preschool Teacher, Public School $566 2555 4 years 3 years 2 0 0
4 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Residential) $468 1825 - 5 years 3 0 18
5 Sheet Metal Contractor, HVAC (Commercial) $558 1825 - 5 years 2 0 18
6 Interpreter, Sign Language $700* 1469* 4 years and 40 clock hours* - 2 0 18
7 Athletic Trainer $360 1460 4 years - 1 0 0
8 Optician $255 1095 2 years 1 years 2 12 18
9 School Bus Driver $180 1097 10 clock hours 3 years 7 0 21
10 Midwife, Direct Entry $1080 1095 3 years - 1 0 0
11 Security Alarm Installer $505 1095 - 3 years 1 0 0
12 Bus Driver, City/Transit $170 730 - 2 years 5 0 18
12 Truck Driver, Tractor-Trailer $170 730 - 2 years 5 0 18
14 Truck Driver, Other $160 730 - 2 years 4 0 18
15 Cosmetologist $100 350 1500 clock hours - 2 12 18
16 Barber $75 350 1500 clock hours - 2 12 18
16 Shampooer $75 350 1500 clock hours - 2 12 18
18 Taxi Driver/Chauffeur $23 365 - 1 years 0 0 21
19 Skin Care Specialist $100 140 600 clock hours - 2 10 18
20 Manicurist $100 70 300 clock hours - 2 12 18
21 Emergency Medical Technician $205 26 110 clock hours - 2 12 18
22 Child Care Home, Family $140 4 - 24 clock hours 0 12 21
23 Massage Therapist $295 117 500 clock hours - 1 0 18
24 Pharmacy Technician $25 140 - 600 clock hours 0 0 18
25 Auctioneer $630 0 - - 1 0 18
26 Teacher Assistant, Non-Instructional $0 7 - 30 clock hours 0 12 0
27 Pest Control Applicator $45 0 - - 2 0 18
27 Vegetation Pesticide Applicator $45 0 - - 2 0 18
29 Fire Alarm Installer $462 0 - - 2 0 0
30 Conveyor Operator $117 0 - - 1 0 18
30 Crane Operator $117 0 - - 1 0 18
32 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Cement Finishing Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Cement Finishing Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Door Repair Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Door Repair Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Drywall Installation Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Drywall Installation Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Floor Sander Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Floor Sander Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Glazier Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Glazier Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Insulation Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Insulation Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Iron/Steel Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Iron/Steel Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Mason Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Mason Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Painting Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Painting Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Paving Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Paving Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Pipelayer Contractor $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Sheet Metal Contractor, Other (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Terrazzo Contractor (Commercial) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
32 Terrazzo Contractor (Residential) $200 1 5 clock hours - 0 0 18
59 Wildlife Control Operator $10 0 - - 1 0 18
60 Bartender $0 0 2 clock hours - 0 0 18
61 Earth Driller, Water Well $200 0 - - 1 0 0
62 Gaming Supervisor $300 0 - - 0 0 0
62 Slot Supervisor $300 0 - - 0 0 0
64 Gaming Cage Worker $185 0 - - 0 0 0
65 Tree Trimmer $50 0 - - 1 0 0
66 Upholsterer $180 0 - - 0 0 0
67 Coach, Head (High School Sports) $100* 1* 4.5 clock hours* - 0 0 0
68 Animal Breeder $100 0 - - 0 0 0
68 Bill Collection Agency $100 0 - - 0 0 0
70 Fisher, Commercial $50 0 - - 0 0 0
71 Travel Guide $25 0 - - 0 0 0
72 Security Guard, Unarmed $5 0 - - 0 0 0