South Dakota’s licensing laws for lower-income occupations are the 19th most burdensome. On average, its barriers to entry for these occupations are $198 in fees, 355 days of education and experience, and roughly two exams. Because South Dakota licenses fewer lower-income occupations than most states—32 of the 102 studied here—it ranks as only the 48th most broadly and onerously licensed state.
South Dakota licenses several occupations that are not licensed by other states, such as title examiners (licensed by six other states), sign language interpreters (21 others) and gaming dealers (27 others). Among those, sign language interpreters face particularly steep burdens. In South Dakota, they must complete an estimated 1,469 days of education—over a year more than the licensed-state average (1,088 days). And South Dakota’s license for water well earth drillers requires 1,825 days (five years) of experience, more than double the national average (837 days lost to education and experience) for the occupation.
The state also imposes burdens on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for other occupations that may present greater risks to the public. For example, not only are South Dakota’s burdens for cosmetologists and barbers some of the steepest of their type in the nation, they are also much steeper than the state’s burdens for EMTs. The latter must complete just 150 hours (roughly 35 days) of education and pass two exams. But cosmetologists must complete 2,100 hours (roughly 490 days) of education and pass three exams, while barbers must demonstrate 1,500 hours of education and one year of experience (roughly 715 days total) and pass three exams. In 2017, South Dakota exempted hair braiders from the state’s cosmetology laws. It could expand opportunities by reducing or repealing its heavy licensing burdens for other lower-income occupations, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive alternatives.