Despite these caveats, our rankings often reflect real changes to average licensing burdens between 2017 and 2022, particularly education and experience requirements as these are heavily weighted in our rankings. And these requirements saw significant and frequently positive change, with reductions for most occupations and states.
Among occupations, average days lost to education and experience fell for 54 occupations, mostly in the construction trades, and most of these occupations’ ranks (both burden and combined) either stayed the same or improved. As shown in Table 8, the occupation with the largest improvement in days lost—269 days—is direct entry midwife. At the same time, the occupation was newly licensed by seven states. Accordingly, its burden rank improved by 3 spots, while its combined rank worsened by 10. Still, as discussed above, three of the seven new licenses opened the occupation to those without a nursing degree, representing an improvement in access. Moreover, its average burdens fell because 21 states reduced education mandates, usually by a year or more. As a result, the occupation is easier to enter than it was in 2017, as reflected in its improved burden rank.
Meanwhile, 14 occupations saw average education and experience requirements increase. As Table 8 shows, the largest of these was 50 days for school bus driver, which caused the occupation’s burden rank to worsen by 15 spots and its combined rank by 2 spots. This was almost entirely driven by large increases in just three states, Connecticut, Tennessee and, to a lesser extent, Washington. By contrast, increases for pharmacy technician, which saw the second largest rise in average days lost, were more widespread, with 15 states increasing days lost by more than 50 days. As a result, its burden rank worsened 5 spots.
Table 8: Occupations With the Largest Increases and Decreases in Average Days Lost
Six Largest Decreases
Midwife, Direct Entry
Interpreter, Sign Language
Drywall Installation Contractor (Commercial)
Painting Contractor (Commercial)
Floor Sander Contractor (Commercial)
Six Largest Increases
School Bus Driver
Wildlife Control Operator
Preschool Teacher, Public School
Among states, 33 reduced average days lost by anywhere from one day to more than a year (Table 9). About half of their ranks stayed the same or improved. As noted above, the biggest improvements by far came from Utah and Arkansas, and their reforms largely affected specialty contractors, which are discussed in greater detail in Reform Spotlight: Contractor Trades Licensing.
Fifteen states moved in the other direction, increasing average days lost by as much as 44 days. With rare exception, these states’ burden and combined ranks either stayed the same or worsened. Most notably, Connecticut worsened by 5 spots on burden rank and 4 spots on combined rank because it newly licensed manicurists and skin care specialists.
Table 9: Average Increases and Decreases in States’ Days Lost