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California

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

Highlights

62 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed
7th most burdensome licensing laws
2nd most extensively and onerously licensed state

(Last updated April 24, 2012)

Summary

California is the second most broadly and onerously licensed state in the country. The state requires a license to work in 62 of the low- and moderate-income occupations surveyed -- more than any state but Louisiana and Arizona. The laws themselves are the seventh most burdensome -- on average, applicants to licensed occupations can expect to pay $300, lose 549 days to education and experience requirements and pass one exam.

Few states emulate California's onerous licensing of construction trades. California imposes four years of education and experience requirements with attendant fees and examinations on would-be workers. Many states either require no education or experience or do not license these occupations at all.

California is one of only a few states that license tree trimmers (seven states), landscape workers (10), dietetic technicians (three), psychiatric aides (two), still machine setters (two), funeral attendants (nine), dental assistants (seven) and farm labor contractors (nine). The requirements are often very burdensome as well. California requires that tree trimmers and landscape contractors hold a contractor's license, costing aspirants four years of training -- the most onerous requirements in the nation for those jobs.

California also has the nation's most onerous requirements for mobile home installers, who need 1,460 training days to work in California; the national average for the occupation is 245. Save for Florida, California is the only state to require farm labor contractors to pass a test. Of the 13 states that license pharmacy technicians, only four -- California included -- have an education and experience requirement. California, Arizona and Illinois each require two years of training. Of the 46 states that license teachers' assistants, only 10 have an education and training requirement. California's -- at two years -- is the longest, tied with five other states.

California could improve job prospects for its residents by lifting or easing these high licensing burdens.

Licensing Requirements

Burden RankOccupationNumber of States that LicenseFeesEducation/Experience (Days)ExamsMinimum GradeMinimum Age
1 Tree Trimmer 7 851 1,460 2 0 18
2 Mason Contractor (General/Commercial) 29 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Door Repair Contractor 35 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Mobile Home Installer 39 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Pipelayer Contractor 29 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Iron/Steel Contractor (General/Commercial) 31 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Insulation Contractor (General/Commercial) 29 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 HVAC Contractor (General/Commercial) 40 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Sheet Metal Contractor (General/Commercial) 28 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Glazier Contractor (General/Commercial) 30 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Painting Contractor (General/Commercial) 28 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Drywall Installation Contractor (General/Commercial) 30 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Floor Sander Contractor (General/Commercial) 29 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Paving Equipment Operator Contractor 27 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Cement Finishing Contractor (General/Commercial) 29 451 1,460 2 0 18
2 Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (General/Commercial) 30 451 1,460 2 0 18
17 Terrazzo Contractor (General/Commercial) 29 451 1,460 1 0 18
18 Landscape Worker 10 400 1,460 1 0 0
19 Animal Trainer 20 250 1,095 0 0 0
20 Security Alarm Installer 34 156 933 1 0 18
21 Dietetic Technician 3 0 835 1 0 18
22 Teacher Assistant 29 45 730 1 12 0
23 Pharmacy Technician 12 101 730 0 12 0
24 Veterinary Technologist 37 250 730 1 0 0
25 Psychiatric Technician 4 396 357 1 12 18
26 Cosmetologist 51 125 373 2 10 17
27 Barber 50 125 350 2 10 17
28 Tank Tester 14 300 365 1 0 0
29 Makeup Artist 36 115 140 2 10 17
29 Skin Care Specialist 50 115 140 2 10 17
31 Preschool Teacher 49 106 365 0 0 0
32 Midwife 29 366 238 2 0 0
33 Optician 22 141 0 2 12 18
34 Manicurist 50 35 93 2 10 0
35 Psychiatric Aide 2 0 245 1 0 0
36 Gaming Supervisor 23 1950 0 0 0 21
37 School Bus Driver 51 59 4 6 0 21
38 Cathodic Protection Tester 16 1500 8 2 0 0
39 Bus Driver (City/Transit) 51 34 0 5 0 18
40 Truck Driver 51 34 0 4 0 18
41 Crane Operator 18 165 0 3 0 18
42 Emergency Medical Technician 51 70 28 2 0 18
43 Vegetation Pesticide Handler 51 180 0 2 0 18
44 Gaming Dealer 24 275 0 0 0 21
44 Gaming Cage Worker 22 275 0 0 0 21
46 Slot Key Person 21 250 0 0 0 21
47 Pest Control Applicator 51 25 0 1 0 18
48 Farm Labor Contractor 9 600 0 1 0 0
49 Security Guard 37 106 0 0 0 18
50 Funeral Attendant 9 100 0 0 0 18
51 Fisher 41 120 0 0 0 16
52 Child Care Worker 33 0 4 0 0 18
53 Still Machine Setter 2 75 0 2 0 0
54 Fire Alarm Installer 34 531 0 0 0 0
55 Travel Agent 8 375 0 0 0 0
56 Upholsterer 7 360 0 0 0 0
57 Dental Assistant 7 75 6 0 0 0
58 Travel Guide 21 118 0 0 0 0
59 Weigher 24 75 0 0 0 0
59 Milk Sampler 34 75 0 0 0 0
61 Locksmith 13 71 0 0 0 0
62 Auctioneer 33 30 0 0 0 0

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