License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing
43 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed
1st most burdensome licensing laws
6th most extensively and onerously licensed state
(Last updated April 24, 2012)
Though Hawaii licenses only 43 of the 102 low- and middle-income occupations studied, the barriers to entry are extremely onerous, ranking as the most burdensome licensing laws in the nation. Overall, the state places in the top tier -- number six -- of most broadly and onerously licensed states. On average, Hawaiians wishing to enter these 43 occupations lose 724 days to education and experience mandates, pay $367 in fees and must pass two exams.
Hawaii's high rank is driven by onerous licensing of construction trades. The state requires commercial contractors to obtain four years of experience prior to working in carpentry, floor sanding, HVAC, door repair and other specialties listed below. While many of these occupations are licensed widely (more than half the states license them), many states just require a fee and maybe an exam. For instance, 19 of the 34 states that license floor sander contractors for commercial work have no education and experience requirement. Twenty-two of the 35 states that license commercial door repair contractors have no education and experience requirement.
Hawaii's licensing laws are also burdensome outside the construction trades. Teacher's assistants must train for two years compared to a national average of 152 days for the occupation. Cosmetologists must train for 420 days compared to a national average of 372 days. Fire alarm and security alarm installers must undergo four years of training compared to national averages of 486 days and 535 days, respectively.
To create job opportunities for low- and middle-income Hawaiians, restrictions like these could be loosened or eliminated.