License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing
54 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed
46th most burdensome licensing laws
20th most extensively and onerously licensed state
(Last updated April 24, 2012)
Iowa licenses 54 of the 102 low- and middle-income occupations studied. Only six states license more. Iowa's licensing burdens are lighter than most states, ranking 46th, but because it licenses so many occupations, it ranks as the 20th most broadly and onerously licensed state. Iowans seeking to enter one of the 54 licensed occupations can expect, on average, to pay $141 in fees, lose 181 days, or more than six months, to education and experience requirements and take one exam prior to licensure. Of the 54 occupations, 15 are licensed in fewer than half of the other states.
Though Iowa's licensing laws are among the least burdensome overall there are some glaring exceptions. Cathodic protection testers (those who inspect certain systems designed to protect buried or submerged metal piping and tanks) and tank testers face the most restrictive laws in the country to obtain a license. Of the 16 states that license cathodic protection testers, 15 require licensees to obtain about eight days of training. Iowa requires 738 -- over two years -- of education and experience. Tank testers lose 739 days to education and experience requirements -- compared to a national average of 162 days. Iowa's cosmetology license is the second most difficult in the country to obtain -- aspiring cosmetologists lose 490 days to training requirements compared to a national average of 372.
Emergency medical technicians can obtain a license in Iowa with about 28 days of training. Yet it takes 420 days to become a barber and 140 days to become a skin care specialist.
To improve employment prospects, Iowa policymakers should cut unnecessary licensing schemes and reduce licensing burdens, particularly those that are higher than other states or compared to actual threats to public health and safety.