License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing
51 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed
14th most burdensome licensing laws
10th most extensively and onerously licensed state
(Last updated April 24, 2012)
South Carolina is the 10th most broadly and onerously licensed state. The state licenses 51 of the 102 low- to moderate-income occupations, with an average licensing burden of $166 in fees, 402 days-- more than a year -- lost to education and experience and one exam. These barriers make for the 14th most burdensome licensing laws in the nation.
The main reason for South Carolina's poor ranking is its high barriers to enter the construction trades. The state licenses 22 construction occupations, including both general and residential contractor licenses. Aspiring general contractors in 14 of the construction trades lose two years to experience, take one to two exams and pay fees between $250 and $325. A majority of these occupations are only licensed in around 30 states, 19 of which have no training requirement. Similarly, to obtain one of the eight residential contractor licenses, workers lose one year to experience and pay a $50 fee. These occupations are generally licensed by just 10 states, and South Carolina is one of only three to require any substantial amount of training.
South Carolina's poor ranking is also affected by the sheer number of licenses it issues. There are only 12 states that license more low- to moderate-income occupations.
Occupations that are not licensed or have lower barriers to entry elsewhere are candidates for reform, as well as those where requirements do not line up with public safety concerns. For example, emergency medical technicians in South Carolina undergo about one month of training. But those wishing to enter occupations like barber, cosmetologist and massage therapist face much longer training requirements.
South Carolina could promote job prospects for low- to moderate-income workers by reducing such barriers or removing them completely.