License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing
46 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed
8th most burdensome licensing laws
11th most extensively and onerously licensed state
(Last updated April 24, 2012)
Virginia is the 11th most broadly and onerously licensed state. It has the eighth most burdensome licensing laws, requiring aspiring practitioners to pay $153 in fees, lose 462 days -- more than 15 months -- to education and experience and take one exam. Sixteen of the 46 low- to moderate-income occupations Virginia licenses are commercial construction contractors and account for much of the state's ranking.
To become a contractor in 14 of these construction trades, aspiring workers lose two years to experience and pay $175 in fees. A majority of these occupations are licensed only in around 30 states, 19 of which have no training requirement. To obtain a license, an aspiring HVAC contractor loses more than four years to experience, takes two exams and pays $190 in fees. The average experience requirement of the 40 states that license HVAC contractors is less than two-and-a-half years.
Virginia also has higher-than-average requirements for other occupations. For example, aspiring teacher assistants lose two years to education, even though 19 of the 29 states that license the occupation mandate no training. Vegetation pesticide handlers are not required to have any experience in 39 states, yet Virginia requires one year. Virginia is one of only seven states to license upholsterers, charging them $100 in fees.
Policymakers looking to reduce or remove licensing barriers should start by examining occupations like these where Virginia imposes more or more onerous burdens than other states. Policymakers should also examine occupations with more burdensome requirements than may be justified by public safety concerns. For example, in Virginia, it takes more than four times as long to earn a massage therapist license as it does to become an emergency medical technician -- 117 days versus 28. It takes even longer to earn barber, cosmetologist and skin care specialist licenses.