License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing
54 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed
41st most burdensome licensing laws
19th most extensively and onerously licensed state
(Last updated April 24, 2012)
Washington licenses 54 of the 102 low- to moderate-income occupations studied and is the 19th most broadly and onerously licensed state, mostly because of the large number of occupations licensed. Washington's licensing burdens are lower than most states, ranking 41st, but still impose serious barriers: $152 in fees, 199 days -- more than six months -- of training and one exam.
Most of Washington's licenses require only fees. However, for a few occupations, the state has above-average requirements. Aspiring fire and security alarm installers must acquire a full year more experience than the national average in other licensed states -- and several states do not even have experience requirements. Crane operators must acquire 466 days of experience to earn a license, while 12 of the 18 licensed states do not require any. Washington is one of only two states that license still machine setters.
Washington also licenses some occupations more onerously than appears warranted by concern for public safety. Aspiring emergency medical technicians can earn a license with 26 days training, but massage therapists must undergo more than four times as much training. Manicurists and skin care specialists must undertake five times as much training, and even more is required of barbers and cosmetologists.
Washington could help promote job prospects for low-income workers by reducing or removing the fees of occupations that only require paying money in order to work in their chosen occupation. It could also assist them by reducing or eliminating other high or needless barriers.