Should you need to train for 175 days to be a skin care specialist? How about more than 700 days of training to apply pest control products? These requirements may seem excessive, but nonetheless are mandated by Missouri’s occupational licensing laws.
According to a study released by the Mercatus Center, the Missouri Division of Professional Registration subjects 240 occupations to varying forms of licensure. This means that in Missouri, 21.3 percent of the workforce is licensed (with an additional 5.4 percent requiring certification).
An earlier study conducted by the Institute for Justice examined 102 low- to moderate-income occupations and noted that Missouri requires a license for 31 of these occupations. Licensing requirements can be costly, both financially and in terms of time, and serve as a barrier to entry for job seekers.
The licensing requirements in Missouri also are not especially well matched with actual safety risks (like consumer health risks). As the Mercatus Center explains, “Occupations that are less likely to involve risk to the public are often more highly controlled than riskier occupations.” For example, Missouri requires emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to undergo 23 days of training while athletic trainers are required to undergo 1,460 days of training.
What can be done about excessive licensing? Show-Me Institute researchers have previously written about license reciprocity, but Missouri could also take a cue from its neighbor, Nebraska.
Nebraska is beginning a legislative review of all the state’s occupational licensing laws. The review will be carried out over the next five years with the ultimate goal of identifying less restrictive options for professional regulation (and identifying which professions need these regulations at all).
Reviewing each license and the options for reducing or eliminating licenses seems like a great place to start in reforming occupational licensing.
Missourians should be able to practice the profession of their choice without excessive barriers to entry. Instead of making it harder for people to work, shouldn’t we be removing unneeded roadblocks?