Tidwell: Occupational Licenses: Paying To Go To Work

Occupational Licenses: Paying To Go To Work

How would you feel if you had to get permission and pay a fee before you could go to work?

That’s the bitter reality for hundreds of thousands of workers who require permission slips — occupational licenses — for over a thousand professions across the country. And anyone who seeks to hold these jobs must complete hundreds of hours of on-the-job training, pass examinations and pay fees in order to obtain a license.

But here’s the thing: We aren’t just talking about lawyers and doctors and the like. Occupational licenses now disproportionately affect people at the bottom of the economic ladder — people who want a job but can’t find one because the licensing system pushes work further out of reach.

In our states of Oklahoma and Tennessee, 29 and 53 of the most common low- to moderate-income professions, respectively, require workers to be licensed in order to do their jobs. In both of our states, barbers need 350 days of training before they can cut hair and manicurists need 140 days of training before they can groom your fingers. Our states even require makeup artists to undergo over 140 days of training just to apply makeup to a client’s face.

These regulations are simply outrageous and unnecessary. They force hardworking Americans into hours of training when they could otherwise be earning a full-time salary. For someone trying to make ends meet, it simply isn’t feasible to put your life on hold for hundreds of days to get training.

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