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License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing
64 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed
5th most burdensome licensing laws
1st most extensively and onerously licensed state
(Last updated April 24, 2012)
Arizona ranks as the most broadly and onerously licensed state for low- and moderate-income workers. It requires a license for 64 out of 102 occupations studied, more than all but Louisiana. Of the occupations licensed in Arizona, 26 are also licensed in fewer than half of the other states. On average, breaking into one of the 64 licensed occupations requires $455 in fees, 599 days lost to education and experience -- or about a year-and-a-half -- and two exams.
Arizona's poor showing in the rankings has much to do with its licensing of construction trades. The state requires a license for nearly every construction trade in this study, while for the same trades, around 20 states require no such license for work on commercial properties and around 40 states require no such license for work on residential properties. Moreover, Arizona makes entry into these trades particularly difficult by requiring four years of apprenticeship for a general/commercial license and two years for a residential license. (Joint licenses are available for those wishing to work in both settings without acquiring two licenses.) Many states that license these trades have no such experience requirement.
The state also imposes above-average education and training requirements on other occupations. Aspiring manicurists lose 140 days to education and training in Arizona, while the national average is 87. Mobile home installers need two years of education and training compared to a national average of 194 days, or almost seven months; meanwhile, 23 states require just three days or fewer. Aspiring opticians lose three years to education and training compared to a national average of about two years. Pharmacy technicians require two years of training in Arizona, as in California and Illinois, but none in eight states with minimal requirements or the other 39 that do not license the occupation.
To improve employment prospects for lower-income workers, Arizona could drastically reduce these burdens -- or even eliminate some entirely.