Occupational licensing - benefits and barriers

Edward J Timmons, Tingting Zhang, Alex Bryson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Occupational licensing laws establish minimum entry requirements (such as minimum levels of education) to begin working in a profession. Unlike certification and registration, licensing is required by law, and individuals practicing in licensed occupations without a license can face fines or imprisonment. Occupational licensing is increasingly common. More than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce is licensed today, compared with only 5 percent in the 1950s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of occupations requiring a license has increased as well, burgeoning from 800 in the early 1990s to approximate-ly 1,100 in 2016. The long list of licensed occupations includes some with which everyone is likely to be familiar, such as lawyers, doctors, and accountants, but also many less-well-known ones, such as interior designers, travel agents, professional wrestlers, and florists.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPerspectives on Work
StatePublished - 2019


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