Today, about 30 percent of Americans’ jobs require licenses: hair dressing, interior design, earth drilling, even floristry in some states. It’s a percentage that’s on the rise.
Professional licenses can promote high standards and excellence in health and safety. But in our turbulent economy, where the unemployed turn to the service industry for work, regulation is often a burden. Obtaining a license can be expensive and take years of training, just like studying for a college degree.
Morris Kleiner is a professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and author of the book Licensing Occupations: Ensuring Quality or Restricting Competition. Lance Lappin is a hair stylist and salon owner based in Manhattan.