Chasing Work Shouldn’t Be So Hard


Occupational licenses are state-granted certifications that permit us to practice in a certain profession. From childcare providers to florists, from yoga instructors to nurses, there are hundreds of jobs that require professional licenses. And the list keeps growing.

Individuals spend valuable time and money on education, training, exams, and fees to secure licensing. These requirements, which vary by state, can become so costly and burdensome that they block us from working, especially those without necessary funds or educational opportunities. 

For workers in unique situations, such as military spouses, moving frequently makes securing occupational licenses nearly impossible. 

Some licenses are entirely off-limits to those with criminal records, regardless of whether their records are relevant to the job for which they are applying or how long ago the offense occurred.

If caught working unlicensed, workers risk being forced to stop working, pay costly fines, and  potentially face prosecution or even jail time.

Occupational licenses are justified as necessary to protect public health and safety and to prevent fraud. However, states too often require licenses for vocations that do not need them or impose requirements that are out of sync with the skills needed for the actual job.

This is unfair and restricts workers from opportunities to get ahead… or to get by. Policymakers can reform occupational licensing to remove those government-mandated barriers to work, but they need to hear our voices. 

By sharing our stories of challenges we’ve faced with the occupational licensing process, we can show our elected officials why they should reform occupational licensing in our states.

Read their stories. Share yours.

Learn more about these government-created barriers to work.