By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
Most of us would not be surprised to learn that emergency medical technicians who staff ambulances and many fire stations in Ohio are required to have about one month of training.
But you might be shocked to learn that being an auctioneer in the state requires more a full year of training — 11 times more than an EMT.
Cosmetologists need 350 days of training. Massage therapists need 175 days. Even skin care specialists need 140 days of training. But if you want to be a barber, like an auctioneer (384 days), you need more than a year — 420 days to be exact — along with two exams and $120.
It seems a bit strange that someone expected to help you in life threatening emergencies needs so much less training than your barber, and even stranger that a manicurist requires more days in training than an EMT.
But that’s Ohio — and such licensing requirements that present barriers to entrepreneurs are part of what placed Ohio in 16th place on a state listing of the most burdensome licensing laws in the country.
The Institute for Justice recently asked “should you need the government’s permission to work?” They found that not only was the answer ‘yes’ but that individuals also need to meet varying degrees of experience and training as well as pay fees for the privilege of offering their services to willing customers.
In “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing,” the IJ examined 102 low- and moderate-income occupations and found that occupational licensing requirements “are not only widespread, but often unreasonably high” and pose significant barriers to individuals who want to enter certain fields. They found that individuals in these occupations weren’t just primarily low-income, but also minorities with less education, “making licensing hurdles even harder to overcome.”
“These licensing laws force people to spend a lot of time and effort earning a license instead of earning a living,” said Dick Carpenter, co-author of the report and director of strategic research at IJ. “They make it harder for people to find jobs and to build new businesses that create jobs.”
Ohio’s average requirements of $137 in fees, 341 days of training and 1 exam earned it a spot in the top 20 most burdensome state licensing laws. However, because Ohio requires licenses for only 31 of the 102 occupations studies, our overall ranking dropped to 39th.
The report points out that some of Ohio’s licensing requirements depart drastically from other states. Commercial HVAC contractors in Ohio must have five years of experience, more than twice the national average. Ohio is one of only three states to license dietetic technicians and one of seven to license social and human service assistants – and two years of training are required to perform both of these jobs, the report notes.
Other occupations that require licenses in Ohio include:
- Pest Control Applicator - $35 fee and two exams,
- Athletic Trainer - $400 fee, 1,460 days of training and two exams,
- Mobile Home Installer - $370 fee, 377 days of training and one exam,
- Slot Key Person - $250 fee, third highest in the nation behind Michigan ($750 fee) and Pennsylvania ($350 fee), and
- Makeup Artist - $51 fee, 140 days of training, two exams.
- But if you’re an Interior Designer, Ohio may be the place to be. The study found that occupation was the most burdened of all, despite being regulated in only four states, with an average fee of $364 and average requirement for training/education/experience of 2,190 days along with an exam. Ohio has no licensing requirements to be an interior designer.
IJ’s study does offer advice for states: review licensing requirements, impose licenses only when necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and eliminate all the others. They recommend asking three key questions:
- Is an occupation unlicensed in other states?
- Are the licensure burdens for an occupation high compared to other states?
- Are the licensure burdens for an occupation high compared to other occupations with greater safety risks?
“Finding a job or creating new jobs should not require a permission slip from the government,” Carpenter said. “One of the quickest ways legislators can help is to simply get out of the way…”