Critics: Occupational Licensing Limits Job Opportunities

One of the oldest occupations, the locksmith industry is a good choice for a career. The industry is involved in installing, repairing, and adjusting mechanical or electronic locks, safes, and security vaults.  Aside from repairing and installing, locksmiths also assist people in emergencies.  Whether you are locked out of your home or have forgotten your keys in the car in the middle of nowhere, only a locksmith can come to your rescue.

Many states actually require an occupational license for locksmiths as well as other professions such as plumbers and barbers. The debate over the legislation has raised the question of whether trained locksmiths with occupational licensing guarantee higher professionalism and quality. Is this license enough to qualify individuals as trained locksmiths

What Is An Occupational License?

A professional occupational license is a credential that state governments require from workers in certain occupations, such as truck drivers, barbers, locksmiths, and cosmetologists. To practice in a licensed profession, workers must meet state-specific education, training, and testing criteria. 

The number of American workers who hold an occupational license has grown five-fold over the last several decades. There are multiple advantages of occupational licensing, such as:

  • Health and safety benefits
  • Consumer protection
  • Clear professional development and training guidelines

Despite the clear advantages, as stated above, it is argued that occupational licensing prevents new workers from entering the job market. Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)  Maureen Ohlhauser said, “occupational licensing can prevent individuals from using their vocational skills and entering new professions, as well as starting small businesses or creating new business models.” Aspiring workers are unable to utilize their skills or progress in their careers due to the extensive restrictions and bureaucracy that occupational licensing creates.

Impact Of Occupational Licensing

The current labor shortages in the locksmith sector are a direct result of the need for occupational licenses. This additional cost of obtaining a license and passing a test makes it more difficult for the younger generation to enter the field. The locksmith profession used to be more skill-based and did not require these additional qualifications.

Over the past 50 years, the scope of occupational licensing has dramatically increased. Every profession and state has a different set of licensing requirements. For instance, a barber must finish 140 days of instruction in Michigan while 350 days are required in Missouri. It is occasionally questioned why state regulations differ so much. If occupational licensing were solely centered on enhancing public safety, the same activities would be governed across all jurisdictions, but that is not the case. According to Paul Larkin Jr., licensing is used to limit competition. Established providers are granted the privilege of occupational licensing, which raises fees, by a governing agency.

Does a License Guarantee Better Service?

On paper, granting licenses to businesses working in particular fields stops inadequate workers from deceiving customers with bad workmanship and service. Although licensing may provide customers with a certain guarantee of a worker’s skills, it can also have negative effects by increasing the prices paid by the client. This is due partly to the high cost of obtaining a license and the ability of a professional to charge more for simply holding a license.

Occupational License requirements impose cumbersome and unnecessary obstacles on skilled workers in certain professions. This leads to a reduction in the number of businesses in every area and then customers are then forced to pay more for services. These requirements not only make it difficult for people to earn a living but also do not have a direct effect on the level of service quality provided. 

Final Thoughts

Many occupations, including makeup artists, barbers, and locksmiths, should be evaluated on skill rather than licensing. People with distinctive talents or keen interests in the industry have historically been drawn to jobs in these sectors. Higher customer quality is not established by excluding brilliant and bright people from these occupations merely because they lack a formal license.