News Release

California, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire Restrict the Most Jobs

Hair braider, fortune teller, florist and interior designer are some of the jobs for which states require licenses

Los Angeles (August 24, 2007) – Do you want to be a fortune teller in Maryland? Your future better include a license from the state. How about being a hair braider in Mississippi? You’ll need 300 to 1,500 hours of training and government permission. Want to sell flowers in Louisiana? Only licensed florists can do that. And almost every state requires certification if you want to move furniture and hang art while calling yourself an interior designer.

In California, there are a total of 177 different jobs that require a special license or credential, the most in the country, according to a new Reason Foundation study examining occupational licensing trends.

Northeastern states aren’t much better. Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire all require job seekers to obtain a license before performing more than 130 jobs. In stark contrast, you can do most of those very same jobs – without a license – in Missouri, where just 41 careers require certification.

Ranking the States on Occupational Licensing
States (Number of jobs requiring a license)

1. California (177) 26. Virginia (89)
2. Connecticut (155) 27. Louisiana (88)
3. Maine (134) 28. Ohio (88)
4. New Hampshire (130) 29. Georgia (85)
5. Arkansas (128) 30. Indiana (85)
6. Michigan (116) 31. Iowa (85)
7. Rhode Island (116) 32. Utah (84)
8. New Jersey (114) 33. Delaware (83)
9. Wisconsin (111) 34. Montana (79)
10. Tennessee (110) 35. Texas (78)
11. Alaska (109) 36. New York (77)
12. Massachusetts (107) 37. West Virginia (77)
13. North Carolina (107) 38. Wyoming (74)
14. Oregon (107) 39. Arizona (72)
15. Vermont (107) 40. Alabama (70)
16. Florida (104) 41. Colorado (69)
17. New Mexico (104) 42. North Dakota (69)
18. Maryland (98) 43. Mississippi (68)
19. Nebraska (96) 44. Hawaii (64)
20. Minnesota (95) 45. Pennsylvania (62)
21. Nevada (95) 46. Idaho (61)
22. Illinois (93) 47. South Carolina (60)
23. Kentucky (91) 48. Kansas (56)
24. Oklahoma (91) 49. Washington (53)
25. South Dakota (90) 50. Missouri (41)

“Most of these licensing requirements are completely arbitrary,” said Adam B. Summers, a policy analyst at Reason Foundation and author of the report. “You see that clearly when examining neighboring states. California has 177 job categories licensed. But if you take one step across the state line into Arizona just 72 careers are licensed. In North Carolina you need a license to do 107 jobs. Next door in South Carolina, only 60 jobs require certification.”

Proponents claim these licensing requirements are needed to protect the public from unscrupulous, incompetent, or dangerous practitioners. However, numerous studies show these laws actually reduce consumer protection and public safety, according to the Reason Foundation report.

“These laws are created under the guise of ‘helping’ consumers,” Summers said. “In reality, the laws are helping existing businesses keep out competition, restricting consumer choice, destroying entrepreneurship, and driving up prices.”

Full Report Online

The full study, Occupational Licensing: Ranking the States and Exploring Alternatives, is available online at A summary of the study is available at

About Reason

Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets. Reason produces respected public policy research on a variety of issues and publishes the critically acclaimed monthly magazine, Reason. For more information, please visit


Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications, Reason Foundation, (310) 367-6109