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Understanding Florida's Complicated Occupational Licensing Regime

Occupational licensing laws are government created requirements imposed on members of different occupational groups, including both professionals and nonprofessionals. Not following occupational licensing laws can prevent someone from legally being able to operate/work in their given profession. In Florida, professionals face significant occupational licensing requirements. In fact, a recent study by the Institute for Justice crowned Florida as having the fourth most burdensome occupational licensing requirements in the country. While oftentimes people assume that occupational licensing laws only target highly skilled and educated professionals, the reality is that occupational licensure laws can even affect low to moderate income professionals, who were the specific subject of the Institute for Justice’s recent study.

A Critique of Florida’s Occupational Licensing Requirements

The national average for occupational licensing fees is $203, while here in Florida the average fee amount is $274. Across the country it takes an average of 10 months to fulfill occupational licensing requirements in order to receive finally licensing approval, although in Florida receipt of final licensing approval averages 20 months. In addition to complaints about the cost and time period for licensing approval, others complain that such requirements are simply unnecessary.

Occupational licensing requirements have traditionally been supported because of their ability to promote public health and safety by allowing governments to make sure that those in technical, dangerous and/or public safety fields are sufficiently trained to do their job, and should be legally allowed to do so. However, the current occupational licensing system in Florida is so expansive that it places onerous requirements on those professions that do not present real risks to public safety and/or health. For example, barbers in Florida are required to have as much as 8 times more formal education than some other professionals, including emergency medical technicians. Such disparities illustrate how the current system is not only burdensome, but has also departed from the intended goal of promoting public safety.

Who’s Really Benefiting from Florida’s Occupational Licensing Regime?

Opponents of occupational licensing laws attack such requirements on the basis that they are used as barriers to entry into professional industries. Occupation licensing requirements can decrease job competition for a particular profession because they make it harder for new workers to legally operate in their profession and thus enter into new marketplaces. However, evidence suggests that professionals who are able to receive licensing approval actually benefit from this barrier to entry, as well as the decreased competition it causes. In fact, economists estimate that professional licensing laws have served to increase the wages of the average licensed worker by at least 15%. This wage increase from less competition amongst professionals may be the main reason why it is professional associations that have lobbied governments to impose such harsh professional licensing requirements.

Opponents of strict professional licensing requirements believe that technology is a more effective way to police and monitor professionals. Through websites such as Angie’s List and Yelp, consumers who have actually been in contact with and received services from a professional can review that professional and allow any negative behavior to become public knowledge. Other opponents believe that professional associations, and not governments, should be in the role of policing their professionals, and should be able to oversee all of their professional licensing requirements, independent from government assistance. Essentially, those criticizing expansive occupational licensing regimes see these laws as a means to protect different professional industries, while doing little to uphold the intended purpose of these laws of promoting and protecting public safety and welfare.

Need legal assistance with an occupational licensing-related legal issue? Contact Miami based defense attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., today to discover how we can help you.

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