An occupational license is essentially a government permission slip to do certain work. In Alabama, before one can become a hair braider, cosmetologist, shampooer, massage therapist, auctioneer, pest control worker, and so on, one must first jump through a variety of hoops—attending classes, taking exams, and paying costly initial and recurring fees—mostly set at the state level and throughout the course of one’s career. Alabama licenses a total of 151 occupations, covering over 432,000 Alabama workers, which represents over 21 percent of the state’s labor force. The report estimates the total initial costs of occupational licensure, excluding the educational costs, to be $122 million.
Daniel J. Smith, Courtney Michaluk, David Hall and Alex Kanode