MenuMenu Image

What Do Nurses, Barbers, and Truck Drivers Have in Common?

Matt Shafer is entering his second year of the MPA program. In this post, he describes one his first projects as a policy analyst at the Council of State Governments.

What do nurses, barbers, and truck drivers all have in common? They need a state issued license to perform their jobs. When implemented properly, occupational licensing can help protect the health and safety of consumers by requiring training and education. However, differences and disparities in occupational licensing laws across states can create barriers for those looking to enter the labor market and make it harder for workers to relocate across state lines.

As an Education and Workforce Development Policy Analyst at CSG, I have spent the summer researching licensing requirements among all 50 states across 34 selected occupations in hopes of compiling a national licensing report by the end of the year. Scouring through thousands of state statutes and administrative rules constitutes the bulk of my research, and as you might expect, the task has been more difficult than initially anticipated. Statutes are confusing to read and vague, occupations are difficult to define uniformly, licensing requirements are cumbersome to obtain, and discrepancies amongst states are massive. Nevertheless, we are on pace to meet our goal and finish our research portion of the report by this fall.

This project is a joint effort between CSG and sister organizations: the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association. Together we are looking for solutions to solve problems caused by barriers created through disparities in states occupational licensing laws.

After the report is finished, our team will focus on the next phase of the project. Through a competitive application process, 10 states will be selected to receive technical assistance from all three organizations over the next three years to improve licensing policies. I will be traveling to the selected states to familiarize state leaders with licensing laws and best practices in other states, and begin actions to remove unnecessary barriers to labor market entry and improve portability and reciprocity of licenses.  

I love my position at CSG, and I’m grateful for the Martin School in providing me the resources to succeed there. I look forward to incorporating my occupational licensing research at CSG into my capstone project as I finish my MPA degree next spring.