Cutting hair. Selling tulips. Designing that living room makeover. These all seem to be pretty straightforward, above the cuff professions right? Most people would assume that if they saw an opportunity to make some money in the above fields then they should be able to simply acquire the necessary expertise, supplies, space and customers and open up shop. They would be wrong. In Louisiana and many other states, there exists a nasty little thing called “occupational licensing.” At least 69 professions in Louisiana alone require you to get a permission slip from the state before you can start working. Other professions also require federal licenses or some combination of federal + state. In an environment of high unemployment with people clamoring to “get back to work” you’d think that governments would be looking to scale back some of the barriers to entry in even the most basic of industries. Again, you would be wrong.
The stated reasoning behind occupational licenses is always presented as a method of protecting the public. Because clearly, a licensed barber will never give you a bad haircut, a licensed florist will always sell you beautifully long lasting flowers, and without your interior designer being licensed you can’t possibly find someone to design your home in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The reality is at best these are revenue generating annoyances and at worst they are anti-competitive measures backed by the industries themselves to limit new competition (essentially cartel behavior).
Aren’t tried and true methods like referrals, portfolios and testimonials enough to help find reputable people to do these jobs? Modernize the situation and you have Yelp!, Angie’s List, and Consumer Reports to not only find good people but make sure other people know about them if they’re bad. What happened to the state government expecting the consumer to take a little responsibility in doing their homework about a company or proprietor instead of telling us who’s approved? Also, just because you’ve hired someone who’s licensed is still no guarantee they’re any good at what they do. There’s a reason people pay extra to not go to Super Cuts. I am certainly not the first person to bring up these unnecessary government intrusions into working people and entrepreneurs lives. However, I intend to do something about it. I will keep you informed as to my research and efforts to scale back these impediments to the citizens of Louisiana who simply want to support themselves.
*Disclosure. I am FINRA Series 7 and 66 licensed as well as hold Louisiana Life, Health, and Variable Annuity insurance licenses.