District of Columbia

60 out of 102 moderate-income occupations licensed

38th most burdensome licensing laws for moderate-income occupations

26th most extensively and onerously licensed state for moderate-income occupations


License to Work

The data and information here come from IJ’s License to Work report, released in November 2017.

Washington, D.C., licenses 60 of the 102 lower-income occupations studied here, and its laws are the 38th most burdensome. On average, D.C.’s licenses require $400 in fees, 261 days of education and experience, and roughly one exam. D.C. ranks as the 26th most broadly and onerously licensed state, placing it in the middle of the pack.

D.C. is one of only four states that license interior designers—the most arduously licensed occupation in this study. Aspiring interior designers must complete six years (2,190 days) of education and pay $1,485 in fees to work in D.C. Such high barriers to entry defy common sense given that the vast majority of states do not deem licensure for interior designers necessary.

D.C. imposes education burdens on some occupations that seem excessive compared to those for others that likely present greater risks to the public. For example, D.C.’s license for dental assistants requires 211 days of education. Not only is this more than double the average of 92 days required by the nine states that license the occupation, but it is also substantially more than D.C.’s EMT license requires. To become licensed, EMTs need complete only about 28 days (four credit hours) of education. D.C. could open up employment opportunities for lower-income workers by reducing or repealing many of its occupational licensing requirements, or—if government regulation is necessary—by replacing them with less restrictive regulatory alternatives.

State Licensing Requirements for Lower-Income Occupations

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Burden Rank Occupation Number of States that License Fees Education/Experience (Days) Education Experience Exams Minimum Grade Minimum Age