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10 Jobs You Didn't Know Need Licenses

Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor

Before you start a business, you'd better find out if your state requires a license.

  • Licenses are used to ensure that only competent professionals are offering certain complex services.
  • There are many occupations that surprisingly require licenses such as makeup artists, auctioneers, shampooers, florists and more.
  • Getting certifications can help you acquire better jobs and higher paying positions, and become more in-demand.

You already know you need a license to drive a tractor-trailer, but did you know that nearly 1 in 3 occupations in the United States now require a license?

That's the finding of a group called the Institute for Justice (IJ), a nonprofit "Libertarian public interest law firm" that works to fight what it deems unnecessary roadblocks to working. If you're looking to switch careers, you might wonder if you need a license to do so. You'll want to familiarize yourself with any necessary steps you'll need to take in order to work in your dream job.

Here's everything you should know about professional licenses – which occupations require which license(s) and how to acquire them.

What does a professional license mean?

A professional license means you have to acquire a permit from an authority in order to perform a certain service legally. This is typically one of the main steps that prevent people from being able to offer certain services or open a business in a particular sector. In other words, professional licenses exist in order to ensure that only competent people are offering certain professional services.

In order to obtain a professional license, you must demonstrate that you are able to comply with the best practices and standards of your chosen field. The steps to acquire a license typically include the following:

  • Completing training: The first step to getting a professional license is to get the proper training. This may involve enrolling in school or taking the time to find training materials in a book or online. Either way, you need to train for as long as it takes to perfect your craft.

  • Getting work experience: Once you have completed enough training, you will need to gain some actual experience in the field. This often involves taking on an internship or a position that allows you to observe those working in the field and continue to reinforce your skillsets until you are skilled enough to pass the exam.

  • Passing the exam: Lastly, you must pass the exam to secure your license. These exams often include multiple parts such as written and/or verbal, as well as a demonstration of your skill sets.

Who needs a license?

In IJ's report from 2012 called "License to Work," there are dozens of occupations listed you may not know need licensing. IJ's Angela C. Erickson highlighted 10 surprising jobs that need licenses:

Makeup artist: "Makeup artists are licensed in 36 states, which consistently require three to nine months of education and experience, two exams and an average of $116 in fees to get a license," Erickson said. "In several states, an exception is made for make-up artists working in theaters, while those in salons, spas or making house calls are required to be licensed."

Security guard: "Security guards are currently licensed in 37 states. Michigan's barriers are the most onerous, requiring an applicant to be at least 25 years old, have three years of training and pay $200 in fees, but those requirements may soon be removed in regulatory reforms sweeping through the state," she said.

Auctioneers: "Auctioneers are licensed in 33 states, with requirements varying from just a $15 fee in Hawaii to $650 in fees, two exams and over two years lost to education and an apprenticeship in Tennessee. Auctioneers are another occupation Michigan is considering deregulating," said Erickson.

Residential painting contractor: "In 10 states, an individual who paints home or apartment walls must have a government-issued license. In three of those states, painters are expected to have a year or more of experience while the other states require zero to 12 days," according to Erickson.

Funeral attendant: "Funeral attendants place caskets in the parlor, arrange the flowers around it and direct mourners, among other simple duties. They are only licensed in nine states, which, on average, require two days of training and $167 in fees," she said.

Interior designer: "The four states that license interior designers require six years of education and apprenticeship," she said. 

Travel Agent: "Despite the ease of booking travel over the Internet, eight states license travel agents who are charged fees ranging from $15 to $375 in order to obtain a license," said Erickson.

Shampooer: "Five states license shampooers who only shampoo and rinse customers' hair in salons," Erickson said. "Tennessee has the most onerous requirements at 70 days of training, two exams and $140 in fees."

Home entertainment installer: "Someone who goes into homes to set up stereo systems and audio or television receivers is required to have a government-issued license in three states," she said. "Louisiana has the most onerous requirements, where applicants must have two years of training and pass two exams."

Florist: "Florists are only licensed in Louisiana, which requires them to pay $225 and pass an exam."

What certifications pay the most?

Now that we know what licenses are, how they are used and acquired, and the surprising occupations that require licenses, let's look at some of the top paying certifications:

  • Human resources: Although it is not required, getting certified in human resources can help you secure better-paying jobs. The possible certifications for a human resource position are PHR, SPHR or an SHRM.

  • Project management: Although it is possible to be seasoned in project management without a certification, securing a certification adds value to your resume and makes you a more serious contender in many fields.

  • Sales: While the sales sector is obviously a field you can break into without a certification, securing a certification will make you stand out as a candidate. For instance, certifications such as MDDIC, Challenger Sales or others can make it possible for you to acquire higher-paying positions.

  • Software: No matter what type of job you are trying to secure, being certified in any type of software can help you secure better positions. No matter if you earn a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate certification, an ACA (Apple Certified Associate), a CISSP (Certified Information System Security Professional) or any other type of software certification, this will help make you an invaluable employee at a wide array of companies and organizations.
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