Over the last 60 years, the number of jobs requiring an occupational license, or government approval to practice a profession, has grown from about one in 20 to nearly one in four. When implemented properly, occupational licensing protects the health and safety of consumers by requiring practitioners to undergo designated training and education in their field and enforces oversight in cases where harms occurs. 

However, differences and disparities in occupational licensing laws across states create barriers for those looking to enter the market and make it harder for workers to relocate across state lines. Certain populations – including military spouses and families, immigrants with work authorization, people with criminal records and unemployed and dislocated workers – are disproportionately affected by variation in the requirements of occupational licensing.