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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 can help protect the health and safety of consumers by requiring practitioners to undergo a designated amount of training and education in their field. 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. Certain populations—including military spouses and families, immigrants with work authorization, people with criminal records, and unemployed and dislocated workers—are affected especially hard by the requirements and variances of occupational licensing.

To begin looking for solutions to these problems, the National Conference of State Legislatures, or NCSL, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, NGA Center, and The Council of State Governments, or CSG, are launching a three-year project entitled Occupational Licensing: Assessing State Policy and Practice, with the goal of enhancing the portability of occupational licenses. This work is made possible through a grant from the U. S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.