Do you need a license for that job?

Did you know that nearly 30 percent of U.S. workers need a license to perform their job?

JobsThat means they have to meet certain standards—such as completing specialized training, logging a certain number of hours of experience, and/or passing an exam—before they are allowed to work in their field.  Often, it also means paying a fee that can top $1,000 a year.

Who needs to be licensed?

License requirements are determined by states, and their goal is to protect consumers from harm. For instance, if a doctor is going to perform an operation on you, you’d probably like to know that she’s qualified before she gets started.

Other examples of licensed occupations include teacher, lawyer, cosmetologist, nurse, building contractor, counselor, therapist, and electrician. Often, these are fields where people work with children, handle money, or have other high-stakes interactions.

Sometimes the reasoning for requiring a license is less obvious—for instance, flower arrangers, travel guides, and ballroom dance instructors need licenses in some states. (Many people believe that these licensing rules should be overhauled.)

How do I find license requirements for different states?

Whether or not you agree that license requirements should be overhauled, you’ll need to know the rules in your state, or a state you are considering living in. CareerOneStop’s License Finder lets you search for an occupation in any state, find the licensing rules, and get contact information for the agency or organization that handles the licensing process.

What if I have a criminal record?

People who have had a criminal conviction may be unable to obtain a license for some fields. You can learn more at CareeroneStop’s Job Search for Ex-offenders.

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