Ten Most Ridiculous Occupational Licensing Laws

Occupational licensing requirements currently apply to over 30 percent of the national workforce. For Americans anxious to work and earn a living, these laws make it expensive and difficult to do so. While these regulations affect many different industries, the following regulations are, in our opinion, the most ridiculous of them all.

1. Selling Caskets 

Coffins standing in funeral house

Proponents of occupational licensing laws will often cite “consumer safety” as the primary justification for the continuation of these laws. If consumer safety is the main issue, then this one is a real head-scratcher. There are currently nine states which require a license before someone is allowed to sell caskets for a living. In fact, you are not even allowed to close a casket without paying a fee and asking the government for permission first. How this protects consumers is puzzling, but states are managing to reel in anywhere from $71-$305 in fees plus mandated training courses.

2. Interior Designer 

Top view of architects/ interior designer hands working with laptop computer, material sample on desk

Though only three states and the District of Columbia actually require a license to decorate professionally, this sector is heavily regulated. Those seeking a career in this field must undergo six years of education and apprenticeships before they can take the exam and obtain their license. In DC, this license will cost an applicant $925.

3. Teeth Whitening

Patient receiving laser tooth-whitening procedure

Go to any drug store and you will find an entire aisle dedicated to “do it yourself” teeth whitening products. While consumers are allowed to whiten their own teeth, orthodontists are “licensed” to perform just about every other service you can imagine when it comes to your pearly whites EXCEPT whiten them. This requires a completely separate (and costly) license.

4. Fortune Teller

Photo of woman foretelling future from crystal ball

And the winner of the dumbest occupational license goes to Massachusetts for requiring fortune tellers to be licensed before they are allowed to receive compensation for their services. How does this protect consumers? No one is entirely sure. Since most occupational licenses require the applicant to take a test before the license can be issued, it begs the question; what test could possibly be taken in order to prove that someone is sufficiently competent in predicting the future?

5. Shampooer 

Handsome hairdresser washing female hair with concentration. He is holding a water tap. Woman leaning her head on sink

If you are like most human beings, you have washed your own hair at some point in your life. While “lather, rinse, repeat” seems pretty self-explanatory, Tennessee requires 300 hours of training before someone can be compensated for washing hair in a salon.

6. Florist

Side profile of a female florist preparing a bouquet in a flower shop

If you want to be a florist in Louisiana, you better be prepared to pay the price. Not only does the state require you to pay a $75 licensing fee, it also requires that you pass a test that will add an additional $150 to the total amount.

7. Auctioneer

auction sign




















Their fast-paced speaking skills are definitely admirable, but the rigorous requirements someone must meet before becoming an auctioneer are rather shocking. A whopping 33 states, including the District of Columbia, currently require training and fees before issuing an Auctioneer’s License. Tennessee takes the cake for  the most ridiculous regulations in this field, requiring future auctioneers to complete 756 hours of training in addition to paying a $650 license fee.

8. Packager

Men inspecting goods in distribution warehouse

Though many of us have a deep respect and admiration for the individuals who prepare, seal, and ship our precious Amazon Prime packages, placing items in boxes and taping them shut does not require any specialized skill. However, there are seven states that require its residents to obtain a license before they can hold this job.

9. Locksmith

High Angle View Of Male Carpenter With Screwdriver Fixing Door Lock

Like most occupational licensing laws, there isn’t a whole lot of logic to the regulation of the locksmith industry. Currently, 13 states require an occupational license before working as a locksmith. New Jersey’s requirements are so absurd, they require over three years of training before allowing an applicant to earn a living in this sector.

10. Hair Braiding


















Hair braiding has been around for over 5,000 and is deeply rooted in African culture. For those immigrating to America, being able to do traditional African braiding provides a way for these immigrants to earn a living in a new country. However, state governments have begun demanding that hair braiders attend cosmetology training before they can accept payment for their skills. Even though there are currently no cosmetology courses that teach this unique skill, many states still have this requirement. Required hours of training vary from 1,000 hours- 2,100 hours.

Author Brittany Hunter

Brittany Hunter is a Staff Contributor at Generation Opportunity.

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