Hawaiians face long, expensive road for government permission to work

Hawaiians needing a license for their chosen profession can expect to spend nearly three times as long on educational requirements and be faced with shelling out twice as much in associated fees when compared to their mainland peers, a study on occupational licensing reports.

The Institute of Justice recently released its third edition of License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing, providing an updated look at the effects of occupational licensing requirements and changes in America since 2017.

The report, which analyzes the impact occupational licensing has on workers in more than 100 low-income professions – ranked Hawaii as the worst state in the nation for burdensome licensing practices in relation to the amount of time and money it takes to be licensed in the Aloha State.

When factoring in other metrics, including the total percentage of surveyed occupations that need licensure, the state’s combined ranking also remained one of the lowest in the nation as the 4th worst for overall licensing burden impact. Only three other states – Nevada, California and Virginia, respectively – had higher burdens than Hawaii, mainly due to the higher percentage of licensed professions in these states.

“Hawaii’s licenses still rank as the nation’s most burdensome, while Nevada is the most widely and onerously licensed state,” the IJ study states.

Since 2012, the IJ has produced the License to Work report every five years to analyze burdens states impose on workers in the form of occupational licensing. These burdens include the cost it takes to obtain or maintain a certification or license, the average amount “days lost” to education and experience, and the percentage of occupations that require a license.

While seeing only a slight decrease since 2017, Hawaii’s education requirements for licensure remain the highest in the nation. Hawaiians, on average, spend a total of 972 days on education or experience to learn their craft. In comparison, the amount is only 16 days less than what it was five years ago, and it remains almost three times the amount of the national average. Nationally, workers spent an average of 350 days on educational requirements to get their licenses.

“As in 2017, Hawaii has the highest average burdens across the occupations it licenses—972 days or two and a half years of education and experience… Hawaii is again followed by Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida and Virginia,” the report states.

Comparatively, the cost of getting licensed in Hawaii has gone up over the past five years. Hawaii’s average licensing fees have jumped from $430 back in 2017 to an average $506 per license. Additionally, Hawaii’s average fee amounts are significantly higher than the national average. The fee average nationally is $284, which is a little over half of what Hawaiians pay.

The percentage of licensed professions has just slightly increased. IOJ states that Hawaii’s burden ranking fell due to its creation of a new license requirement for one profession, midwifery. Midwives in Hawaii can now expect to spend 730 days for skills training, are required to have a 2-year education, pass an exam and spend roughly $2,130 in fees, which is the highest fee cost in the state.

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