With Nevada still clinging to its ignominious ranking of second worst in the nation in joblessness, more needs to be done to clear away the hurdles for those seeking to earn a decent living.

One place where the deadwood can be cleared is in the area of professional licensing requirements. Too often such licensing is little more than a protection racket for those in certain professions who don’t want any more competition.

According to the Virginia-based Institute for Justice, which litigates to advance liberty by challenging government encroachment and restrictions, Nevada has the fourth most onerous professional licensing scheme in the country.

An Institute for Justice analysis from a couple of years ago — nothing has really changed in the interim — noted that Nevada requires licensing for 55 out of 102 moderate-income occupations. We’re not talking about doctors and lawyers. We’re talking about bricklayers, makeup artists, bus drivers, painters, manicurists and animal trainers.

“Nevada is the most expensive state in which to work in a licensed lower- and moderate-income occupation, with average fees of $505. It also requires an average of 601 days of education and experience and two exams,” IJ found.

Often the excuse for requiring occupational licensing started out as a concern for public safety. No one wants a barber who trims more ear than hair. No one wants a cinder block wall to fall on them. No one wants a pest control worker who doesn’t know to not use too much pesticide.

But IJ points out that Nevada’s education and experience requirements don’t seem to align with public safety concerns. “Emergency medical technicians can earn a license with just about 26 days of training. This is far less training than required of barbers, mobile home installers, cosmetologists, makeup artists, skin care specialists, manicurists and massage therapists,” IJ relates.

In fact, to become an interior designer in Nevada requires 2,190 days of experience and/or education. Only three states and the District of Columbia require licenses for interior designers. Various construction jobs require 1,460 days, while a travel guide requires 733 days and a makeup artist 210 days. To become an athletic trainer takes 1,460 days.

Then there is the cost for licensing fees.

“In many occupations, Nevada has by far the most expensive licensing fees,” according to IJ. “For example, to become an alarm installer requires $1,036 in fees, whereas the national average is $230 for fire and $213 for security alarm installers. A license costs animal trainers $770 in fees, compared to the national average of only $93. Aspiring mobile home installers must pay $566 in fees; the average is only $336.”

That travel guide license costs $1,500 in Nevada. While security and fire alarm licenses cost more than $1,000, you can obtain a security guard license and a child care worker license at no cost with only two days of training.

To chip away at that unemployment ranking, licensing just might be a place to start. Slash fees and reduce the amount of experience and education required in many occupations. Better yet eliminate the licensing requirements entirely for many occupations where employers are the better judge of employee qualifications and skills.

“All Americans deserve the opportunity to earn an honest living. Yet occupational licenses, which are essentially permission slips from the government, routinely stand in the way of honest enterprise,” IJ argues. “Without these licenses, workers can face stiff fines or even risk jail time. The requirements for licensure, though, can be an enormous burden and often force entrepreneurs to waste their valuable time and money to become licensed. Additionally, these burdens too often have no connection at all to public health or safety. Instead, they are imposed simply to protect established businesses from economic competition.”

We agree.

— TM