There are apparent inconsistencies in the way the Michigan has chosen to license certain occupations. For instance, to legally work as a lawyer in Michigan, one must meet requirements that pretty closely align with national norms: lawyers need to receive a juris doctorate degree and pass the state bar exam in order to be licensed, which requires approximately 1,200 hours of classroom education. Michigan barbers, on the other hand, must complete 1,800 hours of coursework, which is well above the requirements found in most other states.
Since the work that lawyers do has a much higher chance of seriously impacting the quality of life of a client compared to the impact that a barber may have, one would reasonably expect that the educational requirements for a lawyer would be significantly higher. Further, it is unlikely that the extra educational experience Michigan barbers receive compared to those in other states make them discernably better than their peers operating in those states.
There are more example of large disparities between the licensing requirements for workers in Michigan.
For instance, EMTs and paramedics are required to obtain 30 and 45 credits of training, respectively, before they can be licensed. Athletic trainers, who typically deal with less severe injuries and almost never confront life-threatening situations, are required to have completed a college degree, which takes 1,460 days of education and training, as well as do an additional 75 hours of continuing education every three years.
Building contractors and construction workers also are licensed in Michigan in a seemingly arbitrary way. Licensing standards can vary greatly within this industry, even for those doing very similar work. The table below lists construction-related work in Michigan that requires a license and similar construction-related work that does not require a license.
Graphic 1: Licensing Disparities in Construction Work in Michigan
Source: “Frequently Asked Questions – General Licensing Issues” (Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Sept. 24, 2010), https://perma.cc/UP97-FHRR.
As shown in the table, if Michiganders want to install wood floors, they need a license, but if they want to install carpet or vinyl floors, none is needed. They can put up drywall without a license, but painting that very same wall requires one. Putting up siding requires educational hours and fees, but putting up a fence does not.