Which person must do the most to fulfill the occupational requirements imposed by the state of Michigan?
- The chef who prepares your food
- The auto mechanic who installs your brakes
- The carpenter who installs your floors
- The EMT who rushes you to the ER
- The police officer who carries a gun and is responsible for public safety
- The airline pilot who flies you to see family and friends
- The barber who cuts your hair
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answer. Most people know very little about the licensing laws the state of Michigan imposes on people wishing to work in certain occupations. The laws require someone holding any one of roughly 200 different jobs to pay state fees, meet certain educational requirements and take exams before being able to provide a service legally. The worker’s skill level and experience don’t matter, and neither does what consumers want.
Even though hat-wearing is no longer a popular fashion, Detroit still has an ordinance mandating businesses that wash hats get a license. The ordinance was written for a time when people would drop their expensive hats off at businesses that only cleaned hats, according to Kevin Jones, the manager of the city’s Business License Division. Those businesses no longer exist in Detroit.
Here’s the answer to the quiz: The occupations are listed in ascending order of required training. Chefs need zero hours of mandatory training, as there is no chef license. Auto mechanics take a six-hour course and one test. EMTs need 194 hours of training. Carpenters must have 60 hours of class time. Police officers work through a 594-hour curriculum. Airline pilots flying commercial jets need 1,500 hours of flight instruction. Barbers? They must complete 1,800 hours of education.
None of this means that workers get training only because the state requires it. Far from it. Most people work in jobs that do not require a license. Even then, they typically get the training they need for the job, even if it is not mandated by the government.
Rolling back licensing requirements will make it easier for people, low-income individuals in particular, to enter the workforce. And economic opportunity is a key deterrent to both poverty and crime.