Policy Analysis | January 2015

State Occupational Boards and Commissions Fees

Sujit CanagaRetna, Mikko Lindberg, Stephanie Noble and Anne Roberts Brody

Licensure, a policy mechanism designed to ensure minimum competency among practitioners in markets with high risk of harm, affords protection to the public by granting licensees exclusive rights of practice. In effect, no person without a license may legally provide those regulated goods or services. This definition offers an important distinction from certification and registration, which do not offer exclusive rights of practice. Typically, licensure guarantees certain practitioner training regarding public health, safety or sanitation, so consumers, for example, do not receive the wrong medication at a pharmacy or spread disease at a spa. It is a means of indirectly providing information to consumers about the quality of a service. Licensure, however, also has the effect of driving up service costs and practitioner wages by restricting market entry. Consequently, training or language and residency requirements for licensure may restrict qualified practitioners from offering services in a state, dampening job creation opportunities and economic growth.

Boards and commissions were examined in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee. States varied in organizational structure and consolidation of boards, as well as the number and distinction of occupations in each board’s jurisdiction and the complexity of fee schedules. For example, some states, like Tennessee and Nebraska, house occupational boards and commissions within administrative or executive departments, such as the departments of health or labor. Others, such as Georgia, have separate boards for cosmetologists and barbers. Most states did not report the number of licensees under each board, and no states reported the number of licenses by occupation. Table 1 depicts the name of each analogous board or commission, if it exists. Table 2 demonstrates the range of application or initial fees and renewal fees. These ranges capture the different occupations regulated by the boards. It does not capture, however, additional fees levied on firms, inspections or examinations that many boards impose.