NCSL Occupational Licensing Consortium Case Study Reports

Gauri (Gee) Rege, Tessa Riley, Brannan Mitchel-Slentz, Semret Yibass, and Christina Curnow

Nearly one in four of all employed U.S. workers, such as nurses and teachers, are in a profession that requires an occupational license, making licensing one of the central factors that shapes employment opportunities for many workers. Licensing is also one of the most restrictive forms of occupational regulation since it legally prohibits individuals from working in a licensed occupation if they do not fulfill a jurisdiction’s educational and/or experience requirements.

AIR worked with the National Conference for State Legislatures (NCSL) and its partner organizations, the Council of State Governments  and the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices, to conduct case studies of 11 different states that undertook efforts to review their licensing practices. Since 2017, through the Occupational Licensing Policy Learning Consortium, NCSL and its partner organizations have been working on occupational licensing with each state. The states developed action plans and goals to reduce barriers to entry into licensed occupations and improve the portability of licenses across state lines. These plans were then implemented, and goals were refined throughout the last two years, yielding important accomplishments and lessons learned across the Consortium states.

The case studies offer important insight into factors that facilitated and hindered success within licensure efforts.

  • First, task forces and working groups played a key role in establishing legitimacy to why particular efforts were worth pursuing.
  • Second, valid and reliable data were key to making policy decisions and receiving buy-in from stakeholders.
  • Third, labor union support was crucial to the success or failure of licensure efforts.
  • Fourth, in many cases coalition building and robust communication across stakeholders was instrumental to progress and/or success.
Image of Christina Curnow
Managing Director, Human Capital Solutions