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Study: Alaskans pay more for professional licenses

Alaska Ice
In this photo taken May 14, 2009 and provided by the University of Washington, is the deployment of a hydrophone in Icy Bay, Alaska. Glaciologist Erin Pettit began a research project to find out what calving glacier ice sounded like to a humpback whale. The sound of the ice in the water turned out to be more interesting. Acoustic research in Alaska’s Icy Bay and other glacier ice-filled waters found that the fizz created by the release of air bubbles under high pressure makes fjords with glacier icebergs the noisiest places in the ocean. (Jeffrey Nystuen/AP)

Study: Alaskans pay more for professional licenses

December 14, 07:56 AM December 14, 07:56 AM

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(The Center Square) – Alaskans who pay for certification or licensure as required for their work are spending less time on average but are also paying almost twice as much as their counterparts in other states, a newly-released national study occupational licensing shows.

And with 64 different professions requiring an occupational license at a higher cost in The Final Frontier, Alaska has been recently ranked the 19th worst in the nation by the Institute for Justice for burdensome occupational licensing.

The Institute of Justice recently released its third edition of License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing, providing an updated look at the effects of occupational licensing requirements and changes in America since 2017.

The IOJ study focuses on the impact licensing has on 102 lower-income occupations professions such as preschool workers, HVAC contractors, massage therapists, barbers and emergency medical technicians in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The states and territories are then ranked on the burden they place on workers in terms of the cost it takes to obtain and/or maintain a certification or license, the average amount “days lost” to education and experience, and the percentage of occupations that require a license.

For Alaska, the study shows that the burden based on the percentage of occupations requiring licensure or certification was significantly higher than the national average. The state requires 63% of the 102 commonly-licensed jobs to be licensed in the state, 10 percent higher than the national average of 53%.

The study indicates that the average fees for Alaskans were almost double that seen nationally. According to the study, the average fees for obtaining and maintaining licensure in Alaska were roughly $439 among the occupations that are licensed. The national average is $284,

The study also indicates that Alaska’s licensing fees had increased in almost all of the licensed professions since 2017. Only seven occupations in the state saw a decrease in the fees required to obtain licensing, including athletic trainers, veterinary technicians, massage therapists, bill collection agencies, skin care specialists, family child home care, and unarmed specialty guards.

Alaska residents don’t wait as long to get their licenses. Alaskans spend an average of 230 “days lost” to education and experience as required by their license, which is 20 days less than the national average of 250. The study shows that while most educational/experience requirements remained similar to the time spent in 2017, education requirements for 4 occupations in Alaska – optician, massage therapist, emergency medical technician and head high school coach – have increased.

“For millions of lower-income Americans, state occupational licensing laws make finding work or opening a small business harder and more expensive—if not outright impossible,” the study states. “Despite widespread and bipartisan acknowledgment of this reality, a new nationwide study shows that licensing burdens remain high and pervasive. Roughly 1 in 4 American workers needs a government permission slip—an occupational license—to work, up from an estimated 1 in 20 in the 1950s.”

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