I Love the IJ

Closely on the heals of their victory in an asset forfeiture case in New York, the Institute of Justice (IJ) successfully fought the state licensing requirement for hair braiders in Texas.

A 2013 press statement on the Institute for Justice’s website described Brantley’s frustration with the criteria: â€œThis means that Isis must spend 2,250 hours in barber school, pass four exams, and spend thousands of dollars on tuition and a fully-equipped barber college she doesn’t need, all to teach a 35-hour hair-braiding curriculum,” the statement read.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks on Monday seemed to agree with Brantley’s concerns that the requirements for hair-braiding entrepreneurs were superfluous. Sparks ruled that the Texas laws were unconstitutional and “absent” a rational connection with Brantley’s intended marketplace, the Associated Press reports.

“I fought for my economic liberty because I believe there is a lot of hope for young people who seek to earn an honest living,” Brantley said in a press statement. “This decision means that I will now be able to teach the next generation of African hair braiders at my own school.”

Good.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to fight these stupid licensing laws except one at a time, state by state.  And every time we take one on, the incumbent competitors in that business (who are the primary beneficiaries of  licensure that restricts new competition) fight tooth and nail every step of the way.

I will observe that red states are just as bad as blue states on occupational licenses.   This is cronyism, not ideology.  From this site, here are just a few the occupational licenses one still needs in Texas (this is from a school web site, so these are just the ones that have continuing education requirements that this school serves).  I suspect that this list is incomplete, as long as it is, because barbers and hair stylists, the subject of this case, are not even on the list.

Continuing Education Requirements
 Licensed OccupationsLicenseContinuing Education Requirements to Renew
Accountants & AuditorsCertified Public AccountantAnnual CEUs Ethics-2hrs/yr
AcupuncturistAcupuncturist17 hours CAE/yr
Heating, A/C, & Refrigeration Mechanics & InstallersA/C & Refrigeration ContractorVoluntary continuing education
ArchitectArchitect8 CEPH/year
Athletic TrainerAthletic Trainer30 clock hours/ 3 years
Judges and MagistratesAttorney15 CLE hours/year inc. 3 hrs. ethics
Combative Sports PromoterBoxing PromoterVoluntary continuing education
Child Care AdministratorChild Care Administrator15 hours for biennial renewal
ChiropractorsChiropractor16 hours/year
Compliance OfficersCode Enforcement Officerto be required; rules in development
Counselors, Chemical DependencyChemical Dependency CounselorIf also licensed as LMSW, LMFT,LPC, physician, or
psychologist-24 hours CE/2yrs.
If not otherwise licensed, 60 hours.
All hours specific to or related to chemical dependency.
Counselor, ProfessionalCounselor, Professional12 hours/year inc. 3 hours ethics or legal issues every other yr.
Dental HygienistsDental Hygienist12 hours/year
DentistsDentist12 hours/year
Dietitians and NutritionistsDietitian6 clock hours/year
Drinking Water Utility Plant OperatorCertificate Classes 1-31-2 courses in water conditioning
Emergency Medical TechniciansEmergency Medical TechnicianVaries by level: see below
Emergency Care Attendants (ECA)20 contact hours CE/2yrs; 40 hours within 4/yr cert. period
Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)40 contact hours CE/2yrs; 80 hours within 4/yr cert. period
EMT-Intermediates (EMT-1)60 contact hours CE/2 yrs; 120 hours within 4/yr cert. period
EMT-Paramedics (EMT-P)80 contact hours CE/2 yrs; 160 hours within 4/yr cert. period
EngineersProfessional EngineerNone required
Fire FightersFire Protection Personnel/Firefighter20 hrs CE/year
Fire InspectorsFire Protection System ContractorNone found
Funeral Directors & MorticiansFuneral Director/Embalmer20 hrs/yr; required 2 hrs-law updates; 2-ethics; 2-vital stats
Salespersons, RetailHearing Instrument Fitter/Dispenser20 hrs/yr
Insurance Adjusters, Examiners, & InvestigatorsInsurance Adjuster30 hrs/2yrs, including 2 hrs/ethics (Most licensees)
Sales Agents & Placers, InsuranceInsurance Agent15 hours CE/yr
Interior DesignersInterior Designer8 hrs/yr
InterpreterInterpreter for the Deaf75 hrs/5 yrs.
Construction-IrrigatorIrrigator, Landscape8 hours/yr
Surveyors and Mapping ScientistsLand Surveyor8 hrs/yr
Landscape ArchitectsLandscape Architect8 CEPH/year (CE Program Hrs) TBAE
Police DetectivesLaw Enforcement Officer40 hrs/2 yrs Currently in 4 yr cycle
Librarians, ProfessionalLibrarian, County
Grades II & III (valid for two years)3 semester hrs at accredited college
or 20 hrs other continuing education activities
Grade I (permanent)
Marriage &  Family TherapistMarriage & Family Therapist15 hrs/yr; 3 hrs ethics every 3 yrs.
Massage TherapistMassage Therapist6 clock hrs/yr
Medical ScientistsMedical Physicist, Professional24 contact hours/2 years
Radiologic TechnologistsMedical Radiologic Technologist, General24 hours/2 years
Limited Certificate12 hours/2 years
Nursing Aides, Orderlies, & AttendantsMidwife, Direct Entry10 hours CE /yr
Licensed Practical NursesNurse, Licensed Vocational (LVN)20 contact hours (2 CEUs)/2 yrs
Registered NursesNurse, Registered (RN)20 contact hours (2 /CEUs)/2 yrs
Nurse Aide, Long Term Carenone found
Medicine & Health Services ManagersNursing Facility Administrator40 hours CE/ 2 yrs
Occupational TherapistsOccupational Therapist30 hrs/2 yrs.
Occupational Therapist Assistant30 hrs/2yrs
On-Site Sewage FacilityDesignated Representative16 hrs/yr
Installer Class I16 hrs/yr
Installer Class II16 hrs/yr
Opticians, Dispensing & MeasuringOptician5 hrs/yr for voluntarily registered opticians
OptometristsOptometristsixteen hours of continuing education/ year inc.
six hours in diagnostic or therapeutic education
prosthetist or orthotist license24 hrs/2 yrs
prosthetist and orthotist license40 hrs/2 yrs
prosthetist or orthotist assistant12 hrs/2 yrs
prosthetist and orthotist assistant20 hrs/2 yrs
prosthetic or orthotic technician6 hrs/2 yrs
prosthetic and orthotic technician10 hrs/2 yrs
Pawn Broker/LenderPawnbroker/LenderNone found
Cardiology TechnologistPerfusionist45 CEUs/3 yrs
Pest Controllers & AssistantsPesticide Applicator
Private Applicator15 CEUs/5 yrs ( 2 ea. in laws/regs & integrated pest mgmt.)
Private Applicator Certificate Holder15 CEUs/5 yrs
Commercial Applicator5 CEUs/yr (1 ea fr 2 of: laws/regs, integ pest mgmt, drift min)
Noncommercial Applicator5 CEUs/yr (1 ea fr 2 of: laws/regs, integ pest mgmt, drift min)
PharmacistsPharmacist12 hours CE/ yr
Physical TherapistsPhysical Therapist3 CEUs (30 contact hours)/2yrs inc. 2 hrs. ethics;
Physical Therapist Assistant2 CEUs (20 contact hours)/2 yrs inc. 2 hrs. ethics
Physicians and SurgeonsPhysician24 hrs CME/yr (at least 12 hours formal courses)
Physician Assistant40 hrs CME/yr (at least 20 hours formal courses)
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and SteamfittersPlumber6 hrs/ yr
PodiatristsPodiatric Physician30 hours CE/2 yrs
Polygraph ExaminersPolygraph Examinervoluntary
Detectives/InvestigatorsPrivate Investigator/Security Guard12 hrs/2yrs
PsychologistsPsychologist12 hrs/yr
Psychological Associate12 hrs/yr
Specialist in School Psychology12 hrs/yr
Sales Agents, Real EstateReal Estate Broker15 classroom hours MCE/ two years inc. 6 hrs legal topics
Real Estate Sales Agent30 hours/yr Salesperson Annual Education (SAE)
Construction & Building InspectorsReal Estate Inspector8 hours core real estate inspection courses/year
Respiratory TherapistsRespiratory Care Practitioner12 hours CE/yr
SanitarianSanitarian12 CE contact hours/yr
Sales Agent, Securities, Commodities, Financial Serv.Securities Dealer/Investment Advisor none found
Social WorkersSocial Work Associate15 hours CE/yr inc. 3 hours in ethics
Licensed Social Worker15 hours CE/yr inc. 3 hours in ethics
Licensed Master Social Worker15 hours CE/yr inc. 3 hours in ethics
Municipal Solid WasteSolid Waste Technician Class A-Class D40 hrs-24 hrs/4 yrs
Speech-Language Pathologists & AudiologistsSpeech-Language Pathologist/Audiologist10 hrs/yr; 15 if dually licensed
Tax Examiners, Collectors, & Revenue AgentsRegistered Texas Assessor Collectors60 CEUs/5 yrs
Registered Professional Appraisers60 CEUs/5 yrs
Registered Texas Collectors25 CEUs/5 yrs
TeacherTeachernone found
InstallerUnderground Storage Tank Installer8 hrs/yr
UST On-Site Installer or Remover Supervisor8 hrs/yr for each license type held
Veterinarians and Veterinary InspectorsVeterinarian15 hrs/yr; 3 hrs ethics every 3 yrs.
Earth DrillersWater Well Driller/Pump Installer
Continuing Education Requirements
Clinical Laboratory ScientistClinical Laboratory Scientist/Med. Tech3.6 CEUs/3 yrs
Clinical Laboratory TechnicianClinical Laboratory Technician/ Med. Lab. Tech.3.6 CEUs/3 yrs
Clinical Laboratory PhlebotomistClinical Laboratory Phlebotomist3.6 CEUs/3 yrs
CT(IAC) International Academy of CytologyCytotechnologist180 continuing education credits/4 yrs
Genetic CounselorGenetic Counselor, Diplomate25 CEUs/10 yrs
Histologic technicianHistologic Technician3.6 CEUs/3 yrs
KinesiotherapistKinesiotherapist1.2 CEUs (1 CE = 10 contact hours) / year
Leisure ProfessionalLeisure Professional, Certified2 CEUs/2 yrs
Music TherapistMusic Therapist-Board CertifiedCE
OrthoptistOrthoptist15 hours CE/yr
Pathologists' AssistantPathologists' AssistantCertification process in development
Recreation TherapistTherapeutic recreation specialist, certified30-50 hours/5 yrs
Surgical TechnologistCertified Surgical Technologist80 CE credits/6 yrs


  1. Ward Chartier:

    For the past few years, professional engineers in Texas annually require 1 hour of ethics training and 14+ hours of continuing education.

  2. AZ PE:

    A side note is that many of these occupations don't require 'licensing' as long as you supply the services as an employee of the company using them. E.g., Engineers don't require PE if they only 'engineer' for their employers benefit - and most won't bother unless there is an internal incentive.

    Just another way to keep the premium offered by licensing up, yet not feel the political wrath of companies that use the professionals internally. The government groups that run the licensing schemes are filled with ego-maniacal bizzaro-world denizens who expect catastrophic consequences whenever a non-licensed individual crosses some imaginary and constantly moving boundary.

  3. TeeJaw:

    The late Jerry Kopel, father of David Kopel, was a liberal Democrat in the Colorado General Assembly a few decades back. He fought against most occupational licensing laws (except learned professions) on the same grounds as you state, the only purpose they serve is to limit competition. I guess that was before liberals became progressives.

  4. TeeJaw:

    The main effect of continuing education requirements in the legal profession has been to make the continuing education programs less helpful and more expensive. I lived under both regimes and believe that when one had a choice about one’s CLE the quality was higher and the cost more reasonable. I sure don’t think mandatory CLE has resulted in better lawyers. Good lawyers don’t need to be mandated to stay current on the law. There is plenty of peer pressure to try hard to be the best one can be. There were a few very bad lawyers then, but that hasn’t changed under mandatory CLE.

  5. ColoComment:

    The list doesn't seem to include the one profession that absolutely, positively should be there: politicians. They should be required to pass basic bill-reading and extemporaneous speaking tests, along with continuing ed requirements including ethics [yes!], history, economics, finance, and an every-other-year two-week commitment working at a menial job (to remind them that there's a world outside the Beltway.)
    /sarc off/

  6. mesocyclone:

    Glenn Reynolds has suggested that the 14th Amendment gives Congress the power to override these laws with federal legislation. It should.

  7. Uncle Max:

    Greg Abbott specifically said he wanted to reform Occupational Licensing in Texas. He needs the legislature of course, but he obviously is aware of the issue and hopefully will be able to overcome the licensing lobby that likes things the way they are. Time will tell.

  8. markm:

    Is it as irrelevant to an electronics engineers work as the subjects tested on the PE exam were?

  9. markm:

    It is interesting that CPA's require only 2 hours/year, while many simpler professions require ten times as many or more.

  10. Ward Chartier:

    Are you saying that ethics as a topic is irrelevant to people working in the field of electronics engineering? Please clarify.