Personal Freedom

Several Successful Licensure Reforms in Utah


In order to obtain an occupational license—a state permission slip to legally work in certain professions—one must meet all the requirements set forth by Utah law. There are typically a certain number of classroom hours and comprehensive tests the individual must complete before they will qualify for licensure. This model doesn’t accommodate everyone’s learning abilities. To change this, Representative Thurston sponsored House Bill 226 to allow an alternative means of obtaining an occupational license. The Legislature passed the bill earlier this year and has now become law.

People learn at different paces; some catch on quicker than others due to a number of factors like subject matter and experience. For this reason, it can be difficult for everyone to adapt to one style of learning offered at a specific pace. Now, because of the new law, people will soon be able to substitute the number of required educational hours with proof of competency in the specific subject matter. Under this model, some individuals can more easily get through their course without wasting time and money on things they already have a grasp on. Others may still choose the traditional route.

For example, if someone would like to become a cosmetologist, they would need to complete 1,600 hours of instruction. But under the new law, they may only need 800 if they can demonstrate mastery of the coursework—without all the required extra instruction. This learn-and-test-as-you-go approach is an option that could prove beneficial to many individuals—saving their money and everyone’s time. Under this bill, Utah’s Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing (DOPL) is enabled to implement these policies.

There were other licensure reforms as well.. Representative Hutchings sponsored House Bill 90 which allows people with a criminal record to petition DOPL to see if they will be able to obtain a license in their preferred field. Codifying this process will help prevent individuals from completing the entire licensure process only to discover they are ineligible. This bill passed nearly unanimously.

Another bill, sponsored by Representative Roberts, fixes a previous problem for those who wanted to practice bowenwork, reflexology, and foot zone therapy. These unique therapies were previously classified under “massage therapy,” requiring those who wanted to practice to be licensed massage therapists. This was problematic because many of the educational requirements of this license simply didn’t apply to these professions. Now, individuals seeking to practice these professions will be able to forgo the massage therapy licensure so long as they receive certification to practice their trade—a much more fitting qualification.

Similar to the concept of the bowenwork bill, Representative Hinkins sponsored a bill that exempts individuals who practice equine dentistry (also known as “teeth floating”) from the veterinarian licensure requirement. These professionals will still have to be certified, and in some cases still must work under the supervision of a veterinarian. But now, they can specialize in their trade without spending time and money on a full blown veterinarian license.

The bowenwork bill and equine dentistry bill will lower the barrier to entry for individuals wanting to enter these career fields. The unique professions the new laws address should never have needed substantial government licensure in the first place, but now, that won’t be a problem.

If the government is going to place heavy restrictions on certain careers, preventing many people from entering the workplace, then they need to regularly evaluate and update those laws. These bills do just that, making much needed changes to help more people have access to more career options.

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