5 jobs Illinois imposes heaviest licensing burdens on

5 jobs Illinois imposes heaviest licensing burdens on

Employment is the clearest path out of poverty, but these five low-income professions face more occupational licensing burdens than others in Illinois.

Preschool teacher, athletic trainer, security or fire alarm installer and midwife: these are not occupations that will make you rich or cause a lot of public worry, but they are the five Illinois makes it toughest to get permission to do before earning a living at them.

When government permission is harder to get in Illinois than in neighboring states, Illinoisans have a tougher time doing what most clearly will lift them out of poverty: take a full-time job.


Full-time employment is one of the clearest paths out of poverty. In Chicago in particular, the difference is stark: a person with full-time, year-round employment is vastly less likely to live in poverty.

But Illinois imposes burdensome licensing requirements on many professions, including low-income professions, making it even more difficult for those in poverty to break through and pull themselves out. Here are the top five most-burdened, low-income professions in the state, according to the Institute for Justice’s License to Work report.

Public preschool teacher

At the top of the list of burdensome licenses in Illinois are public preschool teachers. To teach preschool in Illinois, you must pay $685 in fees and pass three exams. A preschool teacher will also lose 1,460 calendar days to education and experience requirements. Five states in the Midwest are ranked less burdensome than Illinois in obtaining a license to become a public preschool teacher.

Illinois is experiencing an early childhood education teacher shortage crisis. Parents have had increasing difficulty finding child care. Illinois should find ways to reduce license requirements and make it easier to fill needed teaching roles.

Athletic trainer

An athletic trainer – someone who assists athletes in recovering from injury, avoiding injury or maintaining peak physical fitness – will have to pay $590 in fees and pass an exam in addition to losing 1,460 calendar days to experience and education requirements in Illinois. Eight other states in the Midwest have more lenient licensing requirements for an athletic trainer. New York and California do not even require a license to do the job.

Chicago Public Schools in particular face a shortage of athletic trainers. The state could reduce barriers to entry into the field to aid in placing more trainers into schools.

Security alarm installer

Security alarm installers must pay a $317 fee, take an exam and lose an estimated 1,095 days to experience and education requirements. No other state in the Midwest ranks as badly as Illinois for the burden of licensing security alarm installers. In fact, most Midwestern states do not even require a license to install security alarms. As crime is climbing in Chicago, high barriers to improving security in homes and businesses is something the state should reduce.

Fire alarm installer

A fire alarm installer must be 21, pay a $288 fee, pass an exam and is estimated to lose 1,095 calendar days to education and experience requirements in Illinois. The only state in the Midwest to rank worse than Illinois is Iowa. Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota and South Dakota do not require licenses to install fire alarms.


Midwifery was only recently legalized in Illinois, but to become a midwife here you must pay $1,300 in fees, pass an exam and lose an estimated 730 days to education and experience requirements. Meanwhile, seven other states in the Midwest are ranked better than Illinois. Kansas, Missouri and Ohio do not require a license to perform the services of a midwife.

Some research shows births attended by midwives have better outcomes, but hospitals in Illinois have been pulling back on midwives. Midwives can be difficult to come by: they can be on call 24/7 and many employees desire more flexible schedules than the profession allows. One way to expand the use of midwives is to make it easier to become licensed.


Occupational licensing in Illinois is just another barrier to finding gainful employment to escape poverty. The state has a chance to empower people to bring themselves out of poverty, but the first step is for government to get out of the way where it can.

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