Our professions oversee the physical integrity of public and private spaces, and the fiscal integrity of financial systems. Eliminating licensing would eliminate the critical training and qualifications necessary for work that directly impacts public safety, trust and welfare. Errors in designing a bridge or building or certifying a corporate audit are not small matters that can be remedied by a bad Yelp review. Our work must be done correctly the first time.
Professional licensing is an important indicator of a baseline level of expertise and qualification. Without professional licensing, the burden of evaluating qualifications and competency would shift from expert licensing boards to individual consumers. Consumers seeking to hire an architect, engineer, or CPA would be left on their own to assess the professionals’ abilities. This is an unreasonable and dangerous burden for consumers without the expertise to verify the competency of the person they are hiring.
Additionally, absent licensing, ensuring qualifications on the front-end would be replaced with case-by-case litigation when something goes wrong. This approach is inefficient and costly for consumers and importantly, it does nothing to prevent other consumers from hiring the same unqualified professional.
Licensing is about more than entry into a profession. Licensing boards provide the systems for ongoing education for professionals—critical in professions that must stay current with complicated and changing codes—and the means for enforcing standards and sanctioning bad actors. Weakening licensing would diminish the ability of the licensing boards to establish, verify, and enforce necessary expertise.
Weakening licensing standards on a state-by-state basis will destroy the confidence in qualifications and completely disrupt existing mobility models. States will be less inclined to accept out-of-state licenses if some states have rigorous requirements and some states have weak requirements. This uniformity of standards establishes a baseline of trust in the qualifications of practitioners from other states that makes it possible for professionals to move from one state to another and have their license acknowledged.
The result: it will become more difficult for professionals to move and maintain their careers across states.