License to What?

“I needed some electrical work done,” a local homeowner told me the other day. “These licensed electricians come into your house, charge through the roof, and some of them don’t look smart enough to flip the light switch.”

States license a huge number of so-called professionals. In addition to doctors and engineers, we find beauticians, lawyers, drug and alcohol counselors, insurance and real estate agents, plumbers, electricians, and well drillers. There are also polygraph examiners, athletic trainers, interior designers, “specialist assistants,” and masseuses.

Assuring that your doc has at least heard of the Physician’s Desk reference strikes me as a fine idea. And it is quite worthwhile to check if the person who designs your next highway bridge has maybe googled deflection formulae at one time or another.

“Yow! You can make some serious money as an electrician,” the homeowner said.

Somebody sure can.

The State of Washington has its list of 410 or so licenses online here: 177 of them are handled by the “Department of Licensing.”

I can’t think up 400 categories of licenses and I’m really really good at making lists. I have to wonder how much of the licensing is about public safety and how much is about raising revenue.