Labor Market Information > Wyoming Labor Force Trends > September 2011 > Licensed Occupations in Wyoming

An Introduction to Licensed Occupations in Wyoming

by: Sara Saulcy, Senior Economist

This article serves as an introduction to a new publication from Research & Planning that provides detailed information on licensed occupations in Wyoming; this publication can be found online at

In Wyoming, 96 occupations require licenses, certificates, or other registration (referred to in this article as "licensing"). Occupational licensing ensures that practitioners have a minimum level of competence and can increase customer confidence. The acquisition of a license usually results in a financial benefit for the additional education and/or training that a person acquires.

The Research & Planning (R&P) section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services provides information in the Guide to Licensed Occupations about licensing restrictions, agencies, and wages for each of the 96 occupations. Also provided is information about wages and other resources where people can find out more about specific occupations. The Guide to Licensed Occupations is useful for making informed career decisions. Students can use the information when choosing a career path, and counselors can use it to help guide people into careers. Parents can use the information to talk to their children about potential careers.

Occupational Licensing Background

Occupational licensing is a process in which entry into an occupation requires permission from the federal, state, or local government. Applicants must provide documented proof of having met standards of education, experience, skills, or other criteria to be licensed, certified, or registered (Kleiner, 2000). Most occupational licensing occurs at the state level. Those who provide services or repair items are more likely to be licensed than those who make things on their job. The goal of occupational licensing is to protect the public against practitioners who are incompetent, untrustworthy, or irresponsible (Kleiner & Krueger, 2011).

Restricting entry into certain occupations on these bases has been a feature of labor markets in the U.S. since colonial times (Rottenberg, 1962). In the early 1950s, less than 5% of the U.S. workforce was covered by state licensing laws. By the 1980s the percentage grew to nearly 18%, "with an even larger number if federal, city, and county occupational licensing is included" (Kleiner & Krueger, 2008). According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the 2000 Census, by 2000 the number of occupations licensed by states had grown to at least 20% (Kleiner & Krueger, 2008). A 2008 study of U.S. workers by Kleiner and Krueger (2011) found that nearly 29% were licensed. They found that occupational licensing continues to grow. However, there is wide variation across states; in 2005, the number of state-licensed occupations ranged from 47 in Kansas to 178 in California (Kleiner, 2006).

Becoming licensed, certified, or registered in an occupation usually requires a person to invest in education, an apprenticeship, on-the-job training, or other preparation. Kleiner and Krueger (2011) found that workers with higher levels of education are more likely to work in jobs that require a license and that the investment has a payoff: licensing at the state level is associated with an earnings differential of 17% compared to non-licensed occupations.


Table 1

The 96 occupations in Wyoming's directory are overseen by 45 boards or agencies. Table 1 shows each licensing board in the state, the licenses for which each board is responsible, and the typical education required for each license. Only three occupations in the directory – aircraft mechanics; airline pilots, copilots, & flight engineers; and commercial aircraft pilots – are not licensed by the state. Instead licensing for these occupations is overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are also some occupations in Wyoming licensed at the county or local government level. Educational requirements for the 96 licensed occupations range from a 10th grade education to a first professional degree.

Career Decisions

In addition to the licensed occupations directory, there are several other useful resources available from R&P to help individuals make informed decisions about careers. For example, the latest occupational projections provide a long-term outlook for growth across occupations in Wyoming from 2010 to 2020; these projections are available online at A publication containing all of the latest occupational projections can be downloaded at These projections can be used in tandem with the licensed occupations directory to help make informed career choices. For example, a person seeking a career that has long-term high growth prospects might consider becoming a registered nurse. The latest occupational projections show that the number of registered nurses in Wyoming is projected to rise by 1,380, from 5,150 in 2010 to 6,530 in 2020. The Guide to Licensed Occupations shows that becoming a registered nurse requires completion of a Wyoming-approved nursing program, passing a national nursing licensure exam, and meeting the continued competency requirements.

Research & Planning also produces the Wyoming Wage Survey, which includes the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) titles and codes (more information about the SOC is available online at; entry and average salaries for occupations; schools or training located in Wyoming; and other sources of information about the occupation. Salary information comes from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey. For the Guide to Licensed Occupations, the 25th percentile wage for each occupation was used for the entry salary, and the mean wage was used for the average salary. For more information about OES, see

An occupation may be found in more than one industry. The distribution of occupations across industries can be seen by using the occupational projections. For example, some registered nurses work in health care and social assistance (North American Industry Classification System [NAICS] code 62) while others work in administrative support and waste management & remediation services (NAICS 56), educational services (NAICS 61), and public administration (NAICS 92). Occupational projections show that most registered nurses in Wyoming are employed in health care & social assistance. Employment for registered nurses in health care and social assistance is projected to grow by 1,303 net jobs from 2010 to 2020, or 30.9%. There are 130 annual openings projected to occur as a result of growth. However, the largest number of annual openings (448) is projected to be the result of permanent exits from Wyoming's labor force. A permanent exit occurs when an individual leaves an occupation as a result of retirement, to care for family members, to change careers, or for other reasons. Openings from growth and permanent exits create opportunities for individuals looking to enter the health care industry and the registered nursing profession. In comparison, net growth for registered nurses in educational services is projected to be 27 (14.4%). Three annual openings are projected due to growth, while 16 annual openings will occur as a result of permanent exits.

Wages can vary widely for the same occupation across different industries. To find out about these wages, go to Click on "State, Regional, and MSA Data," and then click on "Wyoming Statewide." For registered nurses, click on the link for "health care and social assistance," then click on the right arrow until you arrive at the header titled "Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations." This shows that the entry wage for registered nurses (25th percentile) is $23.70 per hour, while the average wage is $28.24 per hour.

To find wages for registered nurses in another industry, click on the file folder icon. This

Table 2

returns you to the Wyoming Statewide table of contents. To find information about the wages of registered nurses in educational services, click on the link for "educational services" and then click on the right-hand arrow until you get to the header titled "Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations." In this industry, the entry level wage for registered nurses is $21.13, while the mean wage is $24.51. This example is illustrated in Table 2. The same approach can be taken for finding occupational wages in other industries.

Wages can also be compared between licensed and non-licensed occupations in Wyoming, such as electricians (licensed) and carpenters (non-licensed). Wages for electricians are listed in the Guide to Licensed Occupations. On the OES website, carpenters are listed under "Construction and Extraction Occupations." The entry wage for carpenters is $16.27 per hour, with an average wage of $20.27 per hour. This compares to an entry wage of $18.56 per hour for electricians, with an average wage of $24.82 per hour.

Table 3

Trends in commuting behavior may also help to determine where in Wyoming a person should work. A forthcoming report will show that R&P studied the commuting behavior of people who worked in a variety of licensed health care occupations. For the 11,199 licensed health care employees who worked from second quarter 2009 (2009Q2) to second quarter 2010 (2010Q2), the average commuting distance was 13.8 miles with a median commuting distance of 2.7 miles (see Table 3 and the Figure). Hearing aid specialists had the longest average commute (33.3 miles), as well as the longest median commute (4.4 miles). Optometrists had the shortest average commute (3.4 miles). The shortest median commuting distance was for embalmers (1.1 miles).


Requiring individuals to be licensed, registered, or certified for certain occupations ensures that practitioners have a minimum level of competence. Obtaining a license, certification, or registration usually results in a financial gain for the person employed in these licensed occupations. Using the Guide to Licensed Occupations in conjunction with other products from R&P can help students, jobseekers, career counselors, and others find occupations that are projected to grow and what these occupations pay.

Senior Economist Sara Saulcy can be reached at (307) 473-3819 or


Kleiner, M.M. (Fall 2000). Occupational licensing. Journal of Economic Perspectives. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from

Kleiner, M.M. (2006). Licensing Occupations: Ensuring Quality or Restricting Competition? Retrieved October 4, 2011, from

Kleiner, M.M. and Krueger, A.B. (2011, February). Analyzing the Extent and Influence of Occupational Licensing on the Labor Market. Discussion Paper No. 5505. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from

Rottenberg, S. (1962). The economics of occupational licensing. Aspects of Labor Economics. Retrieved October 3, 2011, from


Last modified by Phil Ellsworth.