What does occupational licensing mean to me as a consumer?
Licensing of certain occupations serves both to protect and to benefit you as a consumer of the services a licensee offers. Occupational licensure assures that a license holder has met certain minimum requirements, usually education, experience and examination for competent practice of that occupation. Licensing then holds that individual to certain standards of practice and levels of experience and knowledge. To keep a license, these practitioners must continue to adhere to the ethical guidelines, standards of practice, educational requirements, and regulations pertaining to their occupations.
How do I know if an individual or business is licensed?
Visit our Check a License page to check the validity of an occupational license. This page allows you to navigate to one of two online portals that hold DOL's licensing information. On these portals, license search pages will ask you to select a particular occupation and enter some information about the licensee. After you have entered your search request, the database will tell you whether or not the practitioner or business is currently licensed and his, her or its complaint history, if any.
If the occupation you are seeking is not listed, chances are the individual or business is not licensed by one of the boards within the Division of Occupational Licensure. Check out listings of other state agencies that issue occupational licenses.
What can I do if I think I have been harmed by a license holder?
While the majority of licensees conduct themselves as true professionals, the Division of Occupational Licensure will take action against those who fail to maintain acceptable standards of competence and integrity. The Division receives about 2,500 formal complaints each year. In most cases, complaints are made by dissatisfied consumers but dissatisfaction alone is not proof of incompetence or sufficient grounds for disciplinary action.
How can I find the right licensed professional or business for the job?
Our two online portals, linked here and here, can help you locate a licensed professional or business in your area. For a guide to the license information stored on each portal see here. Search for a specific license type and select the license number of one of the licensees who is listed to see if the individual or business is currently licensed and to review his or her complaint history. Just because a license holder is subject to a consumer complaint doesn't mean he or she is not honest or competent. Most consumer complaints arise from a misunderstanding between practitioner and consumer, and those kind of complaints are usually dismissed by the licensing boards.
You should also ask your friends and family if they can recommend a license holder to you. Ask the license holder for references by other consumers, and check those references thoroughly. You may also check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if they have any complaints about the license holder.