Noun1. The act of conferring a license for an activity 2. The condition of being licensed
Licensure refers to the granting of a license in the US and Canada (the term registration is used elsewhere), usually to work in a particular profession or to obtain a privilege such as to drive a car or truck. Many privileges and professions require a license, generally the state government, in order to ensure that the public will not be harmed by the incompetence of the practitioners. Engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, psychologists, and public accountants are some examples of professions that require licensure. Licensure is similar to professional certification, and sometimes synonymous, however certification is an employment qualification and not a legal requirement for practicing a profession.
In many cases, an individual must complete certain steps, such as training, acquiring an educational degree in a particular area of study, and/or passing an exam, before becoming eligible to receive licensure. Individuals sometimes advertise their licensed status by appending an acronym to their name, such as CPA (Certified Public Accountant), MD (Medical Doctor), or PE (Professional Engineer).
Licensure may be perpetual or may need to be renewed periodically. It is very common for renewal to depend in part or whole upon evidence of continual learning--often termed in the US continuing education or earning continuing education units (CEU).
As licenses are generally offered by specific jurisdictions, usually states or territories, issues may arise when the requirements and standards of licensure differ greatly between two jurisdictions. For some licensees, it is hard or impossible to move a new jurisdiction and obtain licensure there. Questions of legal authority are also raised when advice is given on the Internet. For example, if a doctor provides medical advice over the Internet to an individual in another jurisdiction, he or she may be practicing unlicensed medicine in the patient's jurisdiction.
Restricting entryLicensure restricts entry into professional careers in medicine (including chiropractic and nursing), law, teaching, and architecture. Advocates claim that licensure protects the consumer through the application of professional, educational and/or ethical standards of practice. Milton Friedman opposes this practice, believing that licensure effectively raises professional wages by placing limits on the supply of specific occupations. "It is hard to regard altruistic concern for their customers as the primary motive behind their determined efforts to get legal power to decide who may be a plumber" (Friedman 1979).
Restrictions to employment without licensure can also prevent people with criminal records or severe mental health issues from working in occupations that require public trust. Occupations in or affected by the gambling industry, might be restricted by licensure, such as a racing secretary in horseracing, or people in the boxing industry. People whose occupations put them in personal contact with the public might also be restricted by licensure, including a barber, cosmetologist, or massage therapist. Occupations that bring a person into the home might also be screened through licensure, including a chauffeur, landscape architect, or arborist.
- Friedman, Milton & Rose (1979). Free to Choose. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-133481-1.