01 December 2010

Licensed Professions and Businesses In Colorado

What professions does Colorado regulate?

Most professional and business regulation at the state level involves three industries: (1) health and psychological well being, (2) finance, insurance and real estate, and (3) the construction industry. There are, of course, a few professions that don't fit any of these categories. The professions and businesses regulated by the Department of Regulatory Agencies are below.

Health and Psychological Well Being


Nurses (CNA, LPN, RN) 67,615
Barbers/Cosmetologists 45,743
Nurse Aides 31,803
Physicians/Physicians Assistants 22,737
Emergency Medical Technicians 15,986 (Department of Public Health)
Dentists/Dental Hygienists 8,952
Massage Therapists 7,528
Pharmacists 7,385
Physical Therapists 5,537
Social Workers 4,421
Veterinarians 3,998
Addiction Counselors 3,080
Unlicensed Psychotherapists 2,706*
Chiropractors 2,655
Respiratory Therapists 2,630
Psychologists 2,462
Occupational Therapists 2,160
Optometrists 1,144
Acupuncturists 1,046
Athletic Trainers 700 (projected)
Marriage and Family Therapists 651
Audiologists/Hearing Aid Providers 552
Nursing Home Administrators 448
Podiatrists 198
Midwives 54 (direct entry midwives only, nurse-practitioners classified with nurses)

* ironically one really does need a license to be an "unlicensed psychotherapist" and unlicensed psychotherapists in Colorado even have a professional association.


Barber/Cosmetology Shops and Salons 4,427
Pharmacy Businesses 2,247
Health Facilities (Department of Public Health)
Hospitals (Department of Public Health)
Medical Marijuana (Department of Revenue and Department of Public Health)
Ground Ambulances (Department of Public Health)
Air Ambulances 19 (Department of Public Health)
Life Care Institutions 11

Finance, Insurance and Real Estate


Stockbrokers 154,580
Insurance Agents 108,927
Real Estate (Agents, Appraisers, Brokers & Sales) 53,251
Accountants 16,497
Investment Advisor Representatives 9,163
Mortgage Brokers 8,729


Insurance Agencies 10,108
Securities Brokerage Firms 2,403
Insurance Companies (e.g. Life, Health, Property & Casualty, Title, HMOs) 1,464
Accounting Firms 1,204
Investment Advisory Firms 705
Purchasing Groups (Insurance) 431
Banks 107
Preneed Contract Sellers (Funeral) 72
Credit Unions 52
Money Transmitters 40
Government Entity Self-Insurance Pools 9
Trust Companies 7
Saving and Loan Associations 4

Construction Industry


Architects/Engineers/Land Surveyors 29,738
Plumbers 22,737
Electricians 19,308
Landscape Architects 681

Other Professions and Businesses


Professional Counselors 4,424
Boxers 1,194
Outfitters, Hunting and Fishing Guides 738
Bail Bonding Agents 497
Athlete Agents 2


Tramways 365
Funeral Homes and Crematories 349 (projected)

Non-DORA Regulation

There are other professional and business licenses regulated at the state level by agencies other than DORA. Some of the more notable are:

Attorneys (Judiciary),
State Judges (Judiciary),
Notaries Public (Secretary of State),
Debt Collection Agencies (Attorney General),
Payday Lenders (Attorney General),

P-12 teachers in public schools (Department of Education),
Public school administrators (Department of Education),
Charter schools (local school districts and Department of Education),
Private schools (Department of Education),
Home Schooling parents (Department of Education),

Car dealers and sellers (Department of Revenue),
Powersports dealers (Department of Revenue),
Manufactured home sales (Department of Local Affairs),
Retail sales establishments (Department of Revenue),

Restaurants (Department of Public Health),
Nursery businesses (Agriculture),
Pesticide applicators (Agriculture),
Kennels (Agriculture),
Sale of farm products (Agriculture),
Feedlots (Agriculture),
Zoos (Department of Natural Resources),
River outfitters (Department of Natural Resources),
Parks and Exhibitors (Department of Natural Resources),
Water treatment plant operators (Department of Public Health),
Firms related to air pollution, water pollution and hazardous waste (Department of Public Health),
Mines (Department of Revenue and Department of Natural Resources)
Fossil Fuel distributors (Department of Revenue)

Establishments that serve or sell alcohol (Department of Revenue),
Tobacco vendors (Department of Revenue),
Racing (Department of Revenue),
Bingo and Lotteries (Secretary of State),
Casinos (Department of Revenue),

Public utilities (including taxi cabs) (PUC and Attorney General),
Commercial vehicle drivers 130,000+ (Department of Revenue),

Lobbyists (General Assembly),
Political campaigns (Secretary of State),
Charities (Attorney-General and Secretary of State), and

Law enforcement officers (Attorney General).

A variety of businesses and professions are regulated at the local level. Some of the more notable include a variety of building trades (such as general contractors), real estate development (via building permits, zoning regulation, etc.), and street vendors.

Likewise there are many businesses and professions that are licensed at the federal level.


Dave Barnes said...

A perfect example of how Bureaucracy strangles the economy.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

There is dead wood in the list, but not much, because Sunset laws in Colorado require these decisions to be regularly re-evaluated.

Politically, it is worth remembering that all but a few of these professional regulatory regimes were established with strong support from the regulated profession (the only exceptions that comes are "unlicensed psychotherapists," debt collectors, and payday lenders).

A cynic might call it restraint of competition, but that is questionable because the licensed adds little on a marginal basis to the cost of entry into a profession. Most of the cost of entering most professions is attributable to the fundamental amount of expertise necessary to do the job competently. (Attorneys may be one of the more notable exceptions.) Once you are able to do the job, there are few jobs on the list for which licensing is a significant barrier to entry.

Instead, professional regulation - (1) protects the reputation of good practioners from the worst bad apples enhancing the reputation of those who remain, (2) protects the public from bad apples in areas where they are ill equipped to evaluate competence, and (3) makes it harder for existing practioners to have the scope of their competencies narrowed at the expense of some new or exiting profession that wants to do what they do -- the new profession may get to overlap jurisdiction with them, but if they have a licensed profession, they are unlikely to be squeezed out of their existing professional turf.

Dave Barnes said...

I do not believe that barbers should be licensed.

P.S. Nor lawyers.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

I'll grant you barbers.

On the question of lawyers, I'll grant you that (1) there is a good argument that entities should be able to represent themselves, pro se, via their officers, (2) the "practice of law" which requires a license should be more narrowly and more definitively defined to excludes quite a bit of transactional practice, (3) there should be more kinds of paraprofessionals authorized to act independently in particular legal areas, particularly where there is lots of unmet need that call on only a narrow legal knowledge skill set (e.g. criminal law, immigration and child custody). But, the case for regulating lawyers, who are in a particularly good position to take advantage of clients and the harms done in the unauthorized practice cases that do come up, also make the case for regulation pretty good.