CEU’s, the actual purpose of licensing laws, etc.

‘Had to take a CEU/Continuing Education Units “class” this past Saturday to make sure I could renew my Master’s licenses for next year and doing so again mildly pissed me off that I had to be there as it has each of the past four years since the “State Board”, OKA
The State Board Of Examiners Of Plumbing, Heating, & Fire Sprinkler Contractors”

of which I am license holder #07492 (feel free to look my license up in the online register at the website) and proud of those hard-earned and hard-kept licenses but, maybe even because of the fact that I’ve pulled literally hundreds if not in the thousands of permits over my 28 years as a licensee of The Board and have never had a single, solitary complaint filed against me for any reason by anyone, not by any homeowner, business owner or municipal inspector just sticks in my craw that I had the pay the $100 for Michael Harlow’s CEU credit course, Michael being an old acquantence whom I really like both professionally and personally but still hated being forced by The Board to attend his class (

click here to go to his website for NC-based mechanical Master’s exam prep courses and CEU’s)

just because, just because (Michael is one of many offering said CEU classes).

The State Board originally began requiring CEU’s because: 1) there were too many complaints by the public against too many licensees concerning the level of quality of work being done, 2) all other state licensing boards began requiring CEU’s of their respective licensees, and 3) it was a way of sifting out those licensees who had their licenses for reasons other than actually being in the trades.

There’s also a restraint of trade issue here.

Pennsylvania, a larger state with a more diverse population base and demographics, doesn’t license plumbing or heating contractors, not at all, yet the quality of their plumbing and heating work in their buildings is every bit as good or better than North Carolina’s. Why? Because, and this is true of NC as well, they have very tough but fair municipal inspection departments that ensure that all work installed is in complete accordance with best trade practices and all current mechanical codes.

If Pennsylvania doesn’t need to license its plumbing and heating contractors, why does N.C. or any other state need to?

The logic behind NC licensing laws is “to protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring a minimum competency level of those in the trade”.

Yet I say again…if Pennsylvania, whose state pure food laws were the model for the FDA’s way back when, doesn’t need to license its mechanical contractors, why does any other state or local municipality?

It all boils down to the fact of a handful of the chosen few using the power of the state to protect their vested economic interest by using licensing laws as a vehicle to restrain the free flow of trade. If licensing of contractors is required, there will be fewer licensed contractors and therefor less competition for those already in the marketplace.

That’s why I’ve always encourage those I mentor to get and keep as many professional licenses as possible even if they have no intention of actually working in a given field, because it’s the nature of things and human beings to make requirements for licensing harder and harder over time so those licenses will only become more and more valuable.

Not wanting to go off a libertarian rant, I’m conservative and/or Republican, not libertarian, the result of any licensing law of any profession or trade must be weighed in context with the fact that any time you have a barrier to entry of any profession, higher prices for the consumer will result. This is an unarguable fact.

Would you want your doctor to be unlicensed by the state? Probably not, but you wouldn’t care if your watchmaker wasn’t. Don’t laugh.

During the brief time that N.C. had a “sunset commission” that was created to review and mark for extinction all state licensing boards that truly had no other purpose save pure restraint of trade and protecting the vested economic interests of those currently in it, I also happened to have a small watch and clock repair business on the side (this was the early/mid 70’s, and that business eventually grew into my company which became a national firm doing scientific and medical equipment design/repair/systems consulting) and to make a long story a little shorter, helped fuel the demise of the-then state licensing board for watchmakers. I’ll never forget my first wife’s uncle Seth telling me that if he hadn’t been “grandfathered in” (allowed to obtain a license based upon many years prior experience, prior to the licensing law for watcmakers taking effect), despite the fact he grew up in the jewelry and watch repair business and had 50 years experience, there was no way he could pass the mind-blowlingly difficult exam that the watchmaker’s board had put in place just to keep new competition out.

And does licensing of watchmakers do a single thing “to protect the health & safety of the public”? Me don’t think so.


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