Readers of this morning’s News & Observer editorial page will encounter a national opinion piece questioning the need for so many occupational licenses.

The average cosmetologist in the United States trains for 372 days before earning a license. The average emergency medical technician spends 33 days in training. From this, one might conclude that Americans are obsessed with primping but tragically unprepared for emergencies.

Actually, the disparity merely confirms what a muddle the process of occupational licensing is. In 1952, fewer than 5 percent of U.S. workers required a state license. By 2006, according to a survey that year by the Gallup Organization, 29 percent of workers said they needed a government-issued license to do their jobs.

The column will offer no surprises to those who’ve followed the John Locke Foundation’s work on counterproductive occupational licensing laws.