Although the opportunity to work and earn a professional license is often referred to as the right to work or the right to a professional license, a license is actually considered a privilege. Although a professional license is something that is earned through time, dedication, hard work, and money, it is not a right. A right is something that cannot be legally denied, such as the rights to free speech, press, religion, and raising a family. A privilege is something that can be given and taken away and is considered to be a special advantage or opportunity that is available only to certain people. Not everyone has the privilege of a professional license because citizens that do not put the work, time, dedication, money or whatever requirements are involved into obtaining it, cannot have one. On this page, you can learn more about the differences between a privilege and a right.
The key difference between a right and a privilege is that a person that has a privilege is not simply free to do whatever he or she wants. When a professional has a license to practice in a profession and perform certain work duties that those without the license cannot, they must adhere to regulations and refrain from certain conduct.
Legally, no person has the inalienable right to work in a particular profession that requires a specific set of skill and knowledge. Professionals that hold licenses to work in all different industries like the service industry, various trades, healthcare, and construction are held to such a high standard because their actions can greatly impact the health, safety, and welfare of society. Holding this level of power to affect others in society is why there is a system of checks and balances, including agency’s power to discipline professionals.
A right is something that every person is born with and is inalienable, which means that it cannot be given, taken away, or denied by anyone. Another distinction between a right and a privilege is that a right does not need to be earned or worked for. For example, free speech is a right because anyone can speak freely and there is nothing anyone has to do to be able to freely speak and it does not cost anyone else anything to have free speech. On the other hand, a driver’s license is a privilege because anyone that wants to get one has to be a certain age, be free from limitations such as being blind, and must pass a test first. This license can be denied or taken away when a person does not meet the qualifications or violates the driving laws.
The fact that a professional license to work is considered a privilege, does not take away from the fact that a professional license is protected by rights. Due process rights ensure that those who have a professional license must, at the very least, be given notice and the opportunity for a hearing before it can be taken. The “right” and freedom to pursue an occupation and a professional license is still deeply rooted in the history of America and the Constitution provides protections over participating in an occupation. It has also been argued in many cases that the choice to pursue an occupation affects a person’s values, lifestyle, social status, and life in general and is a vital form of expression.
Though not legally recognized as a right, pursuing an occupation and maintaining a professional license is a protected privilege. Having a professional license takes dedication, money, time, and passion and if this has been threatened, you are still entitled to due process. If you or someone you know is facing the possibility of losing a professional license, call our office to learn more about how we can help.