Occupational licensing affects nearly 1 in 5 American workers and can be a substantial barrier to interstate mobility. In order to foster a more open and prosperous economy, states are enacting universal recognition for out-of-state licensees. Under universal license recognition, eligible applicants must hold a license in good standing in their home state. Applicants also cannot have any pending disciplinary action from the relevant board or a criminal record that would disqualify them from obtaining the license in the recognizing state. Applicants may still be required to pay fees or take exams administered by the board in the recognizing state. Universal recognition does not affect interstate compacts.
Universal Recognition for Occupational Licensing
Today, 20 states have enacted universal license recognition.
However, universal recognition laws can differ quite drastically from state to state. Multiple states have imposed additional rules and requirements that thwart license portability and workforce mobility, undermining the main goals of universal license recognition.
Five states limit universal license recognition to residents.
“Substantially Equivalent” Requirements
In 12 states, boards only grant licensure if the home state license requires “substantially equivalent” education, experience, or training. That effectively penalizes states with less burdensome requirements.
Similar “Scope of Practice”
In contrast, eight states allow universal recognition of a home state license if it has a similar “scope of practice” or “at the same practice level” to the recognizing state’s license. This means a board does not have to compare and contrast the license requirements between the two states:
Recognizing Experience in States Without Licensure
In five states, applicants from states that didn’t license the occupation can still obtain a license to work if they have at least three years of experience in that occupation.
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