Occupational Licensing

States Recognize Work Experience for Occupational Licenses

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many states and governors to recognize occupational licenses when applying for a license with a similar scope of practice in a new state. Iowa and Mississippi may be the first states to go one step further and recognize an individual’s work experience from another state when applying to obtain an occupational license.

While recognizing another state’s license eases the burden for many individuals, especially military spouses, that want to work or move across states lines it leaves out professions that are not licensed in both states. Occupations like cosmetologist are licensed in all 50 states and therefore can benefit from licensing recognition policies. However, states do not all license the same occupations, like florists or music therapists, and therefore those occupations do not qualify for recognition of licenses. Recognizing work experience, like Mississippi and Iowa have proposed, allows an individual moving from a state that does not require an occupational license to practice a profession to apply their years of work experience towards obtaining an occupational license.

The principles of applying work experience towards an occupational license can be found in the Model Interstate Mobility and Universal-Recognition Occupational Licensing Act.