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Survey Reveals Occupational Licensing Challenges for Veterans and Military Spouses


Harrisburg, PA – Nearly 60 percent of respondents to a Department of State survey of veterans and military spouses with occupational licenses reported they were able to find employment within three months of their transition to civilian life in Pennsylvania, but they spent between $200 and $500 for initial licensing expenses in the commonwealth.

"This yearlong survey gives us valuable information about how Pennsylvania compares to other states and ways we can reduce the barriers veterans and military spouses face when they move here and seek occupational and professional licensure," Acting Secretary of State Veronica W. Degraffenreid said. "We are grateful to all those who shared their experience with us as we work to improve the licensing process."

More than 200 veterans and military spouses responded to the online survey between Veterans Day of 2019 and Veterans Day of 2020. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents were veterans and nearly 23 percent were military spouses. Nursing, real estate and social work were the three most common license types held by the survey respondents.

The survey questions focused on license portability, barriers to licensure and the overall license application process.

Licensing requirements – which typically include a combination of education, examinations, and work experience – are set by the Pennsylvania Legislature and enforced by the Department of State to protect public health and safety.

Findings from the survey included:

  • Translating military credentials and work experience to satisfy state occupational license requirements poses a significant barrier to veterans.
  • Respondents reported that "acceptance of military training, education and experience" and license fee waivers would be most beneficial to veterans and military spouses applying for occupational licenses.
  • Of the 28 respondents who held an occupational license in both Pennsylvania and another state, 48 percent said the commonwealth's licensing process was similar to that of other states, 23 percent said it was easier and 29 percent said it was more difficult.

These findings led to the following policy recommendations:

  • Support recognition of military training and experience to satisfy licensure requirements.
  • Establish processes to expedite review of license applications for veterans and

military spouses.

  • Institute waivers of initial licensure fees for military spouses.
  • Increase veteran and military spouse representation on state licensing boards.
  • Allow veterans to be licensed by examination.
  • Work with state educational and technical institutions and the U.S. Department of Defense to develop bridge programs to fill gaps in training for veterans returning to the civilian workforce.

The Department of State is developing a military occupational crosswalk, which is a framework for converting military duties, skills, training, and certifications to fulfill Pennsylvania's occupational licensing requirements. The 29 licensing boards and commissions of the department's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs will use the crosswalk as a tool to create a consistent transition from military to civilian occupational life.

"We owe it to our veterans and military families to make it easy for them to move into Pennsylvania and continue their careers," Secretary Degraffenreid said. "Easing licensure barriers will create more employment opportunities for them while simultaneously increasing the number of qualified professionals practicing in Pennsylvania."

The survey and military occupational crosswalk are part of a $422,000, three-year grant Gov. Wolf secured from the U.S. Department of Labor in 2018 to reduce excessive occupational licensing requirements and explore alternative approaches, such as professional certification, that maintain public health and safety.

MEDIA CONTACT:   Wanda Murren (717) 783-1621



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