Free Enterprise

Reforming Occupational Licensing Can Help Veterans Unlock New Career Paths

As veterans transition to civilian life, they often encounter challenges in finding employment that matches their skills, training, and experience. One of the significant hurdles they may face is occupational licensing regulations, which can create additional barriers for veterans who have already gained relevant skills and experience during their military service. 

Veterans often face unique challenges when it comes to licensing. For example, many veterans have received training and certifications in specific areas while serving in the military but may find it difficult to transfer these skills to civilian occupations due to the differences in licensing requirements. This can create a barrier to employment for veterans and limit their ability to fully utilize their skills and experience.

Additionally, the process for obtaining a license can be burdensome and time consuming, which can be particularly challenging for veterans who are transitioning back to civilian life. Veterans may also face financial difficulties, and the cost of obtaining a license can be prohibitive, especially for those who may be unemployed or underemployed.

These challenges can be compounded by the fact that many veterans face unique health issues related to their service, such as disabilities or mental health conditions. These health issues can make it even more difficult for veterans to navigate the licensing process and find employment in their chosen field.

To address this issue, Utah should consider passing legislation to support veterans in obtaining professional and occupational licenses. This legislation can encompass some or all of the legislative policies explored below. 

  • Implement bridge education programs to help veterans and workers trained outside of Utah quickly meet the missing educational requirements for professional and occupational licenses. These programs can help bridge the gap between military and civilian training, which can reduce the time and resources required for veterans to obtain the necessary qualifications for licensure.
  • Allow professional and occupational licenses to be issued even if military applicants do not meet the educational requirements for that license. Education requirements are meant to prepare workers for the exams and the career. If an applicant has been engaged in active practice for some determined period prior to applying for licensure and has passed all required exams for licensure, the education requirements are no longer relevant. This recognizes the significant value of the skills and experience gained during military service and helps to reduce the barriers that veterans may face in obtaining professional and occupational licenses.
  • Provide expedited license application reviews and discretionary temporary licensure for military applicants to further support veterans in obtaining licensure. This would reduce the time and resources required for veterans to obtain a license, which can be particularly important for veterans who may be in urgent need of employment.
  • Reactivate expired professional and occupational licenses without penalty for service members within one month of returning from deployment. This provides additional support to veterans who may have let their licenses lapse during their military service but wish to reactivate their licenses upon returning to civilian life.
  • Provide service members with continuing education extensions for up to six months following return from deployment. This recognizes the unique challenges that veterans face in meeting the ongoing education requirements for licensure and provides additional time and flexibility for them to complete their continuing education requirements.
  • Develop crosswalks for occupational licensing. These crosswalks would provide a series of charts for each occupation licensed by the state that compare the licensing requirements with the typical duties, training, qualifications, and related credentials associated with military careers. This can help veterans to more easily understand the requirements for licensure and identify the areas in which they may need additional training or education.

Utah must pass increasing amounts of legislation supporting veterans through the reduction of occupational licensing barriers. By recognizing the value of military experience and providing targeted support for veterans, Utah can ensure that veterans can successfully transition to civilian life and obtain the necessary licenses to secure employment. States like Pennsylvania have already implemented these initiatives, and Utah can benefit from following their example in supporting veterans.