Free Market

Why Are Vets Taking Notice of Occupational Licensing Regulations?

Over the summer, Nevada’s legislature received input from veteran groups about what issues are of top priority for them. 

One specific priority was the reduction of occupational licensing barriers. In Nevada, and more importantly Utah, occupational licensing regulations have garnered the attention of veterans. This attention has not been positive.

Too often, occupational licensing regulations create unnecessary barriers for those who have bravely served the country and their families. Across the country, such barriers broadly include:

  • Large education requirements. Most licensed occupations are accompanied by large education requirements. These requirements can be hard to meet for veterans, who often must immediately continue providing for their families when their service ends. This means many don’t have a year or two to gain the education needed to become licensed. 
  • Interstate variation. States often establish and enforce varying occupational licensing regulations. For military families, who typically move every few years, this variation means military spouses are faced with reapplying for licenses in each state they move to. In this process, one could also have to meet new requirements and be barred from initially finding a job that corresponds to occupations they’ve already worked in. 
  • Difficulty moving locations. When a service member moves, military spouses also move. This means these individuals must spend time and money meeting a new state’s licensing requirements. 
  • Applicability of Training. Occupation-specific training completed during one’s service is often not recognized by licensing boards. This comes despite military training and civilian training for occupations being partially or wholly equivalent.
  • Vague language. Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that licensure processes are poorly documented and written in hard-to-understand language.

These barriers often implicitly diminish the valuable skills veterans acquired during their service and carry severe consequences. 

Such consequences are highlighted by Utah’s veterans facing a higher unemployment rate than Utah’s general public with over 5 percent living in poverty, and another 17,000 living in homes with quality-related problems. 

It should go without saying that none of these individuals, who have sacrificed so much, should be subjected to conditions that lend themselves to poor quality of life. Such individuals should be welcomed back into the labor market with open arms. Utah must recognize that these individuals have valuable skills that should be celebrated and appreciated. 

When this group’s skills are recognized, and they can more easily join the workforce, the labor market can more easily thrive as skilled workers can begin to fill in-demand jobs.