Whether you’re a teacher, nurse, cosmetologist, or another profession that requires a license, moving to a new state or deciding to work across state lines is sure to raise a gigantic concern . . . Will your license transfer?
Often, there will be additional steps you need to take to make sure you can practice in the new state. Here’s what you need to know about obtaining your new license so you can legally start working.
written by Shannon Fandler
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Needless to say, the rules for pursuing, renewing, or carrying over a license will vary by occupation as well as state. Find your job below, and read up on the basics of state licensure reciprocity or carryover. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to check with your profession’s state board (in each state where you plan to work, of course).
Did You Know?
About 22% of all employed people held a license as of 2015.
According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, nurses who may need licensure for multiple states include military spouses, nurses living on borders, nurses engaged in remote patient monitoring, school nurses, travel nurses, home health nurses, and many others who may be interested in Counseling Licensing and State Carryover.
In other words, depending on your nursing role, you may have to cross state lines to get to patients that need you. That may mean you have to acquire and maintain multiple licenses. Or, if you’re one of the fortunate nurses living and working in eNLC states, you may be eligible for a single, multi-state license.
If both your current state and the state(s) you plan to work in are part of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), you may have an easier time of it! The eNLC is a compact that allows nurses to provide care to patients in other eNLC states without needing additional licenses. However, you will still need to apply for a multi-state license.
To obtain a multi-state license, nurses need to reside in a state that participates in eNLC. (As of 2018, 26 states are members.) In addition, you’ll need to meet a set of uniform licensure requirements, including graduating from a board-approved education program or an approved international equivalent. Visit the website for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to learn more.
If the state where you reside is not a participant in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, you are not eligible for a multi-state license. In this case, you will have to apply for and maintain a single-state license for each state where you plan to work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some major licensure requirements are the same for all fifty states and the District of Columbia. These requirements include graduating from an approved nursing program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
However, other requirements – like passing a criminal background check – may vary from state to state. That means you may have to complete some additional steps before earning your license in a new state. For the specifics, check with the Board of Nursing in each state where you plan to practice.
If you’re a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you might be able to take advantage of something called mobility. Mobility is when a license-holder is permitted to practice somewhere outside of his or her home state, without having to get an additional license.
To be more specific: a provision in the AICPA/NASBA Uniform Accountancy Act (UAA) states that a CPA with a license in good standing from a jurisdiction with licensing requirements substantially equivalent to those outlined in the UAA may be allowed to engage in interstate practice.
Sounds great, right?
However, there are some rules and stipulations, and CPA mobility may not solve your every quandary!
You may be eligible for mobility provisions if you have a CPA license in your home state, but you have clients in other states. After all, CPAs may sometimes need to cross state lines to service clients.
As long as you have a license in good standing from your home state, you will not have to obtain additional licenses for the states where your clients are located. (You may need to register your firm in the states where you do business, though.)
However, if your state is not considered substantially equivalent, keep in mind that you will have to qualify as an individual by meeting the following requirements:
Visit CPAMobility’s website to learn more about whether you qualify.
Mobility only applies if you don’t change your primary place of business to a new state. So, if you move, you will need to apply for a reciprocal license in your new state.
Cosmetologists moving from one state to another may need to do some research. That’s because every State Board of Cosmetology is likely to have slightly different requirements. For example, some states require more hours of cosmetology education than others, which means you may need to pursue some additional coursework in order to make up the difference.
Certain states practice what is called reciprocity, which means you can transfer your license to the new state without having to complete any major requirements (like sitting for that state board exam all over again!). That could be quite a break for you, if you meet the requirements for reciprocity.
For example, in Pennsylvania, cosmetologists who have been practicing under a license for at least two years, in a state with equivalent licensure requirements, are eligible for a reciprocal license. Of course, you’ll have to check with the Board of Cosmetology for the state where you plan to move, in order to get the full story on reciprocity.
Not every state makes it quite so easy to transfer your license. To be eligible, you may need to take continuing education courses, pursue more work experience, etc. Even if your new state makes you jump through a lot of hoops, try to stay positive and do what it takes to make sure you can legally practice cosmetology in your new place of residence.
If you got your teaching license in one state but now find yourself needing to teach in another, your first step should be to check with the Department of Education of the state where you plan to work. You may find that it’s not as hard as you thought to transfer your teaching license.
The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement has helped to increase mobility among its member jurisdictions. The Agreement may make it possible for educators who have earned a teaching certificate in one state to obtain a similar credential in another state.
However, each member state or jurisdiction may have different rules and conditions. For example, California offers full reciprocity, but the process for obtaining a reciprocal teaching license is different for inexperienced teachers, compared to those with two or more years of teaching experience under their belts.
Texas, on the other hand, does not offer full reciprocity. However, teachers from out of state may be able to obtain a Texas teaching credential if they meet the following requirements:
NASDTEC’s website has state-by-state information. But again, for the most accurate information, check with your prospective state’s Department of Education. While you may ultimately have to take some additional steps to obtain a credential in your new state, hopefully you’ll be in a classroom before long!
The U.S. does not have a system of reciprocity for social work licensure, which means social workers who need to cross state lines must go through the process of applying for licensure in the new state where they plan to work. This can often be quite involved, and it’s important to obtain all the information you need from your prospective state’s licensing board before getting started.
Requirements may range from submitting copies of your academic transcripts to taking exams that may not have been required in your original state of practice. In New Jersey, for example, social workers may apply for licensure if their state’s requirements meet or exceed New Jersey’s, and if they have passed the ASWB Master’s or Clinical exam.
If your home state’s requirements differ vastly from those of the state where you plan to move, you could have your work cut out for you. The National Association of Social Workers recommends keeping good records of your education, supervision hours, places of employment, and anything relevant to your social work preparation and career. That way, when it comes time to apply for licensure in a new state, you will have everything you need to get started.
Regardless of your profession and whether you’re able to take advantage of reciprocity, making sure you’re officially licensed to practice in a new state can be complicated! In general, the following tips may make the process a bit easier: