Teachers and nurses alike have jobs that most are not cut out for. They each need extensive education, personality traits that some of us don't have (I can hear my mother telling me now "patience is a virtue!") and state licensures. What happens when you have to pack up your license and transfer it to another state?
My very first military spouse friend discovered the path to becoming a teacher would be filled with
roadblocks, disappointment, and frustration. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades
Education (yes, middle school!) and was offered an opportunity to take over a class for a teacher going on maternity leave. As the school year wrapped up she was one of just three teachers offered a contract position for the following year. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Wrong, the day prior her
husband received PCS orders. So, she did what many professional military spouses do, she prepared to move her career along with her family. She found transferring her license wouldn’t be easy, as a matter of fact, it was nearly impossible. Due to multiple factors such as state requirements, certification demands, and the costs associated with transferring a professional license she nearly gave up on her teaching career.
While I believe my friend is exceptional, her struggle is not. Thousands of military spouses face the
same struggle when attempting to transfer their professional licenses from state to state.
Most states have adopted compact agreements and license reciprocity, however, there is no
consistency. One state allows license holders to easily transfer while others require costly testing and re-certification. These requirements can be difficult to find and even more difficult to understand. If you are seeking help with transferring your professional license check out these resources:
The Defense State Liaison Office was created in 2004 to educate state lawmakers on issues that face
military families. They work in conjunction with policymakers to enact military friendly bills including
those pertaining to professional license transfers. To learn about their initiatives HERE.
Nursing-Every state but New York (come on NY, everyone else is doing it) has legislation in place to help military spouses transfer a nursing license. Twenty-Five states have adopted the Nursing License Compact which allows nurses to work in multiple states with one license. Interested in obtaining a compact nursing license visit https://www.ncsbn.org/enhanced-nlc-implementation.htm
Teachers-Transferring a teaching license is still probably the most difficult due to state-specific
requirements. Legislation is in the works and strides are being made in many states to adopt reciprocity and compact license agreements. Since this is a tough one check these resources for additional help: HERE and HERE both provide the ability to research state-specific requirements. Teacher Certification Degrees lists license reciprocity by state.
Doctors- Forget about Doctors Without Borders, military spouse physicians are Doctors Without State Lines! Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is an agreement between 22 states which allow licensed physicians to practice across state lines. For a list of these states and how to transfer a medical license visit http://www.imlcc.org/
Attorneys- Military Spouse J.D. Network was created by two military spouses who got fed up with
challenges of maintaining a legal career while being married to the military and decided to do something about it. Since 2011 Military Spouse J.D. Network has advocated and made changes in state licensing rules for attorneys including the allowance of state bar memberships without additional exams. If you are an attorney and military spouse join this amazing group.
The Military Spouse J.D. Network is a prime example of what a group of driven focused military spouses can accomplish (much like how MSCCN began). Can you imagine if we ever decided to take over the world?
Get involved locally. License requirements are state-specific so the best way to make a change is on a local level. Contact your state representatives and meet with elected officials to educate them on the struggles of transferring professional licenses for military spouses.
Get out and vote! If you are not registered to vote, register today and find your local election office! Let your vote be your voice.
The Lift the Relocation Burden from Military Spouses Act was introduced in Congress March 2017 by a New York state representative (ironic right?). Hopefully this Act will provide reimbursement for licensing fees, expedite license portability and require the DoD to find ways to improve military spouse employment rates. Great news, however as with all government actions this bill is slow moving, it was referred to a subcommittee on April 12, 2018. The bill was introduced to the House March 2019.(remember “Just a Bill” from School House Rock?) Next the bill will be put to a vote, then back for any changes, negotiations, and compromises. Then if everyone can agree on a version of the bill it will be off to the President for a signature and the it finally becomes a bill!
We as military spouses shouldn’t wait around on Congress, we need to take matters into our own hands. Advocate, vote, and educate yourself on license reciprocity and compact agreements, make change happen.
Written by: Amanda Marksmeier, Employment Specialist