Arizona just became the first state to recognize all out-of-state occupational licenses.
This is a big win for military spouses and other skilled, trained workers who struggle to find work after leaving one state and moving to another where their license is not recognized.
The new law permits a person with an out-of-state occupational license for at least one year to practice in Arizona. There are some requirements such as being in good standing and not having pending complaints, allegations or investigations relating to unprofessional conduct against them.
This reform is important for military spouses because they move frequently and their certifications or licenses may not be recognized in a new state.
There are reportedly half a million military spouses. On average, military families move once every three years.
Being unable to work in the profession you are certified or licensed in places a financial burden on the family and could be demoralizing. That spouse bears the weight of spending more time and money to secure a new license only to potentially move again.
Each state treats licenses of military spouses differently, so for Arizona to take the step of accepting licenses from the other 49 states means they want to be a welcoming place for working military spouses and their families.
Governor Doug Ducey quipped:
“We know that whether you make your living as a plumber, a barber, a nurse or anything else, you don’t lose your skills simply because you pack up a U-Haul truck and make the decision to move to Arizona.”
Greg Debernard, vice president for USAA Insurance, placed a fine point on the military angle:
“Thirty-five percent of spouses of military have a license in a field that requires a license. So when they come to Arizona, having their reciprocity gives them the opportunity to have that license transfer and start working immediately without having to go through relicensing.”
Occupational licenses are like permission slips to work in a particular career. States grant them to individuals who have satisfied required education, training, and experience level.
Everyone from dog walkers to yoga instructors to hair braiders to HVAC repairmen may need licenses to work or start businesses within a state and every state has their own set of requirements for each occupation.
For some trades, licenses are necessary, for others, they serve as an unnecessary barrier to work, especially for low-income Americans, military spouses, and those with criminal records.
In many cases, licenses are a means to raise the prices of services and discourage competition from newcomers.
This is a bipartisan issue. The Obama Administration advocated occupational licensing reform in its final days because the left and the right recognize they are a barrier to opportunity for those who need it.
A number of states are reforming their licensing regimes, but Arizona took a big step that hopefully other states will follow.