WES Advisor Blog

Trusted Advice for Academic and Professional Success

Alternatives to Licensing

Monday | October 24, 2016 | by WES Global Talent Bridge

Female scientist at work

Although being licensed can be valuable, in certain fields it’s not necessary to be licensed to find relevant work. There may be opportunities to find employment in your profession or to find a related career path that does not require licensure or certification.

Alternate careers are good options if you do not plan to get a license or if you need financial resources while working toward licensure. Here are some simple examples of ways in which you can work in some fields without a license.

Accountants, Engineers, and Architects

Accountants without a certified public accountant (CPA) license can work on analyzing budgets and costs for institutions. Likewise, unlicensed engineers or architects can work in technical, advisory, and management positions that can have an important impact on engineering projects. However, the overall project must be under the direct control of a legally licensed engineer or architect.

Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare professionals could consider occupations that are not regulated, such as medical interpreters or positions in administration, research, or community health. These areas allow you to use your knowledge and expertise but don’t require a license. Those with training in healthcare fields who have difficult or time-consuming licensing requirements may decide to train for careers with more limited licensing or certification requirements, such as licensed practical nurse (LPN), clinical lab technologist, phlebotomist, or dental hygienist.

Lawyers, Social Workers, and Psychologists

Internationally trained lawyers can work as paralegals assisting lawyers in research and the preparation of documents. It may also be possible in some U.S. jurisdictions to advise on foreign law as a foreign legal consultant (FLC). Social workers and psychologists have the opportunity to work as community workers and non-clinical counselors in schools and community organizations.


Full-time teachers in public (government) schools must be licensed, but substitute teachers can often work with limited credentials. In addition, private and charter schools are permitted to hire teachers who are not licensed by the state. In most states, teachers are offered fast track “alternate routes” to certification or licensure. In these alternate routes, it is often possible to pursue licensure while working as a full-time teacher. In some cases, a degree in education is not a requirement in pursuing this option. Professionals from outside fields are encouraged to apply for these positions, particularly candidates with strengths in math, sciences, or experience in bilingual/ESL education.

If you are interested in the option of pursuing alternative career paths in your field, contact a relevant professional association to find out what careers may be open to you based on your education and experience. Working in your field will serve as valuable experience that will be important if you decide to eventually apply for licensing.

WES Global Talent Bridge is a program dedicated to helping skilled immigrants fully utilize their talents and education in the United States and Canada. Global Talent Bridge joins with institutional partners and community organizations to help skilled immigrants leverage their training, achieve their professional goals, and contribute their talents to their full potential.