WES Advisor Blog

Trusted Advice for Academic and Professional Success

Obtaining a Professional License in the U.S.

Monday | August 29, 2016 | by WES Global Talent Bridge

Pharmacist at drugstore

There are some professions in the U.S. that require you to obtain a license. Attaining a license can be a very complex process because each profession and state has a different licensing process.

In some cases, professional associations, examination boards, and regulators work together to make the process more efficient. There may be a national, regional, or centralized process for foreign academic credential evaluation, exams, language testing, and residency placement.

Your best option is to do research and understand how the licensing process works for your profession. It is best to contact the appropriate state licensing board and visit their website to find detailed guidelines. The U.S. Department of Education also developed a resource with guidance on the over 50 regulated professions that are licensed in the U.S.

Make sure to understand the requirements. You will likely be asked to prove that you meet the academic requirements set by the licensing body. In this case, you should apply for a credential evaluation. You should wait until you understand the specific requirements for your profession before you invest in a credential evaluation.

If you do need an evaluation, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • Does the licensing body have an approved list of credential evaluators? Some professions do the evaluation themselves, whereas others use external agencies.
  • What kind of evaluation is required?
  • What kind of academic documents must be submitted for an evaluation and in what way? For example, you may be asked to submit certified copies or original transcripts, diplomas, marking sheets, or a previous license.
  • Who translates the documents, if necessary?
  • How long does it take to receive an evaluation? How much does it cost? Are there deadlines you need to keep in mind?
  • How does credential evaluation fit into the overall process?

Some licensing bodies require that you do things in a certain order—don’t rush into a credential evaluation until you understand all the requirements to obtain your license.

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.