Military Spouse Licensure Portability

Military spouses want to pursue their education and obtain professional career opportunities that are compatible with the military lifestyle. Service members’ deployments and the unpredictable schedule of the service members’ mission and frequent moves can cause interruptions in the education of military spouses and careers of military spouses. This makes for military spouse employment challenges.  Specific state licensing requirements and industry tenure restrict employment opportunities for military spouse licensing. Military spouses want a rewarding career that matches their education and experience.

Joining Forces, started by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden is a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to provide our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. Joining Forces:

  • Supports the academic achievement of military children by helping schools become more responsive to the unique needs of military children and families; and
  • Promotes and supports higher education institutions and programs that expand education opportunities, eases transferability for military-connected students, and expands job training opportunities for military spouses and veterans.

In June 2011, the Defense Department made it easier for military spouses to maintain professional licenses as they move from state to state. In many cases, military spouses move from one community to another when their spouses are assigned to new duty stations.  These transfers can make it very difficult for military spouses and military wives to continue with their careers or to find similar military spouse jobs in new locations without required licensing.

State licensing and certification requirements are intended to ensure that practitioners meet a minimum level of competency. Because each state sets its own licensing requirements, these requirements often vary across state lines. Consequently, the lack of license portability, the transfer of an existing license to a new state with minimal application requirements,  can impose significant administrative and financial burdens on licensed military spouses when they move across state lines. Licensing requirements across states disproportionately affect these families. As a result military spouses licenses are stymied in their efforts.

A Department of Defense report finds that almost 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force require licenses or certification for their profession. Additionally, military spouses are ten times more likely to have moved across state lines in the last year compared to their           civilian counterparts.

Re-licensure may cause many military spouses to decide not to practice in their professions. This is a difficult financial and career choice issue for military members and their military spouses, potentially impacting their desire to stay in the military.

As of June 2012, twenty-three states passed legislation to help military spouses find good jobs. Licensure portability for military spouse licenses will make the transition from one state to another easier. Pro-military spouse license portability measures will help to keep our armed forces strong and military families happy as they change duty stations.