When you’re a military spouse who relocates with your service member, you may face some job search challenges. But, when you’re a military spouse who relocates, and is a licensed professional and wants to maintain that license so you can get a new job too, there is a whole different set of challenges.
Since military spouses frequently relocate, they are encouraged to find portable careers.
“Yet, many of the most portable jobs come with a catch: You need to be state-certified to work in the field, and for many spouses, that’s an ongoing nightmare,” said Barb Poole, career strategist and writer at hireimaging.com. “The Defense Department has taken notice of the issue, and its state liaison office has begun working with state legislatures to enact laws to at least lower the hurdles military families face when moving to a new state,” she added. “Unfortunately, to date, not all states have passed favorable military spouse credentialing legislation.”
Be ready to take on the load of researching the licensure or certification requirements for your new state. And, be forewarned, depending on your field, that can potentially mean lots of time and money. Take lawyers, for example.
“Relocating lawyers may have to take the State Bar Exam – again,” said Jim Wojtak, senior career coach at Impact Career Group (impactgrouphr.com). Usually that means lots of study time. And, maybe the exam is only offered once or twice a year. This could cost $1,000 to $2,000 and you have to wait months for the results,” he added. “So, now you are in limbo.”
This can seem a little extreme, but it happens. Other situations you may be faced with are: a license not being required in one state, but required in another. Or, the licensing requirements could be different and sometimes feel trivial.
“I remember a teacher who moved and was required to take a state government course on her new state and another who moved to a different state and had to take a state ethics course,” Wojtak said.
Maybe these aren’t huge hurdles, but they are hurdles, none-the-less. And, if you aren’t expecting them, they can delay your entry into the new job market.
Poole and Wojtak suggest the following ways to potentially save a boatload of time, money and aggravation.
“Contact your state licensing board as soon as you know of the move, to inquire about their licensing process,” Poole said. “Ask if they recognize a license from another state (also known as having reciprocity), offer a temporary license or expedited review process.”
Often, these situations may only require small licensing fees, fingerprinting fees or a review of your credentials, so they definitely save time and money.
“Explore your career field to find out if there are jobs that require the experience, but not the license,” Wojtak said. For example, if you are a licensed attorney in one state you may be able to teach a law course at a community college in another state and not need a license for that.”
“Get involved in professional associations through in-person or on-line (LinkedIn Groups etc.) to stay connected with those who have your similar credentials, and often relocation stories,” Poole said. “Find out how others have kept their cost down, any strategies they’ve used that made the processes a bit more seamless.”
Although professional associations do not license or certify professionals, they will be up-to-date on issues with doing so, making them a great first contact, Wojtak said..
“Find out if your career has a national board certification, like the National Board for Teaching Standards” Wojtak said. “You may be surprised at the advantages beyond easily transferring your credentials. If you are a nationally board-certified teacher, school districts may have incentives such as reimbursement for certification costs and annual bonuses,” he added. “In some states, they even seek out teachers with this credential.”
“Many employers (including the military) offer spouses relocation services,” said Poole. “Investigate what might be available to you; and whether it encompasses licensing and credential assistance.”
Some employers also help with job search and career counseling.
“Find out whether you can get tax deductions for any of your work-related educational expenses that either the law or your employer requires, in order for you to keep your job,” Wojtak said.
Visit these web sites for additional information and resources:
Department of Labor License Finder: http://www.careeronestop.org/FindTraining/Types/do-you-need-a-license.aspx
Department of Labor Certification Finder: http://www.careeronestop.org/FindTraining/Types/certifications.aspx?&frd=true
Department of Defense and State Partenerships for state licensing and career credentials initiative: USA4MilitaryFamilies
My Career Advancement Account: grants to pursue licenses, certifications, etc. https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa