North Carolina Removes Licensing Hurdles
By Air Force Capt. Amber Millerchip
4th Fighter Wing
GOLDSBORO, N.C., July 26, 2012 North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue signed legislation here July 24 making it easier for military members, spouses and veterans to obtain the necessary occupational licenses required to work in the state.
Air Force Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander, speaks at a July 24, 2012, ceremony in Goldsboro, N.C., in which North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue signed legislation making it easier for military members, spouses and veterans to obtain the necessary occupational licenses required to work in the state. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Colette Graham
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The new law streamlines the procedure for those already licensed elsewhere to apply to work in the same occupation in the state. During the bill-signing ceremony, Air Force Col. Jeannie Leavitt, 4th Fighter Wing commander, addressed the legislation’s significance to the military community.
"As our nation continues to field an all-volunteer force, it is critical to address the challenges that are inherent in military service, and North Carolina House Bill 799 does just that," she said. "This bill removes many of those obstacles and affords service members and their families opportunities to obtain North Carolina licensing in reduced time, allowing them to more quickly enter the civilian workforce."
However, the law requires all military or out-of-state qualifications meet or exceed North Carolina's licensure standards. A licensing board will determine eligibility based on training, experience and competency. For example, applicants must have been actively practicing their occupational specialty for two of the last five years.
"This bill helps streamline the procedures, so military spouses in North Carolina can get the certification they need to work," Perdue said. "We owe it to them to provide this kind of support. As one of the most military-friendly states in the nation, I am proud to sign this bill."
These same rules apply to military spouses interested in transferring certifications and licensing, such as teachers, nurses, and cosmetologists. They are also required to demonstrate competency in the occupation through means determined by the respective licensing board, such as continuing education credits.
When her husband was assigned to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base a year ago, Ashley Butler wasn't able to transfer her Florida cosmetology license to North Carolina. Her frustration with the licensing process finally led her to pursue a different career as a child care provider, in which certification can be obtained with military assistance.
"I think the bill is great, because it's hard enough as it is moving state to state and picking up and starting over," she said. "That's the whole reason I'm doing child care -- it took too long, with too many hoops to jump through, to use my cosmetology license here."
North Carolina officials said more than 100 different occupational licensing agencies and each licensing board will be required to implement the new statute within a year.
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Colette Graham and Air Force Airman First Class Mariah Tolbert contributed to this article.)