Universal licensing: What you need to know – The Arizona Republic

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Arizona became the first state to pass a law that allows people who have out-of-state occupational and professional licenses to become licensed in the same fields more quickly and easily in Arizona.
More than 4,000 people have received Arizona licenses under universal licensing since the law went into effect in 2019.
Supporters say universal licensing removes barriers and makes it easier for people to get to work. Critics say universal licenses poses a risk to health and safety because some states have fewer training, education and testing requirements than Arizona. 
Here's more information on exactly what universal licensing is: 
Universal licensing recognizes out-of-state professional licenses for people who have been licensed for at least a year in another state.
Applicants still have to apply for an Arizona license in their respective professions. They must meet state residency requirements and be considered in "good standing" in the other states where they are licensed. Good standing means they don't have pending complaints or investigations before another licensing board. 
There are some other requirements such as criminal background checks and completing state-specific tests required by law. 
Universal licensing doesn't replace other forms of licensing that are already offered by licensing boards. It's just another pathway that makes it possible for people to get licensed, who may or may not be eligible through the traditional licensing routes. 
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More than 65 occupations and professions overseen by more than two dozen licensing boards are included under universal licensing. Specifically, they are most licenses that fall under Arizona Revised Statute Title 32, from doctors and dentists to barbers and psychologists. Many are health-related jobs. Some examples include building contractors, real-estate agents, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, veterinarians and many other professions. 
Some of the licensing boards that grant universal licenses include: the Arizona Medical Board, the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants, the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners, the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology, the Arizona Department of Real Estate and many others. 
Teachers and lawyers are licensed differently and have their own agreements with other states. The law also doesn't interfere with interstate compacts, or agreements, that exist among states that allow for license reciprocity. Nursing is an example of a profession that already has an interstate agreement in place. 
At least 18 other states have a version of universal licensing, according to the Council of State Governments. Not all are as lenient as Arizona's. Some, like Pennsylvania, require the licensing requirements of the state the person is coming from must be “substantially equivalent to or exceed” Pennsylvania’s requirements.   
As of August 2021, Arizona licensing boards had approved 4,041 universal licenses  with only 29 denials, according to a survey of licensing boards by the Goldwater Institute.
Another 528 applications were pending or were withdrawn. Applicants sometimes withdraw if they change their minds about moving, get job offers in other states or don’t meet other requirements, such as being licensed in another state for at least a year. 
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors had the most — 1,205 — followed by the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology with 737 and the Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners with 529. The Behavioral Health Board licenses professionals in counseling, marriage and family therapy, social work and substance abuse counseling.
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Licensing boards sometimes get calls from people who think Arizona automatically accepts other states' licenses. It doesn't. Workers still have to apply and get approved for an Arizona license through the appropriate regulatory board. 
Another myth that is by getting a universal license in Arizona, a licensee can work in any other state. Each state has its own licensing requirements. 
Contact the appropriate licensing board that oversees the profession. Information on universal licensing should be listed on each board's homepage. You can also read the law here
Reach the reporter at anne.ryman@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8072. Follow her on Twitter @anneryman.
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