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Licensed occupations

Does your current or new occupation require a license?

By state laws, workers in certain fields must have a license.  Licensing is intended to ensure that only competent and ethical individuals practice in an occupation. Examples of occupations licensed in many states include: teachers, land surveyors, doctors, lawyers, cosmetologists, nurses, building contractors, counselors, therapists, and electricians.

To obtain a license you must demonstrate that you meet state standards for that career. Steps include completing specified training, logging a designated amount of work experience, and taking a licensure exam. Most exams assess knowledge of work processes, codes, policies, standard practices, and more.

Most licenses are authorized by state government and give an individual the right to practice that field. Licensure requirements for some occupations vary by state, so be sure to check your state requirements.

Although you may have heard the term “certification” used interchangeably with “licensure”, a major difference is that certifications are not required, though still helpful in qualifying for a competitive job, while licensure is legally required to practice certain professions.

  • Visit License Finder to find out which careers require a license and get contact information for the licensure process in your state.
  • People who have had a criminal conviction may be unable to obtain a license for some fields. Visit Job Search for Ex-offenders to learn more.