NEWS | Dec. 14, 2016

Military spouse licensing offers career portability for military families

By Legal Office 628th Air Base Wing

It’s not easy being a military family.  Unpredictable work hours, deployments and constant moves from base to base are ever-present stressors affecting morale and readiness. For the estimated 100,000 working military spouses who serve in professions requiring a state license or credential, there is the additional challenge of moving across state lines accompanying their service member on assignment. Often times, these moves are accompanied by the requirement to transfer their license from state to state. This can be a time consuming and financially burdensome process de-incentivizes many from continuing their work. Thankfully, spouses of active-duty service members assigned to military installations in South Carolina have some small relief in the form of the “Military Service Occupation, Education and Credentialing Act.”

In early 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden announced an ambitious goal: ensuring military spouse license portability in all 50 states. At the time, only 12 states had legislation supporting spouse license portability. Today, every state has passed legislation or an executive order to better support military spouses serving in professions with state license and certification requirements. Thanks to recent South Carolina legislation, it’s easier than ever for a military spouse to transfer their professional license from another state. 

The Military Service Occupation, Education and Credentialing Act (Section 40-1-630 of the South Carolina Code—for you legal types) allows licensing agencies in South Carolina to issue temporary professional licenses to the spouses of active duty military members assigned to a duty station in the state. These licenses are valid for one year in order to give the spouse time to complete the normal application process. Each licensing agency handles the applications independently and should be contacted separately for information and procedure.

To qualify for these programs, you must submit proof to the licensing agency that:

1.      You are married to an active duty military service member,

2.      You hold a valid license issued by another state or territory,

3.      Your license is held in good standing in that state or territory,

4.      If the South Carolina licensing agency requires a background check, then you must initiate a new background check in South Carolina, and

5.      Your active duty spouse is assigned to a duty station in South Carolina.

Spouses in the education field should visit http://ed.sc.gov/educators/teaching-in-south-carolina/aspiring-educators/ for specific information on licensing in South Carolina.

If you’re a military spouse with a professional license or certification and you are making your way to South Carolina or anywhere else, it is recommended that you start transferring your credentials as soon as possible. Even with military friendly legislation on the books, the process can be time-consuming. See the following list of numbers for the various boards and agencies to obtain more information on credentialing across multiple career fields.