Getting Veterans Licensed to Work

By Mika Cross on March 2, 2017

Imagine if you drove trucks for the military in some of the world's most dangerous and challenging terrain, in every kind of weather, day and night. After years of serving your country, you decide you want to go home, be closer to family and get back to work.

As you begin to transition from service, you make a surprising discovery: Suddenly, it doesn't matter that you were promoted three times, won service medals and logged hundreds of thousands of miles driving. Employers require you to re-certify and re-train for the very same work you performed in the military. Even though you've got the skills, it's hard to get a foot in the door. For too many veterans, this is a real problem.   

For veterans, obtaining a professional certification can be one of the most helpful steps in finding meaningful civilian employment. In fact, in one recent survey, veterans listed professional certifications as the most helpful job search aides, along with education resources and the ability to connect with veteran-friendly employers.

With that in mind, the Department of Labor last year released a toolkit for states, which details the streamlining of professional licensing and credentialing for veterans and transitioning service members. The toolkit identifies common barriers, describes strategies for overcoming them, and provides a blueprint that can help states accelerate veterans' licensing and certification.

The toolkit offers plenty of useful resources to help states navigate some of the common challenges in implementing policies that overcome the complexity of state licensure and third-party certification systems for veterans.

Why is it important?

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report on occupations that require licenses and certifications. Their findings included:

More than three-quarters of workers in healthcare and technical occupations held certifications.

Employed people were twice as likely to hold a currently active certification or license.

Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers were 34 percent higher for those with a certification or license.

People with a certification or license had a lower unemployment rate (2.7 percent) than those without these certifications (6.1 percent).

Making Progress

Our toolkit is designed to help states assist qualified veterans who are already experienced in their fields. At the department's Veterans Employment and Training Service, we'll continue to work with our partners and stakeholders to help get veterans back to work doing what they do best.