The Military Spouse Licensure Battle: A Resource Guide

The Military Spouse Licensure Battle: A Resource Guide
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At MOAA, we know the ability of spouses to find employment and sustain careers through frequent PCS moves, extended training, and deployments is vital to the stability of an all-volunteer force. And we know the barriers military spouses face when it comes to keeping a career on the move and how licensed professions come with additional hurdles.


Despite significant legislation in recent years, the 34% of military spouses working in licensed or credentialed professions such as nursing, teaching, or psychology continue to struggle with regulations and processes that delay the ability to find and maintain employment.


Resources highlighting current information about regulations and requirements for recertifying or transferring an occupational license from one state to another should be consulted as soon as PCS orders are anticipated, as the process can be time-consuming. Check out some of those resources below:

  • The Department of the Air Force released the 2021 Support of Military Families report, which categorizes how states support portability of occupational licensure for military spouses. This comprehensive report uses a red-yellow-green continuum to rate individual states based on how easily military spouse professionals are allowed to transfer licenses between states and whether they can begin work immediately.

  • The Defense State Liaison Office (DSLO) works to provide state policymakers with expert insight on issues affecting military families and their quality of life. With eight regional directors spanning the country, the DSLO team is assisting states in the development and acceptance of interstate compacts for physical therapy, nursing, emergency medical services, psychology, an audiology/speech-language pathology.

[RELATED: MOAA’s Military State Report Card and Tax Guide]

  • Military OneSource tracks the progress of licensing compacts in each state at this link – drill down to the state level to find out specifics by profession and get the latest on progress related to DSLO’s 2021 Key Issues.

  • The National Military Family Association, a frequent partner of MOAA’s advocacy efforts to improve employment and educational opportunities for military spouses, maintains this information page on licensing and certification.

  • The Department of Labor maintains a must-read website offering:
    • A state-by-state breakdown of license-transfer policies.
    • A list of occupations with interstate reciprocity agreements.
    • Links to service-specific resources for military spouses, including information on the Military Spouse License Reimbursing Program.
    • A link to the CareerOneStop license search engine, allowing spouses to see which professions require which licenses or certifications in each state.


Most state policies involve one or more approaches to solving the license portability issue. These approaches include licensure by endorsement, temporary licensure, expedited review of applications, fee waivers, expiration date extensions, and participation in interstate compacts.


For more information, download MOAA’s free Military Spouse Employment Guide which covers licenses and other employment topics. Continue following MOAA Spouse Programs for information and updates on spouse advocacy efforts and employment programs.


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About the Author

Jen Goodale
Jen Goodale

Goodale is MOAA's Director of Government Relations for Military Family and Survivor Policy.