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Advocacy / Member Organizations

March 11, 2020

States Confront Universal Licensure Bills

By Katharine Mottley

ACEC Mississippi stopped legislation last week that would have created universal licenses for engineers and other licensed occupations in the state.

Under the legislation, the Mississippi Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors would have been required to issue a license to an engineer who had been licensed in good standing in another state for at least one year.  The legislation would have applied to all occupational licenses and certifications in the state.

Other states have also considered this approach to addressing occupational license mobility.  In 2019, Arizona passed the first universal licensing law in the United States. A similar law is expected to pass in Utah. ACEC Indiana won an exception for engineering in a universal licensing bill that is under consideration in the Indiana legislature.

ACEC opposes universal licensing because states have different requirements for engineers. California, for example, requires civil engineers to pass a test on seismic principles and Alaska mandates that engineers licensed in the state complete a course on arctic engineering. Other states don’t require engineers to pass a P.E. exam if they have a certain number of years of experience.  

Maintaining the authority of licensing boards to review applications is a key component of protecting public health and safety by ensuring that only qualified individuals are licensed as professional engineers.  Many state boards review applications from engineers who are already licensed in another state within two to three weeks, providing a necessary check without impeding business activity.

Katharine Mottley is ACEC Vice President Tax and Regulatory Affairs.


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