Many immigrants come to the United States resigned to work in any job that is available to them, because they assume that the language barrier, tests, textbooks and license validation make for a difficult process. If he or she is truly dedicated, tenacious and willing to follow the correct steps, the road to revalidating a vocation or career becomes much easier.
The majority of technical, post-graduate and doctorate degrees require a license from the state where the person is seeking employment. Before doing that, the applicant must first validate the degrees obtained in his or her native country. It may be also necessary that he or she enroll in additional educational courses, pass technical exams and the TOEFL, among other procedures.
The state department or office whose branch relates to that particular profession is the party that grants the license. For example, the Department of Health regulates any health-related profession, teachers should direct their application to the Department of Education, and the Board of Professional Engineers supervise engineers.
The first step that an immigrant (who is a college graduate) should take is to have his or her academic credentials evaluated. An institution accredited by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES : www.naces.org) should examine all titles and certifications in order to verify their validity.
English-language skills may be a requirement for some careers, such as medicine, law, odontology, engineering and accounting. Therefore, the majority of exams are written in English and the applicant must also pass the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language -- www.toefl.org).
The procedures for each particular career differ in time, type of exam and fees. You should investigate the proper procedures for your line of work keeping in mind that your state may have a profession that does not require a license. For example, in Florida, journalists, PR professionals, computer technicians, graphic designers, retailers, trade experts, chefs, etc. do not need licenses.
An applicant can also decide on a secondary license related to his or her profession. For example, in odontology, the applicant can opt for a dental hygienist license, and in medicine, he or she can apply for a medical assistant's license. For psychology, he or she can decide to apply for a counselor license; in law, they can submit an application for a license as a paralegal, or a legal consultant with an emphasis on the laws of his or her native country, etc.
If you are determined to follow the complex but more satisfying route in order to work in your own profession, the following is a brief overview that explains the revalidation procedures for certain careers:
PROCEDURE FOR DOCTORS
Foreign doctors must submit academic credentials from their native country's school of medicine to the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). To obtain ECFMG certification, they will be required to satisfy a series of tests offered throughout the year. Soon after, he or she must complete a Residency Program. A year after they complete their residence program, they should take the (United States Medical Licensure Exam). Then they should complete the second year of the Residency Program, among other steps.
PROCEDURE FOR ODONTOLOGISTS
Dentists should first submit their credentials for evaluation to the Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) agency. Later they should pass Part I and II of the National Board Dental Examination and present their results to the American Dental Association's Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Afterward, they should complete two years of supplementary education in Odontology at a US accredited university, among other steps.
PROCEDURE FOR LAWYERS
The foreign lawyer needs to attend Law School in the United States in order to obtain a diploma. He or she must also validate the titles and certification they achieved at their country of origin. After three years of study, he or she may be eligible to receive a Juris Doctor title. The applicant must present his or her request to the bar association in the state where he or she intends to practice, and undergo a background check. Once completed, he or she can begin practice, among other steps.
PROCEDURE FOR ACCOUNTANTS
Accountants must be admitted to an Accounting program at an accredited university and complete a minimum of 15 semester hours of post degree. Nine hours must correspond to accounting, and he or she should at least three semester hours on tax education. The university must also verify that the applicant has exemplary conduct. Additionally, the applicant must present his or her credentials before an agency accredited by the Board of Accountancy, posses a license from an unaccredited school (from his native country) and demonstrate that they have completed a pre-determined amount of semester hours in accounting and business. Lastly, the applicant will have to pass the Uniform CPA Examination in order to obtain his or her state license.
PROCEDURE FOR TEACHERS
A teacher must obtain an evaluation of his or her credentials. After that, they need to present it along with a certified copy of their diplomas (clearly showing the date of graduation) to the Department of Education's State Board for Educator Certification. They can go to any public notary or directly to the School Board office to notarize the original diploma. They should then submit the results of their evaluation, a certified copy of their diploma, and a request for certification along with the corresponding fee. After approval, they will be presented with a certificate and he or she will now be authorized to teach in the United States.