Licensure Tips

hobo licensure tipsI find myself coming back to the topic of licensure a couple times every year. Licensure is the great challenge and barrier to a much more free travel life. If licensure was centralized in one place, we could go where ever we wanted, when ever we wanted. Nurses have co-ops between states that allow transfer of licenses across state lines in particular states, but PTs are at the mercy of each individual state’s licensure office to grant access into the state in a timely manner. There are plans in the works to improve reciprocity between states, but it will be several years before we see any of these changes.

Yesterday, I was speaking with some other travelers who are just wrapping up their first travel assignments and looking to move onto other states, but struggling with licensure. I realized I have taken for granted the jaded nature with which I view getting new licenses that has developed from years of being repeatedly disappointed by state licensure offices. Here’s my advice, from my acquired jadedness, that should help your transition to your next state go much more smoothly.

Start Early

Getting a license in another state is going to take longer than you think. Get started as early as you can. The more state licenses you already have, the longer you should plan for. For instance, Illinois takes 6 weeks to process anything, so if you applying to another state and have an Illinois license, you’ll need to get a verification from Illinois and this will add 6 weeks to whatever estimate you have for the time it will take to get the new license.

Snail Mail Verifications

Most states require you to have each state you have ever held a license in to send a verification by mail (yeah, real mail). Additionally, many states require you to send a written letter to them to get a verification. Does it make sense in 2015 to have to send a letter by mail to a state office to get them to send a letter to another state by mail? Absolutely not, but get over it, it is exactly what you have to do. Fortunately, there are a small number of states that are now accepting online verification – they will let you go online, print out that page that shows you have a license in good standing, and fax it into them. But, unless you have spoken to someone in the state’s office that says they will accept online verifications, do not count on getting away with this. The majority of states still require the pony express to get involved.

Follow Up!

When you request verifications from states, follow up by phone to see if the verification was ever sent. I have had checks cashed for verification by states that never actually sent the verification. 2 weeks after I send out my verification requests, I will typically call the state I am applying to to see which verifications they have received and which they have not. I will then call the states that they have not received the verifications from yet. This can be very time consuming, but it prevents me from waiting around weeks for verifications to arrive that will never be sent.


Build in at least 6 months to get a license from California. I’m not sure what you’ve heard, or exactly what the state of California is telling candidates for licensure, but it takes 6 months to get a California license. There is a finger printing process, there is a juris prudence exam, and there is no lack of bureaucracy. If you need to be in California in 3 months, you are too late, Just build in 6 months for California – add six weeks if you already hold an Illinois license. 😉

 Don’t Fret

The licensure process is there to protect the public from the worst of the worst, but the system is far more cumbersome than it needs to be. Don’t get all flustered by all the changes that need to be made to the system. Just know that with some patience and a little bit of paperwork, you will eventually get that state license you are chasing. The more level headed and methodical you can remain through the whole process, the less stressed you will be.

These are just a few simple tips on licensure. There are a few states that stand out from the pack that are better than others to get licensed in, but do know that your typical state licensure office is understaffed and will take weeks to do anything. I picture a cyclone of papers swirling around every licensing professional. If you want more info on licensure, click in the search box at the top of this page and type “tag:licensure”. Good luck!

Out of the Inbox

Licensure issues keep coming into my life recently. Here’s a recent email I received that offers some food for thought on tricks to get around licensure hassles. Share any tricks you have used!




I am a recent grad (2013) and have been doing travel PT with my boyfriend for the past year in Wisconsin and Texas. We’re now looking at getting our next license. Since everyone talks about how annoying it is to get a verification sent from each state you’ve ever had your license in to the state you’re applying for, we thought of a better idea… but aren’t sure if it would work and wanted your opinion.

We were thinking that we should apply to about 5 more states at the same time so that we only need verification from Wisconsin & Texas for each of those 5 states, in the end, saving us the hassle of sending 2, and then 3, and then 4, and then 5 verifications to each state we apply for in the future. Would this work?

2nd question: We looked at Texas’ verification request form which allows us to send it to multiple states for one $50 fee. Can we send it to 5, 6, 7 states even if we haven’t applied for those states yet? Then in the next year or so, apply for those states which already have our Texas verification without having to pay another $50 fee?

Not sure if you know the answer to these questions but just thought they were 2 ways to save money with the multiple state license applications and fees that go along with it.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.


I like the way you’re thinking about licensure – getting all of those done at once by verifying only the 2 current states is a good plan and will definitely save you time and frustration. Although, over time, I don’t think it will save you any money, just because of renewal fees and that sort of thing, but it may be worth it for the trade off in reduced frustration.

I like the idea of getting multiple licenses at once, but I would only do the states you are sure you want to go to at some point. That way, if another state comes up that you want to get a license for, you don’t have to verify licenses you held but never used. Also, check the renewal process on these states ahead of time – check cost, CEU requirements, and timing. By timing, I mean that in some states everybody’s license expires on the same day – i.e. If every license in a state expires on January 1st and you just got your license today, you would have to pay a renewal fee in only 4 months.

As far as the Texas question, I think it’s a great idea to send as many verifications as you can if it’s all covered under one fee. I don’t see a downside. Typically, when a state receives any licensure paperwork on you (like a verification from Texas), they start a file. Some states keep an incomplete file 6 months, some keep it a year, some might keep it longer. You likely won’t have unlimited time to start the licensure process before they discard your verification, but I see no harm in requesting the verifications just in case you do decide to go.

After requesting all your verifications, I would follow up by phone to make sure they have all been sent/received. Also, I would send yours and your boyfriend’s in separate envelopes. In my experience, when my wife and I try to share an envelope, one of our verifications usually gets forgotten and our new license is delayed. Sadly, requests getting lost is the rule rather then the exception.

Hope this helps, I like your thinking!