Associations Launch Coalition to Support Professional Licensing

With a variety of fields represented, the new Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing aims to speak up in state legislative battles over credentialing, which have picked up in recent years.

Associations have kept close watch for political challenges against professional licensing practices at the state level—which at times have even come up for discussion in Washington.

Now, the recently announced Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing will bring together eight associations that represent different industries—architecture, engineering, and accounting—but that share the goal of voicing support for professional licensing.

“We aim to educate policymakers and the public on the importance of high standards, rigorous education, and extensive experience within highly complex, technical professions that are relied upon to protect public safety and enhance public trust,” ARPL says on its website. “We also look to offer best practices and solutions drawn from our experience to serve as models that work for the public and members of a given profession.”

The issue, which last year led associations into legislative battles in Louisiana and Missouri, reflects a situation where highly credentialed professions are being caught in the crosshairs of a broader movement intended to prevent the use of overly arduous licensing, ARPL members say.

“Complex professions are at risk of being swept up in broad calls to reduce licensing requirements for occupations and vocations,” said Michael J. Armstrong, CEO of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), in a news release. “It is important for us to work with other technical professions to ensure public safety isn’t compromised by broad brush deregulatory efforts.”

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants noted that attempts to change licensing structures could harm highly skilled industries and even make it harder for accountants to switch jobs.

“Weakening licensing standards on a state-by-state basis will destroy the confidence in qualifications and completely disrupt existing mobility models for advanced professions like ours,” AICPA CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, said in a news release. “Employers will be less inclined to accept out-of-state licenses if some states have rigorous requirements and others have weak requirements.”

Meanwhile, the American Society of Civil Engineers added that the need for ARPL reflects tactics by opponents who question the need for a licensing system in the first place.

“Opponents have gone before state legislatures, openly questioning whether any professional licensing is necessary, portraying it as a barrier to access to certain professions and a violation of consumer rights,” said Brad Aldrich, P.E., F.ASCE, a key supporter of ASCE’s licensing effort, in a news release.

Other associations taking part in ARPL are the American Institute of Architects, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

ARPL isn’t the only group concerned about recent legislation that challenges the authority of many professionals holding credentials granted by associations and other organizations. Last summer, ASAE and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence partnered to create the Professional Certification Coalition.

(Evgen_Prozhyrko/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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