NSPE-Led Coalition Delivers Message on Responsible Licensure

November/December 2019

NSPE Today
NSPE-Led Coalition Delivers Message on Responsible Licensure


In August, NSPE announced the creation of the Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing (ARPL), a coalition of advanced professions that is focused on informing lawmakers and the public about the importance of rigorous professional licensing standards.

In combination with its longtime efforts defending the PE license, the Society has been leading the charge to educate policymakers about the importance of standards for complex technical professions, such as engineering, that affect the public health, safety, and welfare.

NSPE has been working to get ARPL’s important messages out. You can help—follow @TheARPL on Twitter and at www.facebook.com/TheARPL and reshare.

Below is some additional information from ARPL that you can help promote.

Five Consequences of Weakening Professional Licensing Standards

  1. Puts the public at risk. Our professions oversee the physical integrity of public and private spaces, and the fiscal integrity of financial systems. Eliminating licensing would eliminate the critical training and qualifications necessary for work that directly impacts public safety, trust, and welfare. Errors in designing a bridge or building or certifying a corporate audit are not small matters that can be remedied by a bad Yelp review. Our work must be done correctly the first time.
  2. Leaves the public on its own and ill-equipped to determine qualifications. Professional licensing is an important indicator of a baseline level of expertise and qualification. Without professional licensing, the burden of ensuring qualifications will shift from experts to the public. Consumers will be left on their own to evaluate qualifications and performance for highly-complex, technical professions without the specialized knowledge needed to do so.
  3. Ignores the critical role licensing plays in continued education, enforcement, compliance, and remedies. Licensing is about more than entry into a profession. Licensing boards provide the systems for ongoing education for professionals—critical in professions that must stay current with complicated and changing codes—and the means for enforcing standards and sanctioning bad actors. Weakening licensing would diminish the ability of the licensing boards to establish, verify, and enforce necessary expertise.
  4. Replaces assurance of qualifications on the front end with costly litigation after the fact. Professional licensing is an efficient and cost-effective way to protect the public by establishing and ensuring qualifications on the front end. Eliminating licensing would replace established and verified qualifications that serve the public at large, with case-by-case, costly litigation to penalize lack of qualifications if something goes wrong. This approach is inefficient, costly, and only serves the person filing suit while doing little or nothing to protect others from similar bad outcomes by unqualified practitioners.
  5. Threatens career mobility and destroys good licensing models that are working. Our professions have licensing models that are working and already provide interstate mobility and reciprocity. This is possible because well-structured licensing systems have established consistency in qualifications and standards within a profession. This uniformity of standards establishes a baseline of trust in the qualifications of practitioners from other states that makes it possible for professionals to move from one state to another and have their license acknowledged.

Weakening licensing standards on a state-by-state basis will destroy the confidence in qualifications and completely disrupt existing mobility models. States will be less inclined to accept out-of-state licenses if some states have rigorous requirements and some states have weak requirements. The result: it will become more difficult for professionals to move and maintain their careers across states.

Source: The Alliance for Responsible Professional Licensing.

The Public Supports Regulation Done Right

Among voters surveyed:
  • 75%
    Say licensure ensures qualified professionals are servicing the public
  • 69%
    Say licensure sets safety standards across an industry
  • 66%
    Say licensure keeps the public safe
  • 58%
    Say licensure protects the best interests of the public

Source: Benenson Survey, 2019. Unpublished raw data. Cited at www.responsiblelicensing.org.