Mississippi set to become 12th state with universal occupational licensing

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 9:54 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Several new state laws take effect on July 1. One of those will make it easier for folks moving to Mississippi to transfer their occupational license.

Wendy Swart worked in the same salon in Pennsylvania for 24 years. She was nervous about moving to Mississippi but expected to continue her career upon arriving.

“I worked hard to get my license and to keep it for 30 years,” explained Swart.

But she was told she didn’t have what it took to get a cosmetology license in the magnolia state.

“The hours for schooling down here were, I think it was 300 more hours than what Pennsylvania required,” she said. “But I have my instructor license. I went back to school for my instructor. So, between my hairdresser license and instructor, it’s actually more hours than what Mississippi required, but they wouldn’t combine the hours.”

It’s stories like Swart’s that prompted lawmakers to pass universal recognition of occupational licenses.

“It’s difficult — that’s who I was,” added Swart. “For 30 years, I was a hairdresser. So, it just kind of took my identity away. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.”

Starting July 1, folks like Swart don’t have to worry about whether the license requirements match up exactly.

“I certainly don’t think that if you have to take a test to become a licensee in some other state that when you come to Mississippi, I don’t think you should be required to take another test,” noted Governor Tate Reeves. “I don’t think that’s business-friendly, and quite frankly, I don’t think that’s consumer-friendly either.”

No new testing or training is needed as long as the person held a license in good standing for at least a year in another state. If it’s an occupation that another state didn’t require a license in---Mississippi will allow at least three years’ work experience to qualify them for a license here.

“We want to make sure that if you want to come to Mississippi that you are welcome, and we’re not going to put roadblocks or red tape up for you to do that,” said Rep. Becky Currie, author of HB 1263.

Rep. Currie also noted in Tuesday’s press conference that state agencies have through the end of the summer to get their licensing policies updated.

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