Credential Evaluations & Professional Licensing

For New Mainers

For new Mainers trained and credentialed in their home countries, a first step to becoming qualified in the US is to learn whether those certifications can be transferred here.

Students in a classroom earning credentials

Credential Evaluations

What is an evaluation?

A credential evaluation or equivalency is the process by which a person’s college transcripts and diploma are reviewed to determine if they are equal to a US degree.

For example, is a bachelor’s degree in economics from a school in Iraq equal to a bachelor’s degree in economics degree from a regionally accredited school in the United States, such as the University of Southern Maine?

One step that may be necessary before a credential evaluation can be done is to first have the documents translated into English. An English translation is not the same thing as an evaluation. For most evaluations, a person is required to have a translation done by a certified translator. There are a number of local companies that do translations. Some evaluation companies also provide this service.

What’s the value of my degree or diploma?

Many new Mainers come to the US with college degrees and years of experience. They may be accountants, engineers, or some type of medical professional. Most people are interested in knowing the value of their degrees or diplomas.

  • Will an employer or school consider their previous education?
  • Is their degree equal to a US degree? What is the equivalent degree?
  • When is an evaluation of their degree necessary and who should do it?

The answer to these questions is: IT DEPENDS.

What does it depend on?

Determining the US equivalent of a degree is a complicated process. It depends on:

  • The individual
  • Educational background and profession
  • Type of job they are looking for
  • English level
  • Country where education was obtained
  • Access to documents

Knowing when and how an evaluation should be done is a complicated process. It can also be expensive, with a translation costing several hundred dollars and the evaluation costing several hundred dollars as well.

What questions should I ask?

There are several questions a new Mainer should ask themselves and be able to answer before they have an evaluation done:

Why do I need an evaluation?
  • Work
  • School
  • License
Who is requesting the evaluation?
Is someone asking me for an evaluation of my degree?

  • Employer
  • School
  • Professional Licensing Agency
What evaluators do they use?

Different professions, different licensing bodies, different schools, different employers have different requirements for who does the evaluation.

Whether it is a school, employer, or licensing agency they will tell you how they want the evaluation done and who should do the evaluation.

There are different companies that do evaluations. There is a national association of some evaluation companies, NACES — National Association of Credential Evaluator Service.

Most schools and employers will accept an evaluation done by one of the companies that belong to this group. Licensing entities for professions like doctors, nurses, and engineers will have their own procedures, agencies, and requirements. Each agency will have different costs and requirements for how you will need to submit proof of your education.

If you think you want to go back to school how ready are you for entering a program?
  • Why?
  • What is the program?
  • What are the English proficiency requirements?
  • What is your English proficiency level?
  • What are the other requirements for getting into the educational program?
  • How close are you to meeting those requirements?
  • What is the cost of the program, what are your financial resources for school, what other financial obligations do you have?
  • What is the completion rate, graduation rate and financial burden (loans) people who enter the program leave with?
  • Be a smart consumer!
What is your professional background?

If you have a technical background in engineering, computers, or some science, it may be useful for you to have an evaluation done just to show an employer that you have the technical training to do the job.

But if you are in a field that relies more on soft skills, your experience, your ability to communicate — your verbal and written communication skills and computer skills may be more important than what you studied in school.

What types of jobs will you be applying for?

Is it an entry level position or one that will require you to use your professional skills? For an entry level position, you will probably not need to show the equivalency of your degree. You may need to show that you have at least a high school diploma. This does not need to be a US diploma. Many employers will not require proof. Of those that do, you could likely just show them an English translation of your diploma.

What is your English level?

If your English level (and computer skills) are not at the level necessary to do professional work in your field, you may first want to focus on improving these skills before you worry about an evaluation.

Do you have work authorization?

If not, when do you expect to get it?

If you are not able to work yet, you may not need to have an evaluation done until you can work.

Can you afford to cover the cost of the evaluation?

Either you will need to pay for the evaluation and translation or ASPIRE, WIOA, or someone else will need to cover it.

Depending on the company that will do the evaluation and how many reports you order, an evaluation could cost between $250 and $350.

Do you have a complete set of your transcripts and diploma?

If needed could you get them sent from your school to the company that will do the evaluation?

It may not be worth having an evaluation done if you do not have a complete set of your transcripts and diploma.

Some companies will accept copies, others will require originals be sent to them, and others will require that your school send your transcripts and diploma to the evaluation company. Some licensing bodies will only accept transcripts and diplomas sent from your school. Some will also require that course descriptions be provided and, of course, these will need to be provided to them in English.

Are your transcripts or diploma in English?

If your transcripts and diploma are not in English, you will need to have them translated by a certified translation service. This will cost about $50/page. Your transcripts and diploma could cost $250 to $350.

What information is provided in an evaluation report?
Most course-by-course evaluation reports, which are typically the type of reports that are requested, will include the following:

  • Information about the school you attended and the entrance requirement into that school
  • The dates you attended
  • The courses you took
  • The US equivalent of your grades for each course
  • The number of credits earned
  • The length of your program
  • The grading scale from your school
  • Your grade point average
  • The number of credits you took according to US standards

If your degree is the equivalent of a US degree, it will say something like: “US Educational Equivalent, Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from a regionally accredited college or university in the US.” This means that this degree would be the same as if you graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. The degrees should be considered equal.

If your degree is not the equivalent of a US degree, it might say that you have the equivalent of 3 years or 4 years of study from a US regionally accredited college or university.

What are the main questions I should ask myself if I think I want to have an evaluation done?

The main questions to ask yourself are:

  • Why am I having it done?
  • Who wants the evaluation report?
  • How do they want the report done?
  • Do I have or can I get the documents they need for the evaluation and submit them the way they want them submitted?

Professional Licensing

Many professions in Maine are considered licensed professions. This means that to be able to do work as that type of professional, it is necessary to meet the requirements for licensure for that profession. For example, even if a foreign trained engineer has a degree in engineering from their home country and has worked for 10 years as an engineer, they will still need to meet the requirements for licensure as an engineer if they want to work as a professionally licensed engineer in Maine.

The licensing process can be complicated and expensive. For most professions it will require, amongst other things:

  • Evaluations of transcripts and diplomas from your home school
  • Proof of work experience and/or the need to obtain additional experience in the US
  • A high level of English competency
  • Very difficult tests
  • Additional coursework to make up for any deficiencies
  • Money to cover the costs of the different steps in the process

NMRC Professional Licensing Guides*

As a way to help foreign trained professionals understand the licensing process for their profession, NMRC has produced a series of licensing guides to help foreign trained professionals better understand the licensing process for their profession. The professions include: CPA (Certified Public Accountant), engineer, nurse, doctor, lawyer, teacher, electrician, physical therapist and pharmacist.

These guides provide detailed information about: the different steps in the process, costs, resources, educational programs and alternative careers. While the guides attempt to make the process clearer, the information can still be very complicated. It is important to get clarification and answers about anything that is not clear. Maine’s licensing boards are a great resource for getting answers to specific questions about the process. Additionally, in 2021 Maine laws changed for many boards to give them greater flexibility regarding licensing requirements for foreign trained professionals so it is important to be in touch with the licensing board for your profession if you have a problem. It may also be helpful to review the information with a workforce or career advisor. Below are links to the licensing guides.

*Please note that Maine laws and rules change and professional licensing boards update their procedures and make changes to their websites and applications. NMRC will make every effort to keep these guides up to date, but information may change so it is important to confirm the information in the guides with the data available on a licensing board’s website.

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Are you ready to take advantage of the services and support that NMRC offers? Sign up to work with an advisor to get your credentials to work in the US!

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New Report Provides Framework for Upskilling Maine’s Foreign-Trained Health Professionals

Foreign-Trained Health Professionals examining an imageThe New Mainers Resource Center (NMRC) at Portland Adult Education (PAE) has released Report of the Foreign-Trained Health Professionals Licensing Pilot Project with findings and recommendations aimed to reduce the barriers that foreign trained health professionals face in obtaining employment in the healthcare field.

The recommendations from this report come at a critical time as Maine’s healthcare systems struggle with COVID-19 and disparity in health continues among minority populations. Establishing quicker and more cost-effective pathways for immigrant healthcare professionals to return to practice could result in a significant increase in the diversity and cultural competency of the state’s healthcare workforce which is one way to begin addressing these health disparities.

Implementation of the recommendations in the report will address the state’s need for healthcare workers in a number of ways. Implementation of the recommendations should:

  • Help foreign trained healthcare workers reach their highest potential
  • Address the state’s goal to achieve a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce
  • Meet the needs of healthcare employers, and address the state’s healthcare workforce shortages
  • Attract skilled healthcare workers to Maine

Funding for the Foreign Trained Health Professional Licensing Pilot Project research came from the Maine Health Access Foundation.

For more information or questions about the report contact:

Sally Sutton
Program Coordinator

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