Who Issues? Optional/Required? Unique Features Key Requirements
Licenses awarded by government licensing boards – federal, state, local Required by law in civilian workforce Requirements may vary by state May Include:
  • Education
  • Training
  • Work Experience
  • Exam(s)


Graphic reprensentation of a drivers licenseWho Issues? Governmental licensing boards—federal, state, or local—grant licenses to individuals to practice a specific occupation. State, federal, or local laws or regulations define the standards that individuals must meet to become licensed.

Optional or Required? Licenses are typically required (mandatory) by law to practice certain occupations in the civilian workforce even though they may not be required to practice in the military. Not all occupations are licensed. Typically public safety and consumer protection are the primary reasons that a civilian occupation might be licensed.

Unique Features Requirements for state licenses may vary by state. Not all states license the same occupations and for those that do, requirements can differ substantially. If you hold a license in one state but plan to relocate to another state, you need to find out if that state requires a license for your occupation and if it recognizes your license.

Some states will give consideration to individuals licensed in another state. For example the licensing board may:

  • Recognize licenses granted by other states as equivalent, called "reciprocity."
  • Issue a license based on the individual having met similar requirements out-of-state, called "endorsement" or "license by credentials."
  • Credit equivalent out-of-state training, education, and examinations.

Even if a state recognizes another’s license, you may still need to take an exam or pay a fee. Check with the state licensing board to find out more about the specific requirements.

You can obtain state licensing board contact information from the "Licensed Occupations" section of the U.S. Department of Labor’s America’s Career Information Network.

How to get more information on COOL The COOL Summary Page provides information on federal and state licenses. If a federal license applies to your rating, designator, or collateral duty/out of rate assignment, that information will be shown under the section “National Certifications and/or Federal Licenses.” If a state license applies, that information will be shown in the section of the summary page called “State Licensure.”

This is an official U.S. Marine Corps website
Updated: September 26, 2019