Licensure - Types


In the USA and Canada, licensing (the term registration is sometimes used) is usually required by law to work in a particular profession or to obtain a privilege such as to drive a car or truck or own a gun. Many privileges and professions require a license, generally from the state or provincial government, in order to ensure that the public will not be harmed by the incompetence of the practitioners. Architecture, Interior design, Landscape architecture, Engineering, Surveying, Teachers, medical practitioners, nurses, lawyers, detectives, psychologists, geologists, social workers, Earth Science, and certified public accountants are some examples of professions that require licensure. Licensure is similar to professional certification, and sometimes synonymous; however, certification is an employment qualification and not a legal requirement for practicing a profession.

In many cases, an individual must complete certain steps, such as training, acquiring an academic degree in a particular area of study, and/or passing an exam, before becoming eligible to receive their license. There are various resources available to assist professionals with the completion of these steps. Professional associations are often a tremendous resource to individuals looking to obtain a special level of certification or licensure. Upon the successful attainment of a license, individuals append an acronym to their name, such as CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or LPD and PI (Private Detective and Investigator) PE (Professional Engineer). In the United Kingdom, licensing as a form of professional regulation predominated in the centuries before 1900. It has largely given way to memberships of professional bodies. This usually involves registration with a professional body and the granting of grades of "associateship," "membership" or "fellowship" of such a body. Gaining membership of such bodies is usually restricted solely to those who pass additional examinations after university graduation. United Kingdom examples of professional bodies include: MRINA (internationally qualified to practice member of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects), MRIBA Royal Institute of British Architects), BAI Business Architects Qualification), FIMechE (Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers), FICE(Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers), LRCP (licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians), MRCP (member of the Royal College of Physicians) and FRCP (fellow of the Royal College of Physicians),MIET (Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology),GCGI(Graduateship of the City and Guilds of London Institute).

Historically, in the professionalization process by which trades have transformed themselves into true professions, licensing fast became the method of choice in obtaining the occupational closure required by barring the unqualified from entry to the rites and privileges of a professional group. This was initially the preferred route of regulation whether for physicians, lawyers, the clergy, accountants, bankers, scientists or architects. However, licensing has given way to membership of professional bodies, as a means of excluding the unqualified.

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