Shapiro Administration Announces IRRC Approval of New Licensing Regulations That Allow More Qualified PA Professionals to Obtain Their State License

This week’s approval opens the doors to greater opportunity for people with prior criminal convictions to become licensed in their chosen profession or occupation.

Harrisburg, PA – The Shapiro Administration and the Department of State (DOS) today announced that the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approved new professional and occupational licensing regulations that reduce barriers to professional practice while continuing to protect public safety and well-being.

During the multi-step process leading to Thursday’s approval by IRRC, the Department drew valuable input from the public, members of the General Assembly, advocacy groups, and the expert members of DOS’ professional licensing boards and commissions.

The Department's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) used that input to identify the criminal offenses that are “directly related” to the duties of the professions or occupations its licensing boards and commissions oversee. In addition, the regulations now specify that an offense can only be directly related to the profession or occupation if a conviction occurred within the past five years.

“Under these regulations, people with prior criminal convictions will have greater opportunity to enter professional fields,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt said. “At the same time, Pennsylvanians can rest assured that the Commonwealth’s professional licensing boards and commissions continue to individually assess each applicant and determine whether they are qualified to be licensed in their chosen field.”

DOS has been working diligently since the passage of Act 53 of 2020, which required each of the Department’s 29 licensing boards and commissions to develop a list of which criminal convictions may justify denying an applicant a license to work in their field. Act 53 standardized the way these boards must weigh an applicant’s criminal history when assessing their fitness to be licensed in their field. Now, applicants know before they apply which previous convictions may prevent them from getting their professional license, and they know what they must demonstrate to show they are, in fact, qualified.

Enacting these new guidelines reduces the likelihood that someone with an unrelated prior criminal conviction is needlessly barred from professional practice.

“This process has involved tremendous hard work by hundreds of people who have written and reviewed many rounds of drafts of these regulations,” BPOA Acting Commissioner Arion Claggett said.

The 241-page revised regulations approved by IRRC will next be sent to the Office of Attorney General for approval and must then be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin before taking effect. Schmidt said the Department hopes to publish the final regulations by the end of this summer.

“The Shapiro Administration has been eager to implement this important reform, which reduces barriers to professional practice for qualified Pennsylvanians,” Schmidt said.

More information about BPOA’s 29 licensing boards and commissions can be found on DOS’ website and on their individual webpages

Anyone can verify a professional’s license status and related information through the Department’s Professional Licensing System site, PALS.

Media Contacts

Matt Heckel

Press Secretary
Department of State Media