Back to the Office

ftpsCareer Resources for Foreign-Trained Professionals

Massachusetts boasts a uniquely diverse and hard-working foreign born labor force, including more than one-third of immigrants over 25 who have a college or professional degree--doctors, teachers, engineers, accountants, and many others.All too often, however, these immigrant professionals confront significant obstacles to putting their degrees and skills to work, including language barriers, unfamiliarity with U.S. work culture, lack of access to professional networks, and the complexity and expense of recertifying in their professions. Nationally, 36 percent of foreign born residents who earned their college and professional credentials abroad are either unemployed or work in low-skilled and lower wage jobs that do not use their education and skills.

MIRA's Back to the Office initiative seeks to address the career barriers facing immigrant and refugee professionals in Massachusetts and help them get recredentialed in their professions--or find new career pathways that leverage their advanced training and experience. The online resources below offer information, training materials, and links to organizations that can help skilled immigrants as well as career advisors and educators better understand and navigate options for professional recertification and alternative career pathways. Back to the Office will also offer career workshops for immigrant professionals and career advisors as well as program development support to community-based organizations, career centers, job training agencies, and other groups to help them build their capacity to respond to the needs of this population.

The resource links below include the following topics:

Professional Licensing and Career Pathways in Massachusetts and the U.S.

  • Rx for Strengthening Massachusetts Economy and Healthcare System (MIRA Coalition). A report of a statewide task force called for by Governor Deval Patrick to provide recommendations to reduce barriers and strengthen career patheways for foreign-trained medical professionals in Massachusetts.
  • Professional Licensing Requirements for Engineers and Healthcare Professionals in Massachusetts (MIRA Coalition) Provides an overview of the state licensing requirements for engineers, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and medical technologists/clinical scientists, including the steps, time, and costs for foreign-trained professionals to become relicensed in these professions.
  • Professional Licensing Resources (Global Talent Bridge) Explains the complex process of professional licensing and certification in the U.S. for a wide range of jobs and professions, including health professions, accountant, architect, engineer, lawyer, teacher, social worker, and psychologist. The site provides information and resources to help immigrant professionals and those serving them better understand licensing and certification pathways, opportunities, obstacles, and career alternatives.
  • Licensing Guides by Profession (Upwardly Global) Describes steps, time and costs required to earn a state professional license or credential to return to the full practice of a regulated profession in ten different fields, including accountant, architect, dentist, engineer, IT professional, lawyer, nurse, pharmacist, physical therapist, physician, and teacher. The site also discusses options for pursuing alternative professional pathways. Guides are available for four states--California, Illinois, New York and Michigan--but much the information is applicable to professions in Massachusetts.
  • Licensing Guides for Refugee Professionals (Higher Advantage) Guides for foreign-trained professionals seeking to practice in the United States, including engineers, teachers, physicians and nurses, pharmacists, dentists, and accountants. The guides describe the structure and future of the profession and workforce composition, as well as the skills, training, and credentials needed to advance in the field.
  • Online Training Program for Skilled immigrants (Upwardly Global) This training program is designed to provide recently-arrived skilled immigrants and refugees with the techniques and cultural orientation they need to become competitive in the U.S. job market and rebuild their professional careers in this country. Participants have access to live online workshops, classrooms, discussion forums and UpGlo’s resume database and job board. They will also receive resume-writing and interview coaching support.
  • Job Search and Career Planning Information (Global Talent Bridge) Information and tools that address challenges high-skilled immigrant jobseekers often face in finding U.S. employment opportunities, including understanding the U.S. job search and career planning process.
  • Guide to Success in the U.S. Workplace (Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians) "How to Succeed in the Workplace: A Career Guide for the Immigrant Professional" offers a guide to U.S. business and workplace culture, and includes useful tips to help guide immigrant professionals through a professional job search in the United States.

Resources for Credential Evaluation

  • National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) An association of credential evaluation services committed to formulating and maintaining ethical standards in the field of foreign educational evaluation, individuals can use NACES to find reliable credential evaluation services.
  • World Education Services (WES) The leading international credential evaluation service in North America and a member of NACES. Individuals educated outside the U.S. can present WES evaluation reports to demonstrate their academic achievements when seeking opportunities for further education, professional licensing, employment or immigration opportunities in the U.S.

Accessing Educational Opportunities

Massachusetts Career / Bridge Programs Supporting Skilled Immigrants

Massachusetts Professional Networking Resources

Webinars on Working with Skilled Immigrants

   WES Global Talent Bridge

   Migration Policy Institute


Resources for Adult Educators and Community Colleges

Organizations Supporting High-Skilled Immigrant Integration

  • The Welcome Back Initiative Assists internationally trained healthcare workers in utilizing their experience and training to fill the need for culturally competent healthcare in the United States—in 9 cities (including the Boston Welcome Back Center).
  • Upwardly Global Helps work-authorized, skilled immigrants rebuild their professional careers in the U.S. through its job seeker services and a robust employer network, with national online presence, focusing on engineering, financial services & healthcare.
  • World Education Services (WES) A non-profit organization that provides research about international education and trends and offers expert credential evaluation services.
  • WES Global Talent Bridge Offers seminars, webinars, online resources, technical assistance and policy advocacy to help skilled immigrants navigate education & job search options.
  • IMPRINT A coalition of national/regional groups (including the Welcome Back Initiative, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, Upwardly Global, WES and the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education) supporting local, state and national efforts  to advance policies and best practices.
  • African Bridge Network The African Bridge Network aims to assist African immigrants in Massachusets in leveraging their qualifications and experience, through orientation workshops, advocacy, and access to resources, mentorship and professional networking.
  • The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians Regional non-profit serving all work-authorized immigrants in Greater Philadelphia with job search assistance, ESOL classes, employer placements, training & resource referrals, legal services, small business support, public policy research, community outreach.
  • Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE) Raises awareness of the important role community colleges play in delivering educational opportunities to immigrants and promotes the expansion of quality programs and services for immigrant students.

Research and Policy Analysis

  • Steps to Success: Integrating Immigrant Professionals in the United States (IMPRINT/WES 2015). A new report detailing the experiences of college-educated immigrants in six U.S. cities; Boston, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia, San Jose and Seattle. Drawn from the survey responses of more than 4,000 college-educated immigrants living in the United States, the report identifies factors that correlate with their successful integration into American life and offers recommendations for communities to better integrate these skilled workers, and take advantage of their many talents. A city-specific report for Boston is available.
  • Rx for Strengthening Massachusetts' Economy and Healthcare System(MIRA Coalition, 2014). The report of a statewide, cross-sector task force convened at the request of Governor Devel Patrick to explore the challenges and opportunities for foreign-trained health professionals in MA. Provides detailed data on the population of foreign-trained health professionals in the Commonwealth along with recommendations for program and policy options to help them reach their full potential.
  • Tapping the Potential of Foreign-Trained Engineers and Healthcare Professionals in Massachusetts (MIRA Coalition, 2012). This path-breaking report looks at the skill underutilization and reredentialing challenges facing foreign-trained immigrant professionals in Massachusetts in the engineering and healthcare fields, and provides detailed guides to the procedures, time, and costs of licensing for engineering and healthcare professionals in the state.
  • Uneven Progress: The Employment Pathways of Skilled Immigrants in the United States (Jeanne Batalova and Michael Fix, 2008, Migration Policy Institute). Using national survey data, this exploratory study provides a deep and far-reaching assessment of the "brain-waste" phenomenon in the United States—a serious waste of human capital resulting from the unemployment or underemployment of highly skilled college-educated immigrants.
  • "Immigration, Skills, and Mobility in the Transatlantic Labor Market" Project (Migration Policy Institute). Five reports (2012-2013) from this project investigate how governments can improve the recognition of foreign qualifications through domestic public policies and through international cooperation, analyzing how European Union and U.S. policymakers learn from policy experience to date, and how they can cooperate more effectively on this issue.
  • Drexel University Studies of Skilled Immigrants in the United States (2012-2013). Includes five studies and a summary report by Neeta Fogg and Paul Harrington (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA), based on data from the 2003 release of the National Survey of College Students. Supported by a grant from the Office for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, these studies offer the most detailed and data-driven analysis available of labor market pathways for foreign-educated college-educated immigrants in the U.S. The series includes:

The Earnings of Foreign-Educated College Graduates: An Examination of the Determinants of the Hourly Earnings of College-Educated Immigrants” (2012)

“Findings from an Examination of the Labor Force Participation of College-Educated Immigrants in the United States” (2012)

“Unemployment Problems Among College-Educated Immigrants in the United States” (2012) 

“Involuntary Part-Time Employment Problems Among College-Educated Immigrants in the United States” (2012)

“Mal-Employment Problems Among College-Educated Immigrants in the United States” (2012)

“Labor Market Underutilization Problems among College-Educated Immigrants in the United States” (Summary Report, 2013)