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Professional license defense: Dealing with background checks

If you are in the process of acquiring a professional license in California, you will likely have to submit to a background check of some kind. Industries require these checks to ensure that applicants are eligible to hold a professional license and do not have an unfavorable history. These screenings have become more common in recent years as employers and professional boards seek to minimize risk.

Background checks can cause a lot of anxiety in license applicants -- even those who have a spotless history. This anxiety comes from not understanding exactly what a screening might reveal. Learning more about the background check process can alert you to any problems that may surface during a screening. In turn, brainstorming these potential problem areas with a legal professional can lead to previously unconsidered solutions.

In the meantime, here are a few things you should know about background checks:

  • A basic screening usually reveals historical items like education, previous residences and employment history.
  • In California, background checks may go back as far as seven years.
  • The depth of a background check will depend on the industry in which you are seeking a license.
  • Many regulatory boards search a license applicant's background for criminal convictions.
  • Some screenings look for financial issues like bankruptcies and collection attempts.

In most cases, a background check will not harm your chances of obtaining a license unless you have committed a serious crime or engaged in misconduct. However, if you are concerned, consider asking a professional license defense lawyer to help you research your past and address any problem areas that might exist.

Source:, "What do background checks show?," accessed May 31, 2018

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