By Sally Sutton 

The New Mainers Resource Center at Portland Adult Education works with New Mainers who come to the U.S. with college degrees and years of experience. Most people want to know if their college degrees will be recognized as they look for jobs, apply to schools, or seek licensing in their professions.   

Will a degree be recognized? The answer is that it depends. This is Part 2 of a two-part series that discusses credential evaluations. Part 1 explained what a credential evaluation is, and Part 2 describes how to know when an evaluation needs to be done.  

Many of Maine’s immigrants arrive with years of college study and degrees from their home countries, and consider ordering a credential evaluation – a complicated, expensive, but sometimes necessary process. If you are thinking about ordering an evaluation, these questions may help you decide whether to go ahead. 

What are your career or educational goals? 

Before you have your degree evaluated, having some idea of your career or educational goals is important. Usually, evaluations are done because an employer, school, or professional licensing board requires that you submit an evaluation to them. You need to know something about who wants to see the evaluation to know the requirements for how your evaluation needs to be done. 

What is your professional background? 

If you have a technical background in engineering, computers, or some branches of science, having an evaluation of your degree done may be useful to show an employer that you have the technical training needed to do the job. For other licensed professions such as teacher, engineer, or health professional, an evaluation of your degree will be necessary as part of that licensing process. But if you are in a field that relies more on soft skills – such as teamwork, communication, or leadership skills – your experience and these skills may be more important to the employer than what you studied in school. 

What types of jobs will you be applying for? 

Are you applying for an entry level position, or for one that will require you to use professional skills? For an entry level position, you probably will not need to show the equivalency of your degree, although you may need to show that you have a high school diploma – either a U.S. high school diploma or one from your home country. Many employers will not require proof of the diploma; however, for those who do, you likely could show them a copy of your diploma, possibly translated into English. 

What is your English level? 

If your English proficiency and computer skills are not yet at the level necessary to do professional work in your field or to enter an educational program, you may want to wait to have an evaluation done.  

Do you have a way to cover the cost of the evaluation and translation? 

An evaluation could cost between $300 and $400. Translation of transcripts and diplomas into English could cost $250 – $800. 

Do you have a complete set of your transcripts and your diploma? 

If you do not have a complete set of your transcripts and your diploma, you might not want to apply for an evaluation. For example, if you have a degree from your country and submit all of your transcripts, but do not also have a diploma to submit, the evaluation report may not recognize that you have a degree. 

If needed, could you get your transcripts and diplomas sent from your school to the company that will do the evaluation? 

Some evaluation companies will accept copies from you, but others will require your school to either verify that you attended or send your transcripts and diploma directly to the evaluation company. 

Is now the right time for an evaluation? 

Having a credential evaluation or equivalency of your degree done is a complicated and expensive process. If you do not yet have work authorization, you may want to wait to request an evaluation. Your answers to the following questions will help you decide if this is the time for an evaluation of your degree. 

  • Why do I want to have it done? 
  • How does this fit with my career goals? 
  • Is now the right time to do it? 
  • Who wants the evaluation report?  
  • Am I able to submit all of my documents as required? 
  • What resources are available to me to help cover the costs of the translation and evaluation? 

Sally Sutton, MAPPA, MSSW, Program Coordinator, New Mainers Resource Center, Portland Adult Education, [email protected], (207) 874-8155