Do Your Credentials Travel with You?

Do Your Credentials Travel with You?

In addition to getting either work permits or trade licenses, some expats can encounter an extra hurdle when it comes to the recognition and or acceptance of degrees, certificates and experience.

The type of qualification depends on the job required. The Czech Republic, by the admission of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, which oversees the recognition of qualifications, has among the highest number  of regulated professions in Europe. Currently around 400 professions are covered.
   
Choosing to participate in regulated professions means that you will have to demonstrate you have the requisite training and/or experience. The difference lies in whether qualifications are automatically recognized or not. First, though, let’s look at some professional areas which are regulated and which require applicants to prove they have the necessary skills to carry out the job in the Czech Republic.



Teaching

By this we mean teaching in primary or state schools. The Law on Pedagogical Staff states that “[a pedagogical worker] shall be fully qualified to carry out direct educational function which he/she shall perform.”

At a tertiary level the approach is inconsistent. One English teacher told me that he had to have his degree recognized by a local university before the university employed him. His colleague who was also not an EU citizen did not have to go through this process. The reason for the inconsistency could be whether the teacher was employed for a specialist subject or as a native-speaker of a foreign language. In the latter case, qualifications won’t be asked for.
   
Food and drink

Say you want to move to the Czech Republic and set up your own brewery, open a top quality butchers or start that sandwich shop you have long been dreaming about; you will find that certain qualifications are needed before you’re allowed to do this task.

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For brewers, there are a number of possibilities to have your trade recognized. You can show completion of secondary schooling along with an apprenticeship, vocational training in brewing or higher education in the field. A more in depth description is available here.

Chris Baerwaldt who runs the small private brewery Zhůřák had his employer in the US write a letter of confirmation of his past experience.

Similar qualifications are requested for people wanting to work in the restaurant trade.

The butchery trade or any other area of meat processing requires a person to show that they have completed an apprenticeship. However it is possible in this profession to have your local experience recognized.

Chris Robertson from Robertson Fine Foods mentioned that he only had to prove his experience here.

“After 3 years I was able to show the authorities that I had owned, managed and been employed in the butcher’s shop which was enough for them,” he said via email.

Other professions

Unsurprisingly a number of professions, such as accountants, architects and lawyers belong to the regulated professions.

Accountants need either secondary, vocational or higher education with the relevant area of study. Architects require nothing less than a university degree. Jiří Špiller from Increated Architecture said that from his experience it was quite easy for architects from within the EU to get a job.

Lawyers are able to practice once they have been admitted to the Czech Bar Association (Česká Advokatní Komora). Registration with the association requires recognition of one’s qualifications (see the section below). It also requires a clean criminal record and at least three years experience as a legal trainee. The process is covered by the Act on the Legal; Profession – an English translation of which can be downloaded at the association’s website.

Recognition of professional credentials

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The steps to have your qualifications recognized are explained here.

In short you will need an application form, available on the link above or from Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Ministry of Industry and Trade or the body which is responsible for the profession.

With the application form you have to submit evidence of professional qualifications translated into Czech, photocopy of national ID card or passport and proof of payment of 2,000 CZK administrative fee.

The decision can take up to 60 days unless the matter is deemed ‘complicated’, in which case it can take up to 90 days. A decision can be appealed through the courts. If it comes to this you might want to consider speaking to a lawyer.

Educational qualifications

It could happen that you need to have your actual program of university study recognized by the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic has bilateral agreements with the following countries: Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. An educational qualification from these countries is automatically recognized.

If no agreement exists between the Czech Republic and the country where the qualification was obtained, the regional education authorities deal with the recognition. It is not all bad. The Czech Republic is one of the countries which ratified the Lisbon Recognition Convention. This convention was signed by all 47 members of the Council of Europe, meaning most of the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Luxembourg as well as the Russia, Ukraine and Serbia to name a few. However, Greece and Monaco have not ratified it. Outside the Council of Europe Australia, Belarus, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, New Zealand and Vatican City have all ratified the convention while, Canada, Tajikistan and the USA have only signed it.

One of the main principles of the Lisbon Convention is that “The recognition can only be refused if the qualification is substantially different from that of the host country – and the onus is on its educational institution to prove that it is.” This means that you still need to have your qualification recognized but, in principal, signatories should only reject it if there is a fundamental difference in the programs.

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But you still have to apply. In this link you will find the application form, which is in Czech. Most of the details are straightforward, asking for your name, permanent address (trvlé bydliště) and the degree courses name (Název v originálním jazyce).

Part D in the form requires you to state your purpose (účel):

za účelem dalšího studia v ČR (uveďte název VŠ v České republice)
For the purpose of further study in CR (state the name of the university in the Czech Republic)

za účelem výkonu zaměstnání
for the purpose of employment

za účelem zapsání zahraničního akademického titulu do osobních dokladů
for the purpose of registration of aq foreign academic title into personal documents

za jiným účelem (uveďte jakým)
for another purpsoe (state which)

Along with the application you will need the original degree certificate or an authenticated copy and your academic transcript – again the original or an authenticated copy. Should you be applying on behalf of someone else, you will need to show power of attorney.

A spokesperson from NARIC said the length of time for the process depends on each application and would not give an official estimate. Speaking with a few students got an answer of about a month.

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What was your experience transferring your credentials to the Czech Republic?


Ryan Scott

Ryan Scott comes from Australia and despite what you might think he doesn't mind the winters here. He keenly follows local politics but please don't ask him about the hockey.

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