The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs was established in 1963 as part of the Department of State to provide administrative, logistical and legal support services to professional and occupational licensing boards and commissions.
Professional licensing protects the health and safety of the public from fraudulent and unethical practitioners. There are 29 licensing boards and commissions, each with their own statute governing their powers and functions. The boards and commissions also promulgate regulations to further govern their respective professions.
The boards and commissions each comprise between seven and 17 members, including professionals in those fields and public members who represent the public at-large. Members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
The Commissioner of the Bureau is a voting member of all boards and commissions under the Department's jurisdiction, except the State Board of Certified Real Estate Appraisers and the Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and its Navigable Tributaries. Both of these are served by the Secretary of the Commonwealth or a designee.
The Department provides these boards and commissions with legal, technical and administrative support to conduct written practical licensure examinations; review and verify education and experience of candidates for licensure; certify providers of education; receive and investigate public complaints; conduct periodic facility inspections; prosecute, adjudicate, fine and sanction violators; administer licensure programs, revise standards for licensure to keep pace with changes in the professions and advise the legislature on proposed statutory changes.
The Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation provides the boards and commissions with facility inspection and law enforcement capabilities. It maintains regional offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton.