Overview of the Division of Professional Licensure

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Division of Professional Licensure.

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The Division of Professional Licensure’s (DPL’s) main office is at 1000 Washington Street in Boston. Established by Section 8 of Chapter 13 of the Massachusetts General Laws, DPL is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. According to DPL’s website,

[DPL] is responsible for oversight of 28 boards of registration, as well as the Office of Public Safety and Inspections and the Office of Private Occupational School Education. Collectively, DPL boards and offices license and regulate more than 580,000 individuals, businesses, and schools to engage in over 150 trades and professions in Massachusetts.

Among the 28 boards of registration that DPL oversees are entities such as the Board of Registration of Home Inspectors, the Board of Public Accountancy, the Board of Registration of Psychologists, and the Board of Registration of Cosmetology and Barbering.

DPL’s Office of Private Occupational School Education licenses and regulates all private occupational schools in Massachusetts. The Office of Public Safety and Inspections’ (OPSI’s)1 responsibilities include ensuring compliance with the Massachusetts Building Code (Title 780 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations).

According to DPL’s 2019 annual report,

DPL’s mission is to protect the public health, safety and welfare by licensing qualified individuals and businesses to provide services to consumers, while ensuring the fair and consistent enforcement of licensing laws and regulations. DPL also seeks to promote consumer protection, a fair and competitive marketplace, and engage in education and outreach events.

This report also states that DPL generated more than $53 million in revenue for the Commonwealth during fiscal year 2019 from licensing fees and other sources. For fiscal years 2018 and 2019, DPL received state appropriations of $16,026,450 and $17,838,394, respectively, to fund its activities. 

DPL Background Check Processes

Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) and Sex Offender Record Information (SORI) background check requirements and processes vary from license to license and board to board.

To apply for a new license or renew a license from one of DPL’s 28 boards of registration and its Office of Private Occupational School Education (collectively referred to herein as DPL’s 29 boards), a person or business can complete a paper application and submit it to DPL; apply online through the Commonwealth’s ePLACE Portal;5 or, if applicable, apply through a contracted vendor that a specific board of registration uses. Currently, nine of DPL’s boards of registration use contracted vendors for various services, including preparing license application packages, administering licensing exams, and issuing licenses. DPL requires each license applicant to complete a CORI acknowledgment form to receive a license. After the applicant completes the CORI acknowledgment form and returns it to DPL, DPL sends the applicant information via a secure interface to the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) iCORI6 Web-based system. DCJIS performs the requested CORI checks and returns the results to DPL, which enters them in its Accela database. Each board receives the results of its background checks and decides whether to issue licenses.

According to DPL management, DPL conducts a SORI check of all license applicants; it does not require an authorization from applicants to do this. Every week, DPL extracts license application data from Accela and sends it to the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB). Also, once a month DPL extracts all licensee data from Accela and sends it to SORB, which performs a SORI check of each licensee.

According to DPL management, OPSI has 6 boards that represent 72 license types, as well as 13 license types with no board oversight. A person or business can apply for an OPSI license by either filling out a paper application and submitting it to OPSI or applying online using the OPSI licensing portal. DPL does not require a CORI acknowledgment form and corresponding CORI check for all OPSI’s license applicants. It only requires a CORI check to be conducted for applicants for 9 of the 85 license types; for these 9 types, a CORI check is specifically required by either statute or regulation. To conduct a CORI check, OPSI personnel enter the applicant information in iCORI. When DCJIS returns the results, OPSI personnel save all the results in a desktop software application called Application Xtender. They also enter CORI information for specific license types in OPSI’s MyLicense Office database. The OPSI boards use the results of CORI checks to determine whether to issue licenses.

4.     During fiscal year 2018, the Department of Public Safety merged into DPL and became OPSI.


5.     The ePLACE Portal provides online public access to licensing, permitting, and certificate services such as license applications and renewals, payments for license applications and renewals, checks of license status, and filing of online complaints against licensees.

6.     According to the DCJIS website, iCORI is “a service of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts [that] provides access to Massachusetts-only criminal offender record information.”

Date published: September 15, 2021

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