However, the process of getting a nursing license can appear very intimidating. Where do you start from? What’s the application process?
We’ve got you covered! Keep reading to learn the steps needed to get your nursing license, including prerequisites, enrollment in an accredited nursing program, applying for licensure, and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
Obtaining a nursing license requires students to complete an accredited, state-approved nursing program, apply with their state’s licensing board, and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Here is a step-by-step tutorial on obtaining your nursing license and becoming a registered nurse.
Enroll in a nursing program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the American Association of College of Nursing.
Accreditation ensures that your education is held to the highest standards, allows eligibility for financial aid from the federal government, and lets you sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.
To check nursing school accreditation records, visit the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP).
The next step is to apply for a license with your state’s licensing board. Do note that the application process requires completing an application and paying some fees.
Each state has different licensing requirements, which are essentially fees. For example, Alabama registered nursing students pay a $100 application fee, $50 temporary license fee, and $3.50 transaction fee.
Administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the NCLEX-RN exam allows students who have completed an accredited registered nursing program to become registered nurses.
There are two NCLEX exams: NCLEX-PN (for aspiring licensed practical nurses) and NCLEX-RN (for registered nursing applicants).
The exam covers all materials learned during nursing school, focusing on the human sciences. Expect a heavy focus on medical, pediatric, psychiatric, obstetric, and surgical subjects.
The NCLEX exam covers the following eight nursing subfields:
As per the format, the exam is computer-adaptive, meaning the number of questions depends on how often you provide the correct answer. It can be as short as 75 questions and as much as 265 questions, along with 15 experimental questions that do not count as part of your overall grade.
Once you pass the NCLEX, you’ll receive a temporary license, followed by a permanent license anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The exact duration will depend on volume and your state’s licensing board.
You’ll be able to apply for nursing jobs using a temporary license. However, a permanent license is required to execute all of the tasks you learned during nursing school.
Four types of nurses require licensure: certified nursing assistants (CNAs), registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).
After you’ve passed the NCLEX-RN exam, you have the option of applying for a “licensure by endorsement” through Nursys. This online verification company stores all license and disciplinary data and facilitates licensure in another state.
After obtaining your compact license, it’ll allow you to work in other states participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) program. For example, registered nurses in Arizona are eligible to work in Nebraska with an NLC license.
Here are all participating states in the program:
In short, pass your NCLEX exam, apply for licensure by endorsement in the state you wish to practice in, and pay all applicable fees.
Without a nursing license, job prospects are fairly limited.
Expect to find work as a nursing assistant performing limited patient care tasks. Another option is working in sales, where a nursing research background can help you pitch medication and sell medical supplies to public and private practices.
An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ASN) program allows students to become registered nurses. To become a registered nurse with an ASN, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination and apply for licensure through your state’s licensing board.
We highly recommend working towards a BSN. In addition to earning higher salaries with a broader job scope, more and more hospitals and healthcare settings now require all nurses to have a bachelor’s degree. New York passed a 2017 law, “BSN in 10”, requiring all nurses to obtain their BSN within ten years of receiving an RN license.
BSN coursework is much more rigorous than ASN coursework, focusing on the sciences, clinical hours, and increased responsibility.
An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is an 18-month to a two-year program that trains students to perform basic nursing care tasks, such as monitoring/recording vital signs, administering medication, and speaking with patients about symptoms and conditions.
ADN nurses can also obtain additional certifications in specialty areas to expand their scope and increase their salaries. These nurse specialties and certifications may include ambulatory care, cardiac vascular, medical-surgical, and nursing case management.
There are many benefits to having an ADN.
An ADN degree puts you on the fast track towards an ADN degree. The degree can be completed in as little as 18 months, allowing you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) faster.
Pursuing an ADN is cost-effective, saving more in tuition and fees than a traditional four-year BSN program.
Practicing LPNs who want to become registered nurses can use a 2-year ADN program as a springboard before considering the more rigorous BSN curriculum.
Working towards an ADN prepares you for critical subjects, including human anatomy, psychology, biology, nutrition, mathematics, physiology, and the social sciences.
Here are the steps to becoming a registered nurse with an associate’s degree.
All prerequisite requirements for math and the sciences should be met with a minimum GPA, as well as an essay and letters of recommendation,
Accredited ADN programs take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years to complete, allowing you to enter the field as a healthcare professional.
Once you’ve completed your ADN program, it’s time to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. You’ll be awarded licensure to work as a registered nurse if you pass it.
See the schedule below for a simple ADN curriculum, courtesy of the FVI School of Nursing and Technology.
|Course #||Course Title||Credits|
|BCS2085||Anatomy and Physiology I and Lab||4|
|BCS2086||Anatomy and Physiology II and Lab||4|
|MCB2010||Microbiology and Lab||4|
|NUR1100||Pharmacology for Nursing||3|
|NUR1500||Nursing Concepts II||12|
|NUR1500||Nursing Concepts III||12|
|NUR1500||Nursing Concepts IV (Capstone)||12|
More nursing students are being asked to obtain their BSNs, with many studies showing improved patient outcomes, a lower mortality rate, fewer clinical errors, and other success indicators.
Also, the number of available nursing jobs is expected to grow significantly through 2030. So obtaining a BSN degree becomes even more valuable to compete well with other nurses for entry-level employment.
To become a licensed practical nurse with an associate degree, you’ll need to follow these steps:
1) Earn your HS Diploma/GED
2) Enroll in an LPN training program accredited by the National League of Nursing Accrediting Agency (NLNAC)
3) Take and pass the NCLEX-PN exam
4) Receive your LPN license from your state’s board of nursing.
How long it takes to get your nursing license depends on the state. Each state has its time frame for issuing temporary and permanent nursing licenses.
For example, Alaska issues temporary and permanent licenses in as little as ten business days, whereas Arizona issues temporary licenses under 48 hours and permanent licenses anywhere from 1 to 2 months.
Be sure to check with your state’s nursing board for the exact time frames.
Nursing school costs depend on several factors, such as the type of program (e.g., ADN, BSN, MSN), online versus on-campus, in-state versus out-of-state programs, and additional miscellaneous costs such as room & board.
Additional costs for nursing schools cover incidents such as room & board, books, and lab fees. Expect to pay hundreds of dollars in textbooks, nursing supplies, lab fees, and background checks throughout your degree program.
Fortunately, many types of financial aid are available to students attending accredited nursing schools. These include federal student loans, private student loans, scholarships, and grants.
To apply for financial aid, prospective students will have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. It’s used to determine eligibility based on household income and other factors.
As for scholarships, they are awarded based on specific eligibility requirements. Some are catch-all, and others apply to a particular niche. For example, the Deborah Stevens Pediatric Nursing Scholarship ($1500) is available for students interested in becoming pediatric nurses.
Of hundreds of available scholarships, here are a few to consider:
Pay It Forward CRNA Scholarship
By: CRNA School Prep Academy
Amount: $4,400 (4 winners, $1,100 each)
Criteria: Currently enrolled in a nurse anesthesia program.
Jeffrey A. Mattos Memorial Nursing Scholarship
By: Gifted Scholars Leadership Program
Amount: $3,200 (3 winners, $1,066 each)
Criteria: For minority women interested in pursuing a career in nursing
WiseGeek Nurse Appreciation No-Essay Scholarship
Criteria: For current or prospective nurses
Young Women in STEM Scholarship
By: Stephanie Hagopian (private donor)
Type: High School, Undergraduate
Amount: $30,000 (3 winners, $10,000)
Criteria: Foprn three female, low-income high school seniors majoring in a STEM program
Noah Jon Markstrom Foundation Scholarship
By: Noah Jon Markstrom Foundation
Type: Undergraduate, graduate
Criteria: For undergraduate or graduate students interested in pediatric medicine
As a high-profile job, nursing has no shortage of inaccuracies related to job responsibilities, pay, schedule, and other job conditions.
Here are five common nursing misconceptions, exaggerated in the media, movies, and TV shows.
According to the United States Department of Labor, roughly 12% of nurses are male today. This percentage is a considerable increase over 1970 when only 2.7% of registered nurses were men.
Also, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting more than 200,000 new nursing jobs through 2029, the percentage of males in the nursing workforce should continue to grow over time.
Becoming a registered nurse is far from easy. Introductory nursing courses cover anatomy, chemistry, psychology, biochemistry, and other areas in the human sciences. Additionally, it requires hundreds of clinical hours, including simulation labs that try to mimic clinical settings.
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, registered nurses earn an average annual salary of $75,330 (May 2020) or a little over $36 an hour.
With a Master of Nursing (MSN) degree or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, one can easily eclipse $150,000 a year with the highest paying nursing jobs, such as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CNRA), Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Nurse Practitioner, Orthopedic Nurse Practitioner, and Oncology Nurse Practitioners.
Additionally, salaries between registered nurses vary depending on the state, years of experience, and specializations. For example, Alaska’s average annual salary for cardiac nurse practitioners is around $100,000 a year, while Arkansas-based cardiac nurse practitioners make an average yearly salary of $114,000.
The job outlook for nursing has never been better. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 195,500 new registered nurse openings are expected each year over the next decade. These projected employment opportunities are due to several reasons, primarily increasing retirement by baby boomers and the greater demand for healthcare.
Another key stat is projected job growth for nurse practitioners, which is expected to rise by 45% through 2029. With all of these good numbers, being hired is virtually guaranteed.
Although there are no official stats on nursing job outlook (growth percentages) by state, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does tally other metrics, including the following:
For all metrics, visit Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics – Registered Nurses – US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The job growth outlook for nurses varies depending on the type of nurse. According to the BLS, here are six types of nurses with percentage job growth figures from 2020 to 2030
All in all, getting your nursing license will undoubtedly lead to a long and fulfilling career. That’s thanks to steady industry growth, exciting work, and tons of professional development opportunities that will constantly keep you on your heels.
© 2022 AcademiaLabs | All Rights Reserved