Nursing is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for registered nurses (RNs) is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. However, healthcare labor experts predict much stronger growth in Texas. According to a 2018 report by the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, statewide demand for RNs is projected to grow 54% by 2030, creating an estimated 60,000 full-time job vacancies. The career outlook for nurses in Texas is among the strongest in the country.
While an associate degree in nursing (ADN) can launch a Texas nursing career, the Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies stresses that hospitals increasingly favor candidates with at least a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). While Texas employers prefer experienced nurses, the demand for skilled professionals means any capable, compassionate, and committed licensed nurse is likely to find a desirable job in the Lone Star State.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Texas
As of 2019, Texas employs 7.2% of U.S. nurses and pays salaries that outpace the national average by about 3%. These trends indicate plenty of well-paid job opportunities, even without factoring in the projected demand.
|Employment||Annual Median Wage|
Salaries for Nurses in Texas
Job seekers enjoy favorable market conditions when comparing salaries for nurses in Texas to national averages as reported by the BLS. Texas ranks in the top half of the U.S. for annual nursing wages, and nursing professionals based in major Texas cities enjoy even better salaries on average. Metro areas, including Houston, Corpus Christi, and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, post particularly favorable salary results, but nurses working in virtually any urban area in Texas enjoy healthy incomes.
This table summarizes average annual salaries for nurses employed in 10 major Texas cities, as reported by the BLS:
|Area Name||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land||51,610||$79,060|
Specialties for Nurses in Texas
In Texas, a BSN fulfills the educational requirements to work as an RN, licensed vocational nurse (LVN), or licensed practical nurse (LPN), but graduate degree paths expand professional opportunities. For instance, a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree opens doors to specialized positions that tend to pay more. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and nursing professionals in similar positions earned median salaries of $110,930 in 2017.
Specialist nursing concentrations allow students to develop unique skills and differentiate themselves in the labor market. The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies notes ongoing statewide demand for pediatric, oncology, intensive care, and school nurses. Career development experts recommend that aspiring nurses remain mindful of the employment paths they intend to pursue as they work through their nursing education so they can make appropriate academic choices. Students in Texas MSN programs can pursue coursework concentrations in specialized disciplines that lead to the positions listed below.
- Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners typically hold senior roles that share some responsibilities with doctors, such as diagnostic authority and the ability to write prescriptions. They are one of the most common types of APRNs.
Median Salary in Houston: $96,914
- Nurse Anesthetist
Patients undergoing routine and major procedures frequently require local or general anesthesia. Nurse anesthetists specialize in the preparation, delivery, and management of topical and systemic anesthetic drugs.
Median Salary in Houston: $141,779
- Emergency Room Nurse
These nurses hold specialized training in stabilizing patients with major injuries. They must understand the psychosocial aspects of dealing with individuals and family members in the emergency care system.
Median Salary in Houston: $61,932
- Neonatal Nurse
This nursing specialty focuses on caring for newborn babies with significant health concerns, such as premature birth, organ problems, infections, and other major medical issues.
Median Salary in Houston: $75,000
- Psychiatric Nurse
Psychiatric nurses draw on a combination of medical and psychological training. They assist in assessing and treating patients suffering from mental illnesses and acute mental health episodes, forming a vital part of a complete psychiatric care team.
Median Salary in Houston: $68,634
- Certified Nurse Midwife
These female reproductive health specialists work in birth clinics, maternity wards, and home settings. They provide care for mothers and children before, during, and immediately after childbirth.
Median Salary in Houston: $96,500
How to Become a Nurse in Texas
Earn a Degree
An ADN can launch an entry-level career in nonprimary care settings in Texas. However, if you plan to become an RN or LVN/LPN in Texas, you should earn at least a BSN because most hospitals require incoming nurses to hold a bachelor's degree.
Many nurses start their careers as RNs, LVNs, or LPNs, then return to school for a nursing specialization. This strategy allows nurses to develop their professional interests through hands-on, professional experience. For instance, some specialists are unaware of their affinity for a branch of nursing until they encounter it in a job setting.
APRNs and other nursing specialists usually hold MSN degrees with concentrations in healthcare fields. The DNP designation holds particular appeal for individuals planning careers in nursing education. To ensure you are eligible for a Texas nursing license, make certain that your school holds accreditation from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Obtain Nursing License
The Texas Board of Nursing is the state's licensing and regulatory authority for nurses. As in most states, RNs and LVN/LPNs in Texas can obtain their licenses by examination or endorsement.
The examination option requires candidates to hold a nursing degree from an accredited institution recognized by the Texas Board of Nursing. The board maintains regularly updated lists of approved vocational and professional nursing programs.
To earn your nursing license by examination, you must pass a standardized test known as the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Prior to sitting for the NCLEX, Texas nursing aspirants must pass a jurisprudence examination. Candidates who pass both exams must then satisfy a criminal background check. As of 2019, the NCLEX costs $200, and candidates must pay this fee along with jurisprudence exam and application costs.
If you already passed the NCLEX and/or hold a current license to practice nursing in another U.S. state, you can apply for licensure by endorsement. However, applicants are ineligible for certification through endorsement if they have previously held a Texas nursing license.
Maintain and Renew Certification
Texas nursing licenses remain valid for two years. Nurses can complete the renewal process online. Texas nurses become ineligible for automatic license renewal if they default on a Texas Guaranteed Student Loan, allow their license to lapse into inactive or delinquent status, or fail to meet the state's continuing education requirements.
Texas nurses may also become disqualified from licensure renewal for criminal or professionally negligent activity.
Resources for Nurses in Texas
Professional resources benefit Texas nursing students in many ways. Nursing journals inform students, helping them master coursework, and advance professional training. Nursing organizations often accept student members and provide helpful services, like job boards and career counseling.
Review the following resources, then access a complete list of helpful nursing resources at BestColleges.com.
Top RN to BSN Programs in Texas
In evaluating Texas nursing programs, we considered critical information, such as graduation rates, employment rates, reputation, and faculty quality. You should balance these considerations against the merits of online and traditional on-campus learning. Online learning offers excellent flexibility, while traditional learning provides more structure and peer interaction.
The following rankings represent the top RN-to-BSN programs in Texas. We ranked them based on data from the Texas Board of Nursing website.
Texas State University
|Round Rock, TX||
Texas State's St. David's School of Nursing offers an RN-to-BSN program featuring mostly online coursework, with some in-person components in high-tech simulation laboratories on the school's Round Rock campus. The 30-credit program allows students to proceed at their own pace and offers full-time and part-time options. Full-time students can graduate in two semesters.
The RN-to-BSN curriculum prepares students for a career in nursing in Texas. Required courses cover community-based nursing, healthcare systems, information technology in nursing practice, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.
Applicants must hold an unencumbered RN license from the state in which they live. They also need a degree from a registered nursing program at a regionally accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Incoming students must complete 60 credits of prerequisite coursework and submit two letters of recommendation.
St. David's School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
University of Houston
Available online and at two University of Houston campuses, this RN-to-BSN program offers flexibility for practicing nurses in Texas. Students may start the program in the fall or spring, and they typically graduate within one year.
The RN-to-BSN program features 120 credits, including 30 major credits. The curriculum includes courses on professional role development, pathophysiology, policy and ethics, community health nursing, and healthcare informatics. The program includes three practica: a community health clinical, a health assessment lab, and a capstone. The college of nursing coordinates and assigns clinical experiences for students.
Prospective students must hold an associate degree from an accredited institution and an unencumbered RN Texas license. The program also requires a minimum 2.5 GPA and several prerequisites, including at least 30 credits of undergraduate nursing courses.
The UH College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
With its 24 credit hours of nursing courses, the Concordia University, Texas RN-to-BSN program allows practicing healthcare professionals to secure a bachelor's degree while working full time. Many students graduate within four semesters.
The program aims to enhance the career outlook for nurses in Texas by giving students the leadership and practical skills they need to serve as nurse managers, nurse educators, case managers, and performance improvement managers. It delivers all classes online, although students may take in-person classes if they wish.
Eligible applicants must hold an associate degree in nursing from an accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 2.5 GPA in all nursing courses. They must also serve as a practicing RN in Texas and provide three letters of recommendation. Once enrolled, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing.
The College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
East Texas Baptist University
Founded in 1912 and located in Marshall, ETBU offers a 121-credit RN-to-BSN program that prepares graduates to take the Texas nursing licensure exam. It emphasizes critical thinking, leadership, ethics, and evidence-based practices, teaching students to care for patients in diverse healthcare settings.
The faith-based program requires 54 credits of general education classes in addition to 34 credits of major coursework. Nursing classes cover subjects like pharmacology, pediatric nursing, mental health, and gerontology. Students must complete a clinical lab and a six-credit course on nursing leadership and management.
Applicants must submit two professional recommendations and a satisfactory score on the ATI TEAS exam, which tests students on reading, math, science, and English. Applicants also need at least an associate degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.8 GPA.
The nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
LeTourneau, a faith-based university in the east Texas city of Longview, offers a flexible online BSN program to help registered nurses advance their careers. The program features seven-week courses throughout the year, with students taking classes with cohorts of their peers. Students take courses in pharmacology, pathology, nursing leadership, and ethics and policy. Students may complete clinical requirements locally without traveling to Longview. Most full-time students can graduate with a bachelor's degree in one year.
Applicants must hold a current unencumbered RN license, along with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75. They must also hold a C or better in all psychology, science, and nutrition prerequisite courses.
This RN-to-BSN Texas program is accredited by the Commission on College Nursing Education and the Texas Board of Nursing.
Stephen F Austin State University
Located in Nacogdoches, SFA features a 100% online RN-to-BSN program, allowing professionals practicing nursing in Texas to continue working while attending school. Students can learn on their own time, taking courses on topics such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, community healthcare, and nursing informatics.
In a class on cultural issues in professional nursing, students learn how culture affects care delivery for individuals, families, and communities. Students also take a transition course to help them move into the new career opportunities a bachelor's degree affords.
Applicants must hold an associate degree in nursing and an unencumbered RN license while maintaining employment as a registered nurse. They also need a minimum 2.5 GPA in all prerequisite courses.
The DeWitt School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on College Nursing Education.
University of Texas at El Paso
|El Paso, TX||
Students at UTEP enjoy access to an online RN-to-BSN program through the university's school of nursing. The program's format enables students to complete degree requirements in 18 months.
Major courses cover subjects like nursing informatics, evidence-based research, mental behavioral health, care for seniors, and adult health nursing. These courses provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to practice nursing in Texas and work with diverse individuals and families. Students take 51 credits of program classes, for a total degree plan of 120 credits.
Applicants must hold an associate degree in nursing and submit college transcripts reflecting a minimum 2.0 GPA. Applicants also need a current unencumbered RN license in the United States.
This BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
West Texas A & M University
Located in Canyon, WTAMU offers a flexible online RN-to-BSN program formatted to meet the needs of full-time nurses. Most students graduate in one year, although the program allows nurses to set their own pace and take classes part time as needed.
Students take classes on nursing leadership, legal and ethical issues, informatics, and cultural competence. The school provides a special scholarship of $225 per each required RN-to-BSN course, giving resident and nonresident students a significant tuition break. Additionally, RN-to-BSN students can seamlessly move into a master's program thanks to the university's accelerated option.
Applicants must hold an unencumbered RN license and an associate degree or diploma from an accredited postsecondary institution. The application does not require an essay or recommendation letters.
The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Texas A & M International University
Located in Laredo, TAMU International delivers an accelerated path to a BSN for professionals practicing nursing in Texas. Students typically graduate within 12-18 months and can start the 32-credit program through six different enrollment periods each year.
Core courses include topics like nursing research, leadership and management, community nursing, and global health nursing. Students also take history of nursing, studying key figures in the development of modern nursing practice and how the field continues to evolve. Each major course lasts seven weeks. The RN-to-BSN program emphasizes health promotion, evidence-based practice, technology, and the delivery of culturally appropriate care to diverse populations.
Applicants must submit an unencumbered RN Texas license and official college transcripts. Applicants need at least an associate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Texas Woman's University
With over 15,000 students, Texas Women's University is the largest primarily female university in the United States. Though it has accepted male students since 1994, it is still a member university of the Women's College Coalition, and has campuses in Denton, Dallas, and Houston.
TWU's BSN program is offered in two sections: the first is offered only on TWU's Denton campus, and it includes 46 credits of general education and nursing prerequisites. For the second part, learners study full time at TWU's medical centers: Dallas Center or Houston Center. Courses include nutrition, clinical competencies, pharmacology, and physiology. For working nurses interested in a career change, TWU also offers a weekend/evening program at the Dallas Center.
TWU's BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas, and its nursing graduates have a 90% first-time pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination.