Hawaii Nursing License Requirements

Nurses in Hawaii can enjoy higher-than-average salaries. Learn about Hawaii's nursing requirements to get licensed in the state.
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Updated on January 10, 2024
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  • Hawaii pays nurses one of the highest average salaries in the country.
  • Hawaii allows nursing students three tries to pass the NCLEX-RN.
  • Nurses from other states can now apply for an emergency temporary permit to practice in Hawaii.

You can pursue a well-paying career in Hawaii, the second highest-paying state in the country for nurses. Nurses in the Aloha State can also enjoy career stability and a level of well-being that eclipses other states. The state will add 110 nursing positions each year until 2030 to help fill the nursing shortage, according to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

Do you want to become a nurse in Hawaii? Learn about Hawaii's nursing license requirements and school graduation criteria.

Hawaii State Board of Nursing

Hawaii's board of nursing operates through the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Professional and Vocational Licensing Division (PVL). The PVL oversees licensing regulations for 52 professions, including nursing. Within the division, there's a licensing branch, examination branch, and administration branch.

You must submit your nursing licensing application and fee to the PVL's licensing branch. The division's site also allows you to manage your license through the MyPVL Licensee Dashboard.

Hawaii Nursing Education Requirements

Prospective nurses can pursue a career in the Aloha State after earning an associate in nursing degree (ADN) or bachelor's in nursing degree (BSN). Each degree has different benefits and various time commitments and learning outcomes.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

You can earn an ADN in two years if you enroll full-time. Schools may offer a general ADN or an accelerated LPN-to-ADN program. The courses build your bedside skills and knowledge of nutrition, pathophysiology, lifespan development, and health assessment skills. Most programs include clinical requirements. The credits you earn in an ADA can go toward a BSN degree.

Bachelor's in Nursing (BSN)

Full-time students typically earn a BSN degree in four years. Accelerated programs for nurses who hold an ADN degree only take two years or less. BSN courses focus on nursing theory and clinical decision making, and building research and evidence-based practice. The lessons teach you to provide care to mothers and infants, children, and the aging population.

You can enroll in a BSN program straight from high school or after working as an RN. Earning a BSN provides more in-depth education, including critical thinking and leadership skills.

Applying for a Nursing License in Hawaii

After completing an accredited nursing program, aspiring RNs can become licensed to practice in Hawaii through examination or endorsement.

Each pathway requires an application, supplemental materials, and fees. No matter the pathway, you'll need to get fingerprinted for a criminal background check. To maintain a license, you will need to fulfill the continuing education requirements.

RN Licensure by Examination

When you pass the NCLEX-RN, you qualify to apply for RN licensure in Hawaii. The NCLEX is a pass/fail computerized exam. You must answer at least 75 questions correctly. You have three attempts to pass the NCLEX. Applying by examination to become an RN in Hawaii requires:

  • Getting fingerprinted and paying the fees
  • Submitting an online or print application within 30 days of getting fingerprinted and including your official transcripts.
  • Submitting a copy of your government ID and social security card

International applicants must have their transcripts evaluated by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools.

RN Licensure by Endorsement

If you have passed the NCLEX-RN in another state and hold a current RN license, you can apply for RN licensure in Hawaii by endorsement. International nurses can apply if they have passed the State Board Test Pool Exam. You'll also need to submit:

  • A government ID with your birthdate and a social security card
  • Fingerprints for a criminal background check
  • Transcripts from an accredited nursing program

Due to a critical nursing shortage in Hawaii, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs passed an emergency measure to allow nurses from other states to get a 90-day temporary Hawaii permit, with the authorization from a qualified healthcare facility.

How to Maintain Your Nursing License in Hawaii

Hawaii RN licenses must be renewed every two years with a payment of $196. Online applications take 3-5 business days to process and print copies take 14-21 days. Renewing also requires completing electronic fingerprinting at your own expense.

Additionally, Hawaii requires that you meet continuing education requirements or "learning activity options" which include:

  • Completing 30 continuing education hours
  • Completing a refresher course of at least 60 hours of didactic and 60 hours of clinical practice
  • Completing two college credits of post-licensure education
  • Working 120 hours as a preceptor
  • Leading a nursing research study or evidence-based practice project
  • Publishing a peer-reviewed article, book, or chapter
  • Doing a nursing education presentation for five contact hours
  • Completing a nursing residency program

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing in Hawaii

How long does it take to get a Hawaii RN license?

A two-year ADN is the shortest route to becoming an RN in Hawaii and on the mainland. Having a four-year BSN degree can provide more flexibility and a better-paying nursing career. After you submit an application, it takes about 45-60 days for the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to process it.

What do you need to become an RN in Hawaii?

You need to have graduated from an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN to be eligible to practice as an RN in Hawaii. Additionally, you have to pass a criminal background check.

How much does an RN earn in Hawaii?

Hawaii pays registered nurses the second highest average pay in the country, behind California. RNs in Hawaii earn an annual average wage of $113,220, or an hourly wage of $54, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

How often do you renew a Hawaii nursing license?

Registered nurses in Hawaii must renew their licenses every two years on June 30. You have different learning activity options to qualify for renewal. For instance, you can complete 30 continuing education hours, write a peer-reviewed article, or complete a nursing research project.

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