RN License Requirements by State

portrait of Doug Wintemute
by Doug Wintemute
Published on November 5, 2021
Reviewed by Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

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The nursing field features various rules and regulations to help ensure all registered nurses (RNs) have the appropriate educational and professional requirements to properly care for patients and serve the healthcare system. To manage this, each state has its own mandatory RN licensure process.

While each state has its own requirements, licensed professionals typically need an approved or accredited education and a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN exam.

Here, we outline the specific RN license and RN education requirements for each state and Washington, D.C.

Why Do You Need an RN License?

There are many reasons to become a nurse, including the promising career outlook and potential financial rewards, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There are also many ways to become a registered nurse and various nursing credentials available.

To help regulate the field and ensure all nurses meet the necessary professional standards, all states require RNs to hold licenses.

Among the RN requirements for licensure, candidates may need to complete an approved or accredited nursing degree or diploma program, along with the NCLEX-RN exam.

Some states accept programs recognized by local nursing boards. Others require national recognition from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Types of Nursing Licensure

RNs conduct patient assessments and observations, work on a team of healthcare professionals, and may pursue practice specialties. They may administer medication, provide patients with treatment instructions and plans, and analyze various test results. RNs need to complete at least a diploma in nursing or an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and NCLEX-RN exam for licensure. LPNs support RNs, providing basic nursing care to patients. They often take patients' vital signs, insert catheters, dress wounds and change bandages, and collect samples for lab tests. LPNs also monitor patients, keep records of progress, and, in some states, administer certain medications. LPNs typically need to complete an accredited diploma or certificate and the NCLEX-PN exam for licensure. APRNs provide advanced care to patients, perform and analyze examinations and tests, diagnose patients, and develop treatment plans. These professionals may work independently and in specialty fields. APRNs typically need a master's degree, an RN license, and a passing grade on the national certification examination for licensure.

What Are Nursing Compact States?

Developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows registered nurses to move between participating states with a single RN license. At least 34 states have joined the NLC, along with four more that have pending legislation.

Licensed nurses from a compact state can practice in other member states more easily. RNs from non-compact states may need to apply for state endorsement to move their license to another location without having to obtain another single-state license.

RN License Requirements by State

Alabama RN Licensure

RNs in Alabama need to complete a nursing diploma or ADN at minimum, and the program requires national accreditation from the CCNE or ACEN. As a compact state, Alabama offers single-state and multistate RN licenses through the Alabama Board of Nursing. RN license applicants need to submit fingerprints and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to qualify.

Education and Examination

The RN education requirements include a board-approved and nationally accredited program. The training must include direct patient-care clinical experience, simulations, and laboratory work, though simulations can only make up less than 30% of the clinical experience. The NCLEX-RN exams cost $200, plus a single state application fee of $100 or $200 for the multistate application.

License Renewal

Alabama nurses need to renew their licenses every other year. To do this, they need to complete 24 contact hours of continuing education. They also need to pay the renewal fee of $100 for single-state licenses and $203.50 for multistate licenses.

Alaska RN Licensure

Alaska RNs need to complete an accredited nursing diploma or ADN at minimum. The state's licensing runs through the Alaska Board of Nursing. RN license applicants need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and may need to submit fingerprints as well.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing diploma or degree. The NCLEX-RN exams cost $200. Applicants also pay a $200 licensing fee, along with a $100 fee for a temporary permit in some cases.

License Renewal

Alaska nurses must renew their licenses every odd-numbered year before the December deadline. They can do this by completing at least two of the following: 30 contact hours of continuing education, 60 hours of unpaid professional work, or 320 working hours in the previous two years.

Arkansas RN Licensure

In Arkansas, RNs need to complete a board-approved nursing diploma or ADN at minimum. Candidates also must pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean criminal background check along with their application to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. Arkansas participates in the NLC and may accept out-of-state nurses.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements in Arkansas include a board-approved nursing diploma or associate degree. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, the initial licensure fees start at $100.

License Renewal

Arkansas RN licenses need to be renewed every two years. Candidates must complete at least 15 contact hours of accredited practice-focused activities, hold a current nationally recognized certification/recertification, or complete a nursing academic course to qualify. License renewals cost $100.

Arizona RN Licensure

Arizona's RN licenses come from the Arizona State Board of Nursing and require the completion of a state-approved and nationally accredited nursing diploma or degree. Applicants also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints. The state is a member of the NLC.

Education and Examination

Arizona's RN education requirements include a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing degree or diploma. Training and clinical components must cover patient-centered care, teamwork, evidence-based practice, and safety, along with informatics and quality improvement. The NCLEX-RN exams cost $200, plus a $100 licensing fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses require renewal every four years in Arizona. To qualify, nurses need to complete 960 hours of professional work in the previous five years, complete a board-approved program or refresher course in the previous five years, or obtain an advanced nursing degree in the last five years. The renewal fee is $160.

California RN Licensure

RN candidates in California need to complete a state-approved nursing diploma or degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam for licensure. They then must send their applications to the California Board of Registered Nursing with fingerprints and a background check. California has a pending NLC membership, but out-of-state candidates can apply for reciprocity.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include a board-approved diploma or degree with no less than 58 semester units, at least three weekly hours of clinical practice, and at least 75% of the clinical component focused on direct patient care. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN fee, candidates can pay a $300 application fee.

License Renewal

Nurses need to renew their RN licenses every two years in California. They can do this by completing at least 30 hours of continuing education. Renewals cost $190.

Colorado RN Licensure

For an RN license in Colorado, candidates need to complete a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing diploma or degree program. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination and submit fingerprints and a background check to the Colorado Board of Nursing. Colorado participates in the NLC and may accept out-of-state licenses.

Education and Examination

Colorado's RN education requirements include an approved and accredited nursing diploma or degree. The training must include a minimum of 400 clinical hours and 300 classroom hours. The NCLEX-RN exam costs $200, and applicants need to pay an $88 application fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed every two years in Colorado for a fee of $108. Nurses who let their license expire may have to pay an additional fee.

Connecticut RN Licensure

Connecticut requires its RNs to complete a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing degree or diploma program, along with the NCLEX-RN exam. RN licenses come from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Since the state has no NLC agreement, out-of-state nurses need to apply for licensure via endorsement.

Education and Examination

To satisfy the RN education requirements, prospective nurses need to complete the equivalent of four 15-week semesters and 35 credits in nursing at minimum. At least 50% of the contact hours must include direct patient care. The NCLEX-RN examinations cost $200. The initial application costs $180.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire every year in Connecticut. While there are no mandatory continuing education requirements at this level, nurses need to pay a $110 fee for renewal.

Delaware RN Licensure

Delaware's RN licenses require aspiring nurses to complete a diploma or degree program with national accreditation and approval from the state's Board of Nursing. RN requirements also include passing the NCLEX-RN exam. As a participating member of the NLC, Delaware nursing licenses can move between other member states.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include a diploma or associate degree at minimum. The programs must include a minimum of 400 clinical hours. NCLEX-RN test-takers must pay the $200 exam fee, along with the $170 application fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed every odd-numbered year in Delaware. Nurses need to complete 30 hours of continuing education at minimum to qualify. They also need to pay a renewal fee.

Florida RN Licensure

For an RN license with the Florida Board of Nursing, candidates need a degree or diploma with board-approval and national accreditation, along with a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN exam. RNs also need to submit fingerprints and a clean background check. Florida is a member of the NLC, so nursing licenses can move between participating states.

Education and Examination

The RN education requirements include an accredited nursing diploma or ADN at minimum. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, nurse candidates need to pay a $110 application fee.

License Renewal

To renew their licenses every other year, RNs need to complete at least 27 continuing education hours. The training must include two hours each in prevention of medical errors, Florida law, recognizing impairment, human trafficking, and domestic violence, along with one hour of HIV/AIDS training. Renewals cost $75.

Georgia RN Licensure

The registered nurse requirements in Georgia include a nationally accredited and board-approved nursing degree or diploma. The Georgia Board of Nursing also requires RNs to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background check. Georgia participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

Georgia's RN education requirements include an accredited associate degree or diploma at minimum. Candidates need to pay a $200 fee for the NCLEX-RN exam and an application fee of $40.

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed every other year before the February deadline in Georgia. Nurses need to complete at least 30 continuing education hours in that time or at least 500 hours of supervised practice. License renewals cost $65.

Hawaii RN Licensure

Hawaii's Board of Nursing requires RN candidates to have a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing degree or diploma. They also require a clean criminal background check and a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN exam. Hawaii does not participate in the NLC, so reciprocity or endorsement may be required for out-of-state licenses.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited nursing diploma or associate degree at minimum. Candidates need to pay the NCLEX-RN exam fee of $200, plus the $40 application fee. Test-takers who do not pass may need to complete remedial courses with at least 60 hours of clinical instruction and 60 hours of classroom instruction.

License Renewal

Hawaii RN licenses need to be renewed every odd-numbered year before the July deadline. The process requires the completion of at least 30 continuing education hours. RNs also need to pay a renewal fee of $176.

Idaho RN Licensure

For an RN license in Idaho, candidates need to possess a nursing degree or diploma approved by the Idaho Board of Nursing. They need to submit fingerprints and a clean background check and also pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Idaho participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

Idaho's RN education requirements include a board-approved nursing diploma or associate degree at minimum. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, applicants need to pay a $90 application fee. (Some application fees were waived due to the pandemic after an order from the governor.)

License Renewal

Idaho RNs need to renew their licenses every odd-numbered year before the September deadline, while also fulfilling continued competence requirements during that time. They also pay a renewal fee of $90.

Illinois RN Licensure

For an RN license in Illinois, candidates need a nationally accredited and board-approved nursing diploma or degree. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The state currently has a pending NLC membership.

Education and Examination

The minimum RN education requirements in Illinois include an accredited nursing diploma or associate degree. The NCLEX-RN exam carries a $200 fee. The license application fee is $91.

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed every even-numbered year in this state. This can be done by completing at least 20 hours of approved continuing education and paying the $80 renewal fee.

Indiana RN Licensure

For an RN license with the Indiana State Board of Nursing, candidates need a board-approved nursing degree or diploma, a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN exam, and a clean background check. Indiana participates in the NLC and accepts out-of-state licenses from other member states.

Education and Examination

The RN education requirements include a board-approved associate degree, bachelor's degree, or diploma in nursing. Nursing applicants need to pay $200 for the NCLEX-RN exam, plus the $50 application fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed in odd-numbered years before the November deadline. While nurses do not need to complete a mandatory number of continuing education hours, they should keep their skills up to date. They also need to pay a renewal fee of $50.

Iowa RN Licensure

For an RN license from the Iowa Board of Nursing, candidates need to have a board-approved nursing degree or diploma. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints and a criminal background check. Iowa participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

Iowa's RN education requirements include a valid nursing diploma or associate degree at minimum. The NCLEX-RN exam costs $200 to take, plus the $93 initial application fee.

License Renewal

Nurses need to renew their RN licenses every three years in Iowa. To do this, they need to complete a minimum of 36 hours of continuing education and pay the $99 renewal fee at least 30 days prior to expiration.

Kansas RN Licensure

An RN license in Kansas requires a nursing degree or diploma that has the approval of the Kansas Board of Nursing. Applicants need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints and a background check. Kansas is a participating member of the NLC.

Education and Examination

To satisfy the RN education requirements, nurse candidates need to complete a board-approved diploma or associate degree in nursing at minimum. The programs must feature at least 30 credits of nursing training, including behavioral sciences, growth and development, and direct clinical training across the lifespan. The NCLEX-RN exam costs $200, and the application costs $100 for single-state licensure and $125 for multistate licensure.

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed every other year. To qualify for renewal, nurses need to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education and pay the $85 fee.

Kentucky RN Licensure

The RN requirements for a license with the Kentucky Board of Nursing include a board-approved nursing degree or diploma. RN license candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and jurisprudence exam. They must submit fingerprints and a clean background check. Kansas participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

To meet the RN education requirements, aspiring nurses need to earn an approved nursing diploma or degree. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, candidates need to pay a $125 application fee.

License Renewal

RNs need to renew their licenses every year in Kentucky. They can do this by completing at least 14 hours of continuing education, earning a national certification, publishing a nursing paper, conducting nursing research, or making a continuing education presentation. Renewals cost $65.

Louisiana RN Licensure

To qualify for an RN license with the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, prospective nurses need to complete a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing diploma or ADN. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam within four years of graduation and submit a clean background check. Louisiana participates in the NLC and accepts out-of-state licenses.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include at least a board-approved and accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN exam cost, applicants need to pay $100 for the application and $39.25 for the background check.

License Renewal

RNs need to renew their licenses every other year in Louisiana. They need to complete 900 hours of nursing experience or at least 30 contact hours of continuing education for eligibility. They also need to pay the $100 renewal fee.

Maine RN Licensure

For an RN license in Maine, candidates need a degree or diploma in nursing from a board-approved and nationally accredited program. The state Board of Nursing requires candidates to submit a criminal background check and pass the NCLEX-RN exam as well. Maine participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements in Maine include a nursing diploma or degree of no less than two years in length. The NCLEX-RN exams cost $200. The application fee is $75.

License Renewal

Maine's RN requirements include license renewal every other year near the nurse's birthday. To qualify, nurses need to pay a $75 renewal fee.

Maryland RN Licensure

The Maryland Board of Nursing requires RN license applicants to have a board-approved nursing diploma or degree. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background check to qualify. Maryland participates in the NLC and accepts out-of-state nursing licenses.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved nursing diploma or associate degree at minimum. Along with the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, candidates need to pay a $100 application fee.

License Renewal

Nurses need to renew their RN licenses every other year. They can do this by paying the $136 renewal fee and submitting a new background check. They do not need to complete any mandatory continuing education.

Massachusetts RN Licensure

For an RN license in Massachusetts, applicants need to possess a nursing degree or diploma approved by the state's Board of Registration in Nursing. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and demonstrate good moral character. The state has pending participation in the NLC.

Education and Examination

In Massachusetts, RN education requirements include a board-approved diploma or associate degree in nursing at minimum. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, candidates need to pay a $230 application fee.

License Renewal

The state requires RN license renewals every two years on the nurse's birthday. Renewals cost $120 and require the completion of 15 contact hours of continuing education.

Michigan RN Licensure

In Michigan, RN licenses require a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing degree or diploma. Prospective nurses also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, submit a clean background check, and demonstrate good moral character to the Michigan Board of Nursing. Michigan has a pending membership with the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an associate degree or diploma in nursing at minimum. Applicants also must have training to recognize victims of human trafficking. Along with the $200 NCLEX-RN exam cost, applicants need to pay a licensing application fee of $208.80.

License Renewal

The state's RN requirements include a license renewal every two years. To qualify, nurses must complete at least 25 hours of continuing education, including two hours of pain and symptom management. Renewals cost $128.50.

Minnesota RN Licensure

Candidates applying for an RN license in Minnesota need a degree or diploma in nursing that received board approval and national accreditation. The Minnesota Board of Nursing also requires applicants to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background check. Minnesota does not participate in the NLC.

Education and Examination

The RN education requirements include an approved and accredited associate degree in nursing or a diploma. In addition to the NCLEX-RN exam cost of $200, applicants pay a $105 application fee and $33.25 fee for the background check.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire every two years in Minnesota. To renew their RN license, nurses need to complete at least 24 hours of continuing education and pay the $85 renewal fee.

Mississippi RN Licensure

To qualify for an RN license with the Mississippi Board of Nursing, candidates need a nationally accredited and board-approved degree or diploma in nursing. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background check. Mississippi participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

Mississippi's RN education requirements include an approved associate degree in nursing or a diploma. Applicants need to pay the NCLEX-RN exam fee of $200, the criminal background check fee of $75, and the application fee of $100.

License Renewal

RN license renewals take place every even-numbered year from September through December. If nurses have not practiced in the last five years, they may need to complete an approved reorientation/refresher RN program or 20 contact hours of training. Renewals cost $100.

Missouri RN Licensure

The Missouri Board of Nursing requires RN license candidates to possess a board-approved nursing degree or diploma. They also need to complete the NCLEX-RN exam and a criminal background check. Missouri participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved associate degree in nursing or a diploma at minimum. They also have to pay the NCLEX-RN exam fee of $200, the background check fee of $41.75, and the application fee of $55.

License Renewal

RNs in Missouri need to renew their licenses every odd-numbered year by April 30. While nurses do not need to complete continuing education credits, they do need to pay the license renewal fee.

Montana RN Licensure

The Montana Board of Nursing provides RN licenses to candidates with a board-approved diploma or degree in nursing. Nurse candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit to fingerprint and background checks. Montana is a participating member of the NLC.

Education and Examination

The RN education requirements include an associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing at minimum. In addition to the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, nurse applicants typically pay a $100 application fee.

License Renewal

Nurses need to renew their licenses every other year by Dec. 31. They also pay the renewal fee of $100. Typically, nurses need to complete 24 contact hours of continuing education, but these requirements were waived through 2021.

Nebraska RN Licensure

In Nebraska, RN licenses come from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. RN requirements include a high school diploma or its equivalent, an approved nursing degree or diploma, good moral character, and a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN exam. Nebraska participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

The RN education requirements include a 2- to 4-year nursing program. Candidates need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, plus the $123 application fee and the $45.25 background check fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire on Oct. 31 every even-numbered year. Among the requirements to renew their license, nurses need to complete 20 hours of continuing education, plus 500 hours of practice over the previous five years. There is also a renewal fee of $123.

Nevada RN Licensure

According to the Nevada State Board of Nursing, an RN license requires a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing degree or diploma. Candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints. Nevada does not participate in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing at minimum. Along with the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, applicants must pay a $100 application fee.

License Renewal

RNs need to renew their licenses every two years in Nevada. They need to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education during that time, including a one-time bioterrorism course for new nurses. RN license renewals cost $100 to process.

New Hampshire RN Licensure

For an RN license in New Hampshire, candidates must have a board-approved and nationally accredited degree or diploma in nursing. The New Hampshire Board of Nursing also requires that candidates pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit to fingerprint and background checks. New Hampshire participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing. The training must include at least 1,080 hours of classroom instruction involving patients with various disruptions, 600 hours of instruction involving patients in stable situations, and adequate clinical experiences. The NCLEX-RN exam fee is $200, and the application fee is $120.

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed on the nurse's second birthday after licensure. They must pay the $80 renewal fee and complete at least 400 hours of active practice in the previous four years for eligibility.

New Jersey RN Licensure

For an RN license with the New Jersey Board of Nursing, candidates need a board-approved nursing degree or diploma. They also need to complete the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean criminal background check. New Jersey has a partial agreement in place with the NLC.

Education and Examination

The RN education requirements include a minimum of an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Candidates need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, plus an $80 application fee and $120 licensing fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire every other year on May 31. To renew their license, nurses need to complete at least 30 contact hours of continuing education and pay the $120 renewal fee.

New Mexico RN Licensure

For an RN license with the New Mexico Board of Nursing, candidates need to complete a nationally accredited and board-approved nursing degree or diploma. Aspiring nurses also need to complete the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprint cards for background checks. New Mexico participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited nursing associate degree or diploma at minimum. Fees for licensing include the NCLEX-RN exam at $200, the application fee of $150, and the background check at $44.

License Renewal

New Mexico nursing licenses expire every two years. For the RN license renewal, nurses need to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education and pay the $110 renewal fee.

New York RN Licensure

The New York State Education Department's Office of the Professions handles RN licenses and requires candidates to possess a board-approved degree or diploma in nursing. These candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and demonstrate good moral character. New York does not participate in the NLC.

Education and Examination

In addition to the board-approved associate degree or diploma in nursing, RN candidates need to complete courses in infection control and child abuse reporting. Candidates also need to pay $200 for the NCLEX-RN exam, plus $143 for the licensing fee and $35 for a limited permit if needed.

License Renewal

New York's RN licenses expire every three years. To qualify for renewal, nurses need to pay the $73 license renewal fee. Within 10 years of initial licensure, RNs may need to complete a bachelor's degree in nursing to maintain their credentials.

North Carolina RN Licensure

According to the North Carolina Board of Nursing, RN licenses require a board-approved nursing degree or diploma. Prospective nurses also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean criminal background check. North Carolina is an NLC member state.

Education and Examination

In addition to the approved nursing associate degree or diploma, RN education requirements include training in assessment, care activity planning and implementation, evaluation, reporting, and team collaboration, along with teaching and administering and managing effective care strategies. Candidates need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, plus the $75 application fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire on the nurse's birthday every two years in North Carolina. Nurses can qualify for renewal in various ways, including completing 15 contact hours of continuing education and 640 hours of practice or 30 hours of continuing education. There is a $100 renewal fee.

North Dakota RN Licensure

The RN requirements in North Dakota include a nursing degree or diploma approved by the North Dakota Board of Nursing. Candidates also need to complete the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints and a clean criminal background check. North Dakota participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved associate degree or diploma in nursing at minimum. The fees required include a $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, a $145 application fee, and a $41.25 criminal background check fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire every two years in North Dakota. To renew them, nurses need to complete at least 400 hours of nursing practice in the four previous years, along with 12 hours of continuing education in the previous two years. They also pay the renewal cost of $140.

Ohio RN Licensure

Nurses in Ohio can pursue an RN license through the Ohio Board of Nursing with a board-approved nursing degree or diploma. Candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean criminal background check. Ohio's NLC membership is awaiting implementation.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements in Ohio include an approved associate degree or diploma in nursing. Prospective nurses also need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee and a $75 application fee.

License Renewal

Nurses need to renew their RN licenses every two years. After the first renewal period, RNs need to complete 24 continuing education credits every two years. They also need to pay the renewal fee of $65, plus any late fees if necessary.

Oklahoma RN Licensure

For an RN license in Oklahoma, candidates need a board-approved degree or diploma in nursing. They also need to submit fingerprints and a clean criminal background check to the Oklahoma Board of Nursing. Candidates also must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Oklahoma participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements in Oklahoma include an ADN or diploma in nursing that has been board approved. The curriculum must include evidence-based learning, legal and ethical issues, and classroom and clinical experiences that focus on illness prevention and health promotion. The fees include the NCLEX-RN exam cost of $200 and the license cost of $85.

License Renewal

In Oklahoma, nurses need to renew their RN licenses every odd-numbered year. They can qualify in various ways, including completing 24 contact hours of continuing education or working 520 hours in the previous two years. They also pay a $75 renewal fee.

Oregon RN Licensure

According to the Oregon State Board of Nursing, prospective nurses need a board-approved nursing degree or diploma. Applicants also need to submit fingerprints for a background check. They need to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Oregon does not participate in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved associate degree in nursing or a diploma at minimum. Candidates also need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee and the $160 license by examination fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire every two years in Oregon. To renew them, RNs need to complete a minimum of seven hours of pain management continuing education courses. They also need to pay the $145 renewal fee.

Pennsylvania RN Licensure

In Pennsylvania, prospective nurses need to complete a nursing degree or diploma approved by the State Board of Nursing to qualify for an RN license. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background check. Pennsylvania is awaiting implementation of its NLC membership.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved associate degree or diploma. Candidates also need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee. Initial application and licensing fees start at $95.

License Renewal

In Pennsylvania, RN licenses expire every two years. Nurses need to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education to qualify for renewal, including training in child abuse recognition. The renewal cost is $122.

Rhode Island RN Licensure

For an RN license in Rhode Island, prospective nurses must complete a nationally accredited and board-approved nursing degree or diploma. Applicants also must pass the NCLEX-RN exam, demonstrate good moral character, and submit fingerprints and background checks to the Department of Health. Rhode Island has a pending membership in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved and accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing at minimum. Test-takers pay the NCLEX-RN exam fee of $200. Applicants also need to pay the $135 licensing fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire every two years. Nurses need to complete a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education to renew them, including at least two hours in substance abuse training. Nurses also need to complete a one-time course on Alzheimer's disease and pay the renewal fee of $135.

South Carolina RN Licensure

The RN requirements in South Carolina include a board-approved nursing degree or diploma, a passing grade on the NCLEX-RN exam, and a background check, as per the South Carolina Board of Nursing. South Carolina participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include a minimum of an ADN or a diploma in nursing. Candidates need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee. Initial RN licensing fees start at $90.

License Renewal

South Carolina nurses need to renew their RN licenses every two years. They can do this by satisfying one of the requirements, including completing 30 contact hours of continuing education. Nurses also need to pay the $75 renewal fee.

South Dakota RN Licensure

For an RN license in South Dakota, prospective nurses need to complete a board-approved degree or diploma in nursing, pass the NCLEX-RN exam, and submit a clean criminal background check to the South Dakota Board of Nursing. South Dakota participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved associate degree in nursing or a diploma at minimum. Candidates need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee and the $100 application fee.

License Renewal

South Dakota nurses need to renew their RN licenses every two years. They also need to complete 140 hours of professional practice within a 12-month period or 480 hours within six years. The renewal fee is $115.

Tennessee RN Licensure

In Tennessee, prospective nurses need a board-approved nursing degree or diploma for an RN license. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background check to the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Tennessee participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved diploma in nursing or an ADN. Candidates need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee. Licensing fees begin at $100. (Some licensure fees were eliminated as of Aug. 5, 2019, according to the Tennessee Board of Nursing website.)

License Renewal

RN licenses need to be renewed every two years on the nurse's birthday. Nurses can satisfy the renewal requirements in several ways, including completing 10 contact hours of continuing education in a two-year period. They also need to pay the $100 renewal fee.

Texas RN Licensure

For an RN license in Texas, candidates need to complete a board-approved degree or diploma in nursing. They should also submit fingerprints and a clean criminal background check to the Texas Board of Nursing. Texas participates in the NLC and accepts out-of-state licenses.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an approved associate degree or diploma in nursing. The program must include teachings in safe patient care in surgical, pediatrics, geriatrics, and mental health nursing, along with content and clinical experiences with community, leadership, and research. Fees include the $200 NCLEX-RN exam. License fees begin at $100.

License Renewal

In Texas, RN licenses expire on the last day of the nurse's birth month every other year. To renew the license, nurses need to complete at least 20 contact hours of continuing education during that two-year period. The license renewals cost $68.

Utah RN Licensure

For an RN license in Utah, prospective nurses need a board-approved and nationally accredited degree or diploma in nursing. Candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints and a background check to the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. Utah is a participating member of the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include at least an accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing. Fees include $200 for the NCLEX-RN exam and $60 for application.

License Renewal

Utah nurses need to renew their RN licenses every two years. They can qualify for renewal by completing either 400 hours of professional practice, 30 hours of continuing education, or 200 hours of practice and 15 hours of continuing education. RN license renewals cost $68.

Vermont RN Licensure

For an RN license in Vermont, prospective nurses need to complete a nationally accredited and board-approved nursing degree or diploma. Candidates also may need to submit criminal background checks to the Office of Professional Regulation. Vermont has a pending membership with the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited nursing degree or diploma with pharmacology and nutrition content, along with at least 400 clinical hours. Candidates have to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee. Initial RN application fees start at $75.

License Renewal

Every two years, nurses in Vermont must renew their RN licenses. For eligibility, they need to complete 400 hours of professional practice within the two-year period or 960 over the previous five years. The renewal fee is $190.

Virginia RN Licensure

To obtain an RN license in Virginia, candidates need a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing diploma or degree. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background to the Virginia Board of Nursing. Virginia participates in the NLC and welcomes out-of-state nurses.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited nursing associate degree or diploma. The programs should contain at least 500 hours of direct client care. Candidates need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee and the $190 application fee.

License Renewal

Every two years, nurses in Virginia need to renew their RN license. This requires them to complete one of several options, including a specialty certification or 640 hours of nursing practice and 15 contact hours of workshops. The renewal fee is $140.

Washington RN Licensure

For an RN license in Washington, prospective nurses need a nationally accredited and board-approved degree or diploma in nursing. They also need to submit fingerprints and background checks to the Washington State Board of Health. Washington does not participate in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited associate degree in nursing or a diploma. Applicants need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee, plus the $120 application fee for the license.

License Renewal

Washington nurses need to renew their RN licenses every year. They can do so by completing a minimum of eight hours of continuing education annually and 96 practice hours per year. The license renewals cost $120.

Washington, D.C., RN Licensure

For an RN license in Washington, D.C., prospective nurses need to complete a nationally accredited and board-approved nursing degree or diploma. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a clean background check to the Board of Nursing. Washington, D.C., does not participate in the NLC.

Education and Examination

RN education requirements include an accredited associate degree in nursing or a diploma at minimum. Prospective nurses also need to pay the $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee and the $187 licensing fee.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire on the nurse's birthday in even-numbered years. They need to renew their licenses by completing one of several options, including taking 24 contact hours of continuing education, teaching, or publishing peer-reviewed material. The renewal fee is $145.

West Virginia RN Licensure

According to the West Virginia RN Board, prospective nurses need a board-approved nursing degree or diploma for an RN license. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, submit a background check and fingerprints, and demonstrate good moral character. West Virginia participates in the NLC and allows licenses to move between member states.

Education and Examination

In West Virginia, the RN education requirements include an approved nursing diploma or associate degree at minimum. Fees include $200 for the NCLEX-RN exam and $70 for licensure.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire every year by Oct. 31 in West Virginia. Nurses need to complete a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education to qualify for renewal, including training in drug diversion, mental health conditions in veterans, and prescribing controlled substances and opioid antagonists. They also need to pay a renewal fee of $67.

Wisconsin RN Licensure

An RN license in Wisconsin requires a board-approved and nationally accredited nursing degree or diploma. Candidates also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit a background check to the Board of Nursing. Nurses can qualify for multistate licensure since Wisconsin participates in the NLC.

Education and Examination

Wisconsin's RN education requirements include an approved ADN or a diploma in nursing. The fees for this process include $200 for the NCLEX-RN exam and $72 for the initial licensure and processing.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire on Feb. 28 in even-numbered years. Nurses do not need to complete continuing education to maintain their licensure. The renewal fee is $57.

Wyoming RN Licensure

For an RN license with the Wyoming Board of Nursing, prospective nurses need to complete a board-approved nursing diploma or degree. They also need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and submit fingerprints and background checks. Wyoming participates in the NLC and may accept out-of-state licenses.

Education and Examination

In Wyoming, RN education requirements include an approved nursing associate degree or diploma that offers evidence-based learning experiences, teaching and clinical experiences that focus on health across the lifespan, and clinical experiences that develop direct patient-care skills. Fees include $200 for the NCLEX-RN exam, $130 for licensing, $60 for the criminal background check, and an optional $25 for multistate license processing.

License Renewal

RN licenses expire Dec. 31 in every even-numbered year in Wyoming. Nurses need to complete 400 hours of practice, 30 hours of continuing education, or 15 hours of continuing education and 200 hours of practice in the two-year period to qualify for renewal. They also need to pay the $110 renewal fee.

Frequently Asked Questions About RN License Requirements

true How long does it take to become a registered nurse?

Aspiring nurses can take one of several pathways to the profession. The shortest route is through an associate degree or diploma in nursing. These programs typically take between 2-3 years to complete, though accelerated programs may be available.

After completing their program, nursing candidates must complete the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for an RN license. Licenses can take several weeks to go into effect.

true What education is needed to become a registered nurse?

Most states require an accredited or board-approved associate degree or diploma in nursing to qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam and RN license. For accreditation and board approval, these nursing programs must include the appropriate courses, training, and practical components.

Educational requirements can vary by state. New York, for example, requires RNs to complete at least a bachelor of science in nursing degree within 10 years of their initial licensure.

Registered nurse requirements typically include continuing education, which professionals need to complete regularly to renew their licenses and keep them valid.

true How much does a registered nurse make?

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for RNs was $75,330, as of May 2020. Different industries offered varying wages. For example, government positions paid median annual wages of $84,490. Hospitals paid a median wage of $76,840, and ambulatory care services paid $72,340.

With time and experience, nurses may be able to move into higher earning brackets. The highest 10% of earners in the field made a median salary of $116,230.

Location also can play a role in terms of RN salaries. California paid the highest annual mean wage at $120,560, as of May 2020. Hawaii RNs made a mean salary of $104,830 per year and Massachusetts nurses made $96,250.

true Can you practice as an RN without a license?

No. In every state, RNs need licensure with their state nursing board to practice. While this always requires an approved education and completed certification examination, some states also include other requirements. For example, some states require background checks and health verifications. Employers may have additional education and experience requirements to qualify for employment.

true What state has the easiest road to become a registered nurse?

Every state has its own requirements, but most feature similar steps. Most states, for example, accept applicants with a nursing diploma or ADN. Since most states feature similar requirements, the easiest locations may be the ones that are the fastest to license applicants.

Arizona and Washington, D.C., for instance, typically award licensure within days of submitting an application. Some states can take weeks to process the paperwork.


Feature Image: sturti / Getty Images

Learn about becoming a registered nurse and how this choice can expand your career options and boost your earning potential. Learn about becoming a nurse here! There are over 75 areas of specialization and many more available credentials in this ever growing career field. Nurses play a critical role in healthcare. Going back to school to become an RN can lead to better pay, long-term job security, and high job satisfaction.

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