Welcome to Nursing License Map

For our nurses on the front lines and in the background,
be sure to remember to take some time for yourself to reduce burnout.


Learn more about nursing licensure requirements in your state with our guides below:

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

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Earn a Master of Science in Nursing online from Simmons University.

  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Preparation to pursue certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Part-time, full-time, and extended plans of study

Earn an MS in Nursing online from Georgetown University.

  • Earn your MS in Nursing in as few as 23 months
  • Choose from one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP, or WHNP
  • Gain hands-on clinical experience in evidence-based practice

Earn an M.S. in Nursing online at the Wegmans School of Nursing

  • The Wegmans School of Nursing is ranked among the top 100 nursing schools nationally, and is No. 6 in New York state1
  • Part-time and accelerated tracks available
  • Four program options: PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, AGPCNP

Earn your MSN online from USC’s School of Social Work.

  • Prepares RNs to pursue board certification as family nurse practitioners
  • Earn a CCNE-accredited MSN in as few as 21 months
  • Choose from part-time and full-time study options

1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.

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Most Popular States for Nurses

Here are the states that employ the most nurses and states with the highest median salary for nurses, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

States with the Highest Employment and Highest Pay for Nurses

States with the Highest Employment and Highest Pay for Nurses
Nursing Career Highest Employment States Highest Pay States Highest Annual Mean Wage
Licensed Practical/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) – California
– Texas
– New York
– Florida
– Ohio
Alaska $67,620
Registered Nurse (RN)

– California
– Texas
– New York
– Florida
– Pennsylvania
California $120,560
Nurse Practitioner (NP)

– New York
– California
– Texas
– Florida
– Ohio
California $145,970
Nurse Midwife

– California
– New York
– Georgia
– Michigan
– Pennsylvania
California $159,590
Nurse Anesthetist

– Florida
– Texas
– Ohio
– North Carolina
– Michigan
Oregon $236,540

Information on the states with the highest employment for nurses and states with the highest pay for nurses was retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – Occupational Employment Statistics (OES), as of May 2020:

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Nursing Licensure and Certifications

Each state has its own set of nursing licensure certifications that nurses can apply for after they have completed the right amount of nursing education and passed the correct nursing certification exam.

Our list of states above may help you understand the requirements for each level of your future nursing career. However, no matter what state you pursue nursing licensure in, both licensed practical/licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses (RN) must maintain their license to practice. For advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), the typical prerequisite is an active RN license before application.

Nursing Licensure Compact

Although each state has its own licensure process, it is getting easier for nurses to transfer active licenses to other states through the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC). As of February 11, 2020, 34 states are participating in the Nursing Licensure Compact. Learn more about the nursing licensure compact.

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Nursing Career Paths

Whether you are just out of high school and want to assist patients as a certified nurse assistant (CNA) or are looking to get a master’s degree to become a nurse practitioner, there are careers in nursing for people of all ages and experience levels.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

  • Education: An approved training program.
  • Main Duties: Assist patients with basic care including bathing, transporting and dressing patients, checking vital signs and recording health concerns.
  • Autonomy: CNAs are supervised by LPN/LVNs or RNs.
  • Average Salary: $30,830

Information on CNA career was retrieved from BLS – Nursing Assistants and Orderlies in October 2021.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse

  • Education: A high school diploma is required and a one-year certificate program typically must be completed. Prospective LPNs must also take the NCLEX-PN exam.
  • Clinical Hours: Supervised clinical experience is included in the one-year certificate program.
  • Main Duties: Basic patient care such as bandage changing, keeping patient health records, and discussing care with patients. Some states allow properly trained LPNs to insert intravenous (IV) drips, but others do not.
  • Autonomy: LPNs are often supervised by RNs, though in some states they may be supervised by more experienced LPNs.
  • Average Salary: $48,820

Information on LPN/LVN career was retrieved from BLS Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses in October 2021.

Registered Nurse (RN)

  • Education: A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an associate degree in nursing (ADN), or a diploma from an approved nursing program is required. A passing score on the NCLEX-RN is also required.
  • Clinical Hours: Programs will have a clinical component, though the amount of clinical hours will vary.
  • Main Duties: Record patient health, treat, medicate, and test patients, create care plans, instruct patients and families on how to care for illness or injury, and consult with doctors. Many RNs work within a specific population, such as in neonatal care or addiction settings.
  • Autonomy: RNs work with physicians, and may have autonomy in overseeing other RNs, LPNs, and CNAs.
  • Average Salary: $75,330

Information on RN career was retrieved from BLS – Registered Nurses in October 2021.

Nurse Practitioner

  • Education: A master’s degree in a nursing specialty and RN experience are required. Passing an exam in a specialty is also required.
  • Clinical Hours: Varies by specialty, but clinical experience hours are required.
  • Main Duties: Provide primary care, promote preventive health, and treat patient illness and injury.
  • Autonomy: In many states, nurse practitioners can open their own practices, prescribe medications, and order lab tests. Sometimes nurse practitioners may work collaboratively with physicians.
  • Average Salary: $111,680

Information on nurse practitioner career was retrieved from BLS – Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners in October 2021.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

  • Education: A master’s degree and at least one year of RN experience are required. Passing a specialty exam is also required for certification.
  • Clinical Hours: 500 or more clinical hours are required in a CNS master’s program. These hours must be specific to the nurse’s desired specialty. Some specialties require more hours.
  • Main Duties: Caring for patients in a specific population, working with other nurses to improve the way care is delivered within a setting, leading and educating other nurses, research, and advocacy.
  • Autonomy: CNSs often serve as leaders, directing and educating other nurses, and are integral in developing change in their organizations. A CNS can write prescriptions in some states.
  • Average Salary: N/A

Information on RN career was retrieved from BLS – Registered Nurses in October 2021.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

  • Education: A master’s degree and RN experience are required. Passing an exam is also required.
  • Clinical Hours: Although the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) doesn’t outline specific hours, there is an expected clinical experience component to the master’s degree.
  • Main Duties: Family planning, gynecological care, delivering babies, and providing primary care.
  • Autonomy: CNMs may have their own private practice in some states and may also be able to write prescriptions and order tests.
  • Average Salary: $111,130

Information on certified nurse midwife career was retrieved from BLS – Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners in October 2021.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

  • Education: A master’s degree and RN experience are required. Passing an exam is also required.
  • Clinical Hours: 2,000-hour minimum and 600 case experiences in the administration of anesthetics are required, according to the Council on Accreditation (COA) – Development of COA Standards FAQ.
  • Main Duties: Administer anesthesia and provide care before, during and after procedures. CRNAs also provide pain management and some emergency services.
  • Autonomy: CRNAs work with a team of people who are caring for their patients. Some states allow them to administer anesthesia without physician supervision, but this varies from state to state.
  • Average Salary: $183,580

Information on certified registered nurse anesthetist career was retrieved from BLS – Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners in October 2021.

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The Nursing Shortage and the Growing Demand for Nurses

Employment for healthcare occupations is projected to increase 16 percent from 2020 to 2030, adding about 2.6 million jobs. The main reason: an aging population, which leads to more demand for healthcare. Registered nurses jobs alone are expected to increase 9% from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS – Registered Nurses, adding 276,000 jobs. In those same years, employment of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is projected to increase 45%, much faster than the overall growth of all jobs.

The BLS projects personal care aides, registered nurses, home health aides, and nursing assistants are among the top growing occupations through 2030.

An increase in age and chronic disease among Americans means there is a need for nurses of all kinds. Here is a look at some of the reasons there is such a need for nurses and why it’s a great time to become a nurse.

An Aging Population

By 2030, all boomers will be at least 65 years old, according to the Census Bureau, with the baby boom generation accounting for about 73 million people.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) reports the following health conditions for the baby boomer generation:

  • More than six of every 10 boomers will be managing more than one chronic condition.
  • More than one of every three will be considered obese.
  • One of every four will be living with diabetes.
  • One of every two will be living with arthritis.

The size of this generation along with improvements in life expectancy means that soon, a much greater portion of Americans will be older than 65 than ever before. With age comes increased medical needs and chronic disease. The National Council on Aging reports about 80 percent of older adults have a chronic condition.

An Aging Nursing Workforce

Some of those aging Americans are nurses themselves. In fact, half a million of the current 2.75 million will no longer be nurses by 2022, due to retirement or other reasons. The Nursing Management journal expresses the catch-22 with employment of aging nurses: they are invaluable for their experience but they may experience physical, emotional, and mental challenges.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

More than 31 million people have gained access to health coverage after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). The CBPP found that half of that increase was a gain in private coverage, as a result of ACA policies like subsidies for individual market coverage. The other half was a result of Medicaid expansion to low-income adults.

During its first 10 years, the ACA helped to see a 17 percent decrease in problems paying medical bills, 27 percent drop in unfilled prescriptions, and a decrease by 19 percent in not visiting a provider when needing care.

Naturally, just having coverage isn’t enough to get people the healthcare they need; there also needs to be enough healthcare employees to provide all of this newly insured care. With the increase in patients comes an increase in demand for healthcare professionals of all kinds, including nursing assistants, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and every other nurse. However, it should be noted that most of the newly insured are younger people without the health problems of aging generations.

HPSAs – The Primary Care Shortage and Growing Autonomy

Nurses aren’t just needed to ease the nursing shortage; advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are also needed to aid in the shortage of primary care doctors. Since there are many health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) in the United States, there is a struggle to ensure that there is accessible primary care for everyone.

With a growing shortage of primary care doctors, paired with the amount of time and training it takes to get new doctors into the workforce, nurse practitioners can help fill that void. In many states, nurse practitioners can have their own private practice and prescribe medicine, allowing them to provide patients with many of the same services primary care doctors provide.

As of February 2020, 23 states permit nurse practitioners to have full practice responsibilities, including evaluating and diagnosing patients, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, initiating and managing treatments, and prescribing medications and controlled substances. Sixteen states grant nurse practitioners reduced practice responsibilities—providing care under a collaborative agreement with another health provider.

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Nursing Education and Testing

To start a career in nursing at any level, some form of training must be completed. Additionally, many roles within nursing require the passing of an examination to become certified and/or earn nursing licensure by your state.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Education

In the majority of states, nursing assistants are unlicensed professionals. There are a couple of states however, that have a special license for CNAs that must be renewed. Nursing assistant education consists of a training program at a high school, college or hospital. There is no degree involved, but the program prepares students to take a competency exam so they can be entered into the state registry. After the passing of this exam, there is some on-the-job training, after which the CNA is fully trained.

Learn more about how to become a certified nursing assistant.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Education

Licensed practical nurses are required to complete a one-year, non-degree education program. at a high school, college or hospital. These programs may have a clinical experience component in addition to classroom learning. LPNs must pass the NCLEX-PN examination to obtain licensure. LPNs can also gain expertise and earn certificates in specific areas of nursing.

Learn more on how to become a licensed practical nurse.

Registered Nurse (RN) Education

An associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing is required to become a registered nurse, though many employers may only seek candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree. No matter which path is chosen, there is a clinical component to education. Nursing students must pass the NCLEX-RN to become certified as registered nurses. It is also important to note that RNs with bachelor’s degrees have more ability to be leaders and researchers.

Learn more on how to become a registered nurse.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) Education

All nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists must be registered nurses with some nursing experience before applying to a master’s program, which is required for all advanced nursing degrees. There are many programs for registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree, as well as programs for nurses with an associate degree that combine a bachelor’s and master’s program into one. Upon the completion of a program, students must take a test related to the advanced specialty they wish to practice to become certified.

Learn more on how to become an advanced practice registered nurse.

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Additional Nursing Information

Sponsored Online Nursing Programs

Sponsored

Earn a Master of Science in Nursing online from Simmons University.

  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Preparation to pursue certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Part-time, full-time, and extended plans of study

Earn an MS in Nursing online from Georgetown University.

  • Earn your MS in Nursing in as few as 23 months
  • Choose from one of four APRN specialty areas: AG-ACNP, FNP, NM/WHNP, or WHNP
  • Gain hands-on clinical experience in evidence-based practice

Earn an M.S. in Nursing online at the Wegmans School of Nursing

  • The Wegmans School of Nursing is ranked among the top 100 nursing schools nationally, and is No. 6 in New York state1
  • Part-time and accelerated tracks available
  • Four program options: PCFNP, PMHNP, AGACNP, AGPCNP

Earn your MSN online from USC’s School of Social Work.

  • Prepares RNs to pursue board certification as family nurse practitioners
  • Earn a CCNE-accredited MSN in as few as 21 months
  • Choose from part-time and full-time study options

1 U.S. News & World Report, 2022 Best Nursing Schools: Master’s. Ranked in 2021.

Sponsored