Welcome to North Carolina, the Tar Heel State, known for beautiful beaches and lighthouses. But for the fearless among you, visit one of the many ghost tours such as the Asheville Night-Time Walking Ghost Tour, the Charlotte Beyond the Grave Haunted History Walking Ghost Tour, or the Winston-Salem Historical Ghost Tour. Boo!
If you are a registered nurse (or are thinking of becoming one) read on to find the information you need, from licensing info, continuing education requirements, job & salary outlook, top hospitals, and nursing associations. Let us help you find your dream job!
In this article, we will cover:
- Licensing information
- Steps for renewing a North Carolina nursing license
- Continuing education requirements
- Job & salary outlook for nurses in North Carolina
- Top hospitals in North Carolina
- Nursing organizations & associations in North Carolina
- Basic steps for licensing and certification
- Contact information
Below are the fees for becoming a nurse in North Carolina whether you are a first-time nurse or are moving to North Carolina from another state. For more information visit the North Carolina licensing page.
Licensing fees by examination (first-time nurses):
- NCLEX exam fee: $200
- Application fee: $75
- Fingerprint processing fee: $38
Licensing fees by endorsement (already have RN licensure):
- Application fee: $150 (RN/LPN); $25 + $100 per physician for NP non-volunteer status
- Fingerprint processing fee: $38
License renewal fee:
- Application fee: $100 (RN/LPN); $50 per physician for NP non-volunteer status
Additionally, North Carolina is a nursing compact state, which allows nurses to hold multi-state licenses.
*Fees are subject to change.
Steps for renewing a North Carolina nursing license
- Verify the status of your license
Visit the Verification page in order to confirm your license.
- Complete your North Carolina nursing continuing education requirements before your license expires
You can complete your nursing CEUs online, on your schedule, and 100% free with Incredible Health.
- Go to the North Carolina Board of Nursing site to enter your renewal application
Visit the Renewal Information page for specifics. North Carolina is a compact state. If your Primary State of Residency is in another compact state do not apply for licensure in North Carolina unless you are declaring North Carolina as your Primary State of Residency.
Continuing education requirements
RNs, LPNs, APRN-CNSs, APRN-CNRAs:
One of the following is required every two years:
- Thirty (30) contact hours of continuing education activities; or
- National certification or re-certification by a national credentialing body recognized by the Board (*APRNs must maintain national certification); or
- Completion of a Board approved refresher course; or
- Completion of a minimum of two semester hours of post-licensure academic education related to nursing practice; or
- Fifteen (15) contact hours of continuing education activity and completion of a nursing project as principal or co-principal investigator to include a statement of the problem, project objectives, methods, and summary of findings; or
- Fifteen (15) contact hours of continuing education activities and authoring or co-authoring a published nursing-related article, paper, book, or book chapter; or
- Fifteen (15) contact hours of continuing education activities and developing and conducting a nursing education presentation or presentations totaling a minimum of five contact hours for nurses or other health professionals to include a copy of program brochure or course syllabi, objectives, content, and teaching methods, and date and location of presentation; or
- Fifteen (15) contact hours of continuing education activities and 640 hours of active practice within the previous two (2) years.
APRN-NPs are required to maintain national certification, which includes meeting continuing education requirements of 50 contact hours each year.
- If authorized to prescribe controlled substances – 1 hour required in controlled substances prescribing practices, signs of abuse or misuse of controlled substances, and controlled substances prescribing for chronic pain management.
Job & salary outlook for nurses in North Carolina
Due to the shortage of nurses, these healthcare professionals are in high demand. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates the profession will grow by about 9% between 2020-2030. The annual mean wage is $68,950.
We can also help you check out salary estimates to help determine if North Carolina is the right state for you.
[ MORE: Average nurse salary in North Carolina ]
Top hospitals in North Carolina
If you’re not already picking up the phone to call movers, maybe this list of the best hospitals in North Carolina will sway you in the right direction. Here are the top hospitals according to U.S. News and World Report:
- Duke University Hospital – Durham, NC: This facility is nationally ranked in 11 adult specialties and 9 pediatric specialties. This teaching hospital has been a member of the Magnet Recognition Program®. Some specialties include:
- Ophthalmology (#6 in the nation)
- Orthopedics (#22 in the nation)
- Neurology & Neurosurgery (#31 in the nation)
- University of North Carolina Hospitals – Chapel Hill, NC: This facility is nationally ranked in 4 adult specialties and 7 pediatric specialties. This hospital has been a member of the Magnet Recognition Program®. Some specialties include:
- Pediatric Diabetes & Endocrinology (#16 in the nation)
- Pediatric Pulmonology & Lung Surgery (#24 in the nation)
- Gynecology (#34 in the nation)
- Atrium Health-Carolinas Medical Center – Charlotte, NC: This facility is nationally ranked in 8 pediatric specialties and rated high performing in 4 adult specialties and 14 procedures and conditions. This hospital has been a member of the Magnet Recognition Program®. Some specialties include:
- Pediatric Gastroenterology & GI Surgery (#23 in the nation)
- Pediatric Nephrology (#24 in the nation)
*Magnet status – Awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and is considered the “gold standard” for excellence in nursing practice and care. Hospitals must meet certain criteria and apply to be designated.
Nursing organizations & associations in North Carolina
Once you become a registered nurse (or even if you’re in the process), joining a nursing organization or association will give you access to networking, job opportunities, and a wealth of information shared between fellow nurses. Here are a few of the organizations and associations for nurses in North Carolina:
North Carolina Nurses Association – “NCNA inspires professional growth and experiences, informs members and advocates for the health and well-being of all NC residents by providing opportunities for members to learn, connect and excel.”
School Nurse Association of North Carolina – “SNANC exists to support professional school nurses in the promotion of optimal student health.”
Check out the comprehensive list of national organizations as well.
Basic steps for licensing and certification
Step 1: Education
Attend an accredited nursing school to earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). An ADN will take between 18 and 24 months to complete, while you can expect to spend roughly four years to earn a BSN. If you already have an ADN, there is an ADN to BSN bridge program that allows you to earn a BSN in 12-18 months. There is also an RN to BSN bridge which takes three semesters of nursing courses to be completed in one year. These programs will save you time and money. The more education you have, the better your chances of landing your dream job.
Step 2: Licensing
When you are six weeks away from graduation, you can apply to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. There are 75 to 265 questions on the NCLEX-RN with a five-hour time limit for completion. If you do not pass the NCLEX-RN on your first attempt, you must wait 45 days before you can try again.
The NCLEX includes questions on the following topics to test nursing candidates’ knowledge:
1. Safe and effective care environment
2. Health promotion and maintenance
3. Psychosocial integrity
4. Physiological integrity
Step 3: Experience
This step in the process is to gain hands-on experience. This will provide you with invaluable opportunities to work with patients making you attractive to future employers.
Step 4: Certification
The final step is to obtain certifications for your chosen career. Requirements for earning a certification vary so it is important to check with the governing body for information. Incredible Health offers free courses in order to obtain or renew certification requirements. Create a free account to access professional development mandates and get instant certificates.
[ Looking for more support? Get free, personalized career guidance from experienced RNs. ]
North Carolina Board of Nursing
Phone: (919) 782-3211
Fax: (919) 781-9461
PO Box 2129
Raleigh, NC 27602-2129
4516 Lake Boone Trail
Raleigh, NC 27607
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