Become a Registered Nurse in Texas - TX
How to Become an RN in Texas
If you're looking for a fulfilling career where you get to help people by providing hands-on care, and advice and emotional support to patients and their families, then becoming a registered nurse could be a good career plan.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses "provide and coordinate patient care [and] educate patients and the public about various health conditions.” They do this by recording medical histories and symptoms, administering medicines and treatments, operating medical equipment, assisting doctors and much more.
In the current economy, registered nurses are in high demand. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job opportunities for registered nurses to grow by 16 percent from 2014 to 2024 -- faster than the average for all occupations.
If this intrigues you, and you live in Texas, here's what you need to know to become a registered nurse in Texas.
In Texas, and across the United States, there are three educational paths you can take to become a registered nurse:
- A bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN), which typically takes four years to complete and, according to the BLS, usually includes "additional education in the physical and social sciences, communication, leadership, and critical thinking" and "offer[s] more clinical experience in non-hospital settings."
- An associate degree in nursing (ADN), which usually takes two to three years to complete, according to the BLS.
- A diploma from an approved nursing program, which usually takes two to three years to complete, according to the BLS.
In each of these programs, you can expect to take courses in physiology, anatomy, chemistry, microbiology, psychology, nutrition, liberal arts and other social and behavioral sciences. You'll also undertake supervised clinical experience.
If you already hold an ADN or diploma and want to earn a bachelor's degree, there are RN-to-BSN programs, which cut down on overall program time. There are also combined bachelor's and master's programs in nursing and expedited programs if you want to become a registered nurse and have a bachelor's degree in another field.
To become a registered nurse in Texas, you must be licensed by the state and nationally.
National certification is granted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. You must be a graduate of an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses exam (NCLEX-RN). (It costs $200 to take the exam.)
After obtaining licensure on the national level, then you must obtain licensure on the state level from the Texas Board of Nursing. The process includes:
- Applying for licensure online or by paper
- Getting fingerprinted and having a criminal background check
- Paying $100 for the examination or $186 for the endorsement
If you come from a different state, and are a licensed registered nurse in that state, then you'll need to prove it. You'll be required to be fingerprinted, do a criminal background check and fill out a separate application granting you licensure by endorsement. For licensure by endorsement and licensure by examination, you'll also be required to pass the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Exam before obtaining a license.
Make sure to follow all the steps on the Texas Board of Nursing site, as one missing piece could result in not obtaining your license.
How to maintain your license
Your license must be renewed every two years. You'll have to:
- Fill out a separate application
- Pay the basic fee of $60 (unless you're reactivating a license)
- Complete 20 contact hours of continuing education that meet the Board's criteria, unless it's your first time renewing
- Be an active registered nurse
Don't worry: you'll more than likely be doing everything you need to do naturally and will find obtaining licensure renewal to be simple. It's the initial licensure and, of course, earning the nursing degree and learning the trade itself, that are the first major milestones.
But once you do obtain all the required education, knowledge and licensure, then you'll be positioned to start an exciting and rewarding career in the wonderful state of Texas.
- Registered Nurses, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm, accessed March 18, 2016
- Licensing Services, Texas Board of Nursing, http://www.bon.state.tx.us/board_services_licensing.asp, accessed March 18, 2016
- Initial Licensure and Recognition Forms - Schedule of Fees, Texas Board of Nursing, http://www.bon.state.tx.us/forms_fees.asp, accessed March 18, 2016
- Licensure Renewal, Texas Board of Nursing, http://www.bon.state.tx.us/licensure_renewal.asp, accessed March 18, 2016
- NCLEX Examinations, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm, accessed March 18, 2016