Become a Nurse in Connecticut: Requirements & Licensing

Janice Monti, Ph.D.
Updated November 23, 2022
    Interested in a nursing career in Connecticut? This page provides an overview of the state's educational requirements, licensure processes for each type of nurse, career trends, and salary prospects within the state.
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    USA, Connecticut, ExteriorCredit: Walter Bibikow | DigitalVision | Getty Images

    As the state’s population demands more primary and preventive healthcare services and a third of its nurses retire each year, Connecticut faces a serious nursing shortage. Though the state shows a demonstrated need for nurses, the Connecticut League for Nursing reports that the state operates on a shortage of the nursing facilities and educators needed to meet the demand for trained nurses at all levels.

    While nursing education across the country confronts similar challenges responding to the healthcare needs of the baby boomer population, nursing programs in Connecticut have reached their capacity. Connecticut’s 18 pre-licensure registered nursing programs operate at 97% capacity. Reversing the shortage of registered nurses (RNs) and increasing graduation numbers requires expanding enrollment at all 18 RN programs.

    The limited and competitive educational resources available in the state should not deter students from pursuing their nursing degree in Connecticut. Graduates in the state will enter a growing job market equipped with in-demand skills. Like other states, Connecticut’s strategies to improve patient care hinges on educating and credentialing sufficient numbers of nurses in quality nursing programs to meet the state’s workforce needs.

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    How to Become a Nurse in Connecticut

    The following sections describe the potential pathways to a nursing career in Connecticut, including educational requirements, licensure procedures, and information about online nursing programs.

    Nursing aides or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) can finish their training relatively quickly, entering the workforce sooner than RNs who must earn an associate or bachelor’s degree. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) must complete at least a master of science in nursing.

    The Connecticut State Board of Nursing requires all LPNs, RNs, and APRNs to pass the NCLEX licensing exam for their practice level.

    How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

    Nurses need practical experience to receive licenses. Regardless of which nursing career type you plan to pursue, you must complete a minimum number of in-person clinical experience hours.

    Outside of clinical experience, students must complete nursing courses. Online nursing programs in CT offer these programs either online or through a hybrid model of on-campus and online courses.

    Working nurses pursuing a degree may not need additional clinical practice, depending on their current position and degree choice. For example, a current LPN can take the NCLEX-RN and complete required registered nursing courses online. Similarly, an RN can complete an online RN-to-BSN program to increase their pay rate and employment opportunities.

    No matter how much experience a nurse has, Connecticut requires nurses to continue their education. Fortunately, Connecticut has no shortage of online programs for all four nursing types, and these online programs match the quality of on-campus nursing degrees, making it easy to meet continuing education requirements.

    Nursing Licensure in Connecticut

    Connecticut does not maintain membership in the nurse licensure compact (NLC), so CT sets its own standards for certified nursing assistants (CNAs), LPNs, RNs, and nurse practitioners (NPs). The Connecticut State Department of Public Health Board of Examiners for Nursing sets these licensure standards. The board also approves nursing programs in Connecticut for each nursing type.

    The Connecticut nursing licensure and renewal process has a few notable differences from other states. For example, LPNs and RNs have no continuing education requirements. Also, NPs receive prescriptive authority, though the types of drugs they can prescribe depends on how long they have been licensed.

    State Requirements by Nursing Type

    Each nursing type requires different levels of education, experience, and certification. This table outlines and compares some of the basic requirements for each nursing type in Connecticut.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can someone become a nurse in two years?

    CNA and LPN programs offer the fastest routes to a nursing career. Depending on prerequisites, students can finish a nondegree CNA program in 4-12 weeks at a community college or vocational school. The licensed practical nurse diploma, offered at community colleges, vocational schools, and some hospitals, takes 7-24 months.

    How should I choose what nursing field to go into?

    Students may enroll in either traditional or online nursing programs in Connecticut, choosing a specific degree level based on their personal interests and needs. While CNAs and LPNs start their careers with two years of training or less, a bachelor’s or graduate degree enables nurses to enter the field as specialized RNs and ARPNs, earning higher salaries and more opportunities for career advancement.

    How long does it take to get an RN license in Connecticut?

    Applicants for RN licensure must complete an accredited nursing program, submit official transcripts, and pay required fees. The Connecticut State Board of Nursing requires successful completion of the NCLEX-RN. It takes approximately four weeks to receive a Connecticut RN license after the nursing board has received all documentation.

    Is Connecticut a good state for nurses?

    Connecticut employs over 76,000 nurses at all practice levels in many healthcare environments, and the demand for nurses remains strong. In some communities, the healthcare needs of the residents exceed the number of nurses available to fill positions. State salary levels for RNs rank among the highest in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a Connecticut nurse holding an RN license earns a mean annual income of $88,440. Depending on the employer, RNs with in-demand specialties and work experience can earn an average salary of $111,520.

    What nursing field makes the most money?

    Among all nursing practice levels, specialized APRNs who have completed at least an MSN rank among the top paid nursing professionals. Among APRNs, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse specialists receive the highest salaries, earning well over six figures annually. The overall level of compensation depends on the candidate’s degree level, type of employer, and work experience.

    Connecticut Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

    Connecticut boasts a high rate of employment and competitive salaries for CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and APRNs, well above the national average for these careers. The demand for nurses in Connecticut stems in part from the unmet needs of people with disabilities and the growing reliance on long-term care and home healthcare professionals, reflecting state trends toward aging in place and community living.

    For nurses, earning potential correlates with educational investment. BLS data for Connecticut nurses confirms that RNs and APRNs earn significantly higher salaries than CNAs and LPNs. The top earning nurses in Connecticut hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

    While nursing assistants in Connecticut earn a mean annual income of $34,360 and licensed practical nurses receive a mean salary of $57,380, nurses with a college degree can earn significantly more.

    For example, RNs, who typically hold at least an associate or bachelor’s degree, earn a mean salary of $83,440. Connecticut’s nurse practitioners, as graduate-trained APRNs, earn a mean annual income of $115,140.

    Nursing Resources for Florida

    • Connecticut Nurses Association

      CNA advocates for nurses at the local, state, and national levels. CNA also offers professional development opportunities, including e-learning, access to industry data, and a career board.

    • Connecticut Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Society

      CTAPRNS promotes collaboration and education for advanced practice nurses, including NPs. Membership benefits include continuing education opportunities and access to an annual convention.

    • Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing

      The Connecticut Board of Examiners for Nursing licenses all types of nursing in Connecticut. Nurses complete applications and renewals through the online portal and pay fees directly to the board.

    • Association of School Nurses of Connecticut

      ASNC offers school nurses newsletters and professional development opportunities. Members also receive access to a discussion board and networking opportunities.

    • Connecticut Nursing Collaborative Action Coalition

      As part of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, CNC-AC advocates for building healthier communities for nurses and patients. Current objectives include facilitating nursing education and increasing diversity.

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.