Become a Nurse in Georgia: Requirements, Licensing, and Employment Outlook

by Maura Deering

Becoming a registered nurse in Georgia opens doors to employment opportunities statewide. Read on about how to obtain your Georgia nursing license.

Become a Nurse in Georgia: Requirements, Licensing, and Employment Outlook
Degree Required
License Required
Job Outlook

According to the state's workforce data, more than 140,000 licensed nurses practice in Georgia, with most of them working as registered nurses (RNs). Georgia ranks fifth among U.S. states for its projected RN employment growth rate, which outpaces the national average.

The data report also indicates about 40,000 are employed as licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and nurse practitioners. If you are interested in becoming an RN in Georgia, this guide details nursing school requirements in Georgia, the licensing process, and expected salaries. You can also check out information about the state's best programs and hospitals.

How to Become a Nurse in Georgia

Becoming a registered nurse in Georgia starts with earning an undergraduate nursing degree, passing the licensure exam, and applying to the Georgia Board of Nursing. RNs can earn either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Licensed RNs find employment at top Georgia hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and many choose to advance their careers with specialty certifications or graduate nursing degrees.

Apply to an ADN or a BSN Program.
Graduates of two-year ADN programs qualify to apply for their RN licenses. However, a four-year BSN offers more comprehensive preparation, leading to potentially higher salaries and increased career opportunities.
Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam to Receive RN Licensure.
Nursing school graduates typically take the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) about a month after completing their programs but must do so within three years.
Apply for Jobs at Local Hospitals.
Georgia hosts several top hospitals. An Emory School of Nursing study reports an estimated annual growth rate in the RN workforce of 3% over the past decade. Learn more about hospitals in Georgia.
Advance Your Career With a Graduate Degree or Certification.
Earning a master’s degree, doctorate in nursing, or specialty certification can result in higher salaries and more job opportunities.
Maintain and Renew Licensure and Certifications.
Georgia RNs must renew their licenses online by Jan. 31 of odd or even years, depending on their expiration date. Renewal requires documentation of continuing education, which includes certification.
The Complete Guide to How to Become a Registered Nurse

Georgia Board of Nursing

Established in 1907, the Georgia Board of Nursing regulates and oversees the state's nursing profession by vetting and approving licensure applicants to ensure high standards of care. The board also handles disciplinary proceedings.

The board's website provides online licensing services and downloadable forms for RNs, NCLEX information, and licensure compact status alerts. The site also lists continuing education resources, along with key laws and regulations. Nurses can access practice guides and COVID-19 updates.

How to Get Your Nursing License in Georgia

The nursing board offers Georgia nursing licenses by examination and by endorsement. Applicants who have never held RN licenses follow the procedures for licensure by examination. RNs who have not held Georgia licensure but hold licenses in other states can apply for licensure by endorsement.

Licensure for New Nurses

This section lists eligibility qualifications and application requirements for new nurses to become licensed by examination after completing their nurse training.

RN Licensure Eligibility Requirements

  • Degree from an accredited school of nursing or a program approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing
  • Official transcripts (not required for graduates of Georgia nursing board-approved programs)
  • Passing score on the NCLEX-RN
  • Completed licensure application
  • Completed criminal background check
  • $40 application fee

Steps to Apply for an RN License

  • Register for the NCLEX-RN exam with Pearson Vue within three years of graduation from nursing school.
  • Register for the criminal background check with COGENT Systems.
  • Provide an online or paper application (required for out-of-state nursing school graduates) and requested materials to the nursing board.
  • Watch for application approval within 15 business days of submission.
Licensure for Nurses From a Different State

RNs licensed in other states can follow the steps below for receiving licensure by endorsement. Multistate license-holders from Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) states can practice in Georgia, as it also belongs to the NLC.

Steps to Apply for an RN License

  • Register with COGENT Systems and complete the criminal background check.
  • Submit a paper application for licensure by endorsement.
  • Provide proof of an RN license from another state.
  • Pay the $75 application fee.
  • Provide official college transcripts.
  • Submit one of the following:
    • Verification of 500 hours of practice as a licensed RN logged within the previous four years.
    • Proof of graduation from nursing school within four years before the application date.
    • Completion of a Georgia Board of Nursing approved reentry program.
Top Nursing Schools and Programs in Georgia

How to Renew Your Nursing License in Georgia

Georgia nursing licenses expire on Jan. 31 of even- or odd-numbered years as indicated on the license. An RN can renew online by following the onscreen instructions and paying the $65 renewal fee. Applicants can request paper renewal forms from the board.

Renewal applicants must submit documentation of continuing competency/education to CE Broker online. Classroom instruction, online study, and training offered by professional journals, national credentialing bodies, or national certification agencies qualify as approved continuing education. RNs can access a FAQ document online for detailed information.

Salary and Employment for Nurses in Georgia

Georgia RNs make an average annual salary of $71,510, which is lower than the average national salary. However, Georgia ranked as the eighth-most affordable state in 2020, with a cost of living index of 89.7, compared to the national value of 100.

Aspiring RNs in Georgia can expect ample employment opportunities. The state's projected job growth rate of 22.5% for 2018-2028 exceeds the national rate of 7%. A federal study of the nursing workforce for 2014-2030 projects a shortfall of 2,200 RNs in Georgia.

The table below lists the five highest-paying metropolitan areas in Georgia and their mean RN salaries, with the Atlanta area topping the rankings.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for RNs
Metropolitan Area Mean Annual Salary
Atlanta — Sandy Springs — Roswell $75,980
Augusta — Richmond County $74,250
Rome $71,380
Athens — Clarke County $71,020
Hinesville $70,810
Source: BLS

Best Hospitals to Work as a Nurse in Georgia

The list below offers U.S. News & World Report's rankings of the top-rated hospitals in Georgia. U.S. News & World Report assessed and ranked these Atlanta-area hospitals in two primary areas: specialties, which apply to patients with rare or life-threatening conditions, and more commonly performed procedures and conditions.

  • As part of the Emory Healthcare system, Emory University Hospital serves as a teaching hospital and holds Magnet recognition for excellence in nursing care, which includes measures of patient safety and outcomes.
  • The community-focused Emory St. Joseph's boasts six consecutive Magnet recognitions, and its nursing advocacy program won a national Institute for Healthcare Improvement/Daisy award for patient safety.
  • Piedmont has received high marks for hospital safety, along with recognition as a great place to work. Piedmont Atlanta's intensive care and progressive cardiac units hold Beacon Designation from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.
  • Northside ranks high for gynecological care, gastroenterology, and gastrointestinal surgery. Its cancer center's blood and marrow transplant program has received high acknowledgment for its survival outcomes.
  • This community-centered teaching hospital and leading acute care facility has received accolades for its stroke care, bariatric center, and emergency department.

Resources for Nurses in Georgia

  • GNA began operating in 1907. This association empowers the state's nurses to improve health and lead change through advocacy. Member benefits include priority access to events, practice resources, and job listings.
  • CAPRN advocates for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) at the state level and improves the scope of practice laws nationwide. CAPRN's website features policy data and reports, white papers, current regulations, and video resources. The organization also hosts virtual town halls in support of nurses running for public office.
  • The state board licenses RNs, LPNs, and APRNs. It also regulates the nursing profession and educational programs. Resources like laws and rules governing nursing, licensure and exam guides, continuing education information, and news updates are available on the site.
  • This nonprofit organization devoted to improving access to healthcare supports APRNs through legislative advocacy, events, news briefs, employment listings, and practice resources. Local chapters offer free continuing education, and all members receive discounts for the UAPRN regional conference.
  • GNLC aims to break down barriers that prevent nurses from responding effectively to evolving healthcare systems and settings. This coalition offers education, research, and workforce resources and advances healthcare by implementing the Institute of Medicine's Future of Nursing report.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become an RN in GA?

ADN programs take about two years to complete, and BSN programs typically span four years. Students with transferable credits, experience as nurse aides or LPNs, or bachelor's degrees in other fields can pursue accelerated pathways. Full-time and part-time enrollment also affect graduation timelines.

What are the requirements to become a nurse in Georgia?

A new RN needs an undergraduate degree in nursing, a passing score on the NCLEX-RN, and a completed background check. An RN licensed in another state needs proof of licensure, completion of an accredited nursing program, and a completed criminal background check. RNs with multistate NLC licenses can practice in Georgia.

How much does a Georgia nursing license cost?

The application fee for a new RN applying for licensure by examination is $40. Each licensure by endorsement applicant pays a $75 application fee. Other costs include a $200 fee to take the NCLEX-RN exam and $65 license renewal fees paid every two years.

What states accept a Georgia nursing license?

Georgia RNs can practice under multistate licenses in other NLC states, including neighboring Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Non-NLC states may permit Georgia RNs to apply for licensure by endorsement or a similar process mandated by their nursing boards.

Top Nursing Programs in Georgia is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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