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Top Maine Nursing Schools and Programs

| NurseJournal Staff

Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

Individuals who want to work in engaging environments where they positively affect patients' lives should consider nursing careers. In Maine, less than 6% of non-retired nurses are not active in the field, which indicates considerable job opportunities where candidates can obtain professional and personal satisfaction from helping residents improve their quality of life. These careers require licensure or certification.

Maine residents can pursue four nursing credentials: certified nurse assistant (CNA), registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), and advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). This page examines the process of earning each credential, along with salary expectations and professional resources in the state. It also addresses the structure of online degrees as compared to on-campus programs. Candidates who want to pursue nursing licensure in Maine should continue reading.

Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Maine?

In 2019-2020, Maine colleges and universities charged lower in-state and out-of-state tuition than any other New England state, including New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Students can save money by choosing traditional or online nursing programs in Maine, but they should note that each state's licensure requirements vary. This detail means that Maine programs may not fulfill qualifications for licensure in other states.

As of 2015, Maine experienced a shortage of RNs, which the state projects to grow by 2025. This need represents a reason to choose online nursing programs in Maine and pursue nursing licensure in the state.

Maine also ranks highly on several U.S. News & World Report lists measuring the state's quality of life. Specifically, Maine ranks third for crime and corrections and 19th for healthcare.

Featured Online Programs

How to Become a Nurse in Maine

Aspiring nurses in Maine complete the same basic steps to obtain licensure as they would in any other state. They earn their chosen degree, take their NCLEX exams, and await approval from the Maine State Board of Nursing. Some requirements in Maine vary from other U.S. states, including licensing costs and procedures. The information below can guide you through the process of becoming a licensed nurse in Maine.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    To become an RN in Maine, students must possess, at minimum, a diploma or two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN). For additional training and greater professional mobility, nursing program participants can pursue a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). BSN holders who plan to become nurse practitioners (NPs), advanced nurses with a clinical specialty, or nursing educators may later pursue master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees. A nurse with an MSN usually enjoys broader employment options and higher income potential. Nurses interested in pursuing the field's highest leadership positions typically go on to pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or other terminal nursing degree.
  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    To become an RN without a prior nursing background, working students can pursue online ADN degree programs. ADN holders can enroll in online RN-to-BSN programs in Maine. BSN degree-holders seeking advanced credentials can also earn their master's degrees through online MSN programs in Maine. Graduates of non-nursing baccalaureate programs might consider accelerated nursing programs in Maine to earn their BSN or MSN degrees. Students can expect to spend 1-3 years pursuing their online nursing degrees. Distance nursing students complete most coursework online but must also fulfill on-site clinical hours. Most students meet these requirements on the job, but students not currently employed in the field may work with program advisors to find suitable locations.
  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    After graduating from an online nursing program in Maine, candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN exam costs $200 and takes six hours to complete. It covers four main categories: the safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. Although nursing programs prepare students for the NCLEX-RN, most test-takers find the exam challenging. Candidates should explore all available study resources to excel on testing day. Passing the NCLEX-RN does not guarantee employment. Prospective nurses should make the most of the networking opportunities provided by their degree programs, professional organizations, clinical practicum sites, and volunteer opportunities.

Online Nursing Degree Programs in Maine

All nursing credentials in Maine require some type of education or training. These programs equip individuals with knowledge of concepts related to nursing, including biology, assessment, and pharmacology. Online nursing programs in Maine may also include fieldwork where candidates acquire practical experience and establish connections that can lead to employment.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Maine?

Coursework for online nursing programs in Maine varies, based on details like degree level and specialty. A master's, for instance, examines more advanced nursing concepts than a bachelor's, and a pediatric focus highlights child needs through classes. However, students in multiple programs may encounter the following courses.

Anatomy and Physiology

This course examines the human body and its processes. This exploration includes information on cells and tissues, as well as the skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. Courses often include labs.

Pharmacology

Degree-seekers learn about drug classifications and examine how to use medications in nursing practices. Other course topics may include safety and dosage considerations when using medications for treatments.

Foundations of Nursing

Classes address essential concepts for nursing, such as legal and ethical considerations, safety concerns, and common nursing responsibilities. Learners may also study relevant theories throughout history. Courses focus on age groups, such as the elderly, or cover nursing throughout the lifespan.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Online nursing programs in Maine may require on-campus visits for experiences like labs, orientations, and seminars. However, some programs deliver all coursework online through synchronous and asynchronous classrooms. Nursing programs, though, may mandate in-person field experiences at healthcare organizations.

Time frames vary by degree level. An associate may call for two years of study, while a bachelor's requires around four years. Master's degrees typically take 1-3 years, with doctorates often requiring three or more additional years to complete. Any level of online degree may qualify individuals for the applicable nursing license. For instance, an online associate in nursing may lead to an RN license, and an online master's can prepare for NP credentials.

Fully online programs allow students more flexibility with time and finances than on-campus programs since learners do not have to travel to campus. Asynchronous courses provide maximum flexibility by not requiring students to log into classes at set times. Working professionals may prefer online programs for time management purposes.

Nursing Licensure in Maine

In 2018, most nursing professions in Maine offered higher pay than the state's overall mean annual wages of $46,810. Specifically, RNs earned annual mean wages over $20,000 more per year, and NPs earned over twice as much as the overall mean annual wage. Nurse anesthetists averaged more than three times the annual mean wages for all Maine careers. These numbers were all higher than the average U.S. income of 2018 ($52,145) and highlight the financial benefits of pursuing nursing licensure in Maine.

Maine allows full practice rights for NPs, which allows them to assess and treat patients through tests and medications in private practices. Less than half of states embrace full practice rights, meaning NPs in most states experience more limited practice options. The Maine State Board of Nursing manages nursing licensure in the state and requires unique credentials for each license and certification. The following sections outline these requirements in detail.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

Each nursing license in Maine may call for unique application and renewal criteria. These requirements increase in difficulty for more advanced credentials. The following chart outlines these license and certification elements.

Certified Nurse Assistant Becoming a CNA in Maine requires completion of a training program that reflects the standards of the Prescribed Curriculum for Nurse Assistant Training Programs. Candidates can begin this training in high school, provided they are at least sophomores and sixteen years old. The training programs must include lectures, labs, and supervised experience. The board insists on small student-to-clinical teacher ratios for these courses, preferably 1:1. Required experience may occur at hospitals, home health organizations, or nursing homes. Candidates who complete fewer than 180 training hours may need to take a competency test overseen by an RN. The board requires a certificate for training programs with information like curriculum, program duration, and training provider. Candidates with no criminal offenses or serious practice issues can apply for listing on Maine's CNA registry. To maintain placement on the CNA registry, individuals must work at least eight hours every two years.

Maine Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Candidates must complete an approved training program.
  • Additional Clinical Hours: This credential requires 180 training hours.
  • Exams: The board requires competency testing for applicants with fewer than 180 training hours.
  • Renewal Frequency: Renewal occurs every other year.
  • Continuing Education: Maine requires no continuing education hours for CNA Registry listing renewal.
Licensed Practical Nurse Earning an LPN credential in Maine requires experience and education. Specifically, applicants can hold a degree, diploma, or certificate from a board-approved nursing program. The board lists LPN programs in Maine on its website. The board also accepts military experience that includes medical care. This experience may come from any U.S. military branch but must include at least one year of active care. These candidates must complete a nursing class from the military and earn an honorable discharge to qualify for an LPN license. Other requirements for LPN licensure include an exam, such as the NCLEX. Taking this exam requires board-approval and a $200 registration fee. Licensure by endorsement applicants may also take the State Board test pool examination. LPN licenses expire after two years, coinciding with the candidate's birthday. Renewal requires a fee of $100 or less.

Maine Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Applicants can hold a certificate or diploma related to practical nursing. Other options include one year of medical training and experience with the military and a nursing course.
  • Additional Clinical Hours: No additional clinical hours are required.
  • Exams: Acceptable exams include the NCLEX and the State Board test pool examinations.
  • Renewal Frequency: LPNs must renew licenses every other year. This renewal must occur before the candidate's birthday.
  • Continuing Education: Candidates do not need continuing education hours for renewal.
Registered Nurse RN license candidates must complete an approved nursing program that takes at least two years to complete and culminates in a degree, certificate, or diploma. Applicants may choose traditional or online RN programs in Maine. The board also requires passing scores on a relevant exam, such as the NCLEX, though the State Board test pool examination or the State Board examination may qualify applicants for licensure by endorsement. Endorsement applicants may also need to take an English proficiency examination. The board may consider the applicant's character when making licensing decisions. Other RN criteria may include a photograph, a statement of residency, and a $75 fee. RN licenses require biennial renewal before the candidate's birthday. Renewal applicants must submit a fee of $100. Candidates who submit applications late must pay an additional $10.

Maine Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Individuals should hold a certificate, diploma, or degree that requires a minimum of two years.
  • Additional Clinical Hours: RN licenses do not require additional clinical hours.
  • Exams: Candidates may take the NCLEX-RN. The State Board examination and the State Board test pool examination may also qualify endorsement applicants.
  • Renewal Frequency: RNs must renew licenses every other year by the candidate's birthday.
  • Continuing Education: No continuing education hours are required.
Nurse Practitioner NPs need to obtain APRN licenses. This credential requires a master's or higher degree that reflects their career and specialty. For instance, candidates for mental health NP careers can complete NP programs and focus in psychiatric care. Each applicant should also earn a national certification in their specialty area. Each certification includes unique criteria, like exams and fieldwork. Agencies such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and the National Board of Pediatric Nurse Associates and Practitioners may offer these certifications. APRN applicants for NP positions must also fulfill the experience requirements detailed on the previous chart, submit to a criminal background check, and enter a supervisory relationship that involves a licensed doctor or NP. This supervision must last at least two years. Applying for an APRN license costs $100. Renewal must occur every other year and requires continued certification through the national agency.

Maine Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Candidates must complete an NP program and earn a national certification.
  • Additional Clinical Hours: Candidates must complete 1,500 hours of fieldwork if they earned their degrees more than five years ago. Otherwise, applicants must accrue 500 hours of fieldwork with a doctor's supervision. Applicants also need 45 pharmacology contact hours.
  • Exams: Applicants may take the NCLEX-RN and a certification examination from their certifying agency.
  • Renewal Frequency: Individuals must renew their licenses every other year.
  • Continuing Education: Candidates must maintain national certifications for renewal.

Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Maine FAQ

Can Someone Become a Nurse in Two Years? Many candidates complete their associate degree studies and earn an RN license within two years. However, APRN licenses require advanced degrees that add three or more years to educational time frames.
What Is a Good Specialty for Nursing? Specialties prepare learners for practice settings. A good specialty, then, relates to the practice area a person wishes to enter. Individuals who want to work with young children, for instance, can choose a pediatric specialty.
Does an Online Nursing Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree? Online nursing programs in Maine may require in-person fieldwork at organizations that reflect students' specialties. Distance programs may also incorporate the same coursework as on-campus options. Due to these factors, both online and traditional programs can equally prepare students for nursing positions.
Is Maine a Good State For Nurses? As of 2015, Maine included more than 27,000 licensed nurses and experienced a shortage of RNs. These details indicate career opportunities in the state, particularly in the adult/family health and acute care specialties.
Is Maine a Nurse Compact State? Maine participates in the nurse licensure compact (NLC), which allows nurses in compact states to use their existing credentials to practice in other participating areas.

Maine Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and NPs earn lower mean annual wages than candidates in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. The U.S. average salary for all noted careers also surpasses averages for Maine.

Growth projections for Maine nursing positions reach as high as 26.3% for NPs. This projection should incentivize pursuing advanced nursing credentials, with CNA positions projected to only grow by 6.6%. Maine suffered a shortage of 600 RNs in 2015. The state projects this shortage to multiply by more than five times to reach 3,200 by 2025, which indicates in-state career opportunities.

Candidates should note that wages and job growth can vary, based on factors like industry, city, and experience. Furthermore, education and degrees do not guarantee employment or a specific income.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Maine, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $28,710 6.6%
Licensed Practical Nurse $45,610 0.8%
Registered Nurse $67,610 11.1%
Nurse Practitioner $103,220 26.3%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central

Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
U.S. $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
New Hampshire $32,200 $52,510 $72,760 $109,460
Vermont $30,730 $49,720 $69,160 $106,000
Massachusetts $33,630 $58,990 $92,140 $122,740

Source: BLS

Certified Nurse Assistant


CNAs in Maine earned mean annual wages of $28,710 in 2018. This ranks lower than the national and nearby state averages and more than $20,000 less than the average U.S. income for all workers in 2018. However, candidates can increase potential earnings by working in high-paying industries. In particular, the BLS reports that nurse assistants earn a median of $33,800 or $30,050 by working in the government or hospital industry, respectively.

Licensed Practical Nurse


LPNs in Maine earned mean annual wages lower than national averages, nearby state averages, and the average U.S. income from 2018. The BLS lists government, nursing and residual care facilities, and home healthcare services as the top-paying industries for these careers. The median pay for all three industries exceeds the state's general average of $45,610. The projected growth for these positions is also low when compared to other nursing opportunities in the state.

Registered Nurse


Mean annual wages for Maine RNs surpass the average U.S. income from 2018 but falls short of average pay for RNs in nearby areas. Industries that offer the highest pay for these nurses include the government, with median pay surpassing $78,000, and also hospitals and ambulatory healthcare services. Experience may also impact salaries. For instance, per-hour pay for RNs may increase by almost $10 over a 20-year career.

Nurse Practitioner


NPs in Maine earn mean annual wages that nearly double the 2018 average U.S. income but still take home less than NPs in other areas. Income, however, can fluctuate due to industry or experience level. The median average for related careers in hospitals, for example, exceeds $120,000, and NPs with 20 years of experience average around $15,000 more than candidates first entering their careers.

Nursing Resources for Maine

  • This resource includes a blog, press releases, and news posts that update readers on nursing trends in Maine. The association also offers a scholarship that learners can use when attending online nursing schools in Maine.
  • MNPA delivers events like a spring conference and regional gatherings. Candidates can review open NP jobs, search for NPs by specialty and focus, and explore sources on opioid use through the site.
  • Individuals can apply for and renew nursing credentials through the board's website. The board also informs site viewers on Maine's nursing regulations and the state's NLC participation.
  • MASN connects site viewers to events like the Maine School Winter Wellness Summit and a webinar on immunizations. The association's career center also lists available nursing jobs in the state.
  • Candidates can explore career opportunities and continuing education options through the site. Members can also participate in events such as Maine Nurse Appreciation Day and win awards like The Agnes E. Flaherty Leadership Award.

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