Become a Nurse In Ohio: Requirements, Licensing, and Employment Outlook icon

Become a Nurse In Ohio: Requirements, Licensing, and Employment Outlook

| NurseJournal Staff

Become a Nurse In Ohio: Requirements, Licensing, and Employment Outlook mini logo

Ohio offers registered nurses (RNs) ample career opportunities and competitive salaries. Nursing graduates can enter the field after earning associate degrees in nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees. According to an Ohio workforce report, most find employment in hospital inpatient roles with their primary practice area in medical-surgical units.

The report also cited that 86% are employed in a position that required a nursing license with nurses holding an ADN slightly higher than those with a BSN. The state ranks sixth in the nation for total RN employment, with a 9.6% employment growth rate from 2018-2028. This guide provides information on how to pursue a rewarding nursing career in the Buckeye State.

Degree Required
License Required
Job Outlook

How to Become a Nurse in Ohio

Individuals interested in how to become an RN in Ohio must first complete approved nursing degrees. They receive licenses to practice after applying to the Ohio Board of Nursing and passing the National Council Licensure Exam for RNs (NCLEX-RN). Many Ohio nursing graduates broaden their career prospects by continuing their education beyond ADNs and BSNs.

Apply to an ADN or a BSN Program.
Offered at many community colleges in the state, an ADN takes approximately two years to complete, while a BSN may require four years of full-time study at state or private schools.
Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam to Receive RN Licensure.
After completing an ADN or BSN, each prospective RN must apply online at the Ohio Board of Nursing for authorization to take the NCLEX-RN exam.
Apply for Jobs at Local Hospitals.
Most of Ohio’s nursing graduates work in hospital settings. Many of the state’s hospitals hold Magnet status, indicating quality healthcare and a positive work environment for nurses. Learn more about hospitals in Ohio.
Advance Your Career With a Graduate Degree or Certification.
A graduate degree prepares RNs for clinical and administrative positions as specialists in a particular field such as nursing informatics or as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs may receive specialized certifications as certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse anesthetists.
Maintain and Renew Licensure and Certifications.
RNs must renew their licenses through the Ohio Board of Nursing website every odd-numbered year. After the first renewal, the state requires an RN to complete 24 continuing education hours during each subsequent renewal period.
The Complete Guide to How to Become a Registered Nurse

Ohio Board of Nursing

The Ohio Board of Nursing safeguards public health by establishing professional standards for nurses by enforcing statutory and regulatory requirements. The board also defines the scope of practice for nursing specializations. Its duties include issuing and renewing licenses, monitoring compliance with state laws, and revoking licenses of nurses who violate safe practice standards.

RNs can visit the board website to find current information about licensure eligibility and renewal. Nurses can use the website to access application forms, learn about nursing program accreditation, explore prescriptive authority for controlled substances, and research approved continuing education courses.

How to Get Your Nursing License in Ohio

RNs can pursue two pathways to licensure in Ohio. Graduates of state-approved nursing programs may apply for licensure by examination. Candidates must submit a completed application and required documentation to receive authorization to take the NCLEX-RN.

Nurses who already have received authorization to practice in other states must apply for licensure by endorsement. These nurses must have current and unrestricted RN licenses and provide verification of licensure by examination from the state boards that granted their licenses.

Licensure for New Nurses

The state board has established strict criteria for receiving RN licensure. This section briefly outlines the eligibility and application requirements for new RNs seeking licensure by examination to practice in Ohio.

RN Licensure Eligibility Requirements

  • Complete an ADN or a BSN from a nursing program approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing or the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN exam administered by Pearson VUE.
  • Pay a $200 NCLEX-RN exam fee online to PearsonVUE, along with a $75 Ohio RN license application fee.
  • Submit fingerprints for an FBI and criminal records check completed by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Candidates must submit electronic fingerprints through Webcheck.

Steps to Apply for an RN License

  1. Upload and complete the application for licensure by examination. Submit the application and all required documentation through the Ohio eLicense website. After submission, check to verify completion of all information and payments.
  2. Request the degree-granting institution to submit a letter of program completion to the Ohio Board of Nursing and provide your application number.
  3. Register with Pearson VUE separately to take the NCLEX-RN, receive authorization to test from Pearson VUE, and schedule to take the NCLEX-RN as soon as possible.
  4. Candidates typically receive licensure six weeks from the date of the submitted application.
Licensure for Nurses From a Different State

An RN who earned a nursing degree and license in a state other than Ohio must apply for licensure by endorsement to practice in Ohio.

Steps to Apply for RN License

  1. Ohio is not a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). RNs who hold valid out-of-state licenses must apply to the Ohio Board of Nursing to practice in the state.
  2. Upload and complete the application for licensure by endorsement. Next, verify the original nursing license. Then, submit the application and all required documentation through the Ohio eLicense website. After submission, check to verify completion of all information and payments.
  3. Submit fingerprints for an FBI and criminal records check completed by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation. Electronic fingerprints must be completed through Webcheck.
  4. Complete two hours of continuing education on Ohio nursing law and rules from a list of approved courses on the board website.
  5. Candidates typically receive responses six weeks from the date of their submitted applications. The timeline may be shorter for applicants who hold RN licenses from states participating in the license verification system.
Top Nursing Schools and Programs in Ohio

How to Renew Your Nursing License in Ohio

RNs in Ohio must renew their licenses online at the Ohio Board of Nursing eLicense portal on Aug. 31 of odd-numbered years. The board will email renewal notifications from late May through June.

RNs may check on their license expiration date by clicking the verification link on the eLicense website. Nurses who renew before July 1 of their renewal year pay a nonrefundable fee of $65, plus a $3.50 transaction fee. On or after Sept. 16, the board charges an additional $50 late processing fee.

After the first renewal, an RN must complete 24 continuing education hours during each subsequent renewal period. Nurses who have received their license by endorsement within the past year only need to complete 12 continuing education hours.

Salary and Employment for Nurses in Ohio

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Ohio's RNs earn a below-average annual salary of $69,750 when compared to the national RN average of $80,010. However, the Department of Labor projects a 9.6% increase in RN employment in Ohio from 2018 to 2028.

The healthy job market and low cost of living make Ohio a desirable location for nurses. The aging population in need of healthcare services and the anticipated spike in RN retirements also contribute to the demand for RNs across the state.

RNs who work in the state's urban areas can expect higher than average salaries. Mean earnings range from approximately $69,000 in Akron and Cincinnati to over $70,000 in Lima, Cleveland-Elyria, and Springfield.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for RNs

Metropolitan Area Mean Annual Salary
Cleveland-Elyria $73,130
Cincinnati $71,980
Lima $71,770
Springfield $71,360
Akron $69,010
Source: BLS

Best Hospitals to Work as a Nurse in Ohio

Ohio's 243 hospitals and 15 health systems employ the majority of the state's RNs. This overview of the top five Ohio hospitals is based on U.S. News & World Report's best-ranked hospitals list. The methodology incorporates 16 specialty area evaluations, procedures and conditions ratings, and expert physician opinions.

  • Since its founding 100 years ago, Cleveland Clinic has grown into a top-ranked nonprofit, multispecialty medical center that incorporates clinical care with research and education. The hospital employs over 17,000 RNs and APRNs.
  • This Columbus-based facility hosts the most advanced equipment and simulators for instruction in ambulatory and inpatient clinical skills. The hospital employs more than 1,500 physicians, 800 residents, and 5,000 nurses.
  • This major nonprofit medical facility has maintained an affiliation with Case Western Reserve University since 1986. The hospital, which employs over 3,000 nurses, has received Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for its patient safety outcomes and healthy work environment.
  • Founded in 1968 to serve the growing eastside communities in the Cleveland metropolitan area, this nonprofit comprehensive care facility has 550 beds and operates a level II trauma center. ANCC awarded Hillcrest Hospital Magnet designation in 2014.
  • Established in 1892, Fairview Hospital became part of the Cleveland Clinic Health System in 1997. This multispecialty community serves the western Cuyahoga County population and has developed Centers of Excellence for highly specialized treatment in cardiac, cancer, surgery, and emergency and trauma services.

Resources for Nurses in Ohio

  • The Ohio ENA advocates on behalf of emergency room nurses to promote patient safety and excellence in emergency practice settings. The website offers members several resources, including a career center, interactive educational opportunities through its Learning Studio, and an online chat community that encourages emergency room nurses to network and share ideas about best practices, education, research, and policy.
  • Open to RNs and other health professionals with a specific interest in school healthcare services, OASN sponsors an annual conference and provides opportunities for professional development. This organization is an approved provider of continuing education by ANCC's Commission on Accreditation. OASN provides resources to help members develop advocacy skills.
  • OSANA, with a membership of over 2,400 certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) and students, offers resources and services to advance the field of nurse anesthesia. This professional organization sponsors publications, virtual webinars, awards programs, and an annual conference. OSANA provides members with group health benefits and access to legal counsel to assist with CRNA practice, laws, and scope of practice issues.
  • ONA, an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, represents 180,000 RNs in the state. This professional organization engages in full-time lobbying activities on behalf of the nursing profession and advocates directly in the nursing workplace through collective bargaining efforts. ONA maintains a career center, offers continuing education opportunities, and sponsors the ONAConnect social media network.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a nursing shortage in Ohio?

While the U.S. struggles to meet increasing demands for healthcare services for its aging population, not all states project nursing shortages. Data provided by the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis projects an estimated surplus of 49,100 RNs in Ohio by 2030. However, given the many healthcare systems and hospitals in Ohio, RNs can expect ample job opportunities in an increasingly competitive job market.

How much does a new RN make in Ohio?

According to PayScale, entry-level RNs earn an average base salary of $61,520 as of June 2021. BLS state data reveals that RNs in Ohio, including those with nursing diplomas, ADN, and BSN degrees, earn a mean annual salary of $69,750. The lowest-earning 10%, which typically includes new graduates, make $53,370 a year.

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

An RN who intends to work in Ohio must hold at least an ADN, which generally takes two years, followed by successful completion of the NCLEX-RN. Many Ohio RNs choose to earn four-year BSNs to broaden their prospects. Several schools offer accelerated programs, which can shorten degree timelines.

What states pay RNs the most?

RN compensations depend on several variables, including education, type of employer, certifications, work experience, and location. Salaries for all RNs in the U.S. range from slightly over $53,000 to over $116,000 for top earners. RNs employed in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska earn the most, with mean salaries ranging from $95,270-$120,560.

Top Nursing Programs in Ohio 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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