Become a Nurse in Texas: Requirements, Licensing, & Employment Outlook

Kristen Hamlin
Updated October 10, 2023
Read on to discover how to become a nurse in Texas and what nursing schools in Texas look for.
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    Degree Required

    ADN or BSN
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    License Required

    Registered Nursing License
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    License: $100-$150; Renewal: $68
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    Job Outlook

    16.8% growth from 2018-2028

The second most populous state in the country, Texas has a steadily growing population and an increasing demand for healthcare. In fact, according to one hospital magazine, Becker’s Hospital Review, Texas has more hospitals than any other state. This translates to plenty of opportunities for nurses at all stages of their careers.

If you are interested in learning how to become a registered nurse (RN) in Texas, the following guide covers everything you need to know, including how to apply for your first license and helpful organizations in the field.

How to Become a Nurse in Texas

Becoming a licensed nurse in Texas begins with education. Earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing school is the first step toward a long, fulfilling career in nursing. Getting licensed as a nurse also requires passing exams and background checks along with staying on top of continuing education requirements.

  1. 1

    Apply to an ADN or a BSN Degree Program.

    ADN and BSN nursing programs typically require a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0, particularly in science and math courses, and standardized test scores. An essay, letters of recommendation, an interview, and a background check are also common requirements.
  2. 2

    Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam to Receive RN Licensure.

    After graduation, apply to the Texas Board of Nursing for authorization to take the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN).
  3. 3

    Apply for Jobs at Local Hospitals.

    Research hospitals and apply to open positions. Most hospitals use online portals for applicants. Expect to submit your resume, a cover letter, license information, and references. Learn more about hospitals in Texas.
  4. 4

    Advance Your Career With a Graduate Degree or Certification.

    As you gain experience, increase your career options by seeking advanced degrees and certifications. A master of science in nursing or doctor of nursing practice prepares you for advanced practice and leadership roles.
  5. 5

    Maintain and Renew Licensure and Certifications.

    Texas nurses renew their licenses every two years. Renewal requires 20 continuing nursing education (CNE) hours.

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Texas Board of Nursing

The Texas Board of Nursing (BON) is committed to ensuring licensed nurses in Texas are competent and prepared to provide safe, high-quality care. The board is responsible for licensing nurses at all levels; approving nurse education programs and nursing schools in Texas; and enforcing the rules, regulations, and standards of practice.

How to Get Your Nursing License in Texas

New nurses in Texas must pass an examination to be licensed, while those with an active license in another state can apply for an endorsement.

Regardless of the licensure method, nurses seeking to work in Texas must pass the BON nursing jurisprudence examination. New nurses must pass this before taking the NCLEX-RN exam. Texas also maintains strict eligibility requirements, and all nurses must submit fingerprints and pass background checks.

How to Renew Your Nursing License in Texas

Texas requires nurses to renew their licenses every two years. Licenses expire in your birth month, and you must apply for license renewal online using the Texas Nurse Portal no more than two months before the expiration date.

To qualify for license renewal, your license must be active and in good standing. Certain issues can affect eligibility, including criminal offenses, defaulting on student loans, or failing to meet continuing education requirements. All nurses must complete a minimum of 20 CNE hours before applying for renewal. Some CNE hours must be in specific subject areas; for example, all nurses must complete at least two hours of CNE related to nursing jurisprudence and nursing ethics.

The cost to renew a nursing license is $68 as of June 2021. If your license is inactive, or you are renewing after delinquent status, the state charges additional fees.

Salary and Employment Outlook for Nurses in Texas

The annual mean wage for nurses in Texas is $76,800 as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Texas ranks second in overall RN employment, trailing only California. Job opportunities for nurses in Texas are expected to increase by 16.8% by 2028.

The highest-paying metro areas for Texas nurses are listed in the chart below. Perhaps not coincidentally, many of the state’s best hospitals are also located in these areas.

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for RNs
Metropolitan AreaMean Annual Salary
Houston — The Woodlands — Sugar Land$84,960
Killeen — Temple$77,000
Dallas — Fort Worth-Arlington$77,990
San Antonio — New Braunfels$75,110
Source: BLS

Best Hospitals to Work as a Nurse in Texas

Every year, U.S. News & World Report ranks hospitals nationwide based on their delivery of high-quality general and specialty healthcare. Factors that go into ranking include patient outcomes and experiences, the number of patients treated, nursing staff, and transparency.

We pulled the top five best Texas hospitals to determine the best places for nurses to work in Texas. All of these hospitals offer exceptional opportunities for nurses in terms of work environment and opportunities for growth.

  • Houston Methodist Hospital

    Houston Methodist Hospital is one of the nations best in terms of patient safety and is nationally ranked in more than 11 specialties, including cancer care and cardiology. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) awarded the facility with Magnet accreditation as a testament to its quality of nursing care.
  • UT Southwestern Medical Center

    UT Southwestern is nationally recognized in 17 specialty areas such as cardiology and neurology. With more than 3,400 nurses on staff, the hospital has achieved ANCC Magnet status in recognition of its excellent care and exceptional work environment.
  • Baylor St. Lukes Medical Center

    One of the nations top hospitals for cancer and cardiac care, Baylor St. Lukes is also an ANCC Magnet hospital for its first-rate nursing care. Nurses are encouraged to grow their careers here with nurse leadership opportunities, while recent graduates can apply to the nurse residency program.
  • Baylor University Medical Center

    Nationally ranked for gastroenterology and gynecology, this Dallas hospital is an ANCC Magnet hospital. Nurses here report high job satisfaction and autonomy in their practice.
  • Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center

    The teaching hospital for the University of Texas McGovern Medical School, Memorial Hermann is a level 1 trauma center and recognized for excellence in several practice areas. It is also an ANCC Magnet hospital. Nurses receive quality support and benefit from opportunities for professional growth and development.

Resources for Nurses in Texas

  • Texas Nurses Association

    The largest and oldest nursing association in Texas, the TNA advocates for the advancement of the nursing profession. As part of the American Nurses Association, it is not a union or regulatory agency but rather a voice for nurses in Texas. Membership is open to licensed RNs. Benefits include opportunities to serve on committees, CNE courses, discounts, and a job board.
  • Texas Board of Nursing CNE Course Catalog

    The BON offers a selection of workshops, all approved for CNE credit toward license renewal. Many of the workshops are self-paced, although some are delivered via online webinars. The BON also offers a prep course for the required nursing jurisprudence exam. This course does not award CNE or apply toward license renewal.
  • Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses

    This program supports nurses with mental health or substance misuse disorders, allowing nurses to get the help they might need. Through the peer assistance program, nurses can continue practicing safely through early identification, support, accountability, and advocacy. The program helps develop a treatment plan, which includes peer support from a volunteer advocate.
  • Texas Nurse Practitioners

    TNP is devoted to advancing, supporting, and promoting NP roles and high-quality healthcare throughout the state of Texas. Membership is open to NPs and offers access to advocacy opportunities, continuing education resources, career services, practice resources, discounts, and networking opportunities.

Questions About Becoming a Nurse in Texas

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

Expect to spend 2-4 years becoming a licensed nurse in Texas. Completing an ADN to prepare for the NCLEX-RN takes a minimum of two years; a BSN program typically takes at least four years. Once you complete your education, applying for a license, taking exams, and application reviews may take 6-8 weeks after graduation.

Is Texas a good place for nurses?

Texas offers many opportunities for nurses in rural and urban settings, including some of the most highly respected hospitals in the nation. The state ranks second in overall employment in nurses and has a low cost of living. Demand for nurses is projected to increase by 16.8% by 2028 — more than twice the national projection.

What states can a Texas nurse work in?

Texas is part of the eNLC. Therefore, licensed RNs from Texas may work in other eNLC states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Legislation is currently pending in other states.

Can you get a temporary RN license in Texas?

If you are a licensed nurse and move to Texas, you can be granted a 120-day temporary license while your credentials are verified. Licensed vocational/practical nurses and RNs who have previously been licensed but have not worked in nursing during the previous four years may also be granted a temporary six-month permit while completing educational refreshers or nursing orientation courses.

Top Nursing Programs in Texas

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