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Montana Nursing License Requirements

Nurses in Montana are licensed and overseen by the Montana Board of Nursing, which also approves nursing education programs and continuing education for nurses in the state. In addition to nurses in specialty practice areas, the Montana Board of Nursing licenses practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. Continue learning about the steps to become a licensed nurse in Montana by selecting one of the options below.

» How to become a licensed practical nurse (requires completion of a training program)
» How to become a registered nurse (requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree)
» How to become a nurse practitioner (requires a master’s degree)

4 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Montana

1. Complete an Approved Nursing Program.

Prospective practical nurses in Montana must first complete a practical nursing program approved by the Montana Board of Nursing.1 Such a program may culminate in the award of a diploma or degree in nursing.2 A list of approved programs is available through the Montana Board of Nursing website.3

2. Request a Temporary Permit (Optional).

The Montana Board of Nursing may issue temporary permits to graduates of practical nursing programs pending an attempt at the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).4 Such a permit is only valid for a 90 day period and can not be renewed.4 Graduates who wish to obtain a temporary permit can do so by completing the Examination Temporary Permit Application and submitting the fee for a temporary permit.4 Note that the application for a temporary permit must also be signed by at least one licensed supervisor, who must be on the premises during the applicant’s work hours.4

3. Complete the Application for Licensure by Examination.

The Montana Board of Nursing provides the Application for Licensure by Examination for prospective practical nurses to complete.4 All sections must be completed, and the form must be signed by the applicant.4 Applicants should request that the school of nursing attended send an official transcript directly to the Montana Board of Nursing to support the application.1 Applications will be held for up to one year for candidates to meet the licensure requirements.4

4. Complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

The NCLEX-PN is administered by Pearson VUE, a third party testing service contracted by the Montana Board of Nursing.4 Applicants should register for the NCLEX-PN with Pearson VUE.5 The Montana Board of Nursing will issue an Authorization to Test to qualified applicants approximately 10 days after receiving a completed application for licensure.4 When the Authorization to Test is received, the applicant may schedule and take the NCLEX-PN.4 Once Pearson VUE has forwarded test results showing successful passage of the NCLEX-PN exam, the Montana Board of Nursing will issue a practical nurse license.1

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Montana

1. Complete a Program in Registered Nursing.

Registered nurses in Montana must hold at least a diploma from an approved school of nursing.2 The Montana Board of Nursing approves programs operating in the state and provides a list of such programs on its website.3

2. Request a Temporary Permit (Optional).

Graduates of approved programs may request a temporary permit to practice as a registered nurse from the Montana Board of Nursing before attempting the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).4 A temporary permit is not renewable and is valid for 90 days.4 Graduates may request a temporary permit by completing the Examination Temporary Permit Application and submitting the fee for a temporary permit.4 The temporary permit application requires the signature of at least one licensed supervisor, and at least one licensed supervisor must be available on the premises while a candidate for licensure with a temporary permit is working.4

3. Complete the Application for Licensure by Examination.

The Application for Licensure by Examination must be completed and submitted to the Montana Board of Nursing to request a license in registered nursing.4 All sections of the form must be completed, and the form must be signed by the applicant.4 Applicants should request that the school of nursing attended send an official transcript directly to the Montana Board of Nursing to support the application.1 The Montana Board of Nursing will hold applications for up to twelve months as candidates for licensure work to meet the requirements; after twelve months, incomplete applications will be retired.4

4. Complete the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

The Montana Board of Nursing uses Pearson VUE, a third party testing service, to administer and score the NCLEX-RN.4 Registration for the NCLEX-RN must, therefore, be completed through Pearson VUE.5 After initial registration and review of the application materials, it typically takes ten days for the Montana Board of Nursing to issue an Authorization to Test.4 The Authorization to Test allows the applicant to schedule and attempt the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE.4 Once the applicant has passed the exam and results are received by the Montana Board of Nursing, a registered nurse license will be issued.1

5 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Montana

1. Become a Registered Nurse in Montana.

Nurse practitioners in Montana must first obtain an active registered nurse license in the state.1 Prospective nurse practitioners who have never been licensed as a registered nurse may apply for a registered nursing license at the same time as applying for a nurse practitioner’s license.1 In either case, applicants will be required to meet the education requirements for registered nurses in Montana and pass the NCLEX-RN.

2. Earn a Master’s Degree or Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing.

A master’s or post-graduate certificate in nursing is required to become a nurse practitioner in Montana.1 The degree or certificate program must include at least 250 hours of instruction and at least 500 hours of preceptorship in a clinical setting.1 A list of approved nursing programs that includes post-baccalaureate programs in Montana is available through the Montana Board of Nursing.3

3. Earn National Certification as a Nurse Practitioner.

Certification from a national association that examines and issues credentials to qualified nurse practitioners is an important prerequisite for licensure in Montana.1 The certifying association must be recognized by the Montana Board of Nursing. A list of associations and related examinations for certification that the Montana Board of Nursing has approved is available on the Board website.6

4. Complete the Application for an APRN Endorsement to an RN License.

Nurse practitioners who have met the education and certification requirements may submit the Application for an APRN Endorsement to an RN License to begin the licensing process.7
Applicants should be sure to request that the post-baccalaureate program completed send official transcripts directly to the Montana Board of Nursing to supplement the application.7 Applicants must also demonstrate evidence of national certification by requesting that the certifying body send certification confirmation directly to the Montana Board of Nursing.7 A form letter for this purpose is included in the application for licensure.7

5. Request Prescriptive Authority, If Desired.

Nurse practitioners in Montana who wish to prescribe drugs of any kind must have a prescriptive authority endorsement from the Montana Board of Nursing.2 Prescriptive authority is requested by submitting the Application for Prescriptive Authority along with the required fees to the Montana Board of Nursing.8 Nurse practitioners must be able to demonstrate completion of three-semester credits in advanced pharmacology at the graduate level within the five years prior to application.8 Note that as per federal law, nurse practitioners must have a control number from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe or dispense controlled substances.9

Montana Nursing Associations

Joining a nursing association in Montana can put current and prospective nurses in contact with professional networking, education, and work opportunities.

Montana Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 5,130 $24,470
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 2,610 $37,580
Registered Nurses 8,400 $59,920
Nurse Practitioners 350 $87,880

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2012.

References:
1. Montana Board of Nursing
2. Montana Code Annotated 2013 Title 37. Professions and Occupations, Chapter 8. Nursing
3. Montana Board of Nursing: Approved Programs
4. Montana Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure by Examination
5. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
6. Montana Board of Nursing: Accepted APRN Certifying Bodies and Exams
7. Montana Board of Nursing: Application for an APRN Endorsement to an RN License
8. Montana Board of Nursing: Application for Prescriptive Authority
9. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Diversion Control: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970