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Florida Nursing License Requirements

Florida is a competitive state in which to find employment as a nurse, as it is in the top five states with the highest levels of employment for nurses according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The three major categories of nurse licensure in Florida are licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, and nurse practitioner. For any nursing license, an education and training in nursing are required. This page explains how to qualify for and obtain a license to become a nurse in Florida.

» 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)

5 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Florida

1. Complete a Practical Nursing Program.

The Florida Board of Nursing requires that candidates complete an approved nursing program to be eligible for licensure as a practical nurse.1 Programs may either be approved by the Florida Board of Nursing or accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).1 A list of approved training programs and historical NCLEX pass rates from program graduates is available on the Florida Board of Nursing website.2

2. Register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

The Florida Board of Nursing requires applicants to register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) concurrent with the initial application for licensure.1 Registration for the NCLEX-PN is completed through Pearson VUE, a test administrator that schedules and proctors the NCLEX-PN on behalf of the Florida Board of Nursing.3 Failure to register will delay issuance of the authorization to test.4

3. Complete the Nursing Licensure by Examination Application.

The Florida Department of Health, under which the Florida Board of Nursing is organized, is moving to an electronic application process for health professions.5 It is therefore recommended that the initial application for licensed practical nurses is completed through the online Medical Quality Assurance Services application portal.5 However, for those who prefer to complete a physical application a hard copy Nursing Licensure by Examination Application is available.4 Official transcripts verifying graduation from a nursing program must also be sent to the Florida Board of Nursing if the school has not already done so.4

4. Submit Electronic Fingerprints for Criminal History Check.

Florida conducts a criminal history background check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on all applicants for nursing licensure.1 To streamline this process, the Florida Board of Nursing requires that candidates for licensure complete a background check using a Livescan service provider to take fingerprints for electronic submission.1 Note that no hard fingerprint cards can be accepted for the background check.1 Applicants should complete the Nursing Electronic Fingerprint Form and bring it to a Livescan location.1 Livescan locations can be looked up through the Florida Department of Health website.6

5. Pass the NCLEX-PN.

A passing score on the NCLEX-PN must be earned in order to obtain licensure as a practical nurse in Florida.1 The exam may be taken as soon as the Florida Board of Nursing has issued an eligibility letter confirming the applicant’s authorization to test. The applicant has 90 days from the date of the eligibility letter to take the exam without re-registering.4 If the exam is passed, a license will be issued in seven to 10 days.1 If the applicant does not pass the exam, the exam may be re-attempted following submittal of the Nursing Re-examination Application and a 45 day wait period.1 Note that if the exam is failed three times, the applicant will be required to take an approved remedial training program.1

5 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Florida

1. Complete a Program in Registered Nursing.

Candidates for registered nurse licensure must complete a nursing program approved by the Florida Board of Nursing or accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) to be eligible for licensure as a registered nurse.1 Candidates can access a list of approved training programs paired with historical graduate pass rates on the NCLEX on the Florida Board of Nursing website.2

2. Register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

To avoid delays in the licensing process due to inability to issue an authorization to test, the Florida Board of Nursing recommends that candidates register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) at the same time as submitting the initial application for licensure.1 Candidates can register for the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE, a company that administers the NCLEX-RN on behalf of the Florida Board of Nursing.3

3. Complete the Nursing Licensure by Examination Application.

The Florida Department of Health and the Florida Board of Nursing are adopting an electronic application process for health professions.5 It is therefore recommended that the initial application for registered nurses be completed through the online Medical Quality Assurance Services application portal.5 However, for those who prefer to complete a physical application a hard copy Nursing Licensure by Examination Application is available.4 Official transcripts verifying graduation from a nursing program must also be sent to the Florida Board of Nursing if the school has not already done so.4

4. Submit Electronic Fingerprints for Criminal History Check.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation must complete a criminal history background check on all applicants for nursing licensure.1 The Florida Board of Nursing requires that the background check be completed electronically using a Livescan service provider.1 Note that to streamline this process, no hard copy fingerprint cards can be accepted for the background check.1 Applicants should complete the Nursing Electronic Fingerprint Form and bring it to a Livescan location.1 Livescan locations can be looked up through the Florida Department of Health website.6

5. Achieve a Passing Score on the NCLEX-RN.

All prospective registered nurses are required to pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain a license in Florida.1 The NCLEX-RN can be attempted once the Florida Board of Nursing has issued an eligibility letter and the exam is scheduled with Pearson VUE. Note that the exam must be attempted within 90 days from the date of the eligibility letter to take the exam without re-registering.4 Following a passing score on the NCLEX-RN a license will be issued in seven to 10 days.1 If the NCLEX-RN is not passed re-attempts are permitted after the applicant undergoes a 45 day waiting period and submits the Nursing Re-examination Application. 1 It is important to know that if the exam is failed three times, completion of an approved remedial training program is required.1

7 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Florida

1. Obtain a Registered Nurse License in Florida.

Obtaining a registered nurse license in Florida is the first step to becoming a nurse practitioner.7 To meet this requirement candidates must meet all ordinary qualifications for registered nurse licensure in the state of Florida, which includes earning a passing score on the NCLEX-RN.1

2. Earn a Post-Graduate Degree.

Registered nurse practitioners in Florida must hold a master’s or post-master’s degree or certification to be qualified for licensure.7 The program completed must specialize in the preparation of advanced practice nurses and be accredited by a recognized accreditation agency.8 In addition, the program must include at least 500 hours of preceptorship and/or supervised clinical experience.8

3. Obtain National Certification in a Nursing Specialty.

Registered nurse practitioners in Florida must obtain national certification in their specialty area(s) to be considered for licensure.8 The advanced practice certification must be issued by a nursing specialty board approved by the Florida Board of Nursing and must require a written examination as a prerequisite for certification.8 A full list of approved certifying bodies is available in the complete Florida Administrative Code.8

4. Complete the Application for Dual Registered Nurse and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner.

The application to become a nurse practitioner in the state of Florida is the Application for Dual Registered Nurse and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner.9 Applicants must submit this form along with the required fees for licensure to the Florida Board of Nursing.9 Note that those who are licensed as registered nurses outside of the state of Florida must also submit verification of current licensure using NURSYS, the electronic collaboration system used by state boards of nursing, or the Nursing License Verification Form.9

5. Submit Electronic Fingerprints for Criminal History Check.

All candidates must have a criminal history background check completed by both the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, even if the candidate already holds a lower level of nurse licensure.9 The background check is required to be completed electronically through a Livescan service provider.9 Applicants should complete the Nursing Electronic Fingerprint Form, included in the nurse practitioner application, and bring it to a Livescan location.9 Livescan facilities can be located through the Florida Department of Health website.6

6. Obtain Professional Liability Insurance or Certify Financial Responsibility.

Florida requires that all advanced practice nurses submit to the Florida Board of Nursing within 60 days of certification proof of malpractice insurance or individual financial responsibility.8 Professional liability coverage must amount to at least $100,000 per claim and at least $300,000 per year and be issued by an authorized insurer.8 Financial responsibility can be demonstrated through an irrevocable letter of credit in the same amounts.8 Proof of compliance is demonstrated by submitting the Financial Responsibility for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners form.10

7. Complete the Dispensing Practitioner Registration.

Obtaining authority to dispense drugs or controlled substances is optional for registered nurse practitioners and is not automatically included in registered nurse practitioner licensure.9 Dispensing authority can be requested by completing the Dispensing Application for ARNPs and submitting the required fees.11 Registered nurse practitioners who hold dispensing authority will have their dispensing records examined on an annual basis.11

Florida Nursing Associations

Licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and registered nurse practitioners can take advantage of resources such as professional networking and continuing education through the numerous nursing associations in Florida.

Florida Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants90,890$25,230
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses44,820$42,960
Registered Nurses174,710$64,630
Nurse Practitioners8,940$95,650

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.12,13,14,15

References:
1. Florida Board of Nursing: Licensed Practical Nurse & Registered Nurse By Examination
2. Florida Board of Nursing: Education and Training Programs
3. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
4. Florida Board of Nursing: Nursing Licensure by Examination Application
5. Florida Department of Health Medical Quality Assurance Services: DOH Initial Application
6. Florida Department of Health Division of Medical Quality Assurance: Background Screening
7. Florida Board of Nursing: Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner
8. Florida Department of State: Florida Administrative Register & Florida Administrative Code – Rule Chapter: 64B9-4 Administrative Policies Pertaining to the Certification of Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners
9. Florida Board of Nursing: Dual Registered Nurse (RN) & Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) Application
10. Financial Responsibility for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners: Form
11. Florida Board of Nursing Dispensing:Application for ARNPs
12. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nursing Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
13. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
14. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
15. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm