Georgia Nursing License Requirements
The Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses and the Georgia Board of Nursing oversee the licensing process and ongoing licensure for nurses in Georgia. There are three main levels of nurse licensure recognized in the state: licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, and nurse practitioner. This page will help you understand the education and examination requirements for obtaining a nursing license in Georgia in each of these three categories.
» 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)
6 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Georgia
1. Complete an Educational Program in Practical Nursing.
Candidates are required to complete a program in licensed practical nursing to become eligible for licensure.1 This program must be approved by the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses or another state-level nursing board holding similar or more rigorous program requirements.1 A list of approved practical nursing education programs is available on the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses website.2
2. Obtain Verification of Program Completed.
As part of the application process, the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses provides the Education Verification form.3 The applicant for licensure should complete the first section of the form and forward it to the school of nursing where the practical nursing education program was completed; the completed form should be sent by the school to the Georgia Board of Examiners.3 The form should bear the signature of an authorized school representative and the school seal.3 The school should also complete the calculation of clock hours form to verify that the prospective nurse has completed the hours of experience required for licensure.4
3. Apply for a License in Practical Nursing.
Practical nurses may use the Georgia Secretary of State, Division of Professional Licensing Boards online portal to complete the initial application.5 Applicants should include the education verification forms noted above as well as the consent form for a criminal background check, which is included in the online application and also available as a separate paper document.6
4. Register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.
The issuance of a practical nursing license is contingent upon passage of the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).1 Candidates should register with the test administrator, Pearson VUE, at the time of initial application for licensure to avoid delays in application review and processing.1 Registration for the NCLEX-PN is completed through the Pearson VUE website.7
5. Complete a Criminal Background Check.
All prospective nurses in Georgia must undergo a criminal background check, which is done through Georgia Applicant Processing Services, or GAPS.5 GAPS uses a contracting service, 3M Cogent, to take fingerprints at locations throughout the state, which can be viewed on the GAPS website.8 It is important to be aware that applicants must register with 3M Cogent either online or by phone prior to arriving at a physical site for fingerprinting.8 To streamline the process, applicants may download and complete registration forms from the GAPS website prior to arriving at the fingerprinting facility.8 After fingerprints are taken the background check will be completed and results will be forwarded to the Georgia Board of Nursing.8
6. Take the NCLEX-PN.
Prospective licensed practical nurses must pass the NCLEX-PN before being issued a license to practice in Georgia.1 The Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses notifies candidates who did not pass within one month of the exam.9 If the NCLEX-PN is not passed on the first attempt, applicants may use the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses Re-Exam Application form and submit an additional fee to re-apply for permission to take the exam.9
5 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Georgia
1. Complete a Program in Registered Nursing.
Prospective registered nurses in Georgia must complete a program in registered nursing that meets the requirements of the Georgia Administrative Code.10 It is recommended that applicants complete a program approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing, but applicants who have completed a non-traditional or non-approved program may still be eligible for licensure provided that additional educational and preceptorship requirements are met.10 A list of approved registered nurse education programs is available on the Georgia Board of Nursing website.11
2. Complete the Application for Licensure as a Registered Professional Nurse by Examination.
The application form for a prospective registered nurse who has graduated from a traditional nursing education program, including programs approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing, is the Application for Licensure As a Registered Professional Nurse By Examination.12 To supplement the application, applicants must include sealed official transcripts clearly showing the graduation date and degree conferred by a nursing education program.12 Applicants who provide an email address will be notified by email of receipt of the application, important status changes, and the issuance of a registered nurse license.12 Note that the application must not be folded or stapled when mailed.12
3. Complete a Criminal Background Check.
Georgia requires prospective nurses to complete a criminal background check through Georgia Applicant Processing Services, or GAPS.12 In this process, fingerprints for background checks are taken by a contracting service, 3M Cogent, at locations throughout the state of Georgia that are listed on the GAPS website.8 Note that applicants must register with 3M Cogent either online or by phone prior to arriving at a physical site for fingerprinting.8 Registration forms can be downloaded from the GAPS website and completed prior to arriving at the fingerprinting facility.8 After fingerprints are taken the background check will be completed and results will be forwarded to the Georgia Board of Nursing.8 Applicants should also furnish the Georgia Board of Nursing with a completed consent form to receive personal criminal history record information.6
4. Register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.
The Georgia Board of Nursing recommends that applicants for registered nurse licensure register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) at the time the license application is submitted.12 Failure to do so may result in delays in application review and approval.12 Applicants are also cautioned to be sure to enter the correct school code for the nursing education program completed, which can be obtained during the registration process at the test administrator’s website, Pearson VUE.7
5. Pass the NCLEX-RN.
The Georgia Board of Nursing only sends score results in the event that an applicant’s attempt at the NCLEX-RN was not successful.12 Score results for unsuccessful attempts are generally mailed one month following the date of the examination attempt.12 Candidates may re-apply to take the exam by submitting the Application for Licensure By Repeat Examination and paying an additional fee.13 Note that the background check process must be repeated for re-application, and candidates must re-register with Pearson VUE for a second attempt at the exam.13 Applicants who successfully pass the exam will be issued a license.12
5 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Georgia
1. Obtain a Georgia Registered Nurse License.
Nurse practitioners in Georgia must first become licensed as registered nurses in the state.14 This requires applicants to complete a certification or degree program in registered nursing and pass the NCLEX-RN exam.12
2. Earn a Master’s Degree in a Specialty Area.
Nurse practitioners are licensed to practice in one or more specialty areas.14 A master’s degree or higher in the specialty area(s) that the prospective nurse practitioner intends to pursue is required for licensure.14 Coursework must include advanced pharmacology, advanced physical assessment, and pathophysiology.15
3. Obtain National Certification in a Specialty Area.
The Georgia Board of Nursing requires that in addition to a master’s degree in a nursing specialty, candidates for nurse practitioner licensure obtain national certification in their specialty area(s).14 The Georgia Board of Nursing will accept certification by the following organizations:16
- The American Midwifery Certification Board
- American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
- National Certification Corporation
- Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
- National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists
- American Nurses Credentialing Center
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Certification Corporation
4. Complete the Application for Authorization to Practice as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.
The Georgia Board of Nursing provides the Application for Licensure for Authorization as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse for candidates to apply for nurse practitioner licensure.14 The application should include official transcripts and certificates or diplomas for the nursing program(s) completed, which should be in sealed envelopes contained within the application packet.14 All supporting documentation except for the verification of national certification should be sent in the same envelope with the application.14 Verification of national certification may be sent electronically by the certifying body to PLB-Healthcare3@sos.ga.gov.14 Note that verification of employment as a registered nurse must also be provided by the employer(s) at which registered nursing experience was earned.14 A form for verification purposes is included in the application.14
5. Complete a Criminal History Background Check.
All prospective nurses, including those who already hold a registered nursing license in the state of Georgia, must undergo a criminal history background check before becoming licensed as a nurse practitioner.14 The background checks are completed through Georgia Applicant Processing Services, or GAPS, which uses a contracting service, 3M Cogent, to take fingerprints at locations throughout the state.8 Applicants must register with 3M Cogent either online or by phone prior to arriving at a physical site for fingerprinting.8 Applicants may potentially reduce wait times at the fingerprinting facility by downloading and completing the registration forms from the GAPS website.8 After fingerprints are taken the background check will be completed and results will be forwarded to the Georgia Board of Nursing.8 If all other license requirements have been met, a nurse practitioner license will be issued.14
Georgia Nursing Associations
Nurses at all levels may find it beneficial to join one or more nursing associations in Georgia to find professional networking, continuing education, and employment opportunities.
- Georgia Association of Nursing Students
- Georgia Association of School Nurses
- Georgia Nurses Association
- United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Georgia
Georgia Nursing Salary
|Occupation||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses||26,510||$40,250|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.17,18,19,20
Job Search Advice
Although I am an advanced practiced registered nurse in my clinical practice, I do teach undergraduate nursing students enrolled in their baccalaureate program. The “pearls of wisdom” that my students must endure from me include:
- Establish an ongoing relationship with one or two nursing faculty members even after the course they may have taught you by dropping by their office two to three times a semester and keeping them abreast of your grades, your progression, your clinical experiences. In so doing, that faculty member will play an integral role in writing you a recommendation as a graduate nurse seeking his/her first job.
- I make my nursing students in their very first semester bring in a copy of their resume. Fifty percent of them do not have one so I take them through the integral parts of a resume. As a former nurse recruiter, I tell and show them what separates an average resume from an outstanding resume. By showing this in their first semester, this allows them three to four semesters to build in some “meat” into their resume.
- Lastly, I plant a seed to the importance of interviewing and stress to all of my students that a good interview requires preparation, preparation, preparation. So two to three semesters later when they are panicking about an upcoming interview, I try to calm them down, get them focused, and usually meet them someplace away from school and we practice, practice, practice. I also encourage my students in a traditional BSN curriculum to work the summer between their junior and senior years as a certified nursing assistant or apply to a nurse externship in a local hospital as both of these experiences provides advantages in the hiring of new graduate nurses.”
-James Fletcher Lawrence, PhD, APRN, BC, CHPN, FAANP, CPS is the State President, United Advanced Practice Registered Nurses of Georgia.
1. Georgia Secretary of State: Frequently Asked Questions (LPNS)
2. Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses: Approved Practical Nursing Programs
3. Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses: Education Verification
4. Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses: Nursing Program Calculation of Clock Hours
5. Georgia Secretary of State, Professional Licensing Boards: Online Applications
6. Georgia Board of Nursing: Consent Form
7. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
8. Georgia Applicant Processing Services: GAPS
9. Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses: LPN Re-Exam Application
10. Georgia Secretary of State: Frequently Asked Questions (RNs)
11. Georgia Board of Nursing: RN School Directory
12. Georgia Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure as a Registered Professional Nurse by Examination
13. Georgia Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure by Repeat Examination
14. Georgia Board of Nursing: Authorization as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Application
15. Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia: Georgia Board of Nursing – Regulation of Advanced Nursing Practice 410.12-.03 Rules for Nurse Practitioners
16. Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia: Georgia Board of Nursing – Regulation of Advanced Nursing Practice 410.12-.12 Recognition of National Certifying Organizations for Advanced Nursing Practice
17. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nursing Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
18. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
19. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
20. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm