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Hawaii Nursing License Requirements

Nurses practicing in the state of Hawaii are overseen by the Hawaii Board of Nursing, a division of the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing. Hawaii recognizes and licenses several different categories of nurses, including licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. Learn more about the education and licensing requirements for these nursing professions in Hawaii by selecting the appropriate class 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)

3 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Hawaii

1. Complete a Practical Nursing Program.

Completion of a practical nursing program that is approved by the Hawaii Board of Nursing or accredited by the National League of Nursing is required for practical nurse licensure.1 Programs designed to prepare practical nurses must contain at least 30 semester credits, with at least 40% of credits earned through laboratory or clinical instruction.1

2. Apply for a License for Practical Nursing.

After graduating from a practical nursing program, prospective practical nurses may submit the Application for License By Exam – Nurse.2 Effective July 1, 2017, the application includes a criminal history background check that must be completed in accordance with the application instructions.2 After submitting the application, candidates should request that the nursing program completed forward official transcripts verifying the program completed and graduation to the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 If applying prior to graduation but after degree requirements have been met, an official letter from the school verifying program completion may be acceptable but will not substitute for an official graduated transcript for full licensure.2

3. Register For and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

The National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) must be passed in order to earn licensure as a practical nurse in Hawaii. After the application for licensure has been reviewed, eligible candidates will receive registration instructions for the NCLEX-PN from the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 Candidates should visit the website for Pearson VUE, the company that administers the NCLEX-PN exam and reports results to the Hawaii Board of Nursing, to complete exam registration.3 After registration and eligibility are verified, candidates will receive an Authorization to Test that allows them to schedule and take the examination.2 The Hawaii Board of Nursing typically receives results within two weeks of examination; once a passing score is recorded, a license may be issued.2

3 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Hawaii

1. Earn a Degree or Certificate in Registered Nursing.

The Hawaii Board of Nursing requires that to be eligible for registered nurse licensure, candidates must earn a diploma, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree from a state approved or nationally accredited school.1 At a minimum, the degree or diploma earned must consist of at least 64 semester credits, 40% of which must be in laboratory or clinical instruction.1

2. Complete the Application for License By Exam.

Once a candidate for registered nurse licensure has graduated from a diploma or degree program in registered nursing, the Application for License By Exam – Nurse may be submitted.2 The application should be forwarded to the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 Effective July 1, 2017, the application includes a criminal history background check that must be completed in accordance with the application instructions.2 Candidates should also request that the school at which the nursing program was completed forward official transcripts demonstrating program completion and graduation to the Hawaii Board of Nursing.2 If the application is being submitted before the graduation date but after all program requirements have been satisfied, applicants may request that the school verify program completion through an official letter.2 This step will allow the candidate to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) but will not satisfy licensure requirements until an official graduating transcript is received.2

3. Register For and Take the NCLEX-RN.

All registered nurse candidates who have not previously been licensed must pass the NCLEX-RN to receive a license to practice registered nursing.2 After a candidate has submitted an application for licensure and the application has been reviewed by the Hawaii Board of Nursing, the candidate will receive instructions for registering for the NCLEX-RN.2 The candidate must register for the NCLEX-RN through Pearson VUE, the company that administers the NCLEX-RN.3 Once this registration has been completed and the candidate’s eligibility to test confirmed, the Hawaii Board of Nursing will issue an Authorization to Test that can be used to schedule and take the NCLEX-RN.2 The Hawaii Board of Nursing typically receives results within two weeks of examination; once a passing score is recorded, a license may be issued.2

5 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Hawaii

1. Become a Registered Nurse Licensed in Hawaii.

To be considered for licensure as a nurse practitioner, it is first necessary to obtain licensure as a registered nurse in Hawaii.1 Applicants for nurse practitioner licensure must therefore hold an active and unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse prior to applying for nurse practitioner authorization.

2. Complete a Master’s Degree in Nursing.

Prospective nurse practitioners in Hawaii must obtain a master’s degree or higher in nursing that focuses on direct care to patients.4 The program completed must meet national accreditation standards to meet licensure requirements.1 Note, however, that nurse practitioners who intend to pursue prescriptive authority must complete an acceptable education that includes advanced pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics.4

3. Earn Certification As a Nurse Practitioner At The National Level.

National certification by a recognized certifying body is a prerequisite for nurse practitioners in Hawaii.4 The Hawaii Board of Nursing recognizes the following associations as certifying bodies for the purpose of nurse practitioner licensing:1

  • The American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • The Pediatric Nurses Certification Board
  • The National Certification Corporation for Obstetric, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing Specialties
  • The Council on Certification of the American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • The National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
  • The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

The Hawaii Board of Nursing may also consider certifications from associations holding accreditation from the American Board of Nursing Specialties and/or the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.1 Certifications from these associations are typically contingent on passage of an exam, which should be completed prior to applying for a license as a nurse practitioner.

4. Complete The Application for Advanced Registered Nurse Recognition.

The appropriate form to complete for licensure as a nurse practitioner in Hawaii is the Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Recognition.4 Note that there is a different application form for those requesting advanced practice nursing licensure with prescriptive authority, the Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse-Prescriptive Authority (see below).5 Official transcripts from the master’s degree program completed and official verification of national certification must be sent by the appropriate institutions directly to the Hawaii Board of Nursing to support the application.4 Effective July 1, 2017, the application includes a criminal history background check that must be completed in accordance with the application instructions.4

5. Request Prescriptive Authority for Nurse Practitioners.

Nurses who are seeking APRN licensure and prescriptive authority should complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse-Prescriptive Authority form.5 Prescriptive authority can be issued if a nurse practitioner has completed an education of at least 30 contact hours in advanced pharmacology which includes advanced pharmacotherapeutics.5 The 30 contact hours must be earned from an approved graduate degree program, from an accredited college or university, or through continuing education hours from a provider approved by the Hawaii Board of Nursing.5 Because a separate file is maintained for advanced practice nurses granted authority to prescribe, applicants who already hold APRN licensure must also forward the appropriate official transcripts and national certifications even if these have previously been included on the application for recognition as a nurse practitioner.5

Hawaii Nursing Associations

There are several nursing associations operating in Hawaii that can help current and future nurses build their professional networks, access employment opportunities, and complete continuing education.

Hawaii Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants5,500$31,990
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses1,280$48,980
Registered Nurses11,300$88,910
Nurse Practitioners330$117,180

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.6,7,8,9

References:
1. Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: Hawaii Administrative Rules Title 16 Chapter 89 – Nurses
2. Hawaii Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs Professional and Vocational Licensing: Application for License By Exam – Nurse
3. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
4. Hawaii Board of Nursing: Application for Advanced Practiced Registered Nurse Recognition
5. Hawaii Board of Nursing: Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Prescriptive Authority
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nursing Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
7. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
8. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm