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South Carolina Nursing License Requirements

The South Carolina Board of Nursing licenses and oversees practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners working in the state. The first step to becoming a nurse in South Carolina is to complete an education appropriate to the level of nursing one desires to practice, which may include a diploma or degree program. Learn about what it takes to become a practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in South Carolina by reading 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 South Carolina

1. Complete a Program in Practical Nursing.

Prospective practical nurses must complete an approved program in practical nursing to be eligible for licensure in South Carolina.1 Such a program may either be approved by the South Carolina Board of Nursing, if located in South Carolina, or another state nursing board if located in another state.1 The South Carolina Board of Nursing provides a list of approved practical nurse education programs.2 Pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination for approved programs are also available.3

2. Submit the Application for Practical Nurse Licensure.

The South Carolina Board of Nursing encourages candidates for licensure to use its online application, though paper applications are available by request and will be accepted upon payment of an additional $25 service fee.4 Online applications can be submitted through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Online Login Portal.5 Note that applicants using either the online or the paper application must submit a passport sized photo, which can be scanned and uploaded to an online application or mailed in for either the online or paper application.6 Applicants must also submit a copy of a birth certificate or passport to verify age, as well as a copy of a social security card or permanent resident card to verify residency.7

Applicants who attended a school of nursing within the state of South Carolina must request that a school administrator complete the Certificate of Endorsement in the application for licensure and forward the completed form to the South Carolina Board of Nursing.7 Out of state applicants must request that official transcripts be forwarded in addition to the Certificate of Endorsement.7

3. Complete the South Carolina Criminal Background Checks.

Applicants for nurse licensure in South Carolina are required to undergo a state criminal history check based on fingerprints through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.1 Applicants must also undergo a federal fingerprint-based background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.1 Instructions for these required background checks are provided on the application for licensure. The South Carolina Board of Nursing uses L-1 Enrollment Services, also known as MorphoTrust USA, to process fingerprint background checks.8 Fingerprint appointments for the required checks can be scheduled through the MorphoTrust website.9 Out of state applicants should contact local law enforcement for fingerprinting services, and have completed fingerprint cards sent to:8

IBT
ATTN: SC CARD SCAN
1650 Wabash Ave Suite D
Springfield IL 62704

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

All candidates for practical nurse licensure must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).7 The South Carolina Board of Nursing uses a third party testing service, Pearson VUE, to proctor the exam.7 After submitting the application to the South Carolina Board of Nursing, applicants should register with Pearson VUE for the NCLEX-PN.10

Applicants who do not post a passing score on the NCLEX-PN may repeat the examination after submitting the Application for Repeat Examination and obtaining the approval of the South Carolina Board of Nursing.11 Applicants who do not pass the NCLEX-PN within one year of the first attempt must provide the South Carolina Board of Nursing with proof of remediation through education or study.7

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in South Carolina

1. Earn an Education in Registered Nursing.

Prospective registered nurses should complete a degree program designed to educate registered nurses approved by the South Carolina Board of Nursing, or another state level nursing board if the program is located in another state.1 The South Carolina Board of Nursing provides a list of approved registered nursing programs in the state.12 National Council Licensure Examination pass rates for baccalaureate registered nurse programs are also posted on the Board website.13

2. Submit the Application for Practical Nurse Licensure.

The South Carolina Board of Nursing prefers that candidates for a registered nurse license submit the initial application online, although paper applications can be requested and submitted upon payment of an additional $25 fee.4 The online application is completed through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Online Login Portal.5 Whether applicants use the online or paper application process a passport sized photo must be submitted using the Passport Photo Form; in the case of online applications, this form can be scanned and uploaded to the application.6 In addition, applicants must submit a copy of a birth certificate or passport for age verification as well as a copy of a social security card or permanent resident card for residency verification.7

Graduates of South Carolina schools of nursing must request that a school administrator complete the Certificate of Endorsement in the application for licensure and forward the completed form to the South Carolina Board of Nursing.7 Graduates of out of state programs must request official transcripts to be forwarded along with the Certificate of Endorsement.7

3. Complete the South Carolina Criminal Background Checks.

State and federal background checks must be completed before a prospective registered nurse becomes eligible for licensure in South Carolina.1 Both the federal background check, completed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and state background check, completed through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, are finger-print based.1 Complete instructions for the background check process are found in the online application.

MorphoTrust USA has been contracted by the South Carolina Board of Nursing to complete the fingerprint background checks for nurse licensure applicants.8 Applicants can schedule fingerprint impressions through the MorphoTrust website.9 Out of state applicants should contact local law enforcement for fingerprinting services, and have completed fingerprint cards sent to:8

IBT
ATTN: SC CARD SCAN
1650 Wabash Ave Suite D
Springfield IL 62704

4. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

Registering for and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the final step to registered nurse licensure in South Carolina.7 Pearson VUE, a third party testing service, administers the NCLEX-RN on behalf of the South Carolina Board of Nursing.7 Registration for the exam must, therefore, be completed through the Pearson VUE website.10

Should an applicant not pass the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt, a repeat examination may be requested by submitting the Application for Repeat Examination and obtaining the approval of the South Carolina Board of Nursing.11 Applicants who do not pass the NCLEX-RN within one year of the first attempt must provide the South Carolina Board of Nursing with proof of remediation through education or study.7

8 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in South Carolina

1. Become a Registered Nurse in South Carolina or a Compact State.

South Carolina requires all prospective nurse practitioners to obtain a license as a registered nurse in South Carolina or a compact state.14 Prospective nurse practitioners should, therefore, plan to complete a registered nurse education and pass the NCLEX-RN.

2. Obtain A Temporary License in Advanced Practice Nursing.

South Carolina law requires that any nurse who is practicing in the state in an advanced practice role become licensed; under the scope of the law, practice includes the orientation completed in a master’s degree program for nurse practitioners.14 As a result, prospective nurse practitioners must apply for and obtain a temporary license as a nurse practitioner/advanced practice nurse prior to beginning classroom instruction in a master’s degree program.14 A temporary license can be applied for through the online application for Advanced Practitioner Update from RN with Temporary License.14

3. Complete State and Federal Background Checks for South Carolina Licensure.

The application for a temporary license in South Carolina requires that the candidate undergo state and federal background checks.14 The federal background check is completed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation while the state background check is completed through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; both records checks are finger-print based.1 Complete instructions for the background check process are found in the application.

The South Carolina Board of Nursing uses a third party identity and fingerprinting service, MorphoTrust USA, for the state and federal background checks.14 Applicants can visit the MorphoTrust USA website to schedule a fingerprinting appointment.9 Those living outside of the state of South Carolina should contact local law enforcement for fingerprinting services, and have completed fingerprint cards sent to:14

IBT
ATTN: SC CARD SCAN
1650 Wabash Ave Suite D
Springfield IL 62704

4. Earn a Master’s Degree in Advanced Nursing Practice.

All nurse practitioners in South Carolina must hold a master’s degree in nursing to become eligible for licensure.14 The master’s degree must be earned from an accredited college or university and should be in an appropriate specialty area of nursing practice for nurse practitioners.1

5. Earn National Certification as a Nurse Practitioner.

Nurse practitioners in South Carolina are required to be nationally certified in a specialty area of practice.1 For nurse practitioners, national certification must be obtained within one year of completing a master’s degree program.1 A list of certification organizations and credentials recognized by the South Carolina Board of Nursing is available on their website.15

6. Submit the Application for Nurse Practitioners.

The South Carolina Board of Nursing provides an online licensing portal through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation which should be used to apply for nurse practitioner licensure.14 An alternate paper application is also available.16 A passport style photo must accompany the application using the Passport Size Photo form, which can either be scanned and uploaded or mailed to the South Carolina Board of Nursing.6 Applicants must also provide copies of current specialty certification by an organization approved by the South Carolina Board of Nursing.14 Applicants must have official transcripts for the master’s degree completed sent from the school attended directly to the South Carolina Board of Nursing.14 Note that a five year nursing employment history is part of the application process.16 Finally, the Affidavit of Eligibility included in the application materials must be signed by the applicant and notarized.16

7. Execute a Collaborative Agreement with a Physician Licensed in South Carolina.

Written protocols are required for the practice of nurse practitioners within the state of South Carolina.1 Note that a collaborative agreement with a physician located more than 45 miles from the nurse practitioner’s practice location requires the approval of the South Carolina Board of Nursing.1 Nurse practitioners are responsible for an annual review of the written protocols in the collaborative agreement with the designated physician and are required to notify the South Carolina Board of Nursing to any changes made to the designated physician(s) in the agreement.1 If a supervising physician is designated at the time of initial application for licensure, that physician should also sign the application materials.16

8. Request Prescriptive Authority, If Desired.

Nurse practitioners in South Carolina have the option of pursuing prescriptive authority through an additional licensing process.1 To be eligible, a nurse practitioner must have completed 45 contact hours of pharmacotherapeutic education within the two years preceding application, at least 15 hours of which must be in controlled substances education.1 Note that prescriptive authority may be granted for substances on Schedules III through V, but nurse practitioners may not receive authority to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances.1

Note that any substances the nurse practitioner may prescribe must be outlined in a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician.1 Prescriptive authority can be applied for using the same online application process as for initial nurse practitioner licensure.5 A paper version of the Application for Prescriptive Authority is also available.17 In either case, nurse practitioners should be prepared to provide documentation of the 45 required contact hours through official transcripts, as well as a copy of current national certification.14,17 The signature and license number(s) of the physician(s) supervising prescriptive privileges are required.17

South Carolina Nursing Associations

Student and licensed nurses in South Carolina can find professional opportunities through membership in a nursing association such as career openings, networking, and continuing education.

South Carolina Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants18,320$21,710
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses9,540$39,050
Registered Nurses41,870$58,940
Nurse Practitioners1,250$87,780

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

References:
1. South Carolina Code of Laws Title 40 – Professions and Occupations Chapter 33. Nurses Article 1: Nurse Practice Act
2. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Practical Nursing Programs Approved by the State Board of Nursing for South Carolina
3. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Practical Nursing Programs NCLEX-PN Passing Rate
4. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Applications/Forms
5. South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation: Online Login Portal
6. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Passport Size Photo Form
7. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Requirements to Take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurse and Licensed Practical Nurse
8. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Instructions and Requirements for the National Council Licensure Examination RN, LPN and LPN
9. MorphoTrust USA: Enrollment Services Division in South Carolina
10. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
11. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Application for Repeat Examination
12. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Registered Nursing Programs Approved by the State Board of Nursing for South Carolina
13. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Baccalaureate Degree Registered Nursing Programs NCLEX-RN Passing Rate
14. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Instructions and Requirements for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Application
15. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Board Approved Advanced Practice Certification Organizations
16. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Application for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
17. South Carolina Board of Nursing: Application for Prescriptive Authority