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South Dakota Nursing License Requirements

The South Dakota Board of Nursing licenses practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners who wish to work in the state. All levels of licensure require that prospective nurses complete a suitable education in nursing, which may lead to opportunities for advancement through additional education. Learn more about the process to becoming a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in South Dakota 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)

5 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in South Dakota

1. Graduate from a Practical Nurse Program Approved by a State Board of Nursing.

To be eligible for practical nurse licensure in South Dakota, candidates must have graduated from a program approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing or a program in another state approved by that state’s board of nursing.1 A list of approved programs for practical nurse preparation is available on the South Dakota Board of Nursing website.2

2. Complete the Online Application for Licensure by Examination.

The application for a practical nurse license in South Dakota must be submitted using the online Application for Licensure by Examination.3 Note that graduates of programs located in South Dakota must request that the program completed submit a Certification of Nursing Education form directly to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.1 Graduates of programs located in other states should request that the program forward official transcripts verifying the degree awarded to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.1

3. Undergo a Criminal Background Check.

South Dakota requires that candidates for licensure in the health professions, including practical nurses, complete a criminal background check.1 The fingerprint-based background check must be completed using fingerprint cards provided by the South Dakota Board of Nursing; a card will be mailed to applicants following submittal of the online license application.4 Fingerprint cards provided by other agencies will not be accepted.4 Applicants should take the fingerprint cards received to local law enforcement to have fingerprint impressions done and have the completed cards forwarded to the South Dakota Board of Nursing along with the required fee(s).4 Note that bent, folded, smeared, or otherwise damaged cards will be rejected.4

4. Request a Temporary Permit to Practice, If Desired.

The South Dakota Board of Nursing allows practical nurse licensure candidates to request a temporary permit to practice pending an attempt at the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN).1 To be eligible for a temporary permit, applicants must complete the full application for licensure, required background check, register for the NCLEX-PN, and complete the application for a temporary permit.1 Temporary permits are valid for 90 days or until NCLEX-PN results are received by the applicant.1 The temporary permit request should be submitted to the South Dakota Board of Nursing using the paper Application for a Temporary Permit for an Individual Seeking Licensed Practical Nurse Licensure by NCLEX form.5 The name and address of the employer at which temporary practice will be undertaken are required.5

5. Register for and Take the NCLEX-PN.

A passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) is required to earn a practical nurse license in South Dakota.1 The South Dakota Board of Nursing relies on Pearson VUE, a third party testing company, to proctor and score the exam.1 Candidates must, therefore, register with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX-PN.6 Once a candidate’s application materials have been reviewed, an Authorization to Test will be issued that allows the candidate to sit for the NCLEX-PN.1 Upon achieving a passing score, the candidate will be issued a practical nurse license.

5 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in South Dakota

1. Graduate from a Program in Registered Nursing Approved by a State Board of Nursing.

Candidates for registered nurse licensure in South Dakota must first graduate from a registered nursing program that has been approved either by the South Dakota Board of Nursing, or if the program is located in another state, by the board of nursing for that state.1 The South Dakota Board of Nursing provides a list of programs that have approval in South Dakota on its website.2

2. Complete the Online Application for Licensure by Examination.

The South Dakota Board of Nursing only accepts online applications for registered nurse licensure through the Application for Licensure by Examination portal.3 Online applications must still be supported by verification of education. For graduates of programs located in South Dakota, a Certification of Nursing Education form should be submitted by the school to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.1 Those who graduated from programs located out of state must request that the program forward official transcripts that include the degree awarded to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.1

3. Undergo a Criminal Background Check.

All nurse licensure candidates in South Dakota must complete a criminal background check.1 The background check is fingerprint based and must be submitted on fingerprint cards specific to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.4 Such cards will be forwarded to applicants through the mail after the initial application for licensure has been submitted; it is important to be aware that fingerprint cards provided by other organizations can not be accepted.4 Once the fingerprint cards are received, the applicant should have local law enforcement take fingerprint impressions on the cards, which should then be forwarded to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.4 Note that bent, folded, smeared, or otherwise damaged cards will be rejected.4

4. Request a Temporary Permit to Practice, If Desired.

Registered nurse candidates in South Dakota may receive a temporary permit to practice upon application to the South Dakota Board of Nursing, which is valid for either a 90 day period or until National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) results are received.1 To receive a temporary permit, registered nurse candidates must submit all materials ordinarily required for licensure to the South Dakota Board of Nursing excepting NCLEX-RN results, and forward the paper form Temporary Permit for an Individual Seeking Registered Nurse Licensure by NCLEX.7 Temporary permit candidates must provide the name and address of the employer at which temporary practice will be performed on the application.7

5. Register for and Take the NCLEX-RN.

Achieving a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the final step to registered nurse licensure in South Dakota.1 Pearson VUE, a third party testing company, administers and scores the NCLEX-RN on behalf of the South Dakota Board of Nursing.1 Applicants should, therefore, register for the NCLEX-RN exam through the Pearson VUE website.6 After application review, an Authorization to Test will be issued that allows the candidate to sit for the NCLEX-RN.1 Successful candidates will be issued a license once the South Dakota Board of Nursing receives exam results.

8 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in South Dakota

1. Obtain a Registered Nurse License in South Dakota.

In order to become licensed as a nurse practitioner in South Dakota, a candidate for licensure must first become licensed as a registered nurse.8 Applicants should, therefore, prepare to complete a registered nursing education program and pass the NCLEX-RN in South Dakota or a compact state to qualify for licensure.

2. Complete an Approved Education Program for Nurse Practitioners.

Prospective nurse practitioners in South Dakota must first complete a program designed to educate and prepare nurse practitioners for practice that holds approval from the South Dakota Board of Nursing or another recognized agency.8 Approved master’s and doctoral degree programs for nurse practitioners are listed on the South Dakota Board of Nursing website.2

3. Obtain Current Certification from a National Organization.

Nurse practitioners in South Dakota must have current certification from a national organization recognized by the South Dakota Board of Nursing.9 A list of recognized organizations is available in the application materials. Certification must be granted on the basis of passing a standardized qualifying exam.9

4. Submit the Certified Nurse Practitioner Application Form.

Prospective nurse practitioners should submit the Certified Nurse Practitioner General Application form to request initial licensure from the South Dakota Board of Nursing.9 Processing of new applications typically takes four to six weeks from the date on which the South Dakota Board of Nursing receives all required forms.9 The application must be supported by a completed Education Verification Form 3 and official transcript from the qualifying program in nursing attended; the required forms are included in the application materials.9 Candidates should request that these materials be sent directly from the school to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.9 In addition, candidates must request that the organization granting national certification send verification of that certification directly to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.9

5. Undergo a Criminal Background Check.

South Dakota requires that all prospective nurse practitioners undergo a criminal background check as a prerequisite for licensure.9 The criminal background check in South Dakota is fingerprint-based and should be completed on the fingerprint cards that the South Dakota Board of Nursing mails to applicants following receipt of a completed application form.9 Fingerprint cards provided by other agencies will not be accepted.9 Candidates for licensure should have fingerprint impressions done on the provided cards by local law enforcement.9 The completed cards should then be forwarded to the South Dakota Board of Nursing.9 Note that bent, folded, smeared, or otherwise damaged cards will be rejected.9

6. Request a Temporary Nurse Practitioner Permit, If Desired.

Prospective nurse practitioners in South Dakota may request a temporary permit to practice pending availability and scoring of a national certification exam.9 To be eligible for a temporary permit, a candidate must have met all other licensure requirements and filed all other necessary documents with the South Dakota Board of Nursing.9 In lieu of verification of certification, applicants must provide documentation from a national certifying organization that registration and candidacy for a certification exam have been established.9 In addition, temporary permit applicants must submit a Supervisory Agreement with a physician licensed in South Dakota for temporary practice to take place.9 A Supervisory Agreement form and an application for a temporary permit are included in the application for nurse practitioner licensure.9

7. Execute a Collaborative Agreement with a Licensed South Dakota Physician.

Nurse practitioners licensed in South Dakota must practice under a collaborative agreement executed with a physician licensed in the state.8 The collaborative agreement should be submitted to and approved by the South Dakota Board of Nursing prior to the nurse practitioner beginning practice.8 A collaborative agreement form is included in the nurse practitioner license application.9

8. Request Prescriptive Privileges for Controlled Substances, If Desired.

The South Dakota Board of Nursing allows qualified nurse practitioners to apply for prescriptive privileges for controlled substances.10 For an application, nurse practitioners must contact the South Dakota Department of Health and complete the licensing process through the Department of Health, rather than the Board of Nursing.10 Nurse practitioners must register with the state of South Dakota and in person with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at a South Dakota location to use controlled substances prescriptive authority.10

South Dakota Nursing Associations

Current and future nurses in South Dakota can gain professional benefits through membership in a nursing association, such as networking opportunities, continuing education, and opportunities for employment.

South Dakota Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants6,080$22,900
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses2,100$34,270
Registered Nurses11,030$52,800
Nurse Practitioners350$88,380

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

References:
1. South Dakota Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure by Examination Registered Nurse and Licensed Practical Nurse Instructions
2. South Dakota Board of Nursing: Nursing Education Programs
3. South Dakota Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure by Examination
4. South Dakota Board of Nursing: NCLEX-PN Examination by Equivalency Criminal Background Checks for Initial Licensure
5. South Dakota Board of Nursing: Application for a Temporary Permit for an Individual Seeking Licensed Practical Nurse Licensure by NCLEX
6. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
7. South Dakota Board of Nursing: Application for a Temporary Permit for an Individual Seeking Registered Nurse Licensure by NCLEX
8. South Dakota Legislature: South Dakota Codified Laws – Chapter 36-9A Nurse Practitioners and Midwives
9. South Dakota Board of Nursing: Certified Nurse Practitioner General Application
10. South Dakota Board of Nursing: Controlled Substance Privileges, Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Midwife