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Texas Nursing License Requirements

The Texas Board of Nursing recognizes and licenses several categories of nursing practice, including practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. Note that in Texas, licensed vocational nurse is the preferred term for licensed practical nurse.1 To assure quality of care, all nurses must graduate from an approved program in nursing appropriate to the level of practice for which licensure is sought. Learn more about becoming a practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in Texas 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)

5 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Texas

1. Graduate from a Program in Practical Nursing.

Prospective practical nurses in Texas must graduate from an approved nursing program to be eligible for licensure.1 Such a program may be approved by the Texas Board of Nursing, or if located in another state, have equivalent requirements to schools approved in Texas.1 Programs that have been approved to prepare practical nurses by the Texas Board of Nursing are available on the Board website, along with graduate pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination.2

2. Submit the Initial Licensure Application for Examination Online.

The Texas Board of Nursing prefers that candidates use an online application process for initial licensure by examination.2 However, a paper application is also available.4 The Texas Board of Nursing recommends that candidates submit the application 120 days prior to graduating from a nursing program to ensure timely licensing.4 Whether candidates use the online or paper application, the candidate’s school of nursing must complete the Affidavit of Graduation for Graduates of Texas Approved Vocational Nursing Programs found in the application materials.4 An additional Director Affidavit completed by the school is required for graduates of out of state programs.4

3. Complete the Required Criminal Background Check.

Applicants for initial practical nurse licensure in Texas must complete a criminal background check prior to receiving a license.1 Background checks are completed for both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Department of Public Safety.5 These background checks are completed through IdentoGO by MorphoTrust USA, an identity verification service.5 Texas residents should visit the IdentoGO web portal to schedule a fingerprint session for electronic fingerprint submission.6

Applicants who do not live in Texas must obtain a fingerprint card from the Texas Board of Nursing, which may be taken to local law enforcement, a government embassy, or an IdentoGO office location.5 The candidate must have fingerprints taken and then register the fingerprint card online with IdentoGO.5 After IdentoGO has received the fingerprint card registration, the candidate should mail the card to MorphoTrust USA.6

4. Pass the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Examination.

Candidates for practical nurse licensure must pass the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Examination to be eligible for a license.1 Candidates are made eligible to take the Texas Jurisprudence Nursing Examination within 15 days of submitting the application for licensure.5 Candidates take the jurisprudence examination, which covers material from the Texas Nursing Practice Act and the Texas Board of Nursing Rules and Regulations in an open book format, online.5 Registration and examination is completed through the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Exam portal on the Texas Board of Nursing website.7

5. Register for and Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses.

All applicants for practical nurse licensure in Texas must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) to receive a practical nursing license.4 Pearson VUE, a third party testing service, administers the NCLEX-PN on behalf of the Texas Board of Nursing.4 Applicants must register with and pay the required fees to Pearson VUE to be made eligible to take the exam.4 Note that the NCLEX-PN must be passed within four years from the date of graduation from an approved program.1 Applicants who fail to do so must re-take a program approved by the Texas Board of Nursing.1

5 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Texas

1. Graduate from a Registered Nursing Program.

To become a registered nurse in Texas, candidates must first graduate from a registered nursing program that holds appropriate approval.1 This approval may be given by the Texas Board of Nursing, or for programs located out of state, by another nursing board if the program is equivalent to requirements for Texas registered nursing programs.1 The Texas Board of Nursing provides a list of programs approved in Texas on its website, as well as pass rates posted by graduates on the National Council Licensure Examination.2

2. Submit the Initial Licensure Application for Examination Online.

An online application is provided for initial licensure by examination; the online form is recommended by the Texas Board of Nursing.3 However, an alternate paper form for initial licensure application is also available.9 To expedite licensing following graduation it is recommended that candidates submit the application 120 days prior to graduating.9 Whether the paper or online application is used, the school of nursing from which a candidate graduated must complete the Affidavit of Graduation for Graduates in the USA and US Territories (RN Candidates).9

3. Complete the Required Criminal Background Check.

All applicants for first time nurse licensure as a registered nurse are required to undergo criminal background checks through both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Department of Public Safety.5 A third party identity verification service, IdentoGO by MorphoTrust USA, must be used to complete these checks on behalf of the Texas Board of Nursing.5 Texas residents should visit the IdentoGO web portal to schedule a fingerprint session for electronic fingerprint submission.6

Candidates who are pursuing Texas licensure from out of state must request a fingerprint card from the Texas Board of Nursing.5 This card should be taken to a government embassy, local law enforcement office, or IdentoGO office to have fingerprint impressions completed.5 The completed fingerprint card should then be registered online with IdentoGO.5 Following online registration of the card, the applicant should mail the card to MorphoTrust USA.5

4. Pass the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Examination.

Registered nurse licensure candidates must pass the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Examination to be issued a license.1 Eligibility for the Texas Jurisprudence Nursing Examination is typically established within 15 days of submitting the application for licensure.5 The examination is open book and covers material from the Texas Nursing Practice Act and the Texas Board of Nursing Rules and Regulations.5 Registration and examination is completed through the Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Exam portal on the Texas Board of Nursing website.7

5. Register for and Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses.

All prospective Texas registered nurses must take and post a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).9 Pearson VUE, a third party testing service, administers the NCLEX-RN on behalf of the Texas Board of Nursing.9 Therefore, candidates must register for the exam through Pearson VUE.9 It is important to be aware that candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN within four years of graduating from an approved registered nursing program.1 Applicants who fail to do so must re-take a program approved by the Texas Board of Nursing.1

5 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Texas

1. Obtain a Texas Registered Nurse License.

Nurse practitioners in Texas must first be licensed as a registered nurse in Texas or have multistate privileges with another state that participates in the Nurse Licensure Compact with Texas.10 Prospective nurse practitioners should therefore first complete an education in registered nursing and achieve a passing score on the NCLEX-RN.

2. Complete a Graduate Education in Advanced Nursing.

Nurse practitioners must complete a post-basic or graduate education in nursing to be considered eligible for licensure in Texas.11 Note that for the purposes of nurse practitioner licensure, RN to BSN programs are not considered post-basic.11 The education completed should be in the nurse practitioner role with a population focus recognized by the Texas Board of Nursing.11 Programs in Texas should be approved by the Board or hold accreditation from a body that the Board recognizes.11 Out of state programs should hold approved accreditation or be approved by the nursing board of that state.11 All programs must be at least one academic year in length and lead to the award of a master’s degree or higher.11

3. Obtain National Certification in the Nurse Practitioner Role.

Current national certification as a nurse practitioner in a recognized population focus or specialty area is required to obtain and maintain licensure in Texas.12 A partial list of recognized certifying organizations and examinations is provided in the application for nurse practitioner licensure.12 Candidates may e-mail the Texas Board of Nursing for additional recognized certifications.12

4. Submit the Application for Licensure as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and Prescriptive Authority (Prescriptive Authority Optional).

To become licensed as a nurse practitioner in Texas, candidates must fully complete and submit the Application for Licensure as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.12 The application may also be completed online, if desired.13

All sections of the application must be completed.12 The director of the advanced practice nursing program the candidate attended must complete Part II of the application form and return it directly to the Texas Board of Nursing.12 An official final transcript from the nursing program must also be forwarded directly to the Board.12 Applicants must be sure to include a copy of current national certification with the application.12

In some circumstances, the Texas Board of Nursing may grant interim approval to work to a prospective nurse practitioner who appears to meet the qualifications for full licensure.10 Interim approval is only granted if the candidate has taken and passed a national certifying exam and the Texas Board of Nursing is waiting for further information on other credentials; if issued, the approval is valid for 120 days and may not be extended.10 Interim approval may be requested by answering “Yes” to Question 9 on the application for licensure.12

5. Apply for Prescriptive Authority, If Desired.

Prescriptive authority in Texas is optional for nurse practitioners.12 Applicants may request prescriptive authority at the time of initial nurse practitioner licensure using the appropriate sections of the initial application form.12 Alternatively, nurse practitioners can apply for prescriptive authority after becoming licensed by submitting the Application for Prescriptive Authority for Advanced Practice Nurses.14 Prescriptive authority for controlled substances can only be granted after a nurse practitioner attains full licensure.12

If applying after initial licensure, candidates should include a copy of current national certification and have official transcripts from the program of nursing including the required education mailed directly to the Texas Board of Nursing from the program.14 The required education includes 45 clock hours of education in each of the following categories:14

  • Advanced assessment;
  • Pathophysiology;
  • Pharmacotherapeutics;
  • Medical diagnosis and management of diseases in clinical specialty area.

Prescribing nurse practitioners who will be prescribing controlled substances must also register with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which may be done by emailing tppcsr@txdps.state.tx.us for registration materials.14 Additionally, nurse practitioners must register with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prescribe controlled substances.15

Texas Nursing Associations

Joining a Texas nursing association can provide student and licensed nurses with benefits such as access to professional networking, continuing education, and employment opportunities.

Texas Nursing Salary

Occupation Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants 86,940 $23,150
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses 75,780 $43,120
Registered Nurses 187,290 $66,350
Nurse Practitioners 5,720 $97,710

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

References:
1. Texas Administrative Code Title 22, Part 11, Chapter 217, Rule 217.2: Licensure by Examination for Graduates of Nursing Education Programs Within the United States, its Territories, or Possessions
2. Texas Board of Nursing: Approved Texas Programs and Student Pass Rates
3. Texas Board of Nursing: Nurse Examination Application
4. Texas Board of Nursing: Application by NCLEX-PN Examination for Licensed Vocational Nurses
5. Texas Board of Nursing: Online Examination Application – Eligibility Information
6. IdentoGO by MorphoTrust USA: Texas
7. Texas Board of Nursing: Texas Nursing Jurisprudence Exam
8. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
9. Texas Board of Nursing: Application by NCLEX-RN Examination for Registered Nurses
10. Texas Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Application – Frequently Asked Questions
11. Texas Administrative Code Title 22, Part 11, Chapter 221, Rule 221.3: Advanced Practice Nurses Education
12. Texas Board of Nursing: Application for Licensure as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and Prescriptive Authority (Optional)
13. Texas Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Application Online
14. Texas Board of Nursing: Application for Prescriptive Authority for Advanced Practice Nurses
15. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970