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Wisconsin Nursing License Requirements

Nurses practicing in the state of Wisconsin are licensed and overseen by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing. There are several recognized categories of nurse licensure in Wisconsin, including licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners. All nurses must begin with an education in nursing that prepares licensure candidates for practice. Learn more about becoming a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or nurse practitioner in Wisconsin by selecting one of the options 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 Wisconsin

1. Earn a Diploma or Degree in Practical Nursing.

The Wisconsin Board of Nursing requires prospective licensed practical nurses to hold a diploma or degree in practical nursing to be eligible for licensure. Programs in the state of Wisconsin considered acceptable for licensure should have the approval of the Wisconsin Board of Nursing.1 Candidates can view approved schools, National Council Licensure Examination pass rates, and other information about available programs on the Wisconsin Board of Nursing website.1

2. Submit the Licensed Practical Nurse Licensure by Examination Application.

The Wisconsin Board of Nursing recommends that applicants submit the Licensed Practical Nurse Licensure by Examination Application form at least six weeks prior to graduating from a nursing program.2 The additional lead time assists the Wisconsin Board of Nursing in timely processing of applications during high volume periods when many nurse candidates may be graduating.2 The application must be typed or printed in ink and completed in its entirety, including the Affidavit of Applicant and the Social Security Number reporting form.3

Note that the Wisconsin Board of Nursing does not accept school transcripts.2 In lieu of a transcript, the candidate’s school must complete and submit Form 259, Statement of Graduation or Completion, directly to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing for education verification.4

3. Request A Temporary Permit to Practice, If Desired.

Applicants who wish to request a temporary permit to practice may do so after submitting the initial application for licensure but before taking the National Council Licensure Examination.2 A temporary permit is requested using the Request for Temporary Permit for Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse form.5 Note that the registered nurse who will be directly supervising temporary practice must complete and sign the statement section of the application.5 Although it typically takes 10 to 15 days for a permit to be mailed, temporary permit candidates can start working as soon as the temporary permit information appears on the Wisconsin Board of Nursing website.2

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

After submitting the application for licensure, licensed practical nurse candidates should register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) through Pearson VUE, the third party testing company that the Wisconsin Board of Nursing uses for the NCLEX-PN.2,6 Once registration is complete and the application for licensure has been reviewed the Wisconsin Board of Nursing will confirm eligibility to test and the candidate will be allowed to schedule and sit for the exam.2 Exam results are generally available 15 to 20 days following the exam date.2 Candidates who do not pass the exam may apply for a re-take by submitting the Registered Nurse/Licensed Practical Nurse Re-Take Application for Licensure by Examination.7

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Wisconsin

1. Graduate from a Degree Program in Professional Nursing.

Registered nurses in Wisconsin must have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in order to become licensed. Education programs located in Wisconsin that meet the basic qualifications for licensure should be approved by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing to assure graduate eligibility for licensing.8 Lists of approved registered and professional nursing programs in Wisconsin as well as other program information including National Council Licensure Examination pass rates are available on the Wisconsin Board of Nursing website.8

2. Submit the Registered Nurse by Examination Application.

The Wisconsin Board of Nursing provides the Registered Nurse Licensure by Examination Application form for prospective registered nurses.9 It is recommended that candidates submit the application form at least six weeks before their nursing program graduation date, as high volumes of applications tend to arrive at the Wisconsin Board of Nursing during graduation times, which may delay processing.2 Applicants should type or print all requested information in ink and be sure to fill out all required sections of the form, including the Affidavit of Applicant and the Social Security Number reporting form.9

Applicants should be aware that school transcripts are not accepted by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing as adequate proof of completion of a nursing program.2 Instead of a transcript, applicants must request that their school complete Form 259, Statement of Graduation or Completion, and submit the form directly to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing for education verification.4

3. Request A Temporary Permit to Practice, If Desired.

Prospective registered nurses who have graduated from a program of nursing but have not yet sat for the National Council Licensure Examination may, if desired, apply for a temporary permit to practice.2 The temporary permit to practice will only be considered if the applicant has already submitted the full application and supporting materials for an initial license.5 The registered nurse who will directly supervise the temporary practice must also complete and sign the statement section of the temporary permit application.5 Note that it may take 10 to 15 days for a permit to be mailed, but that candidates may begin temporary practice as soon as the permit can be electronically verified through the Wisconsin Board of Nursing website.2

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

Following submittal of the initial application for licensure, candidates must register to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) with Pearson VUE, the third party company contracted by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing to administer the exam.2,6 Once the Wisconsin Board of Nursing has reviewed the application and made the applicant eligible to test the candidate may schedule and take the exam.2 Candidates are typically informed of exam results 15 to 20 days following the exam.2 Those who were not successful in achieving a passing score may apply for a re-take by submitting the Registered Nurse/Licensed Practical Nurse Re-Take Application for Licensure by Examination.7

7 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Wisconsin

1. Become a Registered Nurse in Wisconsin or a Compact State.

In order to qualify for licensure as a nurse practitioner in Wisconsin, candidates must hold an active and unencumbered registered nurse license in Wisconsin or in a compact state.10 Thus, prospective nurse practitioners should complete an appropriate education for registered nurses and pass the NCLEX-RN.

2. Earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing.

To practice as a licensed nurse practitioner in Wisconsin, candidates must have earned a master’s degree in nursing or a closely related health field.10 The master’s degree must be granted by a school that holds regional accreditation approved by the board of education in which the school is located.10 The education should include a minimum of 45 contact hours in clinical pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics, which hours should be completed within three years of applying for a license.10

3. Earn National Certification As a Nurse Practitioner.

Wisconsin nurse practitioners must obtain and maintain national certification in order to earn and hold an active nurse practitioner’s license.10 The Wisconsin Board of Nursing provides a list of approved certifying bodies and examinations on its website.11

4. Submit the Application for Certification As An Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber.

Prospective nurse practitioners should complete and submit the Application for Certification as an Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber to request initial licensure.12 All candidate responses on the form should be typed or printed in ink.12 Note that the Affidavit of Applicant must be notarized.12 Candidates must request that the organization granting national certification verify that certification directly to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing.12 Verification of education must also be provided by submitting Form 2367, Certification of Masters Degree, as completed by the candidate’s school; the school must return the form directly to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing.13 Note that official transcripts will not be accepted in lieu of the certification form.12

5. Obtain Malpractice Insurance Coverage.

Nurse practitioners who intend to prescribe independently must obtain individual malpractice insurance coverage in the amounts outlined in state statute, as amended.10 Evidence of adequate coverage must be submitted to the Wisconsin Board of Nursing before a license will be issued.12 Nurse practitioners who are covered under group liability policies may submit the Certification Form for Advanced Practice Nurse Prescribers Who Do Not Carry Personal Liability Insurance Coverage in lieu of evidence of individual coverage.14

6. Pass the Wisconsin Jurisprudence Examination.

Nurse practitioners must pass the Wisconsin Jurisprudence Examination with a score of 85 percent or above.15 Candidates are issued credentials to log in and take the exam, which covers materials in the Wisconsin state statutes and administrative code, following review of the application for licensure.15 The exam is not timed and may be saved and returned to later, but must be taken within three months of the time that the candidate receives his or her login credentials.15

7. Register for a Control Number with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Nurse practitioners who anticipate prescribing or dispensing controlled substances must apply for a DEA control number after licensure by the Wisconsin Board of Nursing.16 A control number may be applied for by visiting the DEA website.17

Wisconsin Nursing Associations

Current and future nurses can benefit from membership in a Wisconsin nursing association through access to professional networking, continuing education, and employment opportunities.

Wisconsin Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants37,230$25,740
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses10,580$42,350
Registered Nurses54,640$64,000
Nurse Practitioners2,050$86,240

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

References:
1. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Licensed Practical Nurse Nursing Program Information
2. Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, Division of Professional Credential Processing: Frequently Asked Questions for RN and LPN Applicants
3. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Licensed Practical Nurse Licensure by Examination Application
4. Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services: Statement of Graduation or Completion (Form 259)
5. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Request for Temporary Permit for Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse
6. Pearson VUE: The NCLEX Examination
7. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Registered Nurse/Licensed Practical Nurse Re-Take Application for Licensure by Examination
8. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Registered Nurse Nursing Program Information
9. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Registered Nurse Licensure by Examination Application
10. State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services: Wisconsin Statutes and Administrative Code Relating to the Practice of Nursing
11. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Certification for Advanced Practice Nurse Prescribers
12. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Application for Certification As An Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber
13. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Certification of Master’s Degree
14. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Certification Form for Advanced Practice Nurse Prescribers Who Do Not Carry Personal Liability Insurance Coverage
15. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber – Examinations
16. Wisconsin Board of Nursing: Information for Completing Certification of Advanced Practice Nurse Prescribers Application
17. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration: Application for Registration Under Controlled Substance Act of 1970