Registered Nurse Certification in How to Become an RN in Alabama: Nursing License Application and Renewal Guide

There is no set timetable by which a nursing student in Alabama is issued their license — however long it takes them to complete all of the requirements is the length of time in which their license will be granted. There are several schools in Alabama that offer each type of nursing degree, which are:

  • Associate’s degrees in nursing (ADN);
  • Bachelor’s degrees in nursing (BSN);
  • Licensed practical nursing degrees (LPN);
  • Registered nurse (RN);
  • Master’s of Science in nursing degrees (MSN);
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees (DNP).

Based on 2018 estimates, RNs in Alabama earned an average of $59,470 annually, which is significantly lower than the national average salary for RNs. According to the Alabama Board of Nursing’s daily statistics, as of April 2020, there are 87,025 registered nurses in the state. Alabama is a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which means individuals who are registered nurses and are licensed in a compact state are able to continue their nursing practice in another compact state, even when they do not have an RN license there.

Alabama State Board of Nursing

All nursing licenses are issued by the Alabama State Board of Nursing. The core mission of the ABN is “to safeguard and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the public through licensing and approval of qualified individuals and adopting and enforcing legal standards for nursing education and nursing practice.” Here, students are able to apply for and obtain each type of license. The ABN can be contacted at:
RSA Plaza, Suite 250
770 Washington Ave.
Montgomery, AL 36104
Tel: (334) 293-5200
Office Hours: 08:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.

Registered Nurse Education Requirements

The national certification standards for an RN require that prospective students obtain a degree from an accredited agency and/or nursing school that the Alabama State Board approves. In order to qualify for approved nursing programs throughout the state, applicants must:

  • Complete the corresponding nursing school’s application;
  • Declare their nursing major;
  • Send in their ACT or SAT scores and high school transcript to their ideal university;
  • Successfully finish courses in an undergraduate program of study.

It is important to keep in mind that each school/university may have its own requirements that must be met prior to admittance — applicants will want to research these requirements to make sure each one has been met.

RN Licensure by Examination

Obtaining a nursing license by examination is just one of the multiple ways students are able to get their license. However, in order to do so accurately, students must abide by the following examination requirements:

  • Submit a completed application;
  • Pay all required fees:
    • Application fee $100
    • Temporary permit fee $50
    • Transaction fee $3.50;
  • Provide a valid Social Security number;
  • Must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States;
  • Graduated from an accredited nursing program;
  • Request an official transcript from your nursing program and have it sent to the ABN in a sealed envelope (transcripts that are faxed are not accepted);
  • Register with Pearson VUE.

Fingerprinting and Background Checks

As of January 1st, 2020, all applicants must submit a fingerprint criminal background check for their nursing licensure. It is important to note that prior to fingerprinting, all applicants must have an active application on file with the Alabama Board of Nursing. It is also encouraged that applicants view the ABN instructions for fingerprinting before submitting their fingerprints to help ensure they have done so correctly. For example, they must:

Approved Exams

The approved exam is the NCLEX-RN exam. When taking the exam, one must answer a minimum of 75 questions. Your level of understanding of those 75 questions will determine whether or not you will be required to answer more questions. To cut down on test time and better prepare for the exam, applicants may wish to use practice questions ahead of scheduling the formal test.

All applicants who fail the NCLEX-RN exam on the first attempt may retake the licensure examination every 45 days for up to a period of 1 year from the date he/she took the first attempt. If the applicant does not pass within the 1-year duration, he/she must provide proof of satisfactory to the board of remediation which needs to be approved by the board before re-examination. If the applicant does not pass within a time period of 3 years after graduation, he/she is required to re-qualify and must demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and ability of a graduate nurse.

To retake the exam:

  • Enclose the appropriate fee of $85 made payable to the Alabama  Board of Nursing.
  • Submit a photocopy of all the Diagnostic Profiles (if you took the test in another state) from all the previously taken exams and also complete the repeater’s application.

Applying to Take a Certification Exam

When registering to take the NCLEX-RN exam, applicants will need to:

  • Submit an application for licensure/registration to the Nursing Regulatory Body where they wish to be licensed/registered;
  • Meet all of the Nursing Regulatory Body’s eligibility requirements to take the NCLEX Examination;
  • Register and pay for the NCLEX examination with Pearson VUE;
  • Receive eligibility from their Nursing Regulatory Body.

Testing Vendors and Proctors

There are six testing locations in Alabama:

Pearson Professional Centers-Decatur AL
401 Lee Street NE
Suite 602
Decatur, Alabama 35602

Pearson Professional Centers-Mobile AL
900 Western America Circle
Suite 212
Executive Center One
Mobile, Alabama 36609

Pearson Professional Centers-Dothan AL
2623 Montgomery Hwy.
Suite 4
Carmel Plaza
Dothan, Alabama 36303

Pearson Professional Centers-Birmingham(Hwy280) AL
3535 Grandview Parkway
Suite 640
Grandview I Office Building
Birmingham, Alabama 35243

Pearson Professional Centers-Birmingham(Hwy 31) AL
2 Chase Corporate Drive
Suite 20
Birmingham, Alabama 35244

Pearson Professional Centers-Montgomery AL
4001 Carmichael Road
Suite 440
Montgomery, Alabama 36106

Applying for Licensure

Applicants will fill out the application that consists of the following categories:

  • License type;
  • Education;
  • Exam and temporary permits;
  • Regulatory questions;
  • After filling out these sections, the applicant will be prompted to preview the application to check it for errors. After verifying that everything is indeed correct, the applicant may then submit the application with the appropriate fees attached.

RN Licensure by Endorsement (Out of State Applicants)

Receiving a nursing license by endorsement is the other way applicants — more specifically those who are out-of-state applicants — are able to get their nursing license. To do so they must follow these requirements:

  • Submit a completed application;
  • Pay all required fees:
    • Application fee $100
    • Temporary permit fee $50
    • Transaction fee $3.50;
  • Provide a valid Social Security number;
  • Must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States;
  • Graduate from an accredited nursing program;
  • Submit a form showing their completion of 24 contact hours of continuing education;
  • Request verification of licensure from the state in which their license was originally obtained;
  • Complete fingerprinting and background check’
  • Request an official transcript from your nursing program and have it sent to the ABN in a sealed envelope (transcripts that are faxed are not accepted);
  • Register with Pearson VUE.

RN License Renewal

Those who are licensed in another state and want to obtain certification in Alabama will need to submit an application for licensure by endorsement. Nurses must renew their licenses on a two-calendar-year cycle, with licenses for RNs and LPNs renewed in alternating years: all RNs in even years; all LPNs in odd years. The annual renewal period runs from September 1 through December 31. Before this, applicants are expected to complete the following prerequisites:

  • Complete an endorsement application;
  • Pay the renewal fee of $103.50;
  • Verify their previous license;
  • Complete the 24 required hours of continuing education;
  • Proof of lawful presence in the U.S. or U.S. Citizenship.

Continuing Education Requirements

In the state of Alabama, it is required that all nurses complete 24 total hours of continuing education credits. They are required to do so in order to meet the minimum requirements for their biennial renewal, reinstatements, or any issuance of another RN or LPN license.

Alabama Nursing License Verification

All applicants applying for RN certification in Alabama are required to submit license verification information to the Alabama State Board of Nursing. There are two options to verify a license:

quick RN guide links