Licensing for registered nurses (RNs) in Delaware is regulated at the state level, and the process takes approximately one to two months to complete. Just like other state certification standards, this includes ensuring you meet the education requirements and completing a background check, as well as taking an examination or meeting endorsement requirements. Further, once you’re licensed, you’ll have to periodically renew your license to continue working in the state.
According to 2018 BLS statistics, Delaware was among the states with the highest concentration of RNs in the U.S. They earned an hourly median wage of about $36. While this is slightly lower than the national average pay for RNs, it is still a respectable salary by any metric.
If you’re interested in helping with nationwide healthcare staffing shortages by entering the field, you need to follow some specific steps. This guide will provide advice on completing a license or renewal application, including all the information and forms you’ll need to work as a registered nurse in The Diamond State.
Delaware Board of Nursing
As laid out in Delaware law, the Delaware Board of Nursing is responsible for developing professional standards for nurses, establishing rules and regulations for licensure, and addressing complaints against licensed nurses in the state.
There are different levels of licensure for nurses in Delaware. This includes licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs), and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and the requirements and duties of each differ.
Applications and written correspondence can be sent to the Board at:
861 Silver Lake Blvd.
Dover, DE 19904
Individuals with specific questions about nursing licensing in Delaware can contact the Board by phone at (302) 744-4500 or by email at [email protected].
Registered Nurse Education Requirements
You must have received an education through an accredited registered nursing school approved by a State Board of Nursing in order to become licensed as an RN in Delaware. Schools must be approved by accreditation bodies such as the ACEN and the CCNE. There are a variety of programs in Delaware for those looking to enter the field of nursing.
You must have at least an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Nursing, but a bachelor’s degree can be an invaluable asset when it comes to career advancement and earning better pay. It may also make your career more future-proof; indeed, national standards are leaning toward requiring a bachelor’s of science in nursing for all RNs.
RN Licensure by Examination
Graduates and new applicants who wish to take the NCLEX and who reside in Delaware (or a non-NLC state) should apply to become an RN by examination. This process involves a background check and registering for the required examination. The application packet can be found online on the Delaware Board of Nursing website. The application has a processing fee of $156, payable by check or money order to the “State of Delaware.”
Note that, if your home state is an NLC state, you must apply to become an RN there. If you are already licensed in your home state, you’ll want to apply for licensure by endorsement — read more on this process later in this guide.
Fingerprinting and Background Checks
All applicants by examination must complete the Authorization for Release of Information form (included in the packet referenced above) to request fingerprinting and a criminal background check.
There are three locations where this may be carried out:
- Kent County – Primary Facility
State Bureau of Identification
Blue Hen Mall & Corporate Center
655 S. Bay Rd. Suite 1B
Dover, DE 19901
Phone: (302) 739-2134
- New Castle County – Satellite Facility
State Police Troop Two
100 LaGrange Ave
Newark, DE 19702
Phone: (800) 464-4357
- Sussex County – Satellite Facility
Thurman Adams State Service Center
546 S. Bedford Street, Room 202
Georgetown, DE 19947
Phone: (800) 464-4357
Bring the completed form from the packet, along with a money order or credit card for the $65 fee, to your nearest location. Note that walk-ins are accepted at the Kent location, but you must call to schedule an appointment at either the New Castle or Sussex satellite facilities. Applicants should expect the results to be processed within four weeks.
You must complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to become licensed as an RN in Delaware. You can read more about how to register and schedule to take this exam on the examination candidate bulletin. You may also elect to take some practice tests before sitting the exam to ensure you are prepared to pass.
Applying to Take a Certification Exam
There are a couple steps to follow when registering for and taking the NCLEX:
- Submit the application packet to the Delaware Board of Nursing. The Board will let the test provider, Pearson Vue, know that you are eligible to take the examination;
- Applicants must then register for the NCLEX examination online when they are ready to take it. You can view the associated fees with registering for the test online;
- Once you’ve received the Authorization to Test form via email from Pearson Vue, you may schedule your exam. You can locate your nearest testing center by entering your address on the Pearson Vue website.
Once you’ve completed the exam, you will receive your results via email. Pearson Vue will also share your results with the Delaware Board of Nursing. If you pass, the Board will send you your license through the mail.
Additional Requirements for Certification
When submitting the application packet, you must include an official form of identification (such as your driver’s license). You may use your passport as identification, but note that doing so will limit you to only working within the state of Delaware.
The Board must also receive an official transcript from your school showing the degree you received and the date you received it. Additionally, there is a section in the application packet called the Nursing Reference Form, and this must be sent to your school for completion. Note that the school must send both of these documents directly to the Board — they won’t be accepted if you send them in yourself. You won’t be able to take the examination unless the board receives these documents from your school.
RN Licensure by Endorsement (Out-of-State Applicants)
If you already hold an active nursing license in another jurisdiction, you may apply for licensure to work in Delaware. The application packet for RN licensure by endorsement can be found on the Delaware Board of Nursing website. Note that the application has a processing fee of $156, payable by check or money order to the “State of Delaware.”
Before filling out this application, you must meet one of the following requirements. You must have:
- Graduated from an accredited nursing program within the past two years;
- Performed work as a registered nurse for at least 1,000 hours within a period of five years before filling out the application;
- Performed work as a registered nurse for at least 400 hours within a period of two periods before filling out the application;
- Completed a board-approved refresher program.
When submitting your application, you must include a photocopy (or a printout of the online verification) of your existing nursing license, in addition to relevant information regarding the above eligibility requirements.
Finally, you must complete a criminal background check (follow the advice provided in the above section), as well as disclose any administrative penalties or disciplinary actions taken against your license. Be sure to answer every question on these concerns in the application packet, as an incomplete form will not be processed.
RN License Renewal
A few weeks before your permit expires, you should receive a renewal notice at your email address on file with the Board. This will outline the renewal application process as well as the required renewal fee. Note that a late renewal accrues a 50% penalty on the renewal cost. If you need to renew a lapsed nursing license, you must apply to reinstate it.
To be eligible to renew, you must attest that you’ve met the continuing education requirements (see below) and have met one of the two experience requirements outlined in the bulleted list above.
Continuing Education Requirements
In order to keep updated with best practices in nursing and leverage new technologies like telehealth and artificial intelligence advancements, you must meet Delaware’s continuing education requirements. You must indicate if you’ve completed at least 30 hours of continuing education in the past two years. You can find updated approved continuing education course listings on the Delaware Board of Nursing website.
Delaware Nursing License Verification
As a public service by the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation, you can verify the nursing license status of an individual online. You can perform a search using the person’s name, location, or license number. This tool will show you the individual’s name, license number, type, and status.