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

Licensing and regulation for registered nursing are handled at the state level in Nebraska by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. In order to become a registered nurse in Nebraska, an individual must complete a Board-approved educational program. This will take a minimum of 2 years.

According to the BLS’s 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics for Nebraska, there were about 22,970 registered nurses in the state. The median hourly income for RNs in the state was about $30.16, and the average annual income was about $64,470. This is less than the average income of registered nurses in neighboring Colorado, as well as the average annual income of registered nurses in the United States at large. However, it is more than the average annual income of registered nurses in nearby Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas, and similar to the average income of registered nurses in Missouri and Wyoming.

The HRSA Health Workforce projects that by 2030, there will be an approximate overage of 16.5% for registered nurses in the state of Nebraska.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services handles licensing in the state of Nebraska. Types of licensing available in Nebraska include: Certified Nurse Aide, Practical Nursing, Registered Nursing, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services can be reached at (402) 471-3121.

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Registered Nurse Education Requirements

Nebraska is part of the nurse licensure compact. Although this allows registered nurses from Nebraska to practice in other states who participate in the compact, certification as a registered nurse in Nebraska is still handled at a state level through a Board-approved educational program. Such programs are approved on an individual basis through the Board. Nebraska is home to a wide array of schools with accredited programs for registered nursing.

There are three degree pathways that can prepare a prospective RN for their certification exam: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or an RN diploma program. BSNs are the most widely accepted by accrediting boards, while ADNs are typically quicker and cheaper to acquire. Meanwhile, an RN diploma program offers a lot of in-field experience, but the credibility of these programs is dependent on the institution, and therefore can vary widely. More and more states are leaning toward BSN programs as the standard educational requirement for RN licensure.

Foreign nurses who would like to gain licensure as a registered nurse in the state of Nebraska must submit proof of their citizenship, proof of competency in the English language, a CGFNS Certificate or CGFNS Visa Screen, and their educational and licensure credentials.

RN Licensure by Examination

All aspiring nurses must follow a licensure process which includes a state-approved examination following the fulfillment of their educational credentials. Individuals who are already licensed as an RN in another state or jurisdiction may need to follow the endorsement process detailed below.

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Fingerprinting and Background Checks

In order to become licensed as a registered nurse in Nebraska, an individual must be fingerprinted and submit to a background check. Any State Patrol office or law enforcement agency in Nebraska can create an acceptable fingerprint card. The fee for fingerprint processing is $45.25. This card must then be sent to the following address for the required criminal background check:

Criminal Identification Division (CID)
3800 NW 12th ST STE A
Lincoln NE 68521.

Approved Exams

In Nebraska, individuals must pass an NCLEX examination. As of 2020, the exam fee was $200, and exams can be scheduled at any NCLEX testing location. To avoid having to pay for multiple testing sessions, it may be beneficial to prepare by using practice tests.

Applying to Take a Certification Exam

Applications must be submitted to both Pearson and to the DHHS Licensure Unit at:

DHHS Licensure Unit
Nursing Section
301 Centennial Mall South
PO Box 94986
Lincoln NE 68509-4986.

The application to the DHHS Licensure Unit must include proof of educational experience and payment of the application fee of $30.75 or $123 (depending on the time of year).

Additional Requirements for Certification

In order to sit for the examination, aspiring RNs must also:

  • Pass a background check;
  • Submit an application;
  • Pay the examination fee;
  • Schedule their exam.

RN Licensure by Endorsement (Out-of State-Applicants)

Licensure by endorsement is an option that is often offered for out-of-state residents to become licensed in any given state. In order to apply for licensure by endorsement in Nebraska, out-of-state RNs must:

  • Submit proof of licensure;
  • Submit an application ($30.75 or $123 depending on the time of year);
  • Submit proof of citizenship and/or residency;
  • Submit proof of proficiency in English (if from a foreign nation);
  • Submit proof of continuing education;
  • Submit to a background check;
  • Complete the NCLEX-RN exam.

RN License Renewal

Registered nurses in Nebraska must renew their license by October 31st, in even-numbered years, by sending the reinstatement application to:

DHHS Licensure Unit
Nursing Section
301 Centennial Mall South
PO Box 94986
Lincoln NE 68509-4986.

The renewal fee is $65.75 or $158 depending on the time of year.

Continuing Education Requirements

Registered nurses in Nebraska must complete at least one of the following to fulfill their continuing education requirement:

  • 500 in-field work hours AND 20 contact hours with an approved continuing education course;
  • Graduation from a nursing program in more than two, but less than five years AND 20 contact hours with an approved continuing education course;
  • Graduation from a nursing program within the last two years;
  • Completion of an approved refresher course within the last five years;
  • Holds certification in a nursing specialty;
  • Maintenance of a portfolio that includes the licensee’s current continuing competency goals, and evidence of meeting those goals.

The need for continuing education can be waived in the case of those who are/were involved with qualifying military activities.

Continuing education courses are approved on an individual basis by the Board.

Nebraska Nursing License Verification

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offers a license information search tool to confirm the licensure of registered nurses in the state.

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