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

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) is a popular career choice for those wanting to work in healthcare. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the registered nursing field is projected to grow 12% over the next ten years, which is a high growth rate compared to other professions. Becoming a certified RN means you can practice preventive care, trauma care, and restorative treatment in a wide range of healthcare fields.

In 2019, there were 125,470 RNs employed in the state of Ohio. As of 2018, the average annual salary reported for RNs in Ohio was $66,820. This is under the national average. Below is a comprehensive guide to obtaining an Ohio state RN license.

Ohio Board of Nursing

The Ohio Board of Nursing is responsible for state licensure of RNs, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). You can apply, verify, or renew your license from their website. For further questions or concerns, you can contact the board by phone at (614)-466-3947 or by email at

Registered Nurse Education Requirements

To obtain an RN certification, you’ll first have to finish an accredited nursing program. There are several nursing schools in the state of Ohio with degree programs that range from associate’s, which can take one to two years to complete, bachelor’s, which can take three to five years to complete, and master’s, which can take three to six years to complete.

RN Licensure by Examination

All graduates, regardless of the program level, will need to take the state board exam to finish their certification and become eligible for a license. To take the exam, you will need:

Fingerprinting and Background Checks

All applicants must submit a background check and fingerprint card before taking the state exam. The background checks and fingerprinting must be completed by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI) and submitted directly to the board by the BCI, or else they will not be accepted. You can submit your fingerprinting at any Webcheck location listed on the Ohio Attorney General site.

Approved Exams

Currently, the only approved RN license exam is the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). All applicants, including foreign applicants, will have to apply for and pass the NCLEX-RN to apply for an Ohio RN license. Practice exam questions are available ahead of time for applicants wishing to prepare for the test.

Applying to Take a Certification Exam

In order to take the NCLEX-RN, you will need to do the following:

  • Submit an online licensure by examination application through the Ohio Board of Nursing eLicense portal;
  • Submit a program completion letter from your nursing program;
    • Note: graduates from non-Ohio nursing programs will need to submit a signed and sealed transcript from their program.
  • Register with Pearson VUE;
  • Pay the registration and testing fees;
  • Receive an Authorization to Test (ATT);
    • Note: ATTs are valid for 90 days; if you do not test within 90 days, you will have to pay another registration and testing fee.
  • Schedule your test at your nearest testing center;
    • Note: you will need a valid driver’s license, military ID, or passport to be admitted to your testing center.

Testing Vendors and Proctors

There are five Pearson VUE testing locations in Ohio.

Pearson Professional Centers-Columbus(North) OH
355 E. Campus View Blvd
Suite 140
Columbus, Ohio 43235
United States

Pearson Professional Centers-Columbus (West) OH
4100 Horizons Drive
Suite 201
Columbus, Ohio 43220
United States

Pearson Professional Centers-Columbus(South) OH
700 Taylor Road
Suite 180
OffiCenter 2
Gahanna, Ohio 43230
United States

Pearson Professional Centers-Akron(Copley Twnsp)OH
202 Montrose West Avenue
Suite 300
Copley Township, Ohio 44321
United States

Pearson Professional Centers-Dayton OH
3033 Kettering Boulevard
Suite 320
Moraine, Ohio 45439
United States

Additional Requirements for Certification

Foreign applicants must request a Credentials Evaluation Service Professional Report from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) and submit it to the board before testing.

Applying for Licensure

Your license will be issued to you once you have submitted your official NCLEX-RN scores. To view your unofficial scores, you can log in to your Pearson VUE account. To view the status of your license, you can log in to your Ohio eLicense dashboard.

RN Licensure by Endorsement (Out of State Applicants)

To apply for licensure by endorsement in Ohio, you will need to request license verification through Nursys license portal and complete an online endorsement application through your Ohio eLicense dashboard. If your license is not registered on Nursys, you will need to fill out a verification of licensure form. All applicants for endorsement will need to complete two contact hours of continuing education in compliance with Category A regulations.

RN License Renewal

Ohio RN licenses expire every two years. You can find information about when your license expires and what fees and supplemental documents you will need to submit to the Ohio Board of Nursing to maintain an active and unencumbered licensee status.

Continuing Education Requirements

First-time renewals are not required to complete continuing education credits. All returning RNs wishing to renew their license will need to complete 24 hours of continuing education activities  —  at least one hour of which has to meet Category A regulations. You can find acceptable continuing education activities and requirements for nurses with an endorsement license on the Continuing Education for Renewal document.

Ohio Nursing License Verification

To verify your license, check the status of your renewal, or apply for licensure via endorsement, you can log in to your Ohio eLicense dashboard.

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