To become a registered nurse in Virginia, you must apply to the Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Nursing. Similar to most state-level nursing certifications, you must complete education requirements, pass a background check, and score high enough on the NCLEX-RN exam to receive your license. Documentation of completion of all requirements must be submitted in a license application to the Board of Nursing. License application processing typically takes 30-45 days to complete.
The job outlook for registered nurses is expected to grow 12% from 2018-2028. This projected growth is impacted by healthcare staff shortages and is progressing faster than the average for most occupations. Nursing salaries and wages vary by state, and in 2018 the national average income for nurses was $75,510 per year with an hourly wage of $36.30. As of 2018, the average registered nurse salary in Virginia is lower than the national average at $69,790, with an hourly wage of $32.69 per hour. There are many benefits to a nursing job that make it a worthy career. To become a nurse in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must consider the following requirements.
Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Nursing
The Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Nursing is responsible for regulating licensing, administration, discipline, and approving and regulating in-state education programs for RNs. The board regulates licensure for the following types and levels of nursing and health professions:
- Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses;
- Nurse Practitioners;
- Nurse Anesthetists;
- Nurse Aids;
- Advanced Certified Nurse Aids;
- Clinical Nurse Specialists;
- Medication Aids;
- Massage Therapists.
Applications and written correspondence may be sent to the board at:
Department of Health Professions
Board of Nursing
9960 Mayland Drive Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233
You may also contact the Board by calling (804)367-4515, faxing (804)527-4455.
Registered Nurse Education Requirements
To fulfill your education requirements, you must attend an accredited nursing school, or take online RN courses that have been approved by the Board. The accrediting bodies include the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
There are many nursing programs available at a variety of Virginia-approved RN schools. When choosing a nursing education program to begin your nursing career, you may need to select the level of education you wish to pursue. Your level of education will determine the opportunities you may pursue after graduation, though you may always pursue differing certifications or higher education. The general educational paths include an associate degree for prelicensure, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing, or a Doctor of Nursing practices.
If you complete a nursing program in another state, it is important that your education meets the criteria of approval by the Board, including the minimum required 500 hours of direct client care hours. There are numerous nursing scholarships and grants that can help you to meet the educational requirements of registered nurses.
RN Licensure by Examination
Licensure by examination is the typical pathway for recent graduates and applicants that have not previously held a certification. To apply by licensure, you must complete the following to be included in your application:
- Complete and submit your application through the online portal or by mail.
- You will need to pay an application fee of $190. If you apply through the online portal you will need to include payment by credit or debit card. If you apply by mail, you will need to include a check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia.
- Complete a fingerprint and background check once your application has been accepted.
- Have an Official Attestation of Graduation or Final Transcript sent directly to the Board. Check with your program director. If your program sends Attestations, do not request a transcript.
- Submit Verification of Clinical Hours. If you attended a school outside of Virginia, your final official transcript must include evidence of clinical hours documented for each course.
- Complete the Pearson Vue online application to take the NCLEX exam.
- Exam applicants educated in foreign countries must request the CES Professional Report from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools. The report must be made available to the Virginia Board of Nursing (VBON).
If you already hold a license from another state and wish to apply by endorsement, or are interested in obtaining a compact nurse license — read more on this process later in this guide.
Fingerprinting and Background Checks
State and FBI criminal background checks (CBC) are required for RN certification in Virginia. You must first complete the application process before you are eligible to register for fingerprinting exclusively through the online portal of Fieldprint Va. For additional information regarding the criminal background check process, email the VBON CBC unit at VBONCBCUNIT@dhp.virginia.gov.
The completion of your application will provide you with a confirmation receipt that contains the VBON Fieldprint Code necessary to register for your fingerprinting appointment. Applicants both in and out-of-state must perform the electronic Livescan fingerprinting process at their nearest Fieldprint service location. The cost of in-state fingerprinting is $35.95. The cost of out-of-state fingerprinting is $38.95. For more information on how to register for your fingerprinting appointment, contact Fieldprint at (888)482-8918 or email email@example.com.
Applying to Take a Certification Exam
You must complete a separate application to take the NCLEX Exam with Pearson Vue. You may apply online through the website, or call 1-866-496-2539 to apply and schedule an appointment to take the exam. You will receive instructions on how to apply and schedule your exam through Pearson Vue, not through the Board. You may view the fees associated with the test online, and may access NCLEX practice questions online to prepare you for your certification Exam.
RN Licensure by Endorsement (Out-of-State Applicants)
If you have graduated from a state-approved nursing program, have been licensed by examination in another state, you may apply by endorsement to practice nursing in Virginia. Applications for endorsement are exclusively accepted online through the online application portal. Your completed application must include:
- A completed fingerprint and background check through Fieldprint Va.
- License verification from your original state of licensure. If your original state of licensure participates in the NURSYS license verification system, you must pay the $30 fee and request the verification of licensure. Non-NURSYS participating states license verification may be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Proof of your primary residence.
- Submission of the $190 fee.
- Nurses who have been licensed in other states but have received their education abroad (other than Canada) must provide their identification or certificate number issued by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). For more information contact CGFNS International, Inc.
- You may send a written request for an Authorization to Practice (ATP) letter if you intend to work in Virginia pending licensure and do not have the multi-state privilege.
Nurse Licensure Compact
Virginia is a compact state under the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). The eNLC has specific requirements known as the Uniform Licensure Requirements. By holding an eNLC, you are able to practice among compact states via multi-state privilege. Your eNLC is determined and licensed through your Primary State of Residence (PSOR). The following list shows states that are NLC members:
RN License Renewal
Registered nurses in Virginia must renew their licenses online every two years and have completed the continuing competency requirements. Virginia certified RNs will receive a PIN number with their license renewal notice approximately 60 days before the license is scheduled to expire. If you do not receive a PIN number, contact email@example.com and provide your full name, 10-digit Virginia License number, your date of birth, and last four digits of your Social Security number. You must pay the Virginia Board of Nursing a renewal fee of $140, with an additional $50 if the renewal application is late.
For further information contact (804)367-4444, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Continuing Education Requirements
To maintain registered nurse licensure in the state of Virginia, you must complete one of the following continuing competency courses before renewal:
- A specialty certification by a national certifying organization.
- A minimum of three credit hours of post-licensure academic education relevant to nursing practice.
- A board-approved refresher course in nursing.
- Completion and participation in a nursing-related evidence-based project or research study.
- Complete publication as an author or co-author during the renewal cycle.
- Teaching or developing a nursing-related course of no less than three semester hours of college credit.
- Teaching or developing a nursing-related continuing education course up to 30 contact hours.
- Complete 15 contact hours of workshops, seminars, conferences, or courses relevant to nursing, in addition to 640 hours of active practice as a nurse.
- Complete 30 hours of workshops, seminars, conferences, or courses relevant to the practice of nursing.
Virginia Nursing License Verification
You may view the status of a nursing license by utilizing the Virginia Department of Health Professionals licensing lookup page. To perform this search you must include the target’s license number or Social Security number and name. You may also search by occupation, name, state, and zip code.