How to Become a Nurse in North Carolina

Choosing one of the nursing schools in North Carolina puts future nurses at the forefront of patient care, as they are often called on to fill gaps in care amid the continuing physician shortage. According to the North Carolina Board of Nursing, the average age for a nurse in the state is 51 years old. This suggests that many nurses will retire within the next 10 years, leaving vacancies for new nurses to begin their careers.

The North Carolina Board of Nursing is the state’s regulating body for most nursing professionals in the state, while the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services regulates the certification of nursing assistants. There are a variety of different nursing programs in North Carolina. Applicants can expect each pathway to have a different set of educational and contact hour requirements for licensure. Learn more about specific licensing requirements for CNAs, LPNs, RNs, and APRNs below.

How to Get Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Certification in North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) houses the regulatory body for certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in the state and maintains the North Carolina Nurse Aide Registry. Applicants can be certified as a nurse aide in North Carolina by successfully completing state-approved Nurse Aide I training and competency testing. These nursing programs are 75 hours in length at a minimum and are offered at community colleges, healthcare facilities and private companies. North Carolina DHHS maintains a list of accredited programs for applicants to look through.

Registration on the Nurse Aide Registry lasts for two years. To renew, CNAs must have completed at least eight hours of work within that two-year period in either a nursing home or another qualifying healthcare setting. Applicants looking to renew their North Carolina CNA license are responsible for reporting their employment history with the signature of a supervising RN. Applicants can contact the nurse aide registry if they do not receive their renewal application on time, or they can download a request for a replacement renewal form.

How to Get a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) License in North Carolina

Applicants for a licensed practical nurse (LPN) license in North Carolina must complete an accredited nursing school program recognized by the board. This program is usually about a year in length, and transcripts must be sent to the North Carolina Board of Nursing within 30 days of completion. After completing the program, the NCLEX-PN must be passed and a CPR card must be obtained.

The cost of renewing a North Carolina LPN license is $100. North Carolina nursing licenses are valid for a period of two years. Same as with the RN license, applicants must submit a renewal application by the last day of their birth month in the year of the expiry to renew their North Carolina nursing license. Renewal costs $100. Failure to renew the RN license on time results in the license automatically being placed on the expired list, which requires the applicant to fully reapply for a North Carolina LPN license and fill out the reinstatement application.

How to Get a Registered Nurse (RN) License in North Carolina

Applicants for a North Carolina RN license must complete an accredited nursing school program recognized by the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Transcripts from that education program must be sent to the board within 30 days of completion of that program.

Applicants must also take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) exam, which measures core competencies needed for practicing nurses. Registering for the NCLEX-RN can be completed via Pearson VUE, and a $200 nonrefundable fee is required prior to sitting for the exam.

Beyond proof of graduation and a passing score on the NCLEX, applicants must submit themselves to a criminal background check and fingerprinting, and they will also need to furnish proof of legal name change, if applicable.

North Carolina nursing licenses are valid for two years. To renew a North Carolina RN license, applicants must submit a renewal application by the last day of their birth month in the year of the expiry. Failure to do so means the license is automatically placed on the expired list, which requires the applicant to reapply fully for a North Carolina RN license and also fill out the reinstatement application.

How to Get an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) License in North Carolina

The North Carolina advanced practice registered nurse license is the umbrella license awarded to registered nurses that have an advanced scope of practice, including:

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
  • Certified Nurse Midwives
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Nurse Practitioner

These nurses tend to have greater autonomy than other types of nurses — often having the authority to work without the supervision of a doctor. As such, an advanced formal education program (master’s degree or higher) is required to obtain a North Carolina APRN license. Applicants must first hold an RN license before applying to practice as an APRN in the state. They must also be certified by the national certifying body for their specialty. Applicants for a North Carolina APRN license wishing to have authority to prescribe controlled substances will need to fill out a separate application for the state’s Controlled Substances Reporting System.

The North Carolina nursing license must be renewed every two years. Continuing education requirements must be fulfilled prior to applying for North Carolina nursing license renewal, and they can be fulfilled through a combination of contact hours, active practice hours and semester hours of education in a classroom setting.