How to Become a Nurse in Pennsylvania

Employment for registered nurses in Pennsylvania is expected to see a 9% growth, translating to 9,280 annual job openings between 2020 and 2030. Becoming a nurse in Pennsylvania allows you to positively impact residents’ lives while offering support and care during their weakest moments. Nursing is an impactful and fulfilling career you can practice anywhere, including Pennsylvania. This post discusses how to become a nurse in Pennsylvania.

1. Decide on a nursing path

Nursing has multiple career paths, each with specific opportunities and requirements. To choose the best career path, research the various types of nursing in Pennsylvania to determine the one that best suits your goals and interests. You can become a registered nurse, an advanced practice registered nurse, or a licensed practical nurse. Comprehensive research and a thorough understanding of these career paths can prepare you better to make an informed choice regarding your future profession.

2. Complete an approved nursing program

Completing a certified nursing program is vital to becoming a nurse in Pennsylvania. Based on the nursing path you’ve decided to follow, there are several programs to consider. A diploma program can help you land an entry-level job as a practical nurse. BSN and ADN programs can help you attain registered nurse qualifications.

An accelerated online BSN program is a convenient and quick way to begin your nursing career. If you already have a Bachelor’s degree, an online ABSN in Pennsylvania gets you ready to pass the NCLEX-RN exam with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in less than two years.

For more advanced nursing opportunities in Pennsylvania, a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) or MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) is a must-have. No matter the program you enroll in, it should be accredited because accreditation proves that it sufficiently prepares nursing students for fieldwork. Also, accredited programs are a licensure requirement.

3. Pass the NCLEX exam

Upon completing your nursing education and graduating, the next step is taking the registered or practical nurses’ National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN)/ NCLEX-PN based on your career path. Passing this exam is crucial because it determines whether you’ll get licensed and start practicing in Pennsylvania. To pass the NCLEX exam:

  • Know what to anticipate before the exam by reviewing the NCLEX prep book or other study guides
  • Create a study plan and stick to it, then consider creating/ joining a study group to share knowledge with others
  • Leverage available resources, including books, websites, blogs, in-person study programs, and more, to get ready for the test
  • Consider answering NCLEX practice questions to familiarize yourself with NCLEX style, improving your success rates

4. Complete continuing education

For the initial nursing licensure, you should complete three hours of Board-approved continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting. For biennial license renewal, you require 30 hours of continuing education. Two of these 30 hours should be Board-approved in child abuse recognition and reporting.

5. Get a nursing license

The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing authorizes practical and registered nurses. The Board may issue the permit within 14 business days after receiving a filled application form, applicable fees, proof of program completion, and other documents as required. Since Pennsylvania isn’t a nurse licensure compact member, nurses licensed in different states can apply by endorsement. You can apply for nursing jobs once you get your Pennsylvania nursing license.


Pennsylvania has a promising nursing job market for those looking to start their careers. Follow this post to learn how to become a nurse in Pennsylvania.