Pennsylvania is expected to be one of the 10 states responsible for half of all new nursing positions added across the nation by 2022, creating a vibrant atmosphere for new and current nurses alike. It’s an exciting time to be a nurse in Pennsylvania, and many prospective students may be wondering what it takes to enter the field. Keep reading to find state-approved nursing schools and programs in Pennsylvania, as well as learn more about state licensure procedures and salary outlook.
Begin Exploring Pennsylvania Nursing Schools
There are several board-approved nursing programs in Pennsylvania. These programs offer rigorous training via a range of degree options for aspiring nurses looking to enter the field as an entry-level RN as well as for those looking to further your education and move in to more advanced, leadership roles. Use the search tool below to explore viable options for nursing schools in Pennsylvania and get a side-by-side comparison of your top selections.
Earning an RN License in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing is tasked with regulating nursing education and the licensure process for all nurses within the state. The Board is also responsible for fielding complaints and renewing nursing licenses. Recent nursing school graduates looking for employment in Pennsylvania can find details on how to obtain a state license below.
- Successfully complete a state-approved nursing education program
- Submit a Nursing Education Verification Form, which needs to be sent from the nursing program
- Request official transcripts be sent directly to the Board of Nursing
- Complete a criminal background check, including dates and personal explanations of any criminal activity (if applicable)
- Submit an application for licensure to the Board of Nursing and pay all nonrefundable fees
- All applicants, examination and endorsement, are required to complete a 3-hour DHS-approved training on how to properly identify and report child abuse. Once this course has been completed, the approved provider will notify the Board electronically. This can take up to seven business days, and a license will not be issued until verification is received.
- Apply to take the NCLEX exam through Pearson VUE and submit a $200 fee
- Once an ATT, or Authorization to Test, has been received from Pearson VUE, schedule a date to take the examination
- If holding a license in another state, jurisdiction or country, the applicant will need to complete an endorsement application. Graduates of non-English programs are required to take and pass a Board-approved exam to prove English proficiency.
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Top Nursing Schools in Pennsylvania
The top nursing programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including
- Student-to-faculty ration
- In-state tuition
- Graduation rate
Additional details for each school were included:
- Count of programs available
- Public and not-for-profit schools
- Normalized on a 100 percent curve
The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...
- Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
- If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break
Top Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Pennsylvania 4-Year Colleges
Top Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Pennsylvania 2-Year Colleges
Pennsylvania Renewal Information
Pennsylvania nurses in good standing must renew their licenses biennially. During the interim years, nurses are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education credits in areas relevant to patient care, professional nursing or a specialty area. The Board may provide special approval for courses that do not fit within general requirements for CE if consent is requested. When submitting a renewal application, registered nurses must include a $65 processing fee.
Becoming an Advanced Practice Nurse in Pennsylvania
Advanced practice nurses have invested time and money to further their educations so they can work in a specialty area. To become an advanced practice nurse in Pennsylvania, individuals must:
- Hold a current RN license to practice in the state of Pennsylvania
- Have completed an approved program for the nursing specialty. For example, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners (CRNPs) are required to complete an accredited nurse practitioner education program
- Applicants who received their education and degree from an out-of-state nursing school must send official transcripts from the school’s registrar directly to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. Official transcripts must indicate the type of degree or certificate earned, as well as the month, date, and year the program was successfully completed.
- Hold national certification in the specialty
More detailed information about advanced practice nursing, including step-by-step instructions, forms, and details regarding license renewals can be found at the PA State Board of Nursing.
A Look at Pennsylvania’s Nursing Numbers
Pennsylvania ranks in the top 10 states for highest concentration of nurses per capita, with the annual mean wage sitting close to the national average. However, depending on whether or not a nurse works in a rural or urban area, their salary could be much higher or lower than the state’s average. Take a look at the numbers below for an idea of what RNs in Pennsylvania earn and how employment looks for the upcoming decade.
Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Pennsylvania
|Area||Hourly Median Wage||Annual Median Wage|
|Philadelphia PA Metropolitan Division||$35.59||$74,030|
|Northeastern Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area||$30.95||$64,380|
|East Central Pennsylvania nonmetropolitan area||$30.75||$63,960|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Pennsylvania vs. National Numbers
|Year||Annual salary(25th percentile)||Annual salary(median)||Annual salary(75th percentile)||Annual salary(25th percentile)||Annual salary(median)||Annual salary(75th percentile)|
|Certified Nurse Midwife||$71,390||$87,280||$98,250||$0||$82,580||$96,970||$114,090|
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
TOTAL EMPLOYMENT (2014)
|Certified Nurse Midwife||150||5,110|
2022 OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK
|Certified Nurse Midwife||0||7,700|
AVG. ANNUAL OPENINGS (2012 – 2022)
|Certified Nurse Midwife||0||290|
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central
Resources & Associations for Pennsylvania Nurses
Founded in 2009, this union and professional association of registered nurses promotes effective bargaining representation and expands the voice of direct care RNs in public policy.
This professional organization for nursing administrators in Pennsylvania promotes collaboration among practical nursing administrators, educators and organizations concerned with the delivery of health care.
PASNP is a professional organization of school nurses in Pennsylvania, which aims to provide continuing education, improve political awareness, and promote school nursing.
The Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners is a state-level organization that promotes the interests and careers of certified registered nurse practitioners. It has 18 regional offices across the commonwealth.
The PSNA is a professional organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that advocates for nurses on the state level, backs nursing and health care legislative reform, and provides networking and continuing education opportunities for nurses in the state.
The Board’s mission is to protect the health and safety of Pennsylvania residents by regulating the practice and licensure/certification process of registered nurses, practical nurses, certified registered nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, dietician-nutritionists, and graduate nurses. Current and aspiring nurses can find information on licenses and certifications and other important notices and updates relevant to the field.