Facing the growing needs of an aging population and a steep increase in the number of insured persons, Florida medical centers urgently require qualified nursing professionals. Florida nurses treat and provide emotional support to patients as well as educate the public about health-related topics. The average salary for nurses is $68,450 and rises with years of experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs will grow 15% for registered nurses through 2026, a rate much faster than most other fields in the country. Now is an ideal time to earn your degree through one of the many flexible and accelerated nursing programs in Florida.
As a registered nurse, you’ll be able to work in a variety of healthcare settings, including schools, nursing homes, military facilities, physicians’ offices, and hospitals. Job openings are plentiful for qualified candidates with traditional or online nursing degrees. The American Nurses Association cites Florida as one of the states that will constitute half of the overall growth in the field. Employers in the state are on the lookout for skilled professionals with a strong academic background and adequate hands-on experience.
The Florida Center for Nursing reports state hospitals overwhelmingly prefer to hire those with a BSN degree. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate or a working professional, nursing schools in Florida provide the education you need to successfully join this rapidly expanding field.
How to Become a Nurse in Florida
In order to become a registered nurse, you must obtain at least an associate degree through one of the on-campus or online RN programs in Florida, or earn an equivalent diploma through hospital training. Because the profession is highly regulated in the U.S., all nurses go through, more or less, the same curriculum and follow the same steps toward accreditation. However, there are slight differences in licensing procedures and cost in each individual state.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
There are several roads you can take to becoming a registered nurse, but it’s important to pick the one that best matches your long-term goals. Some start as hospital aides and work their way up to RN through an internal diploma program, though this option is rare since industry standards demand at least a bachelor’s degree. Those who wish to become a registered nurse often pursue an associate degree from one of the nursing schools in Florida. This is a great option for those who want to start work quickly, but employment options are much more limited. Entering one of the online RN to BSN programs in Florida will improve your employment prospects. Online BSN programs in Florida enable students to take on more advanced roles, such as nurse administrator or community health specialist. Online MSN programs in Florida prepare you for careers in advanced nursing, research, consulting, and teaching.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
Distance education through one of the nursing schools in Florida is an affordable and flexible way to earn your degree. Students who want to enter an associate or bachelor’s program will need a high school diploma and adequate ACT/SAT scores; they must also fulfill basic science prerequisites. Because successful nurses need a lot of practice, most programs require hands-on experience through fellowships and internships, and all require clinical training. Diploma and associate degree programs take one to three years to complete; bachelor’s usually require four; master’s take an additional two, though there are options to accelerate this process; and doctorate degrees vary based on the length of a student’s research project.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
In order to be qualified for entry-level nursing practice, you must pass the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Candidates are required to have an accredited traditional or online nursing degree, which reflects the knowledge and experience needed to successfully complete this integrative exam. The NCLEX-RN costs $200 and examinees have up to six hours to complete it. You should start studying for the NCLEX-RN at least two months prior to the test date. The key is to be consistent with your review; study for a few hours per day and do your best to reduce stress. All RN programs in Florida should teach you the knowledge necessary to pass the test. Upon earning the license, you’ll find many opportunities for work. And while there’s no guarantee that you’ll land a job immediately, by preparing your search in advance and obtaining additional specialty certifications, you’ll have plenty of opportunities.
Nursing Licensure in Florida
The National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the single required test professionals must pass in order to legally practice in the United States. To qualify, candidates must hold an accredited on-campus or online nursing degree. Test-takers have up to six hours to answer the questions, most of which are multiple-choice, though there are other types like fill-in-the-blank and drag-and-drop. Since the test is computerized, it adapts to your ability. The more questions you get right, the more difficult the test becomes, and vice versa. The test then calculates your ability based on number of questions you got right and how difficult they were. There are optional breaks after 2.5 and 3.5 hours. Nursing schools in Florida understand that their curricula needs to align with the exam material, which consists of four major and eight sub categories. Many programs even provide additional tutoring and resources to help their students succeed.
Though the NCLEX-RN is standardized across the country, registered nurses are only allowed to practice in the state in which they passed the exam. Those who move elsewhere must go through the process of having their credentials validated in their new state. For detailed information on licensing procedure and requirements as well as professional resources, visit the Florida Board of Nursing.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Florida
Application Fee $110
Specialist Certification $75
Career Outlook for Nurses in Florida
Florida will benefit from the projected 15% increase of nursing jobs nationwide, particularly since the state has a large number of hospitals, which constitute the largest employers in the field. Many nursing schools in Florida cultivate partnerships with hospitals in their areas as sites for clinical practice and internships, providing online nursing degree students with opportunities to make connections that will help them get jobs upon graduation.
As shown in the table below, wages for nurses in Florida lag slightly behind national averages, but the cost of living in the state is relatively low. The demand for BSN programs in Florida is rising alongside employment prospects. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida has one of the highest employment levels for nurses in the nation, and the number is expected to grow. Nursing schools in Florida offer specializations that are in-demand, including pediatric care, adult critical care, and — due to the many nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the state — gerontology.
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Biggest Hospitals in Florida
Upon finishing nursing school online, graduates will find career opportunities at one or more of the state’s medical facilities. Some of the largest and most renowned hospitals in the U.S. are located in the Sunshine State, including a branch of the Mayo Clinic, which is highly ranked for the quality of its medical treatment and the breadth of its specialized care. With such a large number of hospitals and care centers in the state, nurses have greater professional options to choose from, whether they’re just entering the field or experienced professionals pursuing career advancement.
- Jackson Memorial Hospital: With 1,550 registered beds, Jackson Memorial Hospital is the largest healthcare facility in Florida. Founded in 1918, it’s part of a state health network that employs more than 12,000 physicians, nurses, and supporting staff. Jackson Memorial is also an established teaching hospital for the University of Miami’s online nursing degree program, providing students a direct channel to job opportunities.
- Florida Hospital Orlando: As the flagship campus for the Florida Hospital network, the Orlando branch employs approximately 8,400 doctors, nurses, and administrative staff. FHO is a nonprofit healthcare organization that provides acute care and nationally recognized adult specialty treatments. The hospital has 1,398 registered beds, and, as part of the Adventist Health System, has connections to medical facilities throughout the Caribbean and South America.
Additional Nursing Resources in Florida
Florida Nurses Association
FNA is a constituent of the American Nurses Association, the largest professional organization for the field in the U.S. In addition to providing information on the various online nursing degree programs available in the nation, the site also contains ample professional development and job search tools. FNA partners with nursing schools in Florida to create opportunities for students in terms of research assistance and internships.
Florida Nursing Students Association
As a member of the National Student Nurses Association, FNSA provides opportunities for nursing students to connect and share information and resources with their peers nationwide. This includes the chance to collaborate on research and projects as well as participate in conventions sponsored by FNSA or partner organizations.
Florida Center for Nursing
FCN is a helpful resource for statistical information on the nursing field in the state, including statewide job growth projections and what specific regions offers the best opportunities for registered nurses. The organization also provides details on the various nursing schools in Florida as well as professional development resources and a digital library.
A resource for prospective and experienced nurses across the U.S, this site contains a plethora of information, including the numerous levels of accreditation in the field, career assistance, and a job board. Registered Nurse provides details on individual states, including licensure requirements and programs available through nursing schools in Florida.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Florida
Finding the online nursing degree program that aligns with your professional goals and busy schedule can be challenging. To help you search, the database below details all the nursing colleges in Florida that provide accessible and accredited distance education options, including ADN, BSN, RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP pathways.