Nurses staff the frontlines of the American healthcare system. With increasing lifespans and a rapidly aging population, the demand for nurses has never been more acute. Georgia — and its 10 million residents — have a particular need for new nurses. Home to a number of renowned hospitals, the state offers many new and lucrative opportunities in healthcare. The average annual salary for a registered nurse in Georgia is nearly $65,000, however specialized nurses in the Atlanta metro area can earn as much as $121,000.
Most nursing positions in Georgia require a nursing degree and successful completion of the state’s licensing exam. Depending on your interests and career goals, this can take as little as one year or as many as 11. For example, registered nurses in Georgia must complete at least a two-year associate degree, while a licensed practical nurse can earn a degree within one year. With a wide variety of accredited nursing programs to choose from in Georgia, you can complete an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate nursing degree online, on campus, or as a hybrid of the two. The information below will help you explore all that earning an online degree in nursing in Georgia can provide.
How to Become a Nurse in Georgia
Becoming a nurse in Georgia takes a combination of education and licensure requirements. Nurses must earn a nursing degree before completing licensure exams from the state’s board of nursing. Like other states, Georgia does not allow nursing graduates to work in the field without first obtaining a valid license. The licensing exam costs $200, and Georgia also charges a $40 exam application fee. The information below details the state’s requirements.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
The minimum requirement for a registered nurse in Georgia is an associate degree, while licensed practical nurses must hold an LPN degree. Graduates of these programs may work in a number of positions including registered nurse, school nurse, travel nurse, and more. However, if you’re seeking advanced positions with higher pay and more career options, you should consider advanced degrees such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
Earning a nursing degree at a college or university usually requires students possess a high school diploma or GED, with completed coursework in high school-level English, mathematics, science, and more. They may also require ACT or SAT scores as part of the admission application. Depending on which degree you pursue, your education can last anywhere from two to 11 years. You can earn your associate degree in two years, a bachelor’s in four, a master’s in six, and a doctorate in nine-to-11. Most nursing degrees, even online ones, include on-site clinical training as part of the curriculum.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
After earning your degree, you will have to complete the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN licensing exams before you’re eligible to work as a registered or practical nurse in Georgia. It is recommended that students spend two months studying for the exams in order to be fully prepared. Studies include reviewing written materials and completing practice questions. While your degree program will help teach you what you need to know, independent review is essential for successfully completing the exam. The NCLEX-RN takes six hours to complete while the NLEX-PN takes five hours. Both exams costs $200.
Nursing Licensure in Georgia
While earning a nursing degree represents a necessary first step toward becoming a nurse, you must also complete one of two licensure exams to be eligible to work in the field. Typically, these examinations take place after you graduate from your nursing program. The NCLEX-RN is designed for students who earn an associate degree or higher, while the NCLEX-PN is for students who complete licensed practical nurse (LPN) programs.
Upon graduation, students submit an exam application to the Georgia Board of Nursing and register for exam administration. Only then can you schedule an appointment to sit for the exam.
Because Georgia participates in a nursing licensure compact, earning your license in this state enables you to transfer your license to one of many other states. However, your license will be ineligible in states that do not participate in this compact.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Georgia
Exam Fee $40
Career Outlook for Nurses in Georgia
Georgia employs more nurses than many other states in the country. While there are numerous job opportunities throughout the state, the Atlanta metropolitan area’s size and density offer the greatest number of prospects. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 6.0% rise in nursing employment in Georgia over the next 10 years. It also projected a 2.5% rise in nursing wages.
While the entire nursing field is expected to grow, some specializations will grow faster and offer higher wages. The three most popular nursing specializations in Georgia include anesthetists, nurse practitioner, and nurse midwives. Anesthetists work with surgeons and other doctors to administer anesthesia, and they also help with patients’ recovery by monitoring their vital signs. In Atlanta, anesthetists can earn up to $121,000 per year. Nurse practitioners may work independent of physician supervision to diagnose illnesses, while nurse midwives assist with the delivery of babies.
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Biggest Hospitals in Georgia
Georgia has a number of well-respected hospitals, including Emory University Hospital and Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital. A larger number of health facilities offers more employment opportunities at higher salaries, while also providing quality employment opportunities to recent graduates. Additionally, it makes it easier to find quality internships and practicums during your nursing education.
- Emory University Hospital: This large hospital, located in the Atlanta metro area, is nationally recognized in five adult specialties, four of which are top-ranked. Its 293 physicians and numerous support staff serve nearly 26,000 patients on 548 beds per year.
- Navicent Health Medical Center: While smaller than Emory University Hospital, Navicent serves a large rural area and employs an above average number of nurses. The hospital is known for its quality nursing care, and boasts well-respected ICU and trauma centers.
Patients report high levels of satisfaction with their care.
Additional Nursing Resources in Georgia
Georgia Nurses Association
GNA is Georgia’s largest nursing association. Its goal is to advance the causes of its members and the profession as a whole. The association improves workplace conditions and give patients easier access to better healthcare. It also awards scholarships to nursing students.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
This organization provides nurses with educational resources, materials, and training. It also assists school nurses with difficult cases, such as children with chronic conditions. Finally, it helps school districts review and change their health manuals.
Georgia Nursing Leadership Coalition
GNLC implements recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report. It fosters greater cooperation among nurses and builds strategic partnerships with professionals outside of the nursing profession. Among its many achievements is studying ways to increase participation in Georgia’s nursing doctorate programs.
Georgia Association of Nursing Students
GANS fosters a greater understanding of the nursing student’s future role as a member of the nursing profession. It provides educational programing and works to reform nursing education in Georgia to keep up with the highest standards. Finally, it encourages students to become active members in community affairs that involve healthcare.
Georgia Association for Nursing Education
GANE awards a variety of scholarships to nursing students, and recognizes exceptional nursing faculty in the state of Georgia. Such recognition is accompanied by opportunities to speak publicly at GANE events, such as the annual conference, or receive research grants.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Georgia