The U.S. healthcare industry continues to expand at an unprecedented rate, comprising a considerable portion of the national economy. A reimagined approach to preventive care has driven much of this growth, along with an aging baby boomer population and increasing chronic illness rates. Nursing professionals are the bedrock of this burgeoning industry, and there has never been a better time to join the profession. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for registered nurses are projected to grow by 15% through 2026, more than double the national average.
The nursing profession offers more than just job security. Nursing salaries can be quite lucrative, particularly if you're considering a career in Hawai'i. The BLS projects nursing jobs in Hawai'i will grow by 13% through 2026. Though that projected job growth is slightly below the national rate, it is offset by significantly higher salaries. In 2016, the median salary of all registered nurses in the country was $68,450; in Hawai'i, however, the median salary was much higher, at $91,020. With job security, career mobility, and excellent compensation, attending a nursing school in Hawai'i is a solid investment.
How to Become a Nurse in Hawai'i
Hawai'i nursing school graduates generally follow the same path to licensure as their peers in other states. When it comes to licensing, every state's Board of Nursing establishes logistical details like application fees and procedural steps. If you're considering nursing school in Hawai'i, here's what to expect.
1. Choosing the Right Path for You
Entry-level nurses must hold at least a two-year degree in order to qualify for RN licensure. Students can earn this degree at one of the on-campus or online RN programs in Hawai'i. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) have recommended all RNs have a four-year bachelor's degree. To that end, many working RNs are returning to school to complete online RN-to-BSN programs in Hawai'i. Most new nursing students now opt for a four-year BSN program. If your career goals extend to advanced practice nursing or teaching, you can continue your studies at the postgraduate level with an MSN or doctoral program.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
As you evaluate nursing schools in Hawai'i, ask yourself how each program can help you achieve your career goals. A typical nursing program can be completed remotely, and aspiring nurses often take advantage of the flexibility an online nursing degree offers. Carefully consider whether online study meets your needs. All nursing programs in Hawai'i carry prerequisite requirements. Assess program logistics like the length of classes, part-time availability, and the time it takes to graduate. Pay attention to clinical experience and internship requirements, and make sure you're able to meet them.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Though standalone exam prep tools are on the market, nursing schools in Hawai'i design their curricula to prepare graduates for the NCLEX-RN licensing examination. Shortly before graduation, students must apply for professional licensing in the state of Hawai'i. This application requires a $40 fee. After the application is approved, students must apply for NCLEX-RN exam registration, a $200 fee. Successful applicants can then complete the NCLEX-RN exam. Successful licensure qualifies RNs for employment in the state of Hawai'i but does not guarantee a job.
Nursing Licensure in Hawai'i
After completing an ADN or BSN from an accredited nursing college in Hawai'i, you're three steps away from licensure. First, you must apply for professional licensing through the Hawai'i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Hawai'i Board of Nursing (BON) reviews your application and verifies you've met educational requirements to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. When the BON approves your candidacy, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT). With the ATT in hand, you may select a test site and date. Due to occasional space limitations, it's wise to commit to a test date well before the ATT's two-year testing window ends.
Two business days after the exam, you may access your test results online. The Hawai'i Board of Nursing will mail your formal results in about six weeks. If you do not pass, you may retake the exam by contacting the BON and resubmitting an application. It is important to note Hawai'i is not part of the original Nurse Licensure Compact that allows RNs to hold multi-state licensure. Graduates of ADN and BSN programs in Hawai'i are granted RN licensure in Hawai'i only. RNs who hold Hawai'i licensure may apply for licensure in other states according to National Council of State Boards of Nursing rules.
State Requirements By Nursing Type
There are two routes to becoming a nurse aide in Hawai'i. The first is to complete a state-approved training program, and then pass an examination administered by Prometric, a third-party company which offers nurse aide training in several states. The other route is to already hold a nurse aide certification in another state and file an application. The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA), the section of the state government which oversees all licensing, will determine if your existing certification is enough or if you need to take the exam.
Training programs are offered by many healthcare facilities, clinics, and other groups in Hawai'i. Once training is complete, you can find study plans and practice exams online; however, the exam has practical elements that must be completed in-person. Exam fees range from $150 to $210, depending on which segments are being completed. There are fees for rescheduling exams.
This certification is good for 24 months, and you will receive a notification to renew nine days before your certification expires. As long as you have worked at least eight hours for pay as a nurse aide during that time, and have not done anything to disqualify yourself for certification, you will be recertified for another 24 months. Find more information about the process and keep up-to-date with requirements and other issues through the DCCA website.
Registered or Practicing Nurse
The application for either RN or PN in Hawai'i requires a criminal background check, official transcripts from the school where you earned your nursing degree, and a letter from that school verifying you successfully completed the program. Both the transcripts and the letter must be sent directly by your school; you cannot sit for your exam until that information has arrived. An application fee of $40 must also be included, though license fees themselves are separate.
If you are applying in Hawai'i without having been licensed anywhere else first, you will then have to sit for the NCLEX exam. If you have already taken the exam in another state, you may apply for Hawai'i licensure without examination. While the RN and PN follow the same model for applications and requirements, they are separate licenses. If you wish to earn both you must file for them separately. Completing an RN program doesn't mean you are qualified for a PN license; you must qualify for both if that is your goal.
Licenses expire on June 30 of every odd-numbered year, and renewal reminders are sent out 60 days prior. You are responsible for ensuring the renewal process is followed. If you miss the cut-off and let your license lapse, you may not practice until you rectify the situation. You can learn more about the process and requirements online at the DCCA website.
Advanced Registered Practicing Nurse
In order to be licensed as an advanced registered practicing nurse (APRN) in Hawai'i, you must already hold an RN license. You must be licensed in Hawai'i, but if you hold licenses in other states you must show proof of those as well. You must also have completed a graduate level program in nursing and submit your transcripts and your current nursing specialty certification to the DCCA. Once licensed, you can add specializations by providing this same information. You will also be subject to a criminal background check. There is no exam required for this license, qualification is determined by additional educational requirements of graduate level study.
Renewal of APRN licensure follows the same model as that for RN or PN. Because of the scheduling for renewal, the application fee for this license depends on when you file it. Between July 1 of an odd-numbered year but before June 30 of an even-numbered year, the fee is $194. Between July 1 of an even-numbered year and June 30 of an odd-numbered year, it is only $126. In addition to renewing your APRN license, you must also renew your RN license, and the former is not considered complete without the latter. Letting either license lapse means you cannot practice until it is rectified. You can find more information about requirements and other information online at the DCCA website.
Advanced Practicing Registered Nurse Prescriptive Authority
If you hold both an APRN and an RN in Hawai'i, you can apply for a special privilege on your APRN called prescriptive authority. Hawai'i has no reciprocity agreements with other states for this privilege, so you must already be licensed in the state. You are expected to submit proof of any licensure you hold in other states. You must provide transcripts showing graduate-level study of clinical nursing or nursing science, sent directly from your school, as well as any specializations you hold. You must also have a certificate of nursing practice specialty and graduate education in pharmacology. Course descriptions must also be included. As with the other nurse licenses, this application requires a criminal background check. Any information which was submitted for APRN more than 12 months before applying for prescriptive authority must be re-sent.
As with the APRN, there is no exam associated with this privilege; however, there is the additional educational requirement of pharmacology and advanced pharmacotherapeutics training. Proof of this competency must be sent by your school or continuing education provider. You will be required to indicate what subjects you have studied and to what extent, which will be backed up by submitted records.
Once the prescriptive authority privilege has been added to your APRN, it is renewed alongside your APRN licensure, which requires you to renew your RN license as well. The fee to renew an APRN is $36. The cost of the RN renewal is $176.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Hawai'i
As the data below illustrates, a somewhat small number of RNs live in Hawai'i compared to most other states. However, the BLS projects RN jobs across the state will grow by 13% through 2026.
RNs in Hawai'i are most often employed in hospitals and often specialize in acute care delivery; 70% of nurses hold a bachelor's degree. Over the last 10 years, APRN jobs have grown by 10%, especially in roles that serve largely rural populations of the state.
Employment Data For Nurse Aides in Hawai'i
As of 2017, there were 5,080 nurse aides working in Hawai'i, most work in populated areas, with 3,780 working in the urban Honolulu area alone. Employment of nurse aides in Hawai'i is proportional to the population. There were 8.21 NAs per 1,000 people in urban Honolulu, while the rest of the state ranges from 6.24 to 8.26 NAs per 1,000 people. While this means nurse aides are distributed relatively evenly around the state, the population centers have the most jobs. Those jobs might be in hospitals, clinics, or private medical offices, but many are in assisted living facilities, which are a common employer of nurse aides.
The mean salary for nurse aides was $33,440 per year in 2017, as compared to the national mean of $28,540. The lowest earning NAs were paid less than $25,540, while the highest paid earned more than $43,810 per year. This compares favorably to the national average of less than $20,680 and more than $38,630.
Employment Data For Registered or Practicing Nurses in Hawai'i
Employment of registered nurses in Hawai'i is distributed throughout the state, while the areas with greater populations have more RNs and more available positions. As with nurse aides, RNs are concentrated in the urban Honolulu area, where 8,480 of the state's 10,400 RNs work. While the state averages 17.07 RNs per 1,000 people, this area has 18.42. RNs typically work in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities.
RNs in Hawai'i who earn the lowest wages make less than $63,360 per year, while those with the highest wages make more than $126,600. Compared to the national averages of less than $48,690 and more than $104,100. The mean wage for an RN in Hawai'i is $96,990, higher than the national mean of $73,550.
This data makes Hawai'i an excellent state for nurses. However, while the pay is higher than average, Hawai'i is also a relatively expensive state to live in, so wages may be comparable when cost of living is factored in.
Employment Data For Advanced Practice Registered Nurses in Hawai'i
APRNs in Hawai'i had a mean wage of $122,580 in 2017, significantly higher than the national mean of $107,480. Those with the lowest wages were earning less than $90,680 per year, while those with the highest made over $158,560. The national numbers for these positions were less than $74,840 per year and $145,630 per year, respectively. These wages are higher in part because of the amount of education these nurses have, but also due to the higher cost of living in Hawai'i, and because there are so few APRNs to fill these positions in the state.
Advanced practice registered nurses, especially those with the prescriptive authority privilege, can most often be found working in hospitals and clinics. Hawai'i only has .65 APRNs per 1,000 people, with a total of only 410 APRNs working in the state in 2017. Not surprisingly, 340 of those APRNs work in the urban Honolulu area. Since there are fewer APRNs than other nurses, they tend to be most concentrated in the more populated parts of the state, but they may also find themselves in smaller clinics or rural areas shouldering much of the work that doctors do.
Biggest Hospitals in Hawai'i
Large medical facilities can offer the best selection of entry-level nursing jobs in any community. Bigger and better-funded entities are able to support more areas of specialty care and are more likely to partner with nursing schools in Hawai'i to offer clinicals and fellowships. Across the Hawai'ian islands, 18 hospitals offer employment opportunities to recent graduates from online nursing degree programs.
- Hilo Medical Center: Located on Hawai'i's Big Island, this hospital delivers a full complement of care on its 20-acre campus. The 275-bed facility includes a Level III Trauma Center emergency room, a behavioral health unit, and a long-term care facility. Hilo employs about 1,000 medical professionals across 33 specialties. Outside of its main campus, it operates nine outpatient clinics.
- The Queen's Medical Center: Located in Honolulu, this is the largest hospital in the state. It houses 28 subacute care beds and 505 acute care beds. Queen's is a private nonprofit hospital that employs more than 3,000 professional staff members. The hospital has a Level I Trauma Center emergency room, 24-hour emergency psychiatric care, and a child and adolescent psychiatric in-patient treatment center.
Additional Nursing Resources in Hawai'i
- Hawai'i Board of Nursing: Your first stop for procedural information on the nursing profession in Hawai'i, this site offers information on NCLEX-RN testing, licensure verification, and complaint and disciplinary actions. Professional resources include information on substance abuse (including an opioid toolkit), access to the practice errors and risk factors database, scope of practice guidelines, and legislative and policy updates.
- Hawai'i State Center for Nursing: Established by the Hawai'i state legislature to promote a diverse workforce and advance the profession of nursing, the center conducts research and analyzes data relevant to professional nurses in Hawai'i. The site regularly publishes its results in actionable infographics. The center offers a nurse residency program, professional development workshops, and continuing education materials.
- Hawai'i Student Nurses Association: The Hawai'i chapter of the National Student Nurses Association offers extensive member benefits including networking events, scholarship opportunities, leadership development programs, and NCLEX-RN prep for students about to finish their online nursing degrees. Members also receive discounts from local vendors on uniforms, school supplies, and travel expenses.
- Hawai'i Nurses Association: Originally affiliated with the ANA and now a local branch of the Office and Professional Employees International Union, HNA offers its members union benefits, assistance with contractual negotiations or management disputes, scholarship funds, and networking events.
- Asian American Pacific Islander Nurses Association: Dedicated to the professional support of these nursing professionals, AAPINA offers member benefits like networking and mentorship opportunities, research grants, scholarships, an annual conference, and access to its scholarly publications.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Hawai'i
The following database includes all accredited ADN , BSN, RN-to-BSN , MSN , and DNP online nursing schools in Hawai'i. Each online nursing degree varies in regards to its format, course offerings, specializations, and professional opportunities. This database will help you find a program that fits your unique career goals.