According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average base pay for registered nurses is $70,000 per year, with a projected 15% job growth by 2026. Nurse practitioners regularly make more than $110,000 per year, with a projected 31% job growth in the same period.
Common job responsibilities include administering medicines and treatment, recording patient observations, and performing diagnostic tests. Nurses can specialize in a particular field, such as emergency or urgent care, cardiovascular services, stroke care, or pediatrics. Aspiring nurses can explore ADN, BSN, MSN, DNP, and RN programs in Indiana.
How to Become a Nurse in Indiana
All nursing students complete similar steps to obtain licensure to practice in Indiana. However, specific procedures and costs depend on the type of nurse the candidate aspires to become. Registered nurses undergo a different process than certified nursing assistants. Nursing schools in Indiana prepare students to earn the credentials necessary to practice in the state.
1. Choose the Right Path for You
To practice nursing in the state, professionals need at least an associate degree from one of the accredited nursing schools in Indiana or an out-of-state school that meets the same standards. An associate degree prepares students to become CNAs, LPNs, or RNs. To teach nursing at the college level or become a nurse practitioner, students need a master's in nursing or a DNP. Online RN-to-BSN programs in Indiana are ideal for practicing RNs pursuing a bachelor's degree.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Many online BSN programs in Indiana have no on-campus requirements. However, students may need to complete an internship, fellowship, or clinical experience. Prospective students should consider the length of various online RN programs in Indiana. Students can often earn an accelerated online nursing degree in just one year.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
To practice in the state, nursing graduates must obtain licensure. Candidates for licensure must pass the NCLEX, a standardized exam that tests skills and knowledge necessary for entry-level nursing positions. The exam costs $200 and takes 4-5 hours to complete. Most candidates begin studying about two months in advance.
All nursing schools in Indiana prepare students to take the NCLEX. While licensure does not guarantee a position in the field, nurses are in high demand in Indiana.
Nursing Licensure in Indiana
Candidates for licensure in Indiana must hold a bachelor's in nursing from one of the accredited nursing schools in Indiana or another state. Students apply for licensure with the Indiana State Board of Nursing near the end of their program.
Before registering to take the NCLEX, candidates must complete an application, submit a $50 filing fee, and undergo a background check. Individuals who pass the exam can qualify for entry-level nursing positions. The exam focuses on four core areas of nursing practice: safe and effective care management, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.
Nurses who seek employment in other states do not have to retake the NCLEX exam. Nurses moving states must prove they hold a traditional or online nursing degree and Indiana licensure.
State Requirements by Nursing Type
The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency and its nursing board accredit associate and bachelor's nursing programs. First-time RN candidates should complete an approved Indiana program or an out-of-state equivalent. Graduates of these programs can apply to take the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Candidates should mail the state application with a professional photo and a check for $50. Candidates who have previously held a health-related license or certification from any state must verify their credentials. Candidates who attended school outside Indiana may need to provide official transcripts.
Candidates register with the testing company on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website, which costs $200. If both applications pass, the state board sends an authorization to test, and the candidate can schedule an exam. The NCLEX-RN uses computerized adaptive testing; the test ends when the software calculates a 95% probability the tester will pass or fail.
On October 31 of every odd-numbered year, RN licenses expire, unless the nurse applies for renewal. Nurses can renew their license online if their credentials are up-to-date or have been expired for 18 or fewer months. One-time renewals cost $50. Nurses do not have to complete continuing education.
RNs with active licenses in other states can apply for licensure by endorsement. This process requires an application, proof of a valid out-of-state license, a $50 fee, and a criminal background check.
Aspiring certified nursing assistants (CNA) must apply to be on the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) registry. First, candidates should complete a CNA program from the ISDH directory of approved schools or an accredited institution that meets the requirements. Since all eligible degree plans must include 75 clinical hours and 30 hours of classroom instruction, learners spend most of their time completing in-person components.
Students who complete ineligible programs must complete additional requirements before taking the CNA exam. Out-of-state candidates can transfer existing licenses to Indiana, but they must take the written portion of the CNA exam, and their education must meet the state's requirements. Ivy Tech Community College administers all of the tests.
Graduates of approved programs take both the written and skills portions of the exam. Candidates first apply through Ivy Tech and wait up to two weeks for the staff to process the forms. Once a student earns approval, the college guarantees an available testing date within 30 days. The fee for both sections is $75. Candidates who pass both sections receive their CNA license.
The license expires in two years. To renew their license, candidates must prove that they worked at least eight hours in the field during the previous two years. They must have completed 12 hours of in-service training during that time and must submit a completed renewal form.
First-time LPN candidates in Indiana must complete a nursing program at an accredited school. After graduation, candidates must complete an application and submit a $50 fee and a photograph. Candidates can register for the NCLEX-PN and pay the $200 exam fee through the NCSBN website. Candidates can schedule their test after both organizations approve their applications.
Like the RN test, the NCLEX-PN uses computer adaptive testing to identify testers who perform above or below average. The software adapts the questions test-takers receive as they progress through the exam. Those who answer difficult questions correctly continue to receive challenging questions, while those who struggle receive easier questions. This process continues until the program determines whether the tester has the skills required to pass.
LPN licenses expire on October 31 of even-numbered years. LPNs receive notice approximately 90 days before their licenses expire and can renew their license online in just a few minutes. LPN renewal applicants must submit their current address, updated forms, and a $50 fee. While many states require continuing education for all types of nursing professionals, Indiana has no continuing education requirement for LPNs.
LPNs with active licenses in other states can apply for licensure by endorsement rather than examination. These candidates mail a completed application, a small headshot image, a $50 check to cover processing fees, and proof of an active license. Applicants from most states can verify their license through the NURSYS verification system. However, some must submit a verification of state licensure form.
All advanced practice nurses who have prescriptive power, including NPs, follow the same licensing procedures. Candidates should hold an active RN license from any state and must have completed an accredited NP program. Candidates for NP licensure must submit a $50 application fee, verification of any current or previous healthcare certifications or licenses, and proof of advanced pharmacology training. Candidates should have at least two pharmacology credits completed within five years of applying, 30 contact hours completed during the previous two years, or prescribing rights in another state valid within the previous five years.
Applicants must submit sworn affidavits explaining the circumstances surrounding any negative marks on their applications, including criminal or malpractice charges. Candidates must also submit two-inch square photographs. Once approved, NPs must register for Indiana's INSPECT program. The database, which contains information on all patients who have prescriptions for controlled substances, helps prevent overdoses. Licensed practitioners from other states can practice nursing under their out-of-state RN license and follow the same application process as new NPs.
NPs must renew their license before October 31 of odd-numbered years. Unlike other types of nursing professionals, NPs must complete continuing education hours, unless the renewal deadline is less than a year after their initial licensure. Renewing NPs who have held licensure 1-2 years must have completed 15 contact hours of continuing education, including at least four hours in pharmacology. After the first renewal, NPs need 30 hours of continuing education, including eight in pharmacology.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Indiana
Online Indiana nursing schools prepare graduates for various nursing positions. Registered nurses are the most common type of nursing professional; registered nurses in the state typically hold a degree from an Indiana BSN program. Graduates may also become licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, nurse case managers, and nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners generally work autonomously and see patients independently.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Projections Central projects the number of Indiana RNs to increase nearly 17% by 2026, to more than 75,000 professionals. BLS also projects the total number of nursing assistants to increase 11% by 2026. These numbers demonstrate the growing opportunities for individuals with an online nursing degree in Indiana.
Employment Data for RNs in Indiana
According to BLS, the median salary for nurses in the U.S. is $70,000 annually. The median salary for RNs in Indiana is $62,450 per year. While this figure is lower than the median salary for nurses across the country, salaries for Indiana RNs vary by region. Additionally, Indiana professionals often enjoy lower costs of living than RNs in other states. According to Inside Indiana Business, three of the 25 U.S. cities with the lowest costs of living -- Fort Wayne, Evansville, and South Bend -- are in Indiana.
RNs can earn higher salaries by pursuing careers in certain specialties and industries. BLS reports that RNs in government agencies and hospitals earn salaries above the median. Nurses who work in the pharmaceutical industry and the federal executive branch earn above-average median salaries of $90,510 and $87,030 per year, respectively. The growth rate for nursing attracts many students to the profession. BLS projects employment for RNs to increase 15% by 2026.
Employment Data for CNAs in Indiana
BLS reports that CNAs in Indiana earn an average of $26,070 per year; the national median salary for these professionals is $27,520 per year. The lowest-paid 10% of CNAs in the U.S. earn $20,680 per year, while the highest 10% earn about $38,630. As with other types of nursing, specific salaries depend on each professional's specialty, employer, and location.
Because most CNAs work in skilled nursing facilities, these professionals typically earn salaries of approximately the national average. However, CNAs who work for the federal government or in facilities support services can earn about $10,000 more per year than their peers. CNAs who work for other government agencies or in hospitals also tend to earn above-average salaries.
According to PayScale, CNAs in Indianapolis earn $20,576-$31,992 per year. Salaries for CNAs in South Bend earn slightly less, with salaries ranging between $19,555 and $28,288. CNAs in Crown Point earn $20,940-$36,170. As with many positions in the healthcare industry, BLS projects demand for CNAs to grow, with employment increasing 11% by 2026. Many nursing students secure positions as CNAs while in school.
Employment Data for NPs in Indiana
According to BLS, the average salary for NPs in the United States is $107,480 per year. The average salary for NPs in Indiana is $101,780 per year. Considering that housing and other living costs in Indiana are significantly lower than the national average, Indiana NPs may have higher standards of living than those in other states. According to PayScale, NPs in Indianapolis earn $72,808-$122,360 per year.
According to BLS, NPs in hospitals generally earn the highest salaries; this estimate includes practitioners in public and private hospitals. Outpatient care centers also tend to pay NPs salaries that are higher than average. An NP's specialty can also impact earning potential. For example, PayScale reports that psychiatric NPs earn average annual salaries of $80,683-$149,400. NPs can also become chief executives and part-owners of physician offices. These managers earn an average of $145,300 per year in Indiana, according to BLS.
BLS projects employment for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to increase 36% by 2026, likely due to the lack of healthcare in rural areas and a growing elderly population. The high demand for NPs can help professionals negotiate for high salaries and additional benefits.
Biggest Hospitals in Indiana
Indiana has a strong healthcare sector and numerous large hospitals. Combined with the current demand for certified graduates, this means graduates have plenty of employment opportunities in the state. Hospitals are a great place to find entry-level nursing jobs, in addition to internships and fellowships.
The following are Indiana's two largest hospitals:
- Methodist Hospital : This hospital is among the 10 largest medical centers in the United States. The hospital is known for its critical care department and neuroscience critical care unit. Methodist also has one of the state's largest emergency departments, which attracts graduates of nursing schools in Indiana.
- Saint Vincent Indianapolis : Located in Indianapolis, this hospital employs many graduates of nursing colleges in Indiana. The medical center is nationally recognized in several specialty areas, including critical care, orthopedics, cardiovascular services, gastrointestinal care, stroke care, and pulmonary services. The Peyton Manning Children's Hospital is part of the Saint Vincent campus.
Additional Nursing Resources in Indiana
Indiana State Nurses Association: ISNA provides licensure and professional development opportunities to nurses throughout the state. The organization promotes and protects the profession of nursing. Members receive a weekly email newsletter.
NAPNAP Indiana Chapter: This chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners provides resources and professional development opportunities to nurses who work with children. The chapter offers educational programs and networking opportunities to help PNPs improve the level of care they deliver to children and families throughout Indiana.
Indiana Association of Nursing Students: This organization assists students attending any of the accredited on-campus or online nursing programs in Indiana. IANS hosts an annual state convention that features NCLEX review sessions, nationally recognized speakers, and networking opportunities. The organization also provides resources to help students prepare for licensure exams.
- Indiana League for Nursing: The ILN, part of the National League for Nursing, promotes professional growth and provides educational opportunities for members. The organization facilitates collaboration between healthcare systems and nursing schools in Indiana.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Indiana