Few careers promise as much excitement, gratification, and job stability as nursing. The men and women employed in this field work flexible schedules in a fast-paced environment where each day brings new challenges. Nurses excel in solving problems, working with people, and acquiring new skills in an ever-evolving profession. Maine residents interested in pursuing an active workplace, intellectual stimulation, job security, personal growth, and professional mobility may want to consider a career in nursing.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the field of nursing to grow by 15% by 2026, much faster than the national average for all occupations. By 2026, the BLS expects nearly four million people to work as registered nurses nationwide.
Maine nurses earn an average hourly wage of $30.67 (or $63,800 per year). Nurses can pursue a vast array of specializations. With continued training, they can even establish a career that spans multiple nursing sectors. Graduates of nursing programs in Maine find employment in hospitals, private practices, public service, education, and research.
Nursing schools in Maine offer traditional on-campus programs for individuals seeking a degree in the field. However, many online nursing degree programs also exist for working students.
How to Become a Nurse in Maine
Aspiring nurses in Maine complete the same basic steps to obtain licensure as they would in any other state. They earn their chosen degree, take their NCLEX exams, and await approval from the Maine State Board of Nursing. That said, some requirements in Maine vary from other U.S. states, including licensing costs and procedures. The information below can guide you through the process of becoming a licensed nurse in Maine.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
To become a registered nurse (RN) in Maine, students must possess, at minimum, a diploma or two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN). For additional training and greater professional mobility, nursing program participants can pursue a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).
BSN holders who plan to become nurse practitioners, advanced nurses with a clinical specialty, or nursing educators may later pursue a master's in nursing (MSN). A nurse with an MSN usually enjoys broader employment options and higher income potential.
Nurses interested in pursuing the field's highest leadership positions typically go on to pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or other terminal nursing degree.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
To become an RN without prior nursing background, working students can pursue online ADN degree programs. ADN holders can enroll in online RN-to-BSN programs in Maine. BSN holders seeking advanced credentials can also earn their master's degree through online MSN programs in Maine. Graduates of non-nursing baccalaureate programs might consider accelerated nursing programs in Maine to earn their BSN and/or MSN.
Students can expect to spend one to three years pursuing their online nursing degree. Distance nursing students complete most coursework online but must also fulfill on-site clinical hours. Most students meet these requirements on the job, but students not currently employed in the field may work with program advisors to find a suitable location.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
After graduating from an online nursing program in Maine, candidates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN). The NCLEX-RN exam costs $200 and takes six hours to complete. It covers four main categories: the safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.
Although nursing programs prepare students for the NCLEX-RN, the test can still be quite challenging. Many study resources exist online and in bookstores to help exam takers excel on testing day.
Passing the NCLEX-RN does not guarantee employment. Thus, prospective nurses should make the most of the networking opportunities provided by their degree programs, professional organizations, clinical practicum sites, and volunteer opportunities.
Nursing Licensure in Maine
In order to obtain a nursing license in Maine, qualified applicants must sit for and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. The NCLEX-RN is the U.S. national standard used to assess the readiness of prospective nurses once they have completed a nursing degree program. To apply for a license, the Maine State Board of Nursing requires prospective nurses to pass the NCLEX-RN exam (according to the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing [NCSBN] passing standard) after they have obtained a traditional or online ADN or BSN. One to two years after initial licensure, Maine nurses must renew their licenses every two years.
Due to its participation in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC), the NCSBN designates Maine as a "compact state," meaning nurses who receive licensure in Maine and declare Maine as their primary state of residence can practice their occupation physically, online, or over the phone in 24 additional states. Participation in the eNLC makes travel nursing and internet or telephonic practice especially viable options for Maine nurses. As telephone and online healthcare services become more common, technology will greatly expand the number of employment options for compact state nurses, such as those in Maine.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Maine
NCLEX-RN Application $75
Paper App $10
Online App $0
State Requirements by Nursing Type
In Maine, you can become an RN through examination or endorsement. To receive your license through examination, you must first hold at least a diploma in nursing from a state-approved and accredited program. You can earn a diploma in nursing at many high schools, community colleges, and hospitals throughout the state. Earning an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing also satisfies this requirement for licensure.
Aspiring RNs must then pass the NCLEX-RN. The NCLEX-RN features adaptive questioning, meaning test-takers receive different questions depending on how they responded to earlier prompts. The exam may consist of anywhere from 75 to 265 questions, covering topics like adult surgical care, safety measures to prevent infection, and caring for a newborn infant. Most questions are multiple-choice, though some may require you to put items in proper order or identify specific parts of an image. You can take up to six hours to complete the NCLEX-RN, which costs $200.
After passing the NCLEX-RN, you must pay a $75 application to the state of Maine and submit to a criminal background check. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you may need to submit additional documentation.
Maine's board of nursing also awards licenses via endorsement, or reciprocity. You must hold a license from a state that also requires at least a diploma in nursing and successful completion of the NCLEX-RN. All candidates must use the NURSYS online portal to verify their out-of-state license. This process costs $30, and you must still pay the $75 application fee.
To work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in Maine, you must be listed on the state's CNA registry. In order to register, you must first complete an approved nursing training program, available at community education centers and hospitals throughout the state. Your program must consist of at least 180 hours of training, including 90 hours of classroom theory, 20 hours of clinical laboratory work, and 70 hours of supervised practice in a clinical setting.
After completing this program, you must pass the Maine CNA Competency Test, a two-part exam that requires answers to written questions and a demonstration of skills under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Most approved training programs can also administer the competency test.
As with all types of nursing licenses in Maine, you must submit to a criminal background check. Conviction for a crime committed in a healthcare setting, as well as other serious felonies, may prevent you from working as a CNA in the state.
Maine's licensing board does not charge a fee to be listed on the state registry. You must, however, renew your registration every two years.
If you completed a nursing training program in another state, you must submit documentation showing that you completed a training program of no fewer than 100 hours. You must also complete the CNA Bridge Examination, a knowledge and skill assessment similar to the CNA Competency test. Finally, you must show proof of employment as a CNA for at least 32 hours per week for a minimum of three years. Individuals without three years of professional experience may petition the board for provisional listing on the registry.
The requirements for serving as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Maine closely mirror those for RNs. To receive your license through examination, you must first hold at least a diploma in nursing from an approved and accredited training program. You may instead choose to pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing to meet this requirement.
After finishing your education, you must register for the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Like the NCLEX-RN, the NCLEX-PN also features adaptive questioning, so the nature and length of your exam depends on how you respond to the questions given to you. You may need to answer between 75 and 265 questions, covering topics like common infectious diseases of children, safety precautions for patients with psychiatric issues, and knowledge of a proper diet. In addition to multiple-choice questions, the exam may ask you to fill in a blank or identify the proper order of items in a list. You have a maximum of six hours to complete the test. Registration costs $200.
If you pass the NCLEX-PN, you can formally apply for your license. To do so, you must submit to a criminal background check and pay a $50 fee. You must renew your license every two years, which also costs $50.
If you earned your license as a practical nurse in another state, you can become an LPN in Maine through endorsement. For a $30 fee, you can submit verification of your out-of-state license using the NURSYS online tool. Endorsement candidates must still pay the $50 application fee.
In Maine, nurse practitioners (NPs) must seek a license as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). This category of licensure also applies to nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists, and it allows nursing professionals to treat and diagnose medical conditions without the supervision of a physician.
Before applying for your APRN license, you must first hold a master's degree in nursing from an accredited institution, as well as an RN license. You must then seek out national certification through either the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the National Certification Corporation, or the Pediatric Nurse Certification Board. The exact requirements for certification vary depending on the credentialing body you choose and your area of specialization, but most require you to pass a written exam. These exams usually last about four hours and cost between $300 and $400. Typically, your certification remains valid for roughly five years.
With your certification in hand, you can apply for your APRN license. You must submit to a criminal background check, pay a $100 fee, and provide both academic transcripts and proof of certification. You must also share a letter from a licensed physician or nurse practitioner indicating that he or she plans to provide direct supervision to you for your first two years of professional service.
If you already hold an APRN license from another state, you can apply for a reciprocal license in Maine by verifying your status through the NURSYS online portal. You must still pay the $100 application fee.
In Maine, all APRNs must renew their license every two years. You must complete a minimum of 75 hours of continuing education to qualify for renewal.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Maine
According to the BLS, nursing employment will grow by 15% by 2026. While the average income in Maine in 2016 was $45,300, registered nurses earned a mean salary of $65,890, and nurse practitioners took home an average of $100,100. Nurses in Maine can enjoy careers in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private medical practices, community health centers, hospices, and schools. They specialize in emergency, pediatric, mental health, ICU, and other nursing fields. Continuing education opportunities within the field facilitate professional mobility and enable nurses to transfer their skills to new specializations.
Maine's status as a "compact state" makes it especially appealing to students interested in exploring the nursing field in different regions. Professionals who have been in the field for a few years favor short-term travel nurse positions, and many opportunities exist in the areas of disaster relief and public health or at professional and political advocacy organizations.
Employment Data For RNs in Maine
According to the BLS, slightly more than 14,000 registered nurses worked in Maine in 2017. They earned an annual mean salary of nearly $66,000, close to $20,000 more than the annual mean wage of all other occupations in the state, though about $4,000 less than the national median for registered nurses in that same year.
While the majority of RNs work in public and private hospitals, close to 20% work in ambulatory healthcare settings, meaning they may act as a home health worker or coordinate patient care in a smaller institutional setting.
Nationwide, the BLS projects that employment for registered nurses will grow by 15% through 2026, or the equivalent of approximately 438,000 new jobs across the country. Labor experts attribute this growth to the increasing demand for trained professionals who can provide healthcare to elderly individuals. Despite strong demand, an uptick in the number of new nurses may lead to competition in some parts of the country. Nurses with at least a bachelor's degree should enjoy the best job prospects.
Expect to find the most employment opportunities in the more urban parts of Maine, such as the Portland metropolitan area. The Maine Medical Center, for example, employs more than 8,000 healthcare professionals, the majority of whom work in the greater Portland area. Still, many patients prefer the comfort and convenience of home care, meaning nursing jobs are often available throughout the state.
Employment Data For CNAs in Maine
According to the BLS, just over 9,000 nursing assistants work in Maine, providing basic care for patients in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and their homes. The average CNA in the state earns $27,250, significantly below the state's annual mean wage of $45,300 for all occupations, but closely in line with the national median salary for nursing assistants.
About 40% of all nursing assistants across the country work in nursing care facilities, such as rehabilitation centers or long-term care settings. Another 26% serve in hospitals, while the remainder provide care to elderly individuals in either assisted living communities or as home health workers.
Employment for certified nursing assistants should grow by 11% through 2026, higher than the 7% rate of growth projected for all other occupations. In addition to an aging population, the high turnover of CNAs can explain much of this increased demand, as many nursing assistants seek a higher level of licensure or leave the profession due to the physical and emotional toll of the work. However, reductions in government funding may reduce the availability of these positions even with the greater demand.
Employment Data For NPs in Maine
In 2017, nearly 1,200 nurse practitioners worked in Maine, according to data collected by the BLS. These professionals earned an annual mean wage of $100,100 that year, significantly higher than both the average salary in the state and the national median salary for NPs.
This exceptional compensation reflects the rigorous training NPs must undergo to earn their license, as well as the skyrocketing demand for their services. The BLS projects that employment for nurse practitioners will grow by 31% through 2026, driven by the increasingly primary role NPs now play in providing healthcare services to the public.
About half of advanced practice nurses, a category that includes nurse practitioners as well as nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives, serve in physicians' offices. A still sizable portion of the workforce, or roughly 36%, work in hospitals and health centers, with the remainder providing home care or educational services.
Given they can diagnose and treat medical conditions without the supervision of a licensed doctor, NPs can uniquely fill a need for healthcare in medically underserved areas. This means that they often enjoy strong job prospects in both urban and rural settings.
Biggest Hospitals in Maine
Students interested in entering the field of nursing can benefit from choosing a school in a state with large hospitals. In addition to offering more opportunities in the form of student fellowships and internships, the presence of larger employers also increases the likelihood of finding employment. Hospitals allow new nurses to gain experience at the beginning of their careers, and large medical institutions typically offer extended workplace training to new hires; smaller operations may not be able to provide this opportunity.
- MaineHealth: With 11 member hospitals and four affiliates, MaineHealth is the largest healthcare provider in Maine. The care network employs 18,000 people and serves more than a million patients across 12 Maine and New Hampshire counties. MaineHealth encompasses a cooperative of 1,500 employed and independent physicians, a community-based behavioral and mental healthcare network, and a centralized laboratory.
- Eastern Maine Medical Center: Located in Bangor, EMMC employs around 4,000 people and serves the northern two-thirds of Maine. EMMC serves as a level-II trauma center and part of the Life Flight network. Founded in the late 19th century as a five-bed general hospital, EMMC is now a 411-bed medical center and a major primary care provider for Bangor and the surrounding area.
Additional Nursing Resources in Maine
- ANA-Maine: The American Nurses Association works to advance excellence in nursing by connecting governments, businesses, and healthcare facilities to the profession. The ANA-Maine chapter focuses on improving healthcare quality and access in Maine. It also offers professional development opportunities and peer assistance to nurses in the state.
- Maine Nurse Practitioner Association: The MNPA represents Maine nurse practitioners in the professional and political spheres. Through this association, nurse practitioners can participate in educational lectures, networking events, and employment opportunities.The MNPA also allows nurses to advocate for healthcare quality and access in the state.
- Maine State Nurses Association: The MSNA is Maine's chapter of National Nurses United, a countrywide network of direct care RNs who advocate politically on behalf of their profession. The MSNA focuses on healthcare policy that affects Maine patients and nurses and takes part in industry advocacy on the national level.
- Maine State Board of Nursing: The Maine State Board of Nursing works to protect public health, safety, and welfare in Maine by regulating the nursing field. It oversees the licensure of nurses, nursing practices, and nursing education in the state. Aspiring nurses can find nursing programs in Maine or apply for state licensure, and current nurses can renew their credentials and review state standards.
- Organization of Maine Nursing Executives: The OMNE is a network of Maine nurses who hold, or aspire to hold, professional leadership positions. The OMNE advances Maine healthcare and affects policy creation while upholding high standards for nurses in the state. The organization emphasizes professional mentorship and statewide inclusivity through events such as its annual nursing summit.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Maine
Whether you’re a first-time student, a professional making a career change, or an experienced nurse seeking further training, a school in Maine offers an online nursing degree to fit your needs. The information below details all of the accredited online nursing programs in Maine that award an ADN, BSN, RN to BSN , MSN , or DNP.