The demand for registered nurses is higher than ever before, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of registered nurses to grow 15% by 2026 -- a growth rate significantly higher than the national average across careers. Factors such as an aging U.S. population, increasing rates of chronic diseases, and a dynamic healthcare sector drives demand for highly trained, innovative healthcare professionals.
The median salary for registered nurses is more than $63,000 per year per year. Specialized nurses working as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, or nurse practitioners can earn over $140,000 annually per year. Earning an online nursing degree is the first step toward a challenging and personally rewarding career.
How to Become a Nurse in Michigan
To become a registered nurse in Michigan, students must complete a BSN or ADN program. Both degree programs require courses in core areas such as microbiology, physiology, anatomy, chemistry, and nutrition. BSN programs also include coursework in communications and leadership, and full-time students generally graduate in four years. Students can complete ADN programs in as little as two years.
Along with completing a degree program, aspiring Michigan nurses must obtain a state-issued nursing license and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).
1. Choosing the Right Path for You
Aspiring nursing professionals must first decide which degree to pursue. ADN and BSN programs both provide pathways to nursing careers, but BSN holders have more opportunities than ADN holders. Nurses who aspire to leadership or administrative positions will need a bachelor's degree. An RN-to-BSN program is ideal for nursing professionals with an ADN who want to advance their career. Other positions, such as college-level teaching positions, may require a master's or doctoral degree.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Many ADN and BSN programs in Michigan are available online. However, even online nursing programs require in-person clinical rotations. After completing online RN programs in Michigan, students are eligible to take the NCLEX, a requirement for all nurses. After passing the exam and receiving their license, professionals may secure employment. Licensed nurses with BSN degrees are positioned to pursue specialized positions that offer advanced leadership opportunities and better pay.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
The NCLEX-RN is developed and administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. The test is a professional gateway and determines whether nursing school graduates are prepared to work in hospitals and clinical settings. Candidates have six hours to complete the exam. Most accredited nursing programs prepare students for the exam, but candidates are encouraged to become familiar with the test format. Given the demand for nurses in Michigan, nurses who pass the exam have plenty of employment opportunities.
Nursing Licensure in Michigan
The process to become a licensed nurse in Michigan is similar to that in other states. Nursing candidates must first earn a degree from an accredited and state-approved nursing program. Either a BSN or an ADN degree is sufficient, but BSN holders have more professional opportunities.
Graduates of Michigan nursing schools may then take the NCLEX-RN to prove their readiness to work safely as registered nurses. Aspiring nurses in Michigan should contact the Michigan Board of Nursing for more information about nursing education, licensure, and professional opportunities in the state.
State Requirements By Nursing Type
Aspiring registered nurses (RN) can earn their credentials by completing mandatory coursework through an accredited program. Students who wish to begin working may consider earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN), which prepares students for entry-level positions and requires just two years of full-time study. Many students begin working immediately while earning their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), which increases earning potential and job opportunities. Students with an ADN can earn their BSN in an additional two years, while students who directly enter BSN programs need four years to complete their programs.
While programs vary in both admission requirements and cost, students should anticipate submitting SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and essays as indicated on the application. GPA requirements often depend on the quality of a program or the level of competition for a limited number of spots in a program. Most schools demand students have a GPA between 2.0 and 3.5.
Michigan offers different types of nursing licenses. Professionals who wish to earn a Michigan RN license must prove they have successfully completed a nursing program in the U.S. or hold a certification from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). Additionally, students must complete a criminal background check and apply for the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) exam. The NCLEX-RN application process requires students to obtain an Authorization to Test from the board of nursing regulatory body (BON/RB) and pay the $200 exam fee. The NCLEX-RN uses the computerized adaptive testing (CAT) method. Students answer 75 questions at minimum.
To become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in Michigan, students must complete required coursework including medical terminology, roles of healthcare professionals, patient care, and an extended care facility clinical. After that, students can apply online with Prometric to determine eligibility and complete the mandatory exam. The initial exam costs $125. The exam requires just over two hours to complete. Test-takers complete the written portion of the exam digitally. The number of questions varies by which test a student receives and some questions may not count toward the final score. The Prometric exam also contains a clinical portion, which includes five of the 22 pertinent skills a CNA must know. Proctors inform students at the time of the exam which skills they must perform. Testers should receive their certificate two to three weeks after the exam.
Professionals must renew Prometric certifications every two years. To renew a CNA, professionals must provide proof of employment and pay the renewal fee. Out-of-state CNAs from approved states should contact the state of Michigan to obtain reciprocity, which may require additional coursework. Qualified applicants must have at least 75 hours of experience prior to completing the competency evaluation exam.
Approved states in Michigan include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), professionals must show proof of graduation from an approved program or hold a CGFNS evaluation report. Qualified programs cover pertinent coursework including theories of nursing, pharmacology, and human anatomy. Most programs require 12-18 months to complete. While many programs offer coursework online, LPN training also includes supervised clinical experiences. After meeting educational requirements, aspiring LPNs must apply for the NCLEX-PN. Applicants obtain an Authorization to Test from the BON/RB, pay the $200 exam fee, and register with Pearson VUE. To ensure approval at the time of testing, applicants should consider completing this process early. Applicants must take the exam within 90 days of approval.
The NCLEX-PN utilizes the CAT system, which allots a percentage of the total test items to students based on ability. All testers must answer at least 85 questions. However, some students may answer up to 205 within the five-hour test period. Once applicants receive a passing score, they must apply to the Michigan Board of Nursing, which costs $54. LPNs must renew their license every two years, which costs $126. For renewal, professionals must earn 25 continuing education credits. Professionals returning to the field with a license that has lapsed for more than three years do not qualify for the renewal process and must apply for relicensure. This includes retaking the NCLEX exam and completing a background check.
In general, professionals considering a career as a nurse practitioner (NP) must hold an advanced degree to qualify for licensure, which includes clinical hours in addition to pertinent coursework. In the state of Michigan, aspiring NPs must also hold a current Michigan RN license. Therefore, out-of-state professionals should check to see if their state meets the reciprocity standards for Michigan as they may need to complete additional clinical experiences.
Additionally, candidates must hold a national certification from a vetted certifying organization as these organizations maintain their own exam expectations. Professionals can determine the appropriate organization by specialty. Therefore, nurse practitioners may want to consider the standards provided by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), or the National Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Nurses. Fees vary by specialty and organization. For instance, the ANCC offers four nurse practitioner certifications that range from $290-$395 depending on membership status. The exam includes 200 questions. Credentials remain valid for five years, and the renewal process requires 75 continuing education hours.
Candidates who meet the above requirements may apply for the Michigan advanced practice registered nurse specialty certification. Michigan does not administer temporary permits. Michigan also requires NPs to pass a criminal background check. Licenses remain valid for two years. NPs who allow their licenses to remain inactive for more than three years do not qualify for renewal. Instead, they need to meet the relicensure requirements.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Michigan
Because of the high demand for healthcare professionals, registered nurses in Michigan have many professional opportunities. While 61% of U.S. nurses work for hospitals and health systems, others find employment in ambulatory healthcare settings, residential care facilities, government, or higher education. Salaries for RNs vary by position; depending on education level, registered nurses may work as licensed practical nurses or highly specialized nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners.
Employment Data For RNs in Michigan
The demand for RNs continues to grow. Data provided by BLS indicates the RN job outlook will increase by 15% nationwide. BLS data reveals most RNs work in hospitals. By industry, RNs work in general medical and surgical hospital environments.
On average, RNs in Michigan currently earn, on average, $69,120 each year. Job applicants should identify which settings or industries align with their career goals to determine the best places to apply for jobs in Michigan. However, with nearly 1.7 million RNs employed at hospitals, Michigan RNs may want to consider magnet hospitals, hospitals with the highest credentials. Highly rated hospitals include the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Bronson Battle Creek Hospital in Battle Creek, Beaumont Hospital in Troy, MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland, and Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Employment Data For CNAs in Michigan
On average, CNAs in Michigan earn about $29,900 annually. According to BLS, the demand for CNAs should increase faster than the national average, growing 11% through 2026. With a growing elderly population, the need for CNAs should continue to increase. Some of the top-paying industries include the federal executive branch, facilities support services, and scientific research and development services.
While professionals should consider earning potential, identifying which industries offer the most employment opportunities can help with job search efforts. According to BLS data, nursing care facilities, general medical and surgical hospitals, continuing care retirement communities or assisted living facilities, home health care services, and employment services provide the highest levels of employment for CNAs.
By county, BLS data reveals that Grand Rapids, Warren, Troy, Farmington Hills, and Detroit have the highest concentrations of CNA employment. The next highest tier includes Saginaw, Lansing, and Kalamazoo. These areas also account for some of the highest annual mean wages in Michigan.
Employment Data For NPs in Michigan
A demand in healthcare services, primary care, and preventative care advocates has led to a significant increase in the demand for NPs. In fact, this field should experience a 31% increase in jobs through 2026. Currently, NPs earn $110,930 on average. However, professionals should consider industry data to gain a clearer perspective on their earning potential. The highest-paying industries for NPs include hospitals, outpatient care centers, and physicians' offices. Job applicants may want to consider which industries provide the most opportunities for employment: Currently, NPs can find ample opportunities for employment in physicians' offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers, offices of other health practitioners, and academic institutions.
Biggest Hospitals in Michigan
Michigan is home to large hospital and healthcare systems, providing ample opportunities for nursing professionals. While the largest hospitals are located near the Detroit metropolitan area, employment opportunities are also available in smaller cities. For example, the college town of Ann Arbor houses the massive University of Michigan Medical Center.
- The University of Michigan Medical Center: Founded in 1848, the University of Michigan Medical Center is the main campus for the multifaceted university health system, which employs more than 30,000 professionals statewide.
- Beaumont Hospital: Opened in 1955, Beaumont Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in the state. As the central hub of the Beaumont health system, the main location in Royal Oak features a cancer center, an emergency center, and a children's hospital. It is also a major teaching facility.
Additional Nursing Resources in Michigan
- Michigan Center for Nursing: A project of the Michigan Health Council, the Michigan Center for Nursing offers programs to support aspiring nursing leaders, promotes research, and provides data relevant to the field.
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services: This state agency oversees all healthcare initiatives in Michigan and supports the state's nursing professionals. The agency conducts studies and addresses pressing health issues.
- Michigan Nurses Association: The Michigan Nurses Association is the state's largest union for registered nurses. The association advocates for the state's nurses, pushing for improved pay, benefits, and working conditions.
- Michigan State Board of Nursing: This board regulates and issues all nursing license in the state, establishes qualifications for licensure and nurse education programs, and develops programs to help maintain high levels of care.
- American Nurses Association-Michigan: In 2011, the Registered Nurses Association of Michigan became the final state nurses association to formally affiliate with the ANA. The state chapter works to advance the nursing profession and support Michigan nursing professionals.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Michigan
The database below details all accredited online nursing programs in Michigan. Depending on their background and career goals, students may pursue an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN), a master's of science in nursing (MSN), or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). Current registered nurses may complete an RN-to-BSN program.