Nursing is a challenging and rewarding career for those interested in healthcare. An online nursing degree allows students to earn an education in a flexible learning environment that complements a busy schedule. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the national employment growth rate for registered nurses (RN) to rise at a rate of 15% between 2016 to 2026. Nursing is a lucrative career in Minnesota, where an entry-level RN located in Minneapolis averages an annual income of $50,126 - $75,415. Critical care, labor and delivery, psychiatric, and cardiac monitoring nursing positions earn the highest salaries within the state.
Opportunities to train and work in nationally recognized hospitals like the Mayo Clinic make attending nursing school in Minnesota even more appealing. Nursing students in the state also have the opportunity to work at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and St. Cloud Hospital. All of these hospitals boast excellent nurse staffing and a high nurse-to-patient ratio. Minneapolis-St. Paul (together with nearby Bloomington, Wisconsin) employs 36,540 nurses, making it the ninth-highest employer of nurses in the country. Those interested in pursuing this exciting career should consider an online RN program in Minnesota.
How to Become a Nurse in Minnesota
Nurses in Minnesota follow the same process as their counterparts in other states, but with some differences relating to procedures and licensing costs. The Minnesota Board of Nursing allows nurses to receive their license through either examination or endorsement. New nurses must take an examination after they complete nursing school in Minnesota. Nurses who received their license from bordering states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or Iowa) may practice with their home state’s license if they do not plan to work in a nonhealthcare agency such as a school or correctional facility.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
Choosing the correct nursing program in Minnesota depends on personal career goals and financial resources. Nursing in this state requires at least an LPN certificate to practice, though limited opportunities exist with this title. Most nurses earn either an ADN or BSN before earning their license. There are many online RN-to-BSN programs in Minnesota for those who already hold a nursing license and want to earn a bachelor’s degree. For students wanting an advanced degree in nursing, an on-campus or online MSN program in Minnesota ensures steady career growth and higher pay. The MSN degree also provides a foundation for students who want to become a nurse practitioner (NP). For students looking to teach nursing or reach top leadership positions, the DNP degree helps achieve this goal. A Ph.D. provides another option and focuses more on scholar-based inquiry and research, with a required teaching component.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Online nursing degrees provide an excellent option for working students who need a flexible learning format. Common prerequisites for an online nursing school in Minnesota include anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and statistics. Online BSN programs in Minnesota often take four years to complete, or less if the program is accelerated. Advanced online nursing degrees like an MSN take two to three years to finish. DNP students graduate in an average of three to six years, depending on the program.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
The two main components of achieving a nurse's license include passing the nationwide NCLEX-RN board exam (or NCLEX-PN for LPNs), and then receiving licensure within the state the student wishes to practice in. The NCLEX-RN requires a $200 registration fee. Students have six hours to complete the exam, including a short tutorial and two optional breaks. Minnesota’s licensure fees for LPNs and RNs is $105. The exam focuses on four main topics taught in RN programs in Minnesota, including safe, effective care environment; health promotion and maintenance; preventative healthcare; and psychosocial integrity. The NCLEX-RN pass rate for first-time test takers in 2016 was 83.59%.
Nursing Licensure in Minnesota
In order to get an RN nurse license, students must pass the NCLEX-RN after earning an on-campus or online nursing degree. This exam tests nursing students’ knowledge of four key areas: hygiene and infection containment, preventative healthcare, mental health for both nurses and their patients, and standard nursing procedures. The exam consists of mostly multiple choice questions, broken down into three levels of questions ranging from basic to challenging.
Once a student passes, they receive a nursing license in the mail that allows them to begin practicing. Nurses must apply for a new license if they move to another state, although in Minnesota an exception allows nurses moving from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, or Wisconsin to practice without a Minnesota license.
For nurses who pass the NCLEX-RN in another state and plan to move to Minnesota, the state allows them a license through endorsement. This requires nurses to show proof of all previous state licenses and diplomas. The Minnesota Nursing Board is the state’s official licensing board and provides information and resources for those attending nursing school online in Minnesota.
RN and LPN App. $105
Verification of Scores $20
State Requirements by Nursing Type
The Minnesota Board of Nursing requires those who practice professional nursing in the state to hold a registered nurse (RN) license or temporary permit. RNs residing in bordering states may work in Minnesota with valid out-of-state licenses. Registered nurses licensed in another state may apply for licensure in Minnesota by endorsement. Those applying for the first time must apply for licensure by exam.
To apply for an RN license by exam, you must complete an application, pay an application fee of $105, and undergo a criminal background check for $32. The application requires you to verify completion of a professional nursing program leading to an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree.
To complete the application process, you must register with Pearson VUE to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Registered Nurses. This exam costs $200 and takes up to six hours to complete. Test content focuses on four areas of patient needs: safe and effective care management, health promotion, psychosocial needs, and physiological needs. Through computerized adaptive testing, test questions match the test taker’s ability level, meaning testers must answer between 75 and 265 items depending on how they respond to questions as the test proceeds.
The Minnesota Department of Health requires certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to register for the Nursing Assistant Registry. Minnesota lists CNAs on the registry by unique certificate numbers at no cost to the applicant. To stay on the registry, CNAs must complete at least eight hours of independent, paid nursing assistant duties every two years and submit a form to the Department of Health along with a pay stub to verify employment. To transfer a CNA certificate from another state to the Minnesota registry, you must complete an interstate endorsement form.
Qualification as a CNA in Minnesota requires completion of an approved nursing assistant training program in the state, passing a state-approved competency test for CNAs, or certification in good standing from another state. State-approved programs typically require at least 75 hours of training, including 16 clinical hours in a licensed nursing home.
Applicants can take the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP) exam through Pearson VUE. The test consists of a written portion that contains 70 multiple-choice questions and a skills assessment. The skills section requires performance of five randomly selected skills, which are rated by an evaluator. Completing a state-approved training program grants eligibility to take the test and helps prepare you for the test. However, those who do not complete an approved training program can still take the exam and attempt to test out of the training requirement. The exam costs $64 plus an administrative fee.
Those wishing to work as a practical nurse in Minnesota must apply to the Minnesota Board of Nursing for licensure as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). LPNs living in states bordering Minnesota; however, may work in Minnesota using their out-of-state license. LPNs licensed in other states may apply for Minnesota licensure by endorsement. First-time LPNs must apply for licensure by exam.
Licensure by exam requires applicants to complete an application, pay an application fee of $105, and submit to a criminal background check for $32. The application requires your nursing school to verify completion of your practical/vocational nursing program. While you may also hold a degree, licensure as an LPN in Minnesota does not require one.
To complete the application process, LPNs must register with Pearson VUE to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for Practical Nurses. This variable-length exam costs $200 and takes up to five hours. The test consists of questions related to four areas of patient care. The exam uses computerized adaptive testing to determine the test taker’s ability level; you will answer between 85 and 205 questions depending on the answers you give.
Your first Minnesota nursing license remains valid for 6-29 months, depending on your birth date. Going forward you will need to renew your license every two years. To renew, you must submit verification of 24 contact hours of continuing education.
The Minnesota Board of Nursing licenses four types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including certified nurse practitioners (CNPs). APRNs must be licensed in one of these four advanced practice roles with one of six population groups as a focus. Before initial certification and the start of independent practice, CNPs must practice in collaboration with physicians or other APRNs for at least 2,080 hours. The state does not require written prescribing agreements for CNPs.
To qualify for licensure in Minnesota, CNPs must hold a current RN license (or be eligible for RN licensure) and demonstrate completion of a graduate-level nurse practitioner program with appropriate programmatic accreditation. The CNP’s education must focus on one of these six areas: individuals and families, adult/gerontology, neonatal, pediatrics, women’s health, or mental health. CNPs must also be certified by a state-recognized national certifying body such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB). The AANPCB requires applicants to register for 180-minute certification exams at PSI Online. CNPs must recertify with the AANPCB every five years.
Nurses may apply for CNP licensure online or by mail. The application fee is $137. CNPs in Minnesota must renew both their RN and APRN licenses every two years. CNPs can renew their APRN licenses online for $85. Since APRN certifying organizations require continuing education for renewal, the state does not require any additional continuing education for RN or APRN license renewal. Current APRN certification satisfies the continuing education requirement for both renewals.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Minnesota
Minnesota. Nurse practitioners act as a liaison between doctors and nurses, assess and diagnose patients, and create treatment plans. There are also 2,000 nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) in Minnesota. A career as a CRNA provides one of the highest salaries for graduates of nursing schools in Minnesota, with an average of $180,430 per year.
Employment Data For RNs in Minnesota
Nationally, RNs earn an average annual wage of $70,000, and the BLS projects a job growth rate of 15% from 2016 to 2026. According to the state, RNs rank second among in-demand occupations and can expect a projected 10-year growth rate of 11.1%. In Minnesota, RNs earn an average salary of $77,540. Those working in the Twin Cities metro area earn even more, with average salaries of $81,510 per year. Home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, boasts the second largest concentration of registered nurses in the U.S. In Rochester, nurses earn nearly $78,000 per year on average.
According to the BLS, nearly 65,000 RNs work in Minnesota. The Minnesota Board of Health reports that nearly 106,000 RNs held active licenses in 2017. Nearly half work in hospitals, while 13% work in an ambulatory care setting, and 7% work in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. More than half of RNs practice in the Twin Cities metro area where 55% of the state’s population lives, while 14% work in the Rochester area.
Employment Data For CNAs in Minnesota
CNAs earn a mean annual wage of $28,540 in the U.S., and the BLS projects a job growth rate of 11% from 2016 to 2026, which is higher than the national average. Most frequently employed in nursing homes, nursing assistants in Minnesota benefit from high employer demand. According to the state, nursing assistants rank third among all occupations in demand and can look forward to a projected 10-year growth rate of 5.8% in the state. In Minnesota, CNAs earn an average salary of $32,560, while those working in the Twin Cities metro area earn average salaries of $34,250 per year.
According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, nearly 32,000 CNAs work in Minnesota. About half of these CNAs work in the Twin Cities region. This metro area boasts the highest CNA salaries in the state and offers a projected job growth rate of 9% from 2016 to 2026. Nursing assistants in the St. Cloud area can command salaries almost as high as those in the Twin Cities. Areas with the highest projected growth rates for CNAs include northwest and northeast Minnesota.
Employment Data For NPs in Minnesota
In Minnesota, NPs command an annual mean wage of $116,150. According to the BLS, this is higher than the national median annual wage of $110,930. The BLS projects a national growth rate of 31% for APRNs between 2016 and 2026. The 10-year projected growth rate reported by the state is almost as high, at 27.8%.
The BLS reports that 3,900 NPs work in Minnesota. According to a Minnesota Board of Health report, 6,100 APRNs held active licenses in 2017. Almost 60% were certified NPs. Most of Minnesota’s NPs work in hospitals and ambulatory care settings. Over half work in the Twin Cities metro area where the same percentage of Minnesota’s population resides. Another 18% practice in the Southeastern region of the state, which is home to the Mayo Clinic. Rural Minnesotans have less access to APRNs when compared to those living in more urban areas, which suggests a need for NPs in those areas.
Biggest Hospitals in Minnesota
The hospitals in a particular state directly reflect the opportunities for nurses in those areas. States which have large medical facilities provide a wide range of job opportunities for recent graduates from nursing schools. Plenty of nursing positions at state-of-the-art facilities exist, including in labor and delivery and psychiatry. States with larger hospitals usually offer more internships and fellowships for nursing students looking for hands-on experience. Below, are two of the largest hospitals in Minnesota.
- Mayo Clinic : Ranked as one of the top hospitals in the nation, the Mayo Clinic prides itself on top-notch medical care and research. Thousands of patients each year come from around the world to receive treatment at this renowned medical clinic.
- Abbott Northwestern Hospital : Located in Minneapolis, Abbott Northwestern is the Twin Cities’ largest private teaching hospital. Its nurse staffing is top notch, allowing nurses to give exceptional care to their patients. U.S. News and World Report ranks this hospital as second best in the state.
Additional Nursing Resources in Minnesota
- MINNESOTA NURSING BOARD: The nursing board is the official governing body for nursing licensure, education, and practice within the state. This site provides detailed information about things like RN licensure, board-approved online nursing degree programs, and in-depth explanations of state regulations within this field.
- MINNESOTA ORGANIZATION OF REGISTERED NURSES: This local branch of the American Nurses Association provides nurses in-state support in the form of advocacy, leadership, mentorship, and education. Members include recent online nursing degree graduates and long-term nurses who have been in the field for decades. This organization allows nurses to get involved by running for MNORN elected office.
- MINNESOTA CHAPTER OF NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PEDIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONERS: This state chapter of NAPNAP provides excellent resources for pediatric nurse practitioners. The website includes information on the state’s policies surrounding pediatric nursing and ways to develop leadership skills within their field. The Minnesota Chapter of NAPNAP provides job postings, local events, awards, and community news.
- MINNESOTA ALLIANCE FOR NURSING EDUCATION: The MANE has created an eight-semester BSN program to provide the best possible education to nursing students. This program does not require an RN license for admission. The MANE provides community college students the chance to complete their BSN degree at their school or Metropolitan State University.
- MINNESOTA CENTER FOR NURSING: This nonprofit organization advocates for nurses, especially in the areas of education, retention, and recruitment. The Board of Directors consists of a diverse group of nurse advocates from around the state. Online state resources include how to obtain a nursing license, leadership skills, financial aid resources, and workforce reports.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Minnesota
The following database provides information about online nursing schools in Minnesota and whether they are accredited through ACEN or CCNE. Online programs listed include ADN, RN-to-BSN, and BSN programs in Minnesota. For students interested in graduate online nursing degrees, the database also lists MSN and DNP programs.