Qualified, dedicated nursing professionals enjoy stable salaries and constantly increasing employment opportunities. For busy students, online nursing degrees in Mississippi allow them to complete coursework at their own pace.
Registered nurses earn a median annual salary of $70,000, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15% job growth between 2016 and 2026. A bachelor's degree in nursing involves a comprehensive healthcare education and leads to licensure as a registered nurse. BSN programs expose students to different specialties, including prenatal, intensive care, and psychiatric nursing.
Most online nursing degree programs deliver coursework entirely online, but students must complete onsite clinical requirements. Hands-on experience is critical preparation for nursing positions and is typically required to earn an online nursing degree.
How to Become a Nurse in Mississippi
The first step to becoming a nurse is earning a degree from one of the nursing schools in Mississippi. An associate or bachelor's of nursing degree is required to sit for the test that leads to a nursing license. After graduating, nursing candidates must pass the National Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which costs $200. Licensure qualifies professionals for a variety of career options in the healthcare field and increases long-term salary prospects.
1. Choosing the Right Path for You
Earning an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing is the first step to obtaining a nursing license. A nursing degree is required to sit for the NCLEX, which all nurses must pass before practicing in Mississippi. Individuals who plan to pursue advanced nursing positions or to teach nursing at the college level should earn a master's or doctorate, respectively. Some nursing schools in Mississippi offer accelerated bachelor's degree programs that prepare students for MSN or DSN programs.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
Working professionals attending nursing schools in Mississippi often choose online nursing degree programs, which offer flexible scheduling with full-time or part-time enrollment status. Some programs are designed for students with no healthcare experience, and others are ideal for current RNs who want to earn a bachelor's degree. Along with remote coursework, online nursing programs in Mississippi require in-person components, such as clinicals, fellowships, and internships. Most full-time students earn a bachelor's degree in four years, an associate in two years, and a master's in two years.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
All nursing candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure. State licensing boards use this examination to ensure nurses are properly trained and are prepared to meet recognized standards of nursing practice. The exam costs $200 and requires a nursing license application. After passing the five-hour, multiple choice exam, candidates are qualified for entry-level nursing positions.
Nursing Licensure in Mississippi
After completing one year of an online nursing degree program, students qualify to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Licensed Practical Nurses and obtain a licensed practical nurse diploma. After passing the exam and becoming a licensed LPN, continuing education credits are necessary to maintain licensure. Since RNs have more career options and increased earning potential, most students pursue an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing.
After earning a degree from a nursing school in Mississippi and completing required clinical hours, nursing candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure and practice nursing. Mississippi is a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, which means nurses licensed in Mississippi may practice in any NLC state without obtaining an additional license. Aspiring advanced practice nurses should pursue a master's degree in a specialized area, such as nurse midwifery, general nursing, or nurse anesthesia. Master's degree holders qualify for national certification in their concentration, which allows professionals to work in any state that accepts national licensure.
State Requirements By Nursing Type
In order to become a licensed registered nurse in Mississippi, you must provide proof of a completed college program that has prepared you for the job. If you earned your degree in another state or U.S. territory, the registrar of that school must send transcripts directly to the Mississippi Board of Nursing. You must have completed the program before you apply for a license. As the state is part of the Nursing Licensure Compact, if you are a resident of another Compact state, you must apply for licensure in that state instead. If you received your education in a foreign country, your education and credentials must be confirmed by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools. You must submit to a criminal background check before you can become licensed, but you may do so after taking the NCLEX exam. The initial fee for licensure is $100. The criminal background check costs $75.
Renewal of an RN license in Mississippi costs $100 and must be done by December 31 of every even-numbered year. While the board expects RNs to pursue continuing education in order to maintain competency, there is no continuing education requirement in order to renew an RN license. However, if you have not practiced for five years before applying for, renewing, or reinstating an RN license in Mississippi, you must provide evidence of continuing basic nursing competency.
In order to become a certified nurse aide in Mississippi, you must first complete a state-approved training program. You can request a full catalog of approved training courses from the Mississippi State Department of Health, which regulates nurse aides and maintains the Nurse Aide Registry in the state. Nurse aid exams are handled by Pearson and include both a written or oral segment as well as a skills section. You may apply for and take the exam if you completed an in-state training course, have completed the fundamentals of an RN/LPN program, or have graduated from an RN/LPN program. If you already hold a CNA from another state you can apply for certification by reciprocity. The initial cost to take the exam is $101. The cost for certification by reciprocity is $26.
The Nurse Aide Registry lists all certified nurse aides in the state and records any disciplinary hearings or findings of neglect on their records. A nurse aide found guilty of neglect after 1995 may request the removal of that finding after a year of it being on their record.
You must be recertified every two years following your initial certification. Your current employer must fill in part of the form, and if you are not currently employed as a nurse aide, your previous employer must do so. If you are currently employed by a facility that participates in Medicaid/Medicare programs, you cannot pay for recertification yourself. Otherwise, the fee is $26.
Becoming a licensed practical nurse in Mississippi is similar to becoming an RN. You must first prove your education, either by providing transcripts from a school in the state or by having the registrar send those transcripts directly to the Board of Nursing if you were educated in another state or U.S. territory. If you were educated in a foreign country, you must have your credentials verified by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools before you take your exam. You must also submit to a criminal background check, which costs $75, though you do not need to do so before you take your exam. However, you cannot be issued a license until the background check is completed. The cost of the initial license, which includes scheduling an exam, but does not cover the exam cost itself, is $60. As Mississippi is a part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, if you already hold a license from another Compact state you can practice in Mississippi. If you are a resident of another Compact state you must apply to that state's Board of Nursing.
You will need to renew your LPN by December 31 of every even-numbered year. The fee to renew your license is $100. There are no continuing education requirements for LPN renewal in Mississippi. If you apply for, renew, or wish to reinstate your license in the state after five or more years without practicing, you will have to prove continued competence.
Advanced practice registered nurses in Mississippi must already hold an RN license and must complete graduate level study at an accredited university with at least a master's degree. Proof of graduation must be sent to the Board of Nurses. You must also submit proof of certification by exam in at least one area of practice as an APRN. The initial license fee is $100. APRNs may also request prescriptive authority. You must register with and receive a Uniform Controlled Substances Registration Certificate from the DEA and have completed 720 hours of monitored practice in order to qualify for this privilege. There is also a $100 initial fee for prescriptive authority. Licensure as an advanced practice registered nurse in Mississippi does not qualify you to practice in other states, even if they are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact.
The fee to renew your APRN is $100, plus an additional $50 for prescriptive authority, and an additional $50 per additional certification, if any. You will have to submit renewal forms for both your RN and APRN each time. You must renew by December 31 of each even-numbered year, but not before the month of October. In order to qualify for renewal, you must complete 40 hours of continuing education in each two-year period, at least two hours of which must be on the subject of controlled substances. The Mississippi Board of Nursing does not review or approve continuing education programs.
Career Outlook for Nurses in Mississippi
After obtaining an online nursing degree and passing the NCLEX-RN, registered nurses work in a variety of settings. In a physician's office, RNs work a traditional schedule, but hospital nurses work in a variety of capacities, including intensive care and surgical recovery. Nurses at nursing homes and in-home care services have more scheduling flexibility and autonomy. Travel nurses typically complete short-term assignments at global locations and often receive relocation funds.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for registered nurses to increase 15% between 2016 and 2026. Although nurses in Mississippi earn mean wages lower than the national average, Mississippi is an NLC state, which means graduates of nursing schools in Mississippi can practice in any of the 25 NLC states.
Employment Data For RNs in Mississippi
In 2017, the annual mean wage of registered nurses in the United States was $73,550. The lowest paid RNs that year made less than $48,690, while the highest paid made over $104,100. The annual mean wage in Mississippi was $57,700, well below the national average. The lowest paid RNs in the state made less than $41,290 while the highest paid made over $78,360. Mississippi is neither the wealthiest nor most expensive state in the country, so while these numbers might seem low, keep in mind that larger, higher cost-of-living states such as California or New York can bring up averages.
Among the 2,906,840 registered nurses working in 2017, there were 28,760 working in Mississippi. Across the rest of the state, RNs were evenly distributed, and there were 25.69 RNs per 1,000 people in the state's population. While urban areas tend to have more people and therefore more hospitals and clinics, registered nurses are also needed in less populated areas of the state, but in smaller numbers and facilities.
Employment Data For CNAs in Mississippi
In 2017, there were 1,453,670 certified nurse aides (CNAs) working in the United States, and 12,850 of them worked in Mississippi. As CNAs generally work in assisted living facilities, they are more likely to find work in areas with older populations.
The annual mean wage that year for CNAs in Mississippi was $22,790. The lowest paid made less than $16,980 while the highest paid made over $29,840 that year. Compared to the national mean wage for CNAs of $28,540, those in Mississippi are paid noticeably less. Nationally, the lowest paid CNAs made less than $20,680 while the highest paid made more than $38,630. Cost of living is lower in Mississippi than some states, and national numbers are higher in part thanks to large, wealthy states like New York and California.
Employment Data For APRNs in Mississippi
Often referred to as nurse practitioners, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are less common and more highly paid than other levels of nursing staff. The annual mean wage for APRNs in the United States was $107,480 in 2017. The lowest paid made less than $74,840 while the highest paid made over $145,630. In Mississippi, APRNs made a little less than the national average, with mean wage there being $107,280. The lowest paid APRNs in the state made less than $75,140 while the highest paid made more than $149,020.
There were only 166,280 APRNs employed in the country in 2017, and 2,480 of them were working in Mississippi. The bulk of these worked in the metropolitan areas along the Eastern border of the state, in and around Jackson, and in the Memphis area. Considering the wages earned by APRNs in the state, they are much more likely to find work in wealthier metropolitan locales, where they work in hospitals, clinics, and other high-end medical facilities. Those working in less populated areas likely found themselves taking on additional responsibilities and leadership roles.
Biggest Hospitals in Mississippi
Nursing students should investigate large hospitals, as large facilities typically have more employment opportunities. Hospitals are ideal for recent nursing graduates since they often have large numbers of entry-level positions available. They are also a valuable resource for students in nursing schools in Mississippi; hospitals offer fellowships and internships for students working toward their license.
- North Mississippi Medical Center: Located in Tupelo, this hospital employs more than 5,000 people and has 650 beds; it's the largest non-metropolitan hospital in the United States. The hospital won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2006 and 2012 and actively seeks qualified nurses.
- Baptist Health Systems: Baptist Health Systems comprises hospitals and centers across Mississippi, including Baptist Medical Center and centers in Attala, Leake, and Yazoo. The group has a total of 564 beds and approximately 3,000 employees.
- University of Mississippi Medical Center: Located in Jackson, the University of Mississippi Medical Center has more than 3,000 full-time employees and is the state's only academic medical science center. Serving the greater Jackson area, this medical center has 722 beds and the only children's hospital in Mississippi.
- Forrest General Hospital: Forrest General Hospital employs nearly 3,000 people. The flagship facility in Hattiesburg has 512 beds and serves 19 counties. The hospital actively recruits new nurses and offers one of the most competitive benefits packages for nurses in Mississippi. New employees with six months of hospital experience or less take a one-year nurse residency program.
Additional Nursing Resources in Mississippi
- Mississippi Nurses Association: This organization supports nurses in Mississippi. The association holds a statewide nursing summit each year to focus on the critical role of registered nurses, as well as current issues and legislative agenda relevant to the nursing profession.
- Mississippi Board of Nursing: Through this organization, nurses apply for licensure and licensure renewal. The website details application deadlines and fees, provides educational resources, and lists rules and regulations for nurses in Mississippi.
- Mississippi Association of Student Nurses : This organization supports nursing students and encourages active participation in community healthcare projects. The association aims to improve the quality of nursing education in Mississippi.
- Mississippi Nurses Foundation: Established by the Mississippi Nurses Association, this charitable organization provides resources such as scholarships, professional development, and continuing education. The foundation offers research grants of up to $2,000 and a number of scholarships, awards, and stipends for RNs.
- Mississippi Association of Nurse Practitioners: This organization for NPs maintains a state-of-the-art training facility and advocates for NPs with both state and national policymakers and hosts conferences and meetings for members.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Mississippi
The following database includes all accredited online nursing degree programs in Mississippi. Nursing students may pursue an associate degree in nursing, a bachelor's of science in nursing, a master's of science in nursing, or a doctor of nursing practice. Current registered nurses who want to earn their bachelor's may enroll in an RN-to-BSN program.