Nursing is a lucrative, fast-paced, and exciting field for people who want to work in the medical field, but who do not want to become doctors. Registered nurses earn a median salary of $68,450 per year and a degree in nursing can lead to careers in hospitals, private practices, schools, and the military. Nurses are needed anywhere that provides healthcare services. Like doctors, nurses are in demand across the country and the world. This means that with an on-campus or online nursing degree and a nursing license, you can relocate to another city, state, or town, and easily find work.
As baby boomers age and rates of obesity and diabetes increase, the demand for nurses continues to grow. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15% increase in registered nurse jobs from 2016 to 2026. This translates to approximately 437,000 new nursing positions that need to be filled. For students considering attending a nursing program in Montana, now is an excellent time to begin preparing for a career in the field.
How to Become a Nurse in Montana
Nursing school graduates across the U.S. go through a similar process to become licensed in their state. However, it is important to keep in mind the specific requirements and procedures in Montana if you intend to work in the state after earning your online nursing degree. For example, graduates of RN programs in Montana must pay a $100 application fee to the Montana Board of Nursing and pay an additional $200 to take the NCLEX-RN examination.
Choose the Path That's Right for You
Choosing what type of nurse you want to be is the first step toward finding the right nursing program in Montana. At minimum, you need an associate degree in nursing (ADN) to qualify for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam and to become a registered nurse. An associate degree only takes about two years to complete, but you’ll need additional credentials to advance beyond introductory nursing positions. Advanced nurses like nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners are required to have BSN and MSN degrees, respectively. Online RN to BSN programs in Montana allow associate degree holders to earn a BSN in only two or three years. If you plan on eventually teaching nursing to college students, you need to earn an MSN or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
Earn Your Nursing Degree
It is important to decide whether you want to pursue a nursing degree online or on-campus. Earning a degree at one of the many online nursing schools in Montana can provide you the with flexibility you need to work a full-time job while obtaining your degree. On the other hand, on-campus RN, MSN, or BSN programs in Montana sometimes include fellowships, internships, and other useful practical experience. All online nursing degrees will require clinical hours that can be completed near a student’s place of residence. Make sure to research the specifics of any program you apply to in order to find out about their guidelines and requirements regarding internships and fellowships, as well as prerequisites. On-campus and online BSN programs in Montana typically take about four years and RN programs in Montana take about two years. However, accelerated nursing programs in Montana allow you to double-up on courses and earn a degree faster than normal.
Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
Graduates from nursing schools in Montana must pass the NCLEX-RN examination in order to become a nurse. The test costs $200 and is administered online. The length of the exam varies based on how well the student is doing. The test ends automatically once the computer determines with 95% certainty that the candidate is or is not qualified to be a nurse. The NCLEX-RN will last six hours at the most. A traditional or online nursing degree will prepare you somewhat for the exam, but you will likely need to study on your own and become familiar with the test format. Getting licensed is the final step before you can search for and land your dream nursing job.
Nursing Licensure in Montana
Getting an online nursing degree is just the first step towards being able to practice in a medical setting. In order to work as a nurse, graduates from nursing colleges in Montana must apply for a license through the Montana Board of Nursing. The Montana Board requires that candidates attend one of thirteen approved BSN, RN, or LPN programs to begin the licensing process. Licensed practical nurse (LPN) and registered nurse (RN) candidates must then pass the relevant NCLEX exam, the national standard for the licensing of nurses. More information on the exam can be found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s website.
In 2015, Montana became a member of the Nurse Licensure Compact. Nurses who are licensed in one of the compact states are allowed to practice in any of the 25 member states, giving graduates of online nursing programs in Montana a great deal of flexibility in where they work. Nurses who wish to practice outside of the compact states must transfer their license to their new state of residence. For more information on licensing requirements, examinations, and approved programs, be sure to consult the Montana Board of Nursing.
Nursing Licensing Costs in Montana
App Fee $100
Career Outlook for Nurses in Montana
The healthcare industry is the fastest-growing sector in Montana, and is projected to continue growing for years to come. Montana’s Department of Labor and Industry projects that the healthcare industry will add approximately 1,100 jobs per year through 2025. According to the Department of Labor and Industry, this growth is due in part to Montana’s aging population. As a result, nursing graduates can expect to find the most jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.
The BLS projects that Montana will add 450 jobs per year for registered nurses. In addition, the BLS expects that there will be 100 more openings for licensed practical nurses in Montana each year. The BLS also projects an additional 160 nurse practitioner jobs per year in the state over the next six years.
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Biggest Hospitals in Montana
The largest hospitals tend to have the most open positions for nurses. Large hospitals may also have fellowship and internship opportunities for students looking to gain practical experience before graduation. So before you finish your degree, take a look at the following list of some of the largest hospitals in Montana.
- Billings Clinic: Based in Montana’s capital city, Billings Clinic is the state’s largest healthcare organization. It serves patients in Montana, as well as in parts of Wyoming and the Dakotas. The 4,000 employees include 400 physicians specializing in more than 50 areas. The hospital’s Billings campus features a Level II Trauma Center and a 304-bed hospital.
- St. Vincent Healthcare: This hospital has been in operation for more than 115 years, and includes 11 primary care clinics within and near Billings. It also operates a children’s hospital and employs more than 500 medical professionals. St. Vincent is a division of SCL Health, which has 11 hospitals across three states.
- Benefis Healthcare: Benefis employs more than 3,000 people, making it the largest nongovernmental employer in Great Falls. It serves nearly a quarter-million residents from 15 counties and has 530 beds. In addition to its extensive in-house staff, Benefis works with more than 250 partner physicians in the Great Falls area.
Additional Nursing Resources in Montana
CNE by MNA
This page run by the Montana Nurses Association provides resources on continuing education. It has information on webinars that teach nurses about patient care, professional relationships, and their own health. In addition, this page contains important information on local meetings and conferences for nurses.
MNA Labor Services
The Montana Nurses Association helps nurses with information on collective bargaining and other labor-related topics. The page has resources that teach nurses about their rights, let them know about organizing in the industry, and show them how to fill out important forms.
Montana Board of Nursing Regulations
Through this page, nursing students and nursing graduates can become familiar with the rules and regulations that apply to nursing in Montana. This page includes information on statutes and rules, as well as the legislative process that puts laws in place.
Montana Student Nurses’ Association Job Board
One of the many useful resources provided by the Montana Student Nurses’ Association is their nursing jobs board. The association posts openings and offers links to careers pages at major Montana hospitals and healthcare facilities. Be sure to check out this page regularly for the latest job postings.
Montana Department of Health and Human Services
This page can help nursing students learn about the many healthcare and medical services programs offered by the state government. It is important for nurses to have a detailed knowledge of Montana’s prescription drug programs, health insurance plans, and other public health initiatives.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Montana