The field of nursing is experiencing a rapid expansion in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in nursing will grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all other occupations. New Jersey -- along with the city of New York -- boasts the metropolitan area with the highest number of registered nurses (RN) in the United States. Graduates with an online nursing degree are prepared for many different careers, including family nurse practitioner, operating room RN, and emergency room RN. After completing an RN program in New Jersey, a registered nurse can specialize in certain patient groups, such as rehabilitation or addiction treatment. Nursing can also be a very lucrative career, as experienced nurse practitioners earn a median salary of $100,617.
This page introduces prospective students to the process of earning a degree and gaining licensure in the state of New Jersey. Those without a nursing license can start with one of the many online RN programs in New Jersey; there are also several online BSN programs in New Jersey and online MSN programs in New Jersey.
How to Become a Nurse in New Jersey
Becoming a nurse in New Jersey is similar to the process in other states: all registered nurses in New Jersey must complete a nursing program and obtain a professional license. Prospective students should consider what kind of nursing program best fits their personal interests and professional goals. A program can determine what kind of degree they should pursue -- whether it is an associate, bachelor's, or master's; or an online or in-person program.
1. Choose the Path That's Right for You
The minimum degree to earn licensure as a registered nurse is an ADN. These two year programs can lead to careers as school or travel nurses. The more advanced BSN opens up even more career paths, including as a case management nurse. A BSN is also commonly a prerequisite for an MSN, which students must earn to become nurse practitioners. If you are interested in teaching nursing to college students, you will need to earn an MSN or a DNP.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
If you are already working as a registered nurse, an online nursing degree offers the chance for further specialization in your field. Students in accelerated nursing programs in New Jersey -- including RN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN -- can earn a higher degree in nursing in 2-3 years. For many schools, students must be registered nurses before beginning a bachelor's or master's degree. Both online and on-campus nursing schools in New Jersey require on-site clinical training.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
To become a registered nurse in New Jersey, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and apply for a license with the New Jersey Board of Nursing. Completing a nursing program is a requirement to sit for the exam. Upon passing the NCLEX-RN, you can apply for nearly all nursing positions in New Jersey.
Nursing Licensure in New Jersey
To qualify for nursing positions in the state of New Jersey, nursing professionals must apply to the New Jersey Board of Nursing for a license and complete the NCLEX-RN, a computer adaptive exam that tests the main areas of nursing knowledge. If you are taking the NCLEX-RN exam in New Jersey, you can apply for licensure by examination when you register for the exam. While BSN programs in New Jersey prepare you for the exam, you should still study regularly. Only those applicants who have completed a nursing program are eligible to register for the exam in New Jersey. Graduates of New Jersey nursing schools can have their program send a letter of completion to the board, but graduates from out-of-state schools must have their school send a transcript. If you take the NCLEX-RN exam outside of New Jersey, arrange for the examination board to send your test results to the New Jersey Board of Nursing when you apply for a license. If you are licensed by another state, you can obtain a nursing license in New Jersey through endorsement. Applicants for licensure by endorsement must pay a $200 fee and have verification of their license sent to the New Jersey Board of Nursing. All nursing licensure applicants must agree to a criminal background check.
State Requirements by Nursing Type
Nurses gain licensure by endorsement or examination through the New Jersey Board of Nursing. Only those with an associate or bachelor's degree in nursing may apply. However, a nurse's salary potential and career track depend on the degree they earn.
Upon graduating from an accredited college, prospective nurses can apply for licensure by completing an online application. Applicants must first register for an online account through the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and pay a $200 application fee. The application process includes a criminal background check and fingerprinting, which is an additional $67.50.
As a part of the application process, applicants must sit for the NCLEX-RN exam through Pearson VUE. The tests costs $200, and examines whether nurses are qualified to begin working. The format includes four major categories: safe and effective care environment; health promotion and maintenance; psychosocial integrity; and physiological integrity. Within the categories are eight subcategories featuring mostly multiple choice questions. Applicants should expect roughly 75-265 questions, including 25 non-credit questions. The test runs for a maximum of six hours with optional breaks. In addition to the exam, candidates must complete a sexual assault -- or SANE -- certification, which costs $200.
If candidates are licensed in another state, they can gain licensure in New Jersey through endorsement. These applicants must also get fingerprinted, provide proof of licensure, proof of SANE certification, and complete an application. To renew a license for a biennium, nurses must pay between $225 to $345 to cover renewal fees and a reinstatement fee.
Certified nursing assistants -- also called nurse aides -- earn certification in New Jersey by completing a 90-hour training, an exam, and passing a background check.
CNAs complete the Nurse Aide in Long Term Care Facilities Training and Competency Evaluation Program, or NATCEP. The program requires 40 clinic hours and 50 classroom hours, and students train at an approved community college, vocational school, or a long-term care facility. Multiple approved locations throughout the state of New Jersey provide this training. Foreign licensed nurses, students, and graduate nurses can skip the training course and take the exam.
After completing the training, nurses then complete an exam which includes a clinic skills test and a knowledge test. The skills test costs $23, and examines an applicant's on-the-job knowledge. CNAs must also complete a written and oral exam through PSI Services, LLC, which costs $53. Applicants must pay an additional $30 reciprocity fee. For nurses who prefer an oral exam, they can do so in either English or Spanish for $67. Applicants have up to two years after finishing the NATCEP to pass the exam. After three failed attempts, they must retrain. CNAs must also complete a free background check, which may take up to 12 weeks to process.
Out-of-state nurse assistants can gain New Jersey certification by submitting proof of training documents. They must also pass a background check. Fees for the program may be waived for nurse aides with job offers from long-term care facilities.
Licensed practical nurses must take multiple steps to obtain licensure through the New Jersey Board of Nursing, the same agency that accredits nursing programs in the state. LPNs require takes one year of education -- including fieldwork and classroom experience -- to earn a degree. When nursing students near graduation, they should begin taking steps to obtain licensure.
Applicants can complete an online or paper application, and the initial application and license fee costs $200. All LPNs must renew their license every two years.
After an applicant registers for licensure, they must complete a background check and fingerprinting, and pay a $67.50 fee. Applicants then must sit for the NCLEX-PN licensing exam. The computer adapted test is offered in New Jersey and around the country at Pearson locations. Applicants also need a CPR card.
Out-of-state nurses with licensure in another state must submit verification either by mail or online, and complete fingerprinting. Those who live, work, or go to school within 10 miles of New Jersey need to complete electronic fingerprinting, which is required of all New Jersey residents. Candidates located more than 10 miles away from New Jersey can use fingerprinting cards, which cost $63.55. Candidates seeking endorsement must pay $200.
International applicants must pass an English proficiency exam and have an outside company evaluate their prior training. They must pay $225 to take the exam.
Nurse practitioners, also called advanced practice nurses in New Jersey, must possess a master's degree in nursing to work in the state. Upon completing their degree, graduates can apply for certification, pending the results of their national examination.
To apply for NP certification in New Jersey, an applicant must have prior work experience as a registered nurse and hold a current license. Candidates must have completed their education no more than two years before submitting their applications. Since NPs have the authority to prescribe medications in New Jersey, they also complete 45 hours of integrated pharmacology work or finish a three-unit pharmacology course. If more than five years have lapsed since an applicant has taken a pharmacology course, they must complete continuing education classes or retake the course.
To request an application, nurses submit an email request with their contact information, proof of registered nurse license, transcripts, and Advanced Practice Nurse exam results. The application costs $100.
Students take the exam in their specialty from accredited agencies such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or American Nurses Credentialing Center. Applicants can choose from 17 specialties in New Jersey, and the certification competency test costs between $295 and $395. Credentials last for up to five years. Nurses have two chances to pass the exam and receive temporary authorization to work.
Out-of-state nurses must submit their licenses or certifications from other states.
Career Outlook for Nurses in New Jersey
An online nursing degree is the first step toward a career in a flourishing field. Growing emphasis on preventative care and an aging baby boomer population equate to an increasing demand for nurses. On the national level, the BLS projects that employment for registered nurses will grow 15% through 2026. New Jersey is among the states with the highest employment and annual mean wage for registered nurses. The New York-Jersey City-White Plains metropolitan area has the highest nurse employment level of all U.S. metropolitan areas, with 122,780 nursing jobs. Over 9,090 nurse practitioners work in New Jersey, specifically, and earn a lucrative average salary of $125,370 a year. Graduates of nursing schools in New Jersey also enjoy diverse career opportunities, such as nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives. Additionally, registered nurses can specialize in a particular area, like cardiovascular, neonatal, addiction, or public health.
Employment Data For RNs in New Jersey
RNs provide care to patients in a variety of settings. According to the BLS, 30% of all nurses work in hospitals, while the remainder work in outpatient centers, home health care centers, physician offices, and nursing homes.
Salaries for nurses in New Jersey depend on the types of nursing occupations. Nationwide, RNs make an annual mean salary of $82,010. The highest paid RNs work in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, and earn a mean salary of $90,510. RNs who work in hospitals make a mean annual salary of $75,820, while the lowest paid RNs work in nursing homes and earn a mean annual salary of $65,710. Overall, the job outlook for RNs remains optimistic, as the BLS projects 15% job growth until 2026 -- much faster than all other occupations.
Employment Data For CNAs in New Jersey
New Jersey has a total of 56,660 nursing assistants; however, the need is expected to increase to meet the demands of an aging baby boomer population. The BLS projects faster than average growth in this field, as well, projecting an 11% increase through 2026.
All CNAs provide basic daily care to patients, such as bathing and eating, but the exact salary of a CNA depends on the city or state in which they live. For example, a CNA in New Jersey earns a median hourly wage of $13.73 and an annual mean salary of $29,400.
Most CNAs -- roughly 36% -- work in nursing care facilities, while others hold positions in retirement communities, assisted living homes, employment services, home health care services, or hospitals.
The highest earning CNAs work for the federal government, earning a median annual salary of $38,340. Other high-earning CNAs find work in colleges and universities, education support services, and scientific research services.
According to the BLS, Jersey City, New Jersey, and New York have the highest employment of CNAs compared to other metropolitan areas in the nation.
Employment Data For NPs in New Jersey
Nurse practitioners have one of the highest salary potentials in the field, with salaries well above their RN or CNA counterparts. Nationwide, NPs earn an annual mean wage of $117,630, however this figure depends on the location and sector in which they work.
After graduation and certification, NPs can work in a variety of different settings, such as physician offices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers. Many of the nearly 78,000 NPs in the U.S. work in physician offices, where they receive an annual mean wage of $105,730. Colleges and universities pay the least, as NPs earn a mean annual salary of $100,040. Conversely, consulting and personal care services pay the most, with annual mean salaries ranging from $132,200 to $139,460.
The population of NPs is smaller than other sectors of nursing. The BLS indicates the state of New Jersey employs 80,560 RNs, but just 4,840 NPs. Among all metropolitan areas nationwide Jersey City, New York City, and White Plains have the highest concentration of NPs; those cities employ a total of 9,090 NPs. Notably, the BLS projects jobs in this field to grow 12% by 2026.
Biggest Hospitals in New Jersey
After completing an online nursing degree and earning licensure, many nurses find their first job at a hospital. According to the BLS, 61% of registered nurses in the United States work in state, local, and private hospitals. While you attend nursing school in New Jersey, you can also look to local hospitals for nursing fellowships and internships. The New Jersey Hospital Association lists over 100 member hospitals, including some of the biggest employers of nurses in the state.
- Hackensack University Medical Center : With 775 beds and 69,457 admissions in the most recent year reported, this teaching hospital is one of the largest in New Jersey. The hospital employs 48 nursing educators, and 63% of the 1,908 nurses hold a BSN. The American Nurses Credentialing Center awarded Hackensack University Medical Center the Magnet honor in 1995.
- Morristown Medical Center : This hospital has 702 beds and served 37,527 patients in the most recent year reported. Recent graduates with an in-person or online nursing degree can apply to work at Morristown Medical Center through Atlantic Health Hire Learning Residency Program. This program provides a year-long on-the-job training and continuing education.
Additional Nursing Resources in New Jersey
- New Jersey Board of Nursing: This government body is part of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and protects patients by regulating the practice of nursing. Aside from licensing nurses, the New Jersey Board of Nursing also offers resources to learn more about the state's nursing statutes and regulations.
- National Council of State Boards of Nursing: NCBSN develops the NCLEX-RN exam and contributes to nursing policy at the state and federal level. NCSBN provides information to nurses on current best practices, and publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Nursing Regulation.
- New Jersey State Nurses Association: This affiliate of the American Nurses Association (ANA) is a professional organization that represents all nurses in New Jersey. Members of NJSNA may have dual membership in the ANA, and have access to education and training resources. NJSNA also advocates for beneficial healthcare policy with the New Jersey state government.
- New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners: This professional organization represents nurse practitioners and other specialized nurses who work with children. NAPNAP influences healthcare legislation and provides educational materials for children and families. The New Jersey Chapter of NAPNAP has 152 members and supports continuing education for pediatric nurse practitioners in the state through conferences and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate study.
- New Jersey Nursing Initiative: The NJNI was established to help New Jersey overcome its shortage of teaching nurses by funding the education of nurse educators. NJNI now advocates for improvements in nursing curricula in the state, and maintains an extensive library of resources for nurses, including county data, articles, and webinars.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in New Jersey
Nursing schools in New Jersey offer a variety of online nursing degrees, including an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN), a master's of science in nursing (MSN), and a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). There are also several online RN-to-BSN programs in New Jersey. These programs allow licensed RNs to quickly finish their BSN while continuing to work. This database includes all accredited online nursing schools in New Jersey.